This case study was presented by Catherine Gadd and Grace Halfpenny of Neath-Port Talbot County Borough Council, Shajan Mohammed, Chairman of Neath Port Talbot Tigers, and Clive Owen from Neath Port Talbot Older Person's Council at the Principles into Practice sessions that were held around Wales to look at how the National Principles of Public Engagement in Wales can be implemented.
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council is the elected administrative body governing Neath-Port Talbot.
Neath Port Talbot Tigers is a club run and managed by volunteers for the enrichment of the community through sporting activities and social events. The Members represent a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds and faiths including Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Turkish, Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish, Afro Caribbean, Muslim, Sikh and Christian.
Neath Port Talbot Older Person's Council is an independent body of twelve ‘older’ people who work to strengthen the links between the Local Authority elected Council and older people throughout Neath and Port Talbot.
The study will look at the ‘Your Say in Your Community Event’, which was used to engage with Black and Minority Ethnic groups.
The Older Person's Council identified that they were not engaging with Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) older people as they would like. An opportunity came to apply for a grant from the Welsh Government Community Cohesion Fund, which gave them the chance to develop the way that older people from BME backgrounds participated in the local authority area as they were traditionally seldom heard in consultation processes. Following their bid Neath Port Talbot Tigers and Swansea Bay Regional Equality Council were approached to be partners, and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (NPTCBC) supported them in this process.
Older people’s families were engaged as part of the engagement work as they often acted as interpreters. Their views were also collated and fed into the process. NPTCBC used this as an opportunity to engage with seldom heard groups and implement their Programme to Transform Older People's Services. Older People’s services were being redesigned as an increasing number of people would be accessing the services in the future. The redesign was also needed to ensure that the service could continue to be of a good quality in difficult financial times. NPTCBC also used this engagement process to look at community safety.
Other organisations such as the health service were informed of the event and invited to attend.
How did the event meet the principles?
1. Engagement is effectively designed to make a difference
Once the Older Person's Council identified BME communities as people they would like to engage further with, they contacted Neath Port Talbot Tigers, a voluntary sector organisation that runs social events for the community. The local authority provided support to enable this to take place. Swansea Bay Regional Equality Council was also approached to assist with the process.
The Tigers work actively in BME communities and were therefore identified as ideal partners for the project. They are a small organisation that works closely with the community, which meant that they were ideally placed to have discussions with people about the event. The Tigers recognised that there was enough of a demand within the community to get involved in this process and that the event itself was a great opportunity for the community to influence services.
There was clear agreement in the event’s planning stage of what the Tigers could contribute. This agreement was reached in partnership rather than being a set of demands. A working group was formed in order to brainstorm ideas. This group gave the event its name in order to give ownership to community.
The ‘usual suspects’ are normally found attending older people's events, but by planning and designing the event differently, other groups could be targeted that do not usually contribute to engagement events.
2. Encourage and enable everyone affected to be involved, if they so choose
This principle was part of the remit of the consultation as older people from BME communities were identified as people whose voices were not being heard. The Tigers tried their best to engage with the surrounding Polish and Cantonese communities but they did not turn up on the day. Whilst people cannot be forced to turn up, in the future they will try to identify the key gatekeepers for these communities like the Tigers are for the Bengali community.
A range of tools were used to engage with the community. The Tigers identified who would be the main beneficiaries and gave leaflets and had face to face contact to encourage them to attend and ICT was also used. Information was posted online and Facebook was used to raise awareness. Emails were also circulated to potential attendees. Posters and leaflets were displayed in community centres, Mosques and at multicultural events. This generated a buzz and gave people time to take in the information. The Neath-Port Talbot BME Forum was also specifically targeted. They were informed about the event and then they filtered this information out to communities
Facilitators from each community were identified for the event. They facilitated their groups in different languages, which made it easier for attendees to participate and to be comfortable at the event. A lot of effort went into identifying the languages that should be available and finding facilitators who could also be translators and they were really key to the day. As they were identified very early on in the process they could generate discussion in each area, promote the event effectively and build trust with the communities from the outset.
3. Engagement is planned and delivered in a timely and appropriate way
The engagement processes began as early as possible. This gave time to market the event as much as possible and for conversation and interest on the subjects to be generated. The day's documents were also provided very early on, which allowed people to generate ideas and have discussions on the many issues prior to the event itself. People could have initially wondered whether they had anything to contribute, but as they already had this information they could see that it was relevant.
