Driving community engagement for a local authority in West London

Design Research
Service & Experience Design

Client : Ealing Council

The challenge

Bringing together the council and community to co-create solutions in one of London’s most diverse boroughs

Ealing Borough Council wanted to transform the way they work with their neighbourhoods by empowering residents to take charge and hold the council accountable for following through. They wanted to meet their residents to co-develop new solutions to their key challenges and shape services that impact everyone.

Ealing is the 5th most diverse borough in London, with over 170 languages spoken across 7 towns: Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale, Southall and West Ealing. A key focus of the project was to make sure that all members of the community receive the support they need from the council going forwards.

The approach

Identifying key areas of focus & building capabilities within the local community and council to drive long-term change

DK&A developed a programme consisting of 4 in-person workshops that took residents on a journey, learning new skills, ways of thinking and collaborative working with the council that neither of them had experienced previously. We identified and reached out to change makers and leaders within the local community of Northolt to join the programme. The workshop team was equally balanced between council workers and local residents, ensuring that the local residents had their views heard.

Throughout these sessions our expert coaches were also training all attendees in the core principles and methods of service design, upskilling members of Ealing Council so that they can continue co-creating with the community and lead more projects in the future.

Defining a goal

The group, with voices from both council staff and local residents, defined their challenge statement: ‘How might we as a community, better support all our Ealing residents?’

Providing the tools

Residents were supported with toolkits to conduct research in pairs within the wider community. They then reviewed their findings to develop insights and idea that could be shared back with the group in the next workshop.

Developing ideas

After each group had completed their research and analysed their findings, everyone was brought together to deepen the collective understanding of community needs, discuss a variety of solutions, and vote on the best idea to be developed further. Local councillors even popped by for a surprise visit to show their support and contribute to the ideas.

Looking to the future

The programme resulted in residents feeling engaged, valued and proud of where they live, while also having learnt new skills. It has given the council the confidence to continue running this kind of community engagement, with plans to repeat the programme across the borough.

The impact

  • Closer bonds between council and community.

    Council members are continuing to support residents with key ideas that emerged from the programme.

  • Skills embedded in local government.

    Members of the council learned how to co-create with the community to improve the local area.

  • Agency given to local residents.

    Community was given agency to influence use of council resources, becoming an active part of improving their neighbourhoods.

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