Bridging The Mismatch
Urban Forum's innovative Bridging the Mismatch programme has now been published as a report. The programme looked at how how relationships between communities and public bodies can be strengthened; a vital requirement in these challenging times.
The Bridging The Midsmatch programme ran in the East Midlands between 2010 and 2011.
Urban Forum employed four organisations with expertise in communication and community engagement to deliver the programme to a number of public bodies in the East Midlands:
• Boston District Council (two programmes including one targeted at young people)
• Lincolnshire County Council
• Ashfield Partnership
• Derby City Council
• Nottinghamshire Police.
The localism agenda and cuts in public spending bring big challenges for public bodies and communities. Good communications between them are vital in building a space for creative engagement rather than a battleground. However, research and feedback from community organisations shows us that:
• People can be cynical about consultation, and left feeling less empowered
• Engagement can be perceived as tokenistic with limited opportunities for feedback and genuine dialogue.
• People coming from different perspectives (e.g. residents and officers) can easily misunderstand each other
• A lack of clarity about engagement and decision making can lead to false expectations, frustration and a lack of trust
• Poor communications language can exclude and alienate sections of the community
In this context:
• How can public agencies build and maintain positive communication and relationships with local communities at a time of major changes in public services?
• How can local residents themselves contribute to making communication and engagement work better for the benefit of their own communities?