Implementation: getting started

This section highlights 3 areas of the guideline that were identified as needing support for implementation. These were identified from the available evidence on what makes for effective community engagement. Note that the principles of good practice in section 1.1 focus on removing common barriers to community engagement, based on the available evidence.

Identifying the resources needed

When supporting local community engagement activities, it may be helpful for statutory organisations and their partners to:

  • Ensure staff involved in health and wellbeing initiatives are allocated specific time, resources and support for community engagement.

  • Work in partnership with local communities and community and voluntary organisations and groups to help identify funding requirements, sources and resources. There may be costs associated with: recruitment, learning and training, ongoing support, development opportunities and supervision of volunteers.

  • Recognise that volunteers will need their expenses to be paid so that participation does not leave them out of pocket.

  • Work in partnership with local communities and community and voluntary organisations and groups to:

    • make funding applications for community engagement activities and evaluation.

    • help identify access to quality, affordable space (community centres, youth hubs, schools, churches, private venues, children centres, parks).

Learning and training

All those involved in local health and wellbeing initiatives may benefit from shared learning or training to support community engagement. This could include:

  • Helping all local partners and collaborators to continually share their learning, knowledge and experiences throughout the initiative. For example, by setting up networks and forums:

    • between different local communities and community and voluntary organisations

    • within and between statutory organisations

    • between and within local communities, community and voluntary organisations and statutory sector staff.

  • Working in partnership with local communities and community and voluntary organisations and groups to plan a series of learning, development and support opportunities for community participants. The aim would be to gradually build on local skills.

  • Training people to become community health champions and volunteers.

  • Providing ongoing training for community participants, community and voluntary organisations and statutory sector staff working in partnership to improve health and wellbeing.

  • Providing joint training and opportunities for shared learning for community participants, community and voluntary organisations and statutory sector staff working in partnership to improve health and wellbeing. Topics might include:

    • community development and health

    • evaluation

    • empowering people to be involved in decisions that may influence their health and wellbeing

    • organisational change and development

    • communication and negotiation skills

    • use of computers, tablets and smartphones

    • volunteer management

    • partnership working and accountability

    • safeguarding

    • business planning and financial management

    • participatory research and evaluations

    • UK policy context for community engagement

    • barriers and facilitators to statutory sector and community collaborations and partnerships.

Evaluation and feedback

To support ongoing monitoring and evaluation of local health and wellbeing initiatives and to encourage joint development between those leading and funding them and the local communities involved, it may be helpful to:

  • Involve community members and community and voluntary organisations in planning, designing and implementing an evaluation framework for both community engagement approaches and health and wellbeing initiatives.

  • Routinely evaluate community engagement activities to see what impact they have on health and wellbeing and health inequalities, including any unexpected effects. This could include a mixture of quantitative and qualitative evidence. Use existing evaluation tools if available. Examples include the School for Public Health Research's Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme and HM Treasury's Magenta Book – guidance on evaluation. Use a range of indicators to evaluate not only what works but in what context, as well as the costs and the experiences of those involved. For example, indicators might include measures of social capital, health and wellbeing, in addition to those identified by local communities. Identify and agree process and output evaluation objectives with members of target communities and community and voluntary organisations.

  • Provide regular feedback to the local communities involved (including people and groups outside the target communities) about the positive impact of their involvement and any issues of concern.

  • Document and record learning and any insights into community needs and norms, to develop future ways of involving local communities and community and voluntary organisations in health and wellbeing initiatives. Find ways to regularly monitor health and wellbeing initiatives to ensure responsibility for delivery is shared by all partners and collaborators.

  • Find ways to record, share and publish local evaluations and good practice relating to community engagement with other statutory, community and voluntary organisations involved in initiatives to improve health in partnership with local communities. This includes initiatives to tackle the wider determinants of health. This could be achieved, for example, through the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

Need more help?

Further resources are available from NICE that may help to support implementation:

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)