Step four: engaging equalities groups

When you know what information you already have, and have identified what you need to know, you should speak directly with the local community.

An essential stage in any needs assessment involves speaking to and involving the communities whose needs you are trying to assess."

Scottish Government, Same Difference? Resource

This is an important way of developing an understanding of what people’s needs are, as well as identifying any barriers to engaging in existing services.

Suggested methods for engaging local communities

There are lots of different methods to gather views and ideas.  The Same Difference? Resource outlines a number of methods you could use.

Satisfaction surveys with existing service users.  Although this can be a helpful way of finding out what people think of the service, it is unlikely to help you understand why other people are not accessing a service.

Surveys can help you to find out what people who haven't accessed your service need and want in terms of CLD provision.

Discussion groups - holding a focus group to discuss people's needs and views can be very useful in gaining a detailed understanding of what services are required.

Drop in sessions - in many cases, less formal mechanisms of consultation can work well with some equalities groups. For example, running a drop in café or social club and gradually beginning to discuss with people what their needs are can be a very good way of both understanding needs and developing relationships with communities.

Training communities as researchers - another good option is to involve and support people from equalities groups in undertaking research themselves. This can be extremely valuable, as people will often have networks within their communities and can often encourage more people to take part in research. In addition, this approach builds the skills of local people from a range of communities.

Source:  Taken from Scottish Government, Same Difference? Resource

Participatory appraisal

Participatory appraisal or participatory assessment techniques are often used to help gather community views, and allow people whose voices are sometimes lost, to be heard.  There are a wide range of approaches to participatory appraisal, but you may find some techniques useful in working with people from equalities groups and overcoming barriers that might stem from particular characteristics.  For example, some participatory appraisal techniques rely on pictures rather than words – this might be useful when working with people who are not able to communicate verbally. 

Find out more about successful engagement of equalities groups in the section on Involving Equalities Groups