Stage 1

Making a plan

Working in Partnership

Community engagement allows you to connect with people from your local community to ensure your facility meets their needs and aspirations. Working in partnership with the community means researching, designing and delivering your plans and activities together. 

Narrowing the Focus

Community engagement is most effective when it targets clearly identified groups and places. Local  organisations can help you identify and reach local groups and charities. Speaking to these community groups and charities offers local insight to identify and engage with clearly defined priority groups and places.  
The options and opportunity to select priority places and sites for projects will differ depending on the facility type you’re delivering. 

For the PlayZone programme the consortium of local partners will identify priority places and audiences. It is key that local communities have a say in the location of PlayZone facilities. 
For other facilities e.g. 3G pitches, the location will be driven through the LFFP process. However priority audiences must be included in the development of the project and feel that the project has been developed with them. We’ve developed the following approach to help you ‘narrow the focus’:

Stage 1 - Review of existing information

Reviewing existing insight and community engagement findings is a key starting point, and helps  avoid  duplication in engagement. Use this information to start conversations with partners about your local communites and identify target groups you would like to access your facility. Information can include:

  • Local strategies, insight and knoweldge e.g. from local authorities, active partnerships and other local organisations
  • Local mapping of prioirty groups, which provides useful data to support the identification of broad locations and concentrations of priorty groups and should be used together with local strategies, insight and knowledge. Our PitchFinder database provides some demographic data. 
  • Identify existing local facilities and programmes within your community.

Data and insight is important but won't provide all the answers. You can only truly understand communities by speaking and listening to people.

Things to consider:

  • Demographics
  • Life-stage
  • Location
  • Life situation

Stage 2 - Identify options for broad priority groups and places

  • Based on an understanding of local and regional strategic priorities through stage 1, identifiy broad priority groups that you would like to target to benenfit from your project.
  • For the PlayZone programme this stage will also include the need for local consortia to identify broad place options to deliver facilities.

Stage 3 - Identify definable priority groups and places

  • Take a deeper dive into your findings from stage 2 to identify definable groups and places, informed by local organisations with knowledge of your target groups and places who can help you understand and reach your audience. 
  • For the PlayZone programme this stage will also include the need for local consortia to identify the defined areas to target. 

Continuously check and challenge your process to ensure you have the adequate skills and access to the right organisations to support community engagement. Key questions to consider:

  • Which groups and organisations could help you reach and engage with your target groups?
  • Will a football or multi-sports offer appeal to the defined target groups?
  • Is the location of your project accessible for your target groups?

Stage 4 - Finalise and target priority geographical areas

The geographical area may already be determined when your plan is to invest in an existing site, but where there are options, it’s important that stakeholders have input into this stage. 

This is particularly important for the PlayZone programme where the local community should have a say in the location of facilities. 

Stage 5 - Scope initial ideas for community engagement

Work with local partners to ask ‘where, what, when and who’ to ensure the community engagement process runs smoothly and achieves your objectives. Here are some questions to consider when planning engagement with your defined priority audiences: 

  • Who will carry out the engagement? (This can be a team of people.)
  • Where are the best places to speak to your audiences? 
  • When is the best time?
  • What will you ask them? 
  • How will you record the findings?
  • What resources do you need? 
  • Which groups and organisations can help you reach your audiences?

Issues and themes to consider

Every community faces unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to being active. Speak to people about their life experiences and their relationship with sport and activity. This will help you understand the barriers that prevent them from being active and identify the opportunities your project can offer.

Local stakeholders working with your communities will have insight and knowledge of issues that sport and activity can address. For example, local councils may have strategic plans to focus on health issues.

These stakeholders can help build a picture of the local community, activities that may interest them, and advise on approaching community engagement. Guidance on finding local partners can be found in section 2 and on the further resources page.

Planning ahead

The next step is to consider who is best placed to undertake community engagement. The most successful engagement is undertaken by people with close links with the local community. We recommend taking a flexible approach, looking within your organisation, local community groups, or ‘local champions’ or ‘influencers’ who can introduce you to and engage with community groups.

The ideal person / people will:

  • Understand and relate to your audience & community
  • Have time and motivation to build trust and relationships 
  • Lead local conversations and listen to people
  • Record / take notes from conversations (with permission) to use for later discussions and plans  

Share your community engagement findings with all stakeholders to inform the development and delivery of your project.