Don’t throw people in at the deep end

Other approaches can be used to lay the groundwork for civic engagement. If people are already actively involved in their community then they are more likely to want to, and feel able to, engage with decision-makers.

Begin your civic engagement work by either starting with people who are already actively involved in their community or by easing people into civic engagement through other, less political, forms of participation such as volunteering. A relatively recent innovation in volunteering which has helped get more people involved in community life is timebanking.

Volunteer NOW’s timebanking initiative in Holywood reports participants having “a greater sense of confidence in themselves and their community and a greater sense of agency and as a result of that they’re able to engage with greater confidence with the local statutory providers such as, in this example, the Housing Executive”.