Renfrewshire Council

Empowering communities

Insights from the #YouDecide project team

Our #YouDecide campaign sparked a wave of community empowerment across Renfrewshire. Through a combination of public roadshows, partnership working, radio and outdoor advertising, social and local media channels and strategic placement of post boxes at local community hubs, the project team generated a massive level of engagement leading to over 2,800 ideas from local people for infrastructure projects to enhance their neighbourhoods.

The collaborative efforts of colleagues from Environment, Housing and Infrastructure together with data analytics, community planning and marketing and communications received widespread recognition both on a national and international scale. 

Head of Climate, Public Protection and Roads, Gerry Hannah was so inspired by the team's approach, that he nominated them for living our values. He said: "The way they worked was a breath of fresh air. Using their diverse mix of skills, they managed the community engagement perfectly and showed great flexibility and responsiveness as a team to meet the challenges they faced."

We met with project team colleagues - Kellie Howard from policy and strategic planning, Gwyneth Heaney from roads and transportation and Graeme Crawford from corporate communications - for the inside track on the campaign's success. 

Image of Kellie Howard from YouDecide project team
Kellie Howard
#YouDecide has been recognised as a triumph of collaboration and community engagement. What would you say has been the secret to the campaign's success?

Kellie: "Outstanding collaboration and partnership working. Colleagues from across environment, housing and infrastructure services, from community planning, data analytics to marketing and communications all contributed their unique skills and perspectives."

Graeme: "For me, it was how we engaged our communities. We used all our normal communications channels, but it was the boots on the ground, going to every town and village in Renfrewshire and speaking to people that made a real difference. From supermarkets to tea dances, and anywhere else that would let them in, the friendly team had a really positive impact and engaged people that wouldn't normally have their say."

Image of Gwyneth Heaney from YouDecide project team
Gwyneth Heaney
Can you tell us more about your approach to community engagement?

Gwyneth: "Our message was about empowering local people and we were having constructive conversations with as many residents as we could. To attract attention, we set up colourful gazebos in different areas where people approached us. We also tapped into local organisations and community groups and worked with them to spread the word. In the end we received over 2,800 ideas and it was both awe-inspiring and very useful to get that insight into what local people really want."

The campaign has been recognised as a great example of living our values. How would you describe the benefits of collaboration and the impact this had?

Graeme: "In the communications team where I'm based, we're used to working with different people on our campaigns, but we rarely get to work with everyone together. Having a mix of people around the table meant we could consider things from all angles, and it was far easier to get things done. It felt like we were all one team working together on a meaningful and impactful campaign."

Graeme Crawford at desk smiling to camera
Graeme Crawford
Were there any standout moments or memorable challenges throughout the campaign?

Kellie: "There were plenty of challenges and we've all got a story to tell about being caught in the rain or mud. You never knew what to expect from one day to the next, but we were all determined to make #YouDecide a resounding success no matter what. It was fantastic to be part of a team with that sort of positive energy."

Gwyneth: "I'll always remember how people came together. Our focus was on the incredible people we met as we visited every town and village. There was a real sense of building communities."

Graeme: "The moment when Paisley's own double Olympic medallist Jack Carlin got involved and encouraged locals to take part stands out for me. It's not every day you have an Olympian supporting your campaign. Being a cyclist, it was no surprise that a cycle route in Paisley was what he hoped for!"

We're grateful to Kellie, Gwyneth and Graeme for taking the time to share their insights. If you'd like to find out more about the campaign visit the #YouDecide webpage.

Published on Thursday 03 August 2023

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