Increasingly, if an individual or group wants to engage with and influence decision making, it is essential to have the information and evidence to back up its case.
The East Belfast Community Development Agency described gathering statistics and developing “a clear ask” based on this evidence, in order to attract support from the Public Health Agency for counselling aimed at suicide prevention. While the word “evidence” can suggest professional academic research, this does not always need to be the case. Depending on the issue, a survey of local people who live in a street could be as valuable as an academic study. The use of local voices can be used to make the case, as well as expert input.
Also, remember that most of the organisations you wish to engage with produce regular reports and statistics themselves, much of which is publicly available – so you can ask for these. If you can provide an economic argument for the changes you wish to see happen, all the better.