South Lakeland District Council's Community Engagement Strategy was originally developed and approved in 2007 and has been updated in 2012.
Community Engagement takes many forms and is best described by the Ladder of Engagement, as seen in the diagram below, which describes the different levels of involvement.
Empowering: placing decision-making in the hands of the community.
|Collaborating: working in partnership with communities in each aspect of the decision, including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution.|
Involving: working directly with communities to ensure that concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered. For example, partnership boards, reference groups and service-users participating in policy groups.
Consulting: obtaining community feedback on analysis, alternatives and / or decisions. For example, surveys, door knocking, citizens' panels and focus groups.
Informing: providing communities with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding problems, alternatives, opportunities, solutions. For example, websites, newsletters and press releases.
Consultation and Community Engagement Database
The database is a partnership project with Cumbria County Council, the six district Councils, Cumbria Police and NHS Cumbria. All consultations undertaken by the partners are available in one place in the partnership hub section or individually. The database is accessed by clicking on Consultation and in the 'do it online' section on the right hand side of every SLDC webpage.
Other groups can also use the database contact the Community Engagement Officer for details.
Consultation is one form of Community Engagement that the council is developing further, the Consultation Strategy was approved in July 2010 and includes a Consultation Toolkit.
The Consultation Toolkit (below) helps to guide consultations ensuring they use the best methods and are as effective as possible. The toolkit is available to anyone who wishes to ask others their opinions, including voluntary and community groups, residents associations and other public organisations.
Questionnaire Design Guide
The Council with Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT), has developed a Questionnaire Design Guide to help community group design the most effective questionnaires possible, available below.
Community Engagement Standards
South Lakeland District Council is committed to monitoring the quality of its community engagement work with a view to supporting the development of more effective practice over time.
As a benchmark standard the Cumbria County Council has adopted the Scottish National Standards for Community Engagement. South Lakeland District Council is working with Cumbria County Council to implement these standards. Currently there is no equivalent authoritative statement for England. The Scottish Standards were commissioned by the Minister for Communities and developed through an extensive engagement process that reviewed the quality of practice from the perspective of communities and agencies. The resulting standards were published by Scottish Government.