Engaging with members of the community in person can show that community councils are approachable and it can also help raise their profile. Not all engagement has to be done in person, but being able to put a face to a name will not only help people recognise you, but also makes all other forms of engagement simpler and more trustworthy.
Face-to-face engagement can be practiced in a number of different ways; such as consultations, door-to-door campaigning, galas, and fairs. Events are a way of showing the great things community councils can achieve and might even encourage more of the community to get involved if they are inspired by what is happening in their area. Community councils have to represent the views of their community, so consultations and surveys are very important to obtain the views of citizens.
Some people may think attending a monthly community council meeting is too formal or they may be unable to attend for a number of reasons like disability or ill health, or because of work or family commitments, so it is important to think of different ways to involve everybody in the area. Organising a fair or gala day can also help bring the community closer together and can be a great way of gathering the views of the citizens in an informal setting.
Working with or attending other local voluntary groups' meetings can be a great way to consult with a variety of people in the community. This can also raise awareness of community councils and encourages other local groups and organisations to collaborate with you on issues important for the community.
When organising any kind of engagement activity, from going door-to-door to running an informal event, it is important to keep in mind what you want to achieve from the activity and who you want to engage with. Involving the community in the event organising process may help them feel ownership towards it, and therefore encourage others to get involved. Being inclusive is a fundamental part of community councils, so make sure that everyone in the community feels included and able to participate.
The Government has created a useful guide (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/can-do-guide-for-organisers-of-voluntary-events/the-can-do-guide-to-organising-and-running-voluntary-and-community-events) on organising voluntary events, which contains advice about licensing and insurance. If you are interested in learning more about ways to engage with the community through face-to-face engagement, Scottish Government has information (http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/engage/HowToGuide/Techniques) on how to engage with the community in several ways, including through focus groups and surveys.
Pollokshields Community Council is a great example of a community council representing and engaging with a diverse population. The community council work with other local groups and have been the driving force behind Pollokshields Playhouse, an open-air space for local events, film screenings, and community art projects. They also organised a charrette that around 400 people from the community participated in.