Simon Burall


Simon Burall is the Director of Involve. He has long and extensive experience in the fields of democratic reform, open government, public participation, stakeholder engagement, accountability and transparency, scientific and technology innovation and organisational change. He has worked at the local and national level in Africa, Asia and Europe as well as on related issues of global governance and democracy.

In his role with Involve, Simon has worked with and advised many organisations including Number 10, the Cabinet Office, the Scottish Government, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, NHS England, the UK Civil Society Network on Open Government, UNDP, OECD, the World Bank, the European Economic and Social Council, as well as at local level with numerous local authorities and other public bodies.

Simon has published extensively on issues related to democracy, participation, accountability and transparency.

Simon is currently a member of the Public Engagement with Research Advisory Panel for Research Councils UK and a Fellow WWF UK. He was Head of Dialogue and a member of the Programme Board for Sciencewise between 2012 and 2016, and a member of the Steering Committee from 2010-2012.

He was a trustee and member of Council for Voluntary Services Overseas from 1997-2007, and a Trustee and Chair of Democratic Audit, 2008-2014.

Before moving to Involve Simon was a Research Fellow at ODI from 2006 – 2009. His interests included stakeholder engagement in the reform of the international aid delivery system and the effectiveness of development finance. Prior to this he was the Executive Director of the One World Trust from 1999 – 2005 where he initiated and oversaw the development of the influential Global Accountability Index. Simon has taught English in Namibia and science in Zimbabwe, and was an election monitor in Bosnia Herzegovina after the Dayton Agreement.

Simon has a BA in Natural Sciences and a PGCE from Cambridge University, and an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS.

Associated programmes

Blog posts

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How to get engagement wrong in one easy step

September 9, 2016

There are so many examples of exciting and successful public engagement processes, for example: Citizens juries; Citizen assemblies; Deliberative dialogues; Online budget calculators; or Online forums. * These are a vindication of the work of organisations like Involve. In spite of common perceptions that the public are somehow incapable of dealing with complex and controversial…

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Why engage the public just after they’ve voted?

September 7, 2016

The total cost of the EU referendum, according to the BBC, was £142m. And all commentators and politicians appear to agree that the question has been definitively answered, “Brexit means Brexit”. On this basis some would find it hard to justify spending more time and money reaching out to the public to engage them in…

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Reflections on #reframe16

July 28, 2016

Involve and King’s College London co-hosted a gathering of facilitators last Friday. Involve proposed the gathering to explore whether there was a role for individuals and organisations with facilitation, conflict resolution and engagement skills in supporting communities in the UK to find a way through the challenges posed by the EU-referendum result. This post is…

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Why don’t we trust the experts? |

July 5, 2016

This post explores research that suggests the reason experts aren't trusted is as much to do with whether the expert is judged to have our best interests at heart or not. Which means that experts are less likely to be trusted “by people who feel alienated from them.” Visit the site

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Experts only

Down with economists! Citizens don’t need you!

July 1, 2016

I spoke at the launch of the RSA’s Citizens’ Economic Council on Wednesday. The topic of the debate was ‘Can Citizens be Economists?’ The context for the launch was obviously the debate leading up to the referendum last week, the challenge to the role of experts, most infamously by Michael Gove, and the challenge from…

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Mirror fragments

Calling anyone with facilitation skills

June 30, 2016

We've just sent this email to people in our network who have facilitation skills and experience. But we're aware our networks could be more complete. If you know anyone who might be interested, please do let them know.  Dear friends and colleagues I’m writing to you as someone in our network who we think might have facilitation, community…

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Reframing the debate

June 27, 2016

There are many on the Remain side of the vote who are now feeling, perhaps for the first time, the sense of alienation, economic uncertainty and anger that many on the Leave side have felt for 20-30 years. What has become even clearer after Thursday’s vote is that the debate has never been about Europe…

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Lanarkshire NHS Logo

New project launched: supporting better consultation in Lanarkshire

June 23, 2016

Involve, working with our associate Diane Beddoes, is providing support to NHS Lanarkshire for the public consultation around their new draft Healthcare Strategy. This new strategy, developed by NHS Lanarkshire in partnership with North and South Lanarkshire Councils, is designed to improve the provision of health and social care in Lanarkshire and improve the health outcomes for the…

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After the referendum, what happens next?

June 22, 2016

It’s the day before the EU referendum and the vote is still too close to call. It genuinely could go either way. Indeed, at this point, the only thing that it is possible to say with any certainty is that the debate has not helped the UK to reach a shared vision for the future…

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