Last week Dyfrig Williams promised that I would write a blog post for Participation Cymru. So here it is! I suppose it’s highly appropriate for me to start blogging now as I’ve just been appointed to my new role as Participation Cymru Facilitator and I will be looking after the blog and social media accounts after Dyfrig leaves us for his new endeavour at the Wales Audit Office.
I also attended the accredited public engagement training course in Cardiff at the end of April, something which I’ve been hoping to attend for a long time. We covered so much information over the two days, and explored many interesting ideas and fun participative techniques. The most interesting part in my opinion was the importance of feedback in the engagement process.
I personally believe that the word ‘engagement’ implies that feedback is continuously given from the both citizen and the service provider – in other words – engagement is a conversation, an ongoing process. It made me realise that citizens are also much more likely to want to engage if they know the impact of their contribution. Feedback also gives transparency to the engagement process, and it is empowering for individuals and community groups to know how their ideas are being used.
However, adequate feedback does not mean publishing the results of a nationwide survey in a publication that no one reads, or a website that no one visits. The type of feedback given needs to be appropriate and relevant to the type of consultation you carried out. For a small consultation, citizens could receive feedback via direct contact (providing they’ve allowed you to use their details for that purpose, of course!). This approach would show the citizen how much you’ve valued their input as you’re taking the time to get in touch with them individually. For a larger consultation, the mainstream media or social media may be a more appropriate way to provide feedback.
The website change.org provide excellent feedback to signatories of petitions. I’ve recently signed petitions through this site and have been sent detailed emails of their progress – when the petition was sent to the relevant person, what their response was and what is going to happen next – which is a great example of relevant feedback.
How will you provide feedback to your stakeholders in the future?