4. Work with relevant partner organisations
Partnership ran through the whole event, right from the planning stages where the organisations planned the event together, right through to the event itself. The Chair of the Tigers was the event’s MC, and speakers included the Chair of Neath Port Talbot Older Person’s Council, Chief Executive of Swansea Bay Regional Equality Council, a local older person from a BME community and the Leader of NPTCBC. There were also presentations from the Community Safety team and the Transforming Older Person’s Services Programme. The fact that each of the above played active parts at the event was a very visual way of showing that each organisation was working together and bought in to its value.
5. The information provided will be jargon free, appropriate and understandable
The information provided at the event was jargon free. Speakers were also asked to be pictorial due to the language barriers in place. Although each group had facilitators they could interact with, it was agreed at the outset that there was no point in having twenty minute presentations that nobody could engage with.
6. Make it easier for people to take part
The idea of reducing barriers was talked about in the planning stage. The needs of the audience were considered, with information on the day being provided in five or six languages. This made it easier to source potential facilitators once the languages people would contribute in were identified. This meant that people could be reassured in the marketing that their language and cultural needs would be catered for. It was made clear that time and space would be made available for prayers.
The original venue that was chosen was in a central location, but this was unfortunately unavailable on the planned date. Aberavon Beach Hotel was then identified as a potential venue. Whilst it was not as central, it turned out to be a very effective venue for the event.
The hotel met the access requirements that were needed to ensure that disabled people could participate. Vegetarian and Halal food was made available to attendees.
A buffet was also available for women on the balcony should they choose it. This meant that women had the choice of either partaking in the main buffet or this one. Whilst this was not necessarily required, some women attending would have waited for the men to get their food first. This action reassured women and communities that they were being thought of and welcomed. Groups were mixed, but where it was necessary some were divided into men’s groups and women’s groups to ensure that there were not any hierarchies in place that prevented people from participating.
The event was made into an intergenerational event. As many primary carers in the community are the sons or daughters of those being cared for, carers could then provide feedback on behalf of those that could not attend. The Older Person's Council valued views of young people too, which helped to increase the turnout. The number of Primary Carers attending also meant that transportation was not an issue. Community transport was offered but was not needed on the day.
The event ran from 12pm - 4pm to enable as many people to attend as possible.
7. Enable people to take part effectively
The event kept a particular local focus as it had well known faces from communities and host organisations there to build trust. This meant that bridges could be built with communities and attendees could develop further confidence in providing feedback to public service providers through their processes.
8. Engagement is given the right resources and support to be effective
The Welsh Government Community Cohesion Fund resourced the event. This is administered by the local authority, which in this case was NPTCBC. This funding ensured that the event was properly resourced to meet people’s needs.
9. People are told the impact of their contribution
The feedback process has been challenging due to the number of people from different backgrounds that took part in the consultation, but Swansea Bay Regional Equality Council have been asked to translate information so that it can be fed back into the community. This is an area that will need to be worked on in the future. A simple information leaflet may be written and translated after future events.
10. Learn and share lessons to improve the process of engagement
NPTCBC have been sharing lessons and have attended events like the principles into practice workshops to share what they learned.
Whilst the event tried to engage with as many people as possible, people cannot be forced to turn up. It is everyone’s decisions as individuals as to whether the event is relevant. This was part of the subsequent evaluation, where they identified that gatekeepers to other communities would need to be engaged and liaised with in order to effectively engage with them. They also used the evaluation to approach people who did not attend to see what they could do differently.
Although the event was intergenerational, the number of grandchildren that attended was surprising. The next time an event is held there will be more childcare available. In this case a translator was able to help as there some people from their group did not attend. If this provision had been identified and advertised, it may have encouraged more people to attend.
There were also unexpected outcomes from the event. The young people’s view meant that it was possible to see how young people saw themselves caring for their parents or grandparents in the future. This wouldn't have happened if they would have been in a mixed group with the adults. The women’s group were also able to give their perspectives in a comfortable environment and did not feel that they could not express their views.
Further infromation on the event is available by contacting Catherine Gadd on email@example.com.
If you would like to learn more about NPTCBC please visit www.npt.gov.uk.
If you would like to learn more about Neath Port Talbot Tigers please visit www.pt-tigers.org.uk.
If you would like to learn more about Neath Port Talbot Older Person's Council please visit www.nptolderpersonscouncil.org.uk.