How to engage your community Effective communication is a key part of resolving issues and promoting community cohesion

Community engagement is a powerful tool that governments, businesses and organisations use to bring together a group of stakeholders.

It means building relationships with communities, communicating with them and giving them an opportunity to get involved in a new project.

Community engagement is a strategic process that directly brings together local populations in decision making and implementation which helps to strengthen local ownership, transparency and maximises community resources.

Local experience and national evidence show there are many benefits when communities engage well with each other, these include:

There are five key ways that you can engage with your community in a consistent and joined-up way:

Before undertaking any engagement, think about the project or initiative that you want to get off the ground and consider the following questions:

Do I have information that some or all of my local community might like to access?

Yes – I should inform them.

Do I need to know the views of my local community?

Yes –  I should consult them

Do I want my community to take action or change their behaviour?

Yes – I should empower them.

If you have answered yes to more than one question you might need to consider more than one type of engagement but remember that using one engagement method successfully is more valuable than two ineffectively.

If you have answered no to all of the questions above it is likely that you do not need to carry out any additional engagement activity at this time. Please look through the rest of the toolkit to decide for sure and remember to ask yourself these questions at each stage of your project.

The following links provide further advice on the type of information and engagement tools you can use to inform, consult and empower communities. Links are also provided for a risk assessment template and venue checklist that will be useful when planning any engagement.

The following link provides advice and guidance on how to inform communities about a project or initiative you are planning to carry out: 

How to engage – inform

The following link provides advice and information about how to consult with local communities, including how to run focus groups and workshops and what to consider when running a survey:

How to engage – consultation

The following link provides information on what to consider when planning community action: Empowerment guidance

How to engage – empower

When choosing a location to hold a community engagement event, there are a number of things you need to consider. Here is an example checklist and risk assessment template to help you assess a suitable venue for a community event.

If you would like to hold an event outside or in a town or village then you may need to contact Cornwall Council to obtain a license, see the website for further advice here.

Safer communities toolkit – example venue checklist Safer communities toolkit – Risk assessment template