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Guest Article: Scottish Government’s engagement and consultation work

The Scottish Government conducts regular engagement and consultation work, and all of our consultations can be accessed on our consultation hub. Consultation is a fundamental part of bill and policy development, but engaging with the public also upholds our Open Government commitments to participation and helps us live up to our organisational values to put people at the heart of everything we do.

The Digital Engagement team manages the consultation hub and advises colleagues on participation and digital engagement.

Our new strategic plan

Recently our team developed a new strategic plan which focuses on:

  • Building an engagement culture and narrative
  • Building a network of engagement champions
  • Ensuring colleagues have the right tools and knowledge
  • Ensuring colleagues have the right support and advice

The first two objectives are all about internal community building and community engagement.

To action them, we knew we needed to bring people together and begin a programme of engagement to upskill and inform them. We joined forces with our Open Government team to create a community base on the internal social networking site Yammer – the Public Engagement and Participation Community.

Developing the community

Just having this community base didn’t mean people would join – we had to give people a good reason to engage and feel part of something. We began a programme of work to do just this, including:

  • events to share best practice – e.g. our Co-production Week events in November 2021
  • open training sessions and drop-in surgeries on consultation and digital platforms
  • internal and external blogging – sharing stories and case studies, tips and best practice on our intranet and our revamped Participation Blog
  • one-to-one networking opportunities in the form of ‘cuppa chats’ – matching over 250 colleagues for a half hour chat so far
  • weekly bulletins bringing together resources or articles on a theme
  • weekly round-ups of recent and relevant blogs, events, articles and internal job vacancies

These initial efforts really paid off as we quickly saw the community grow in number and reach. Importantly, we also encouraged community members to share their own work, useful resources and questions. Regular posting has encouraged community members to add to the conversation and help each other out by responding to questions and being so open with their knowledge.

Our next steps

After speaking to community members we know there is an appetite to network, learn from each other, share problems and challenges, and forge connections across departments. We are developing the cuppa chats scheme and planning some open space forums for colleagues to air problems and share best practice. Regular peer-learning and sharing sessions are on the cards too.

Our current guidance about engagement could be more streamlined and easier to use. We know there is a wealth of experience in our community and to harness this we’ve recruited members to tackle this challenge through an 8-week co-design process where they’ll evaluate the current resources, decide what is needed by the service users, and generate ideas for new and improved guidance.

Finally, we’re aiming to mobilise the community to become engagement champions themselves. We envisage colleagues taking ownership of the community, delivering events and training, acting as peer educators, and advocating for engagement in their wider networks. To really embed these ways of working across the whole organisation and to progress our objectives around culture change, we need as many people working together as possible.

Find out more

Keep up to date with our progress on our Participation Blog or on Twitter. Get in touch at DigitalEngagement@gov.scot – we’d love to hear what other organisations are doing to embed participation and engagement internally.

 

About the author

Ellie Snape

Senior Digital Engagement Manager, Scottish Government

I joined the Digital Engagement team at Scottish Government in 2021 to take forward the work of the team managing our consultation and engagement digital platforms. With a background in delivering participation and engagement with young people, I have been able to bring practitioner expertise into Scottish Government to support colleagues to shape their engagement effectively. I am currently working with a variety of aligned teams to develop improved support and training for colleagues with the aim of better embedding participation in policy development. Based in the communications division, I am looking to explore how our role in the organisation can better facilitate communication between government officials and the public.

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