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UCL Public Engagement Blog



The Community of Engagers: facilitating conversations with public and patient groups

By ucwetca, on 22 May 2018

On Tuesday 1st May 2018 the UCL SLMS Community of Engagers met to share their different experiences and techniques for facilitating public engagement and public involvement events. UCL SLMS 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. Cassie Hugill, Public Engagement Coordinator at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, gives her thoughts on the session.

The session was lead by Andi Skilton and Daniel Taylor, from the Community of Engagers advisory committee with support from other members; Tadhg Caffrey, Niccola Hutchinson-Pascal and myself.

Starting with a discussion on ‘What is Facilitation?’, this lead on to a deeper conversation on aspects of facilitation with each group discussing one of the following topics before feeding back to the wider room;

– The role of a facilitator and qualities that define a good facilitator;
– Good ground rules / behaviours a facilitator should set during the session;
– Managing personalities to ensure everyone’s voice is heard; and
– Strategies for when someone becomes emotional while you are facilitating the session.

These group discussions illustrated just how much experience people already had, and could share, in facilitation through either facilitating their own event, or participating and observing another facilitator.

We then had two speakers present on their experiences and suggestions for facilitating a successful event for particular audiences. Victoria Fleming is a PhD student at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL. She recently ran a PPI event showcasing the results behind the project ListenIn. This project was trialling a new speech and language therapy app with stroke survivors living with the language condition, aphasia. Victoria successfully facilitated the event for 35 participants and discussed the particular needs associated with facilitating an event for stroke survivors.

Victoria Fleming, PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL

Alison Thompson is a Lecturer in Patient Public Involvement at Queen Mary University of London. Alison regularly facilitates events for people living with Multiple Sclerosis. Her talk discussed the considerations and ways she had to think outside the box to develop successful events for people living with MS including disability access, length of presentations, and how people engaged.

These talks gave an insight into facilitating events for audiences with special needs and illustrated the importance of considering your target audience when designing your event.


The next Community of Engagers meeting will be on measuring and communicating meaningful impact from your engagement effort. 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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