Local government is being faced with incredibly difficult challenges and choices – from managing local lockdowns through to creating resilient economies, all on tight budgets.
In this context, it's all the more difficult but important to involve local communities in the Covid response and recovery – benefiting from their ideas and experiences, help with making difficult trade-offs, and community action.
Over the summer, we worked with practitioners and local authority officers to prepare Building Back With.1 This handbook is intended to support local authorities to consider how they can build back with their local communities, involving them in the Covid-19 response and recovery. It has been developed as part of our joint project with the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Westminster University: “A democratic response to Covid”.
What the handbook contains
The handbook contains eight chapters, covering the following:
Chapter 1: Introduction – what the handbook contains, how it's been developed and how you can contribute;
Chapter 2: Why involve people now – the rationale for involving local communities in the Covid response and recovery;
Chapter 3: Before you start – tips on making the case and securing institutional buy-in;
Chapter 4: Where to start – some principles for planning high-quality public engagement;
Chapter 5: Helpful resources – a range of handy handbooks, guides and toolkits to help plan and deliver community engagement;
Chapter 6: Where it’s happening – examples and case studies engaging people in taking decisions and action around Covid;
Chapter 7: What it could look like – illustrative processes to provide some inspiration for how communities could be engaged on different issues;
Chapter 8: Further reading – links to interesting further reading on Covid, public participation and democracy.
Using the handbook
You can access the handbook in three ways:
All of the content in this handbook is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence. This means that you are free to remix, adapt, and build upon the handbook non-commercially, as long as the original handbook is credited and you license your new creation under the same terms.
Help write the handbook
The handbook has been written by Involve in partnership with members of the Deliberative Democracy Practitioners’ Network – a group of designers and facilitators of participatory and deliberative processes.
It is intended to be a living document that we update over time as new issues, resources and case studies arise. A version of it will live on the Involve Knowledge Base, which we will periodically update based on updates to a live collaborative document (hosted on Google Docs). If you'd like to help improve the handbook, access the live document and start writing or leave a comment.
Image Credit: Catherine Cordasco via United Nations Covid Response