The level of community support and evidence of need for a project are two of the factors we will consider when assessing applications and making funding decisions. The outcomes of your consultation can play a significant part in establishing these factors.
These guidelines set out our expectations in relation to community consultation associated with Community Legacy Grant bids and are designed to assist parish and town councils in planning their consultations. These may be of particular interest to parishes or towns applying for a Community Legacy Grant now or in the future. If you would find a virtual Q&A session on planning and running a consultation useful please let us know.
The main purpose of your consultation is to establish whether there is community support for your project. It will also provide an opportunity to find out how people would like to be involved and to gather views to help shape the development of the project.
If, for example, you are proposing to set up a community shop, as part of the consultation you could ask people how frequently they would use the shop, views about opening hours, what products they would like to see stocked and whether they would be willing to give time to serve in the shop or help in some other way.
You may also want to use the consultation to gather some additional information to demonstrate a need for your project. Continuing with the community shop example, you could ask people how easily they are able to access a shop at present, how important having a community shop is to them and what benefits they think a shop would bring.
Who to consult?
We would like you to give as many residents and other interested parties as possible the opportunity to give their views on your project. Whatever the size of your community, we expect you to inform most of them about the consultation.
When planning your consultation think about how you will reach all those individuals and groups that your project may directly or indirectly affect. In addition to residents it may also be appropriate to seek views from community and voluntary groups, businesses and other organisations based in the locality such as churches, health services or schools.
Think carefully about how to engage with groups who may not typically participate in consultation exercises, for example young people or older, isolated people.
How to consult
One of the most important considerations when planning your consultation is to ensure as many members of your community as possible are made aware of your project and have an opportunity to give their views.
We expect all applicants to try to engage as high a proportion of their communities are possible in their project development and delivery.
As part of your application you should tell us how many households or residents you have contacted. There is an expectation that, particularly in smaller communities, applicants will make every effort to reach all households. To maximise your chances of achieving this we expect you to:
- Use three different communication channels to inform people about your project and invite their views - at least one printed, one digital and one face-to-face.
- Reach as a high a proportion of the households as possible in your area with printed or directly emailed communications about the project.
- Provide people with options for responding both online and offline.
- Allow a minimum response time of three to four weeks, longer if it includes popular holiday times.
We recognise at the current time due to the Covid-19 pandemic face-to-face communication may be difficult and we will take this into account when we consider your application. A virtual approach to face-to-face communication is acceptable alongside a concerted effort to engage with residents via printed and digital channels.
The table below contains some examples of potential communication methods that you may wish to consider when planning your consultation. These are not exhaustive.
Printed communication that reaches the majority of households with options for both paper and online responses
Digital promotion with options for both paper and online responses
Face-to-face engagement to gather views on the spot. This must comply with all Covid-19 prevention requirements in place at the time.
What should you ask?
The content of your consultation will depend on your project, what you want to find out and whether it is a new idea or something that has been previously raised, for example through parish or neighbourhood plan consultations.
You may want to develop some structured questions or put together a survey to gather views, or you may wish to simply invite people to tell you what they think. You could consider using a mix of open and closed questions to elicit a range of quantitative and qualitative views.
- Open questions allow respondents to answer freely and in their own words. They are useful in finding out people’s thoughts and feelings and for generating new ideas. However, large amounts of free text can be difficult to analyse so we advise you avoid using too many open questions.
- Closed questions restrict the respondent to choose their answers from those which are provided. This includes simple yes/no questions as well as multiple choice questions and questions with scales to rank or rate choices. Care should be taken when developing questions to ensure balance by not leading respondents or by offering a fair set of options to select from.
- Quantitative methods are designed to measure and generalise behaviours and attitudes and produce data that can be made into usable statistics.
- Qualitative consultation provides a deeper understanding of an audience or subject. It can uncover behaviours, opinions or motivations.
Demonstrating you have consulted
When you complete your full application form for a Community Legacy Grant we will ask you to provide details of your consultation including the methods of communication you used, how many residents were informed about it, a summary of the consultation results and how residents and other interested parties will be involved in developing and delivering your project.
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