England & Wales

Community Engagement in the Current Climate


Effective engagement with communities is essential for local authorities. However reductions in budgets for services often means frontline members face challenges to their role and the authority needs to rely on communities more to solve their own problems. Traditional models of consultation and engagement do not address the current dilemmas enough, yet in this changing and challenging environment, the ability of elected members and officers to involve and empower communities is now more important than ever.

The seminar will help participants to strengthen their understanding of current approaches to engagement. The seminar includes:

  • Big Society and Localism agendas – where are they now?
  • Examples of different approaches to community engagement from a variety of local authorities in England and Scotland
  • Comparing different engagement approaches and considering their different advantages and disadvantages
  • Looking at the roles councillors can adopt to develop new relationships with communities
  • A practical session on the use of social media.

This is a down to earth seminar that will prompt frank debate and identify key issues facing frontline councillors. It will give participants plenty of opportunity to explore different approaches, which they can apply in their work as officers or local councillors.


10:00 Registration

10:15 Introduction – aims

10:20 The current context – challenges and dilemmas

10:40 Methods of engagement in the current context

11:00 Examples of current approaches – member led partnerships in West Cheshire

12:00 Current approaches in localism – neighbourhood planning and the right to bid

12:30 The new relationship – using social media

12:45 Lunch

13:30 Current approaches: Example of a resident led partnership – Big Local in Blackburn

14:00 Example of building capacity of community leaders led by the voluntary sector – Wakefield

14:30 Example of building capacity of community leaders led by the local authority – Scotland

15:00 A strategic approach to engagement?

15:25 The meaning of empowerment

15:50 Concluding points

16:00 Close

This programme is correct at the time of publication but may be altered to reflect speaker changes that are beyond our control.


The trainer Steve Skinner was formerly a policy manager in the Bradford Council. He has published extensively in the field of community engagement and has recently carried out research on engagement and community leadership.  He works as a trainer and consultant with local authorities, voluntary organisations and partnerships across England and is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.

Who should attend?

Councillors who want to build on their work as community leaders and engage more with communities

Officers involved in supporting members or with responsibility for engaging with the community