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The Community of Engagers: discussing ways of making connections with diverse groups

By ucwetca, on 23 March 2018

On Wednesday 21st February the UCL SLMS Community of Engagers met to discuss ways of connecting with diverse public groups. Community of Engagers meetings are designed to share learning and advice, and to link up those within UCL SLMS who are working in Public Engagement and Public Involvement. Each meeting is an opportunity to get advice, share experience, and to get new ideas for working with public and patient groups.

This meeting was led by the Community of Engagers advisory committee, Niccola Hutchinson-Pascal, Daniel Taylor, Andi Skilton, Isabelle Abbey-Vital and myself. We were delighted to be joined by two speakers who have worked very closely with traditionally under-served groups.

Lorna Benton, Research Associate in the Institute for Global Health spoke about her experience of working with British Bangladeshi community of Tower Hamlets through the NEON (Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition) project, and the challenges and opportunities presented by working with one of the UK’s most socio-economically disadvantaged ethnic groups. Lorna also spoke about the Health, Education, Engineering and Environment global platform, and emphasised in both cases the importance of establishing early relationships with community groups and being clear with expectations and language in any interaction.

Lorna (centre) with her Bangladesh-based project partners

These thoughts were echoed by Briony Fleming, Public Engagement Coordinator (East) who spoke from her perspective of working within the charity sector in East London. Briony outlined how important it is to understand and respect the differing context of charity and community groups, and that using intermediaries and connection points can help make these conversations easier.

The groups discussed issues that they’ve had with this work in the past, and we agreed that understanding why a community or patient group wants to be involved in a project, and why their involvement is useful for a project, is paramount to establishing a strong working foundation.

The next Community of Engagers meeting will be focused on methods of facilitating conversations with public and patient groups. Click here for more information and to book a place.

We also encourage all those interested in PPI and PE from within SLMS to join our online Yammer Group with your UCL log-in details. Click here to sign up to Yammer and then search for “SLMS Community of Engagers” to find the group.

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