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Building Trust in Community Engagement: Insights from the CLEVER Cities Programme

In the realm of community engagement, the CLEVER Cities programme in London has been a pioneering force since 2018, spearheading integrated urban design and nature-based solutions in South Thamesmead. Led by a consortium including Groundwork London, the Great London Authority, Peabody, and the Young Foundation, the programme has navigated the complexities of stakeholder involvement and co-creation, evolving into collaborative governance.

One of the critical factors that emerged from the CLEVER Cities initiative is the importance of trust-building in community engagement. Building trust within communities and overcoming historical skepticism are essential strategies to foster genuine collaboration. Through their experiences, the programme has highlighted several strategies to achieve this:

1. Know your community & establish relationships

It is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the local community involved in the project. Prioritize building relationships by actively participating in local events and supporting local groups.

2. Provide meaningful opportunities to contribute

Demonstrate a willingness to share power and engage stakeholders at all levels. Overcome institutional rigidity constructively and create an environment for early and frequent community input.

3. Work transparently with good communication and feedback

Ensure project information is easily accessible and decision-making processes are transparent. Foster communication that focuses on understanding root issues. Provide comprehensive feedback to stakeholders.

4. Help build community, capabilities, and confidence

Support collective goals and strengthen local networks. Facilitate the transformation of informal social groups into structured and empowered entities. Encourage knowledge exchange between community members and the technical team.

5. Overcome distrust and apathy with quick wins

Address past issues by consistently making progress in resolving local concerns. Identify and celebrate quick wins to establish a sense of accomplishment and periodic milestones for collective celebration.

6. Work towards diversity of perspective

Recognize the value of diverse perspectives and foster partnerships that encompass a wide range of community experiences.

Implementing these strategies can help reduce initial community resistance and bring the co-creation team and community together. By understanding and addressing past experiences, projects can be assessed based on their potential to genuinely enhance the quality of life for community members.

FAQ

What is the CLEVER Cities programme in London?

The CLEVER Cities programme is a pioneering initiative in London that focuses on integrated urban design and nature-based solutions in South Thamesmead. Led by a consortium including Groundwork London, the Great London Authority, Peabody, and the Young Foundation, the programme promotes collaborative governance and stakeholder involvement.

Why is trust-building important in community engagement?

Trust-building is crucial in community engagement as it helps foster genuine collaboration and overcome historical skepticism or apathy. Building trust allows for meaningful participation, effective communication, and the successful implementation of projects that enhance the quality of life for community members.

What strategies can be used to build trust in community engagement?

Some strategies to build trust in community engagement include:
1. Knowing the community and establishing relationships
2. Providing meaningful opportunities for community input
3. Working transparently with good communication and feedback
4. Helping build community capabilities and confidence
5. Addressing past concerns with quick wins
6. Encouraging diversity of perspectives through partnerships with a wide range of community experiences.

By Howard Rhodes

Howard Rhodes is a prominent figure in the field of sustainable urban planning, with a special focus on renewable energy integration in American cities. His writings and research are centered on the transformative impact of green energy solutions like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power in urban environments. Rhodes advocates for the adoption of these sustainable practices to address the pressing challenges of climate change and energy security. His influential work provides insightful analysis on the economic, environmental, and social benefits of transitioning to renewable energy sources in cityscapes, making him a key voice in the movement towards more sustainable urban futures.