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People and Places: Putting people at the heart of the design, development and delivery of your project

September 19, 2017

In July 2017 the Big Lottery Fund in Wales relaunched our People and Places grant programme which is open to applications of between £10,001 and £500,000 for community projects lasting up to five years. You can read about the changes here. One of the key changes is that we’re asking all applicants to show us how their project fits into three themes: people-led, strength based, and connect.

To help explain these in more detail, we’re publishing a series of blogs to help outline what we mean by each theme. For this post we asked Communications Manager Rosie Dent to tell us a little more about people-led projects.

In a snapshot, what does ‘people-led’ mean?

We want the projects we fund to have meaningfully involved the people they’re working with in the development, design and delivery of the project. When we say people, we mean the people that take part in projects, their networks (such as family, friends, carers) and the wider community that your organisation works within.

Involvement could be through a variety of ways and is likely to be vary depending on who you’re working with. The key is that people are involved and we will ask you to show how involving people has influenced the plans for your project, as well as their continued involvement in the delivery if the project is funded.

What are the benefits of involving people?

We believe people should be leading on projects that aim to improve their lives and their community. This ensures that projects are shaped accordingly to the community’s requirements and views and gives the projects a higher chance of success. Involving people also gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and build confidence.

What if people don’t want to get involved?

People are busy. They have lives, families and jobs and might not have the time to get involved with new projects. Others may not feel comfortable sharing their views in front of others of may have been involved in a project before where they didn’t feel their views were listened to. Naturally you can’t force people to get involved. However it may be worth thinking about different ways to engage with them which won’t take up too much of their time or make them feel uncomfortable. For example, some people may prefer having a chance to share their views on a social media group in their own time more than attending a community meeting.

What if we can’t adapt the project to meet everyone’s views?

Tokenistic involvement can do more harm that not involving people at all. Therefore it is important to show people that they have been listened to and let them know what changes have been made to your plans as a result. If changes can’t be made, you should take the time to explain why.

What does involving people look like?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to involving people in the design, development and delivery of projects. This will look different for different projects and communities. However, it is important to provide an environment where people feel comfortable and safe to get involved.

  • Involving people could include building relationships with people who take part in current projects you’re providing, knocking on doors in the community, undertaking surveys, taking part in focus groups/committees – these are just a few examples.
  • Think beyond the usual group of people who are happy to be involved. Try and think of different ways to engage with people who don’t usually take part in projects or give their views and opinions.
  • Flexibility and creativity is the key – think beyond surveys and feedback forms.
  • Be prepared to challenge your assumptions on people’s skills, capabilities and experience.

Do you have any advice on what to consider when working with specific groups of people?

  • Think about whether you need to provide materials in alternative formats and languages. For example, when engaging with young people, you might want to be creative and use alternative media (e.g. video, social media, arts)
  • Cultural differences should be considered, for example some groups practice gender segregation in the delivery of projects. You may need to be aware of special holidays when engaging with people from ethnic minority communities and religious groups.
  • Challenge your assumptions regarding someone’s capability and interest in being involved.
  • Be creative and transparent – people will appreciate it.

If you would like to find out more about People and Places – visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/peopleandplacesmedium for medium grants (£10,001 to £100,000) or www.biglotteryfund.org.ukpeopleandplaceslarge for large grants (£100,001 to £500,000), call 0300 123 0735 or email wales@biglotteryfund.org.uk.

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