Using Deliberative Forums to Engage and Mobilise Communities

The event used in-depth peer-learning sessions to bring together participants from New Local’s network to talk about their experiences of engaging and mobilising communities through deliberative practices.

They shared intelligence on successes as well as initiatives that had not worked as well as hoped. Some participants had already experimented with different kinds of deliberative forums and reflected on their respective merits and flaws; others were just starting to consider whether and how their council should set up a citizens’ assembly.

Discussions on the day centred on the importance of representation, with
participants raising challenges and offering practical tips on how to ensure as many diverse voices as possible are included in deliberative forums. Rich Wilson, Director of OSCA, and Sacha Bedding, Manager of the Wharton Trust, shared their thoughts and expertise on citizen deliberation and
community mobilisation.

This Innovation Insights report provides a summary of the main ideas and lessons that emerged from the day’s discussions. The report contains the following three sections:

  • Reaching beyond the usual voices to bring as wide a representation
    of the community as possible into deliberative forums.
  • Aligning the broader focus and participative approaches of deliberation with the more siloed and hierarchical working practices of a council.
  • Using deliberative forums to respond to the challenges of COVID-19.

The Innovation Exchange took place under the Chatham House rule. The report respects this by anonymising contributions, except when these highlight a specific example of best practice to be shared.