Community engagement

Through years of experience the Sensory Trust has developed techniques to engage the widest possible audience. Techniques that put people at ease, activities that are enjoyable, and locations that are accessible enable people who find conventional consultation processes threatening or exclusive to share their ideas and opinions about a site. We are aware of the growing 'consultation fatigue' experienced by many community groups and the importance of making the experience fun, personally meaningful and rewarding so people will want to take part.

People of different ages and abilities take part in community engagement at Eden Project

We have used community engagement in different ways - eg to gather thoughts to feed a new design, to identify barriers to access and explore ways of overcoming them, to build a sense of ownership and involvement. In all cases the purpose is to give a voice to people who are most often left out of the picture.

As part of our Community Engagement work Sensory Trust can:

  • Advise on techniques for making contact with disengaged groups
  • Identify and contact groups and individuals
  • Design and run engagement sessions
  • Provide summary reports of feedback from engagement sessions
  • Develop Audience Development Plans
  • Advise on building and sustaining relationships with community groups

Examples of our work

Clay Futures
Client: Cornwall Council

How do communities face the decline in an industry that has formed their way of life for longer than they can remember? How do they find positive new narratives for the future? How can children see their place as somewhere to find a successful future rather than a place to leave? These questions formed the basis of Which way for the Clay, a series of creative community consultation events giving local people the chance to have a say in the future of their community. The work was commissioned by Cornwall Council and delivered in partnership with Eden Project. The results were to inform the early stages of a new Ecotown, local parish plans and broader regeneration across mid-Cornwall. Read more about Clay Futures >>

The Garden
Client: Eden Project

We organised community engagement to inform the design of 'the Garden', a new space at the Eden Project. People of different ages, and with a range of disabilities, joined in with creative activities and discussions to find out how they would like to enjoy the space, what types of experience would be of interest, what elements would be popular and to highlight accessiblity issues. Read more about our work with the Garden at Eden Project >>

Site access improvements
Client: Westonbirt Arboretum

We worked with the National Arboretum at Westonbirt to help develop and improve its visitor information and interpretation. This involved using interactive activities to consult with groups - older people with mobility impairments, people with visual impairments, mothers with children with learning difficulties. The results included finding what information was important and/or interesting, what format was of use, and how easy it was to navigate around the arboretum. Read more about our work at Westonbirt Arboretum >>

People write responses to the question 'if you could give anything to your community what would it be?'

We use a mix of questions in our community engagement, this one gets people thinking about what they could do to help their community (Photo: Sam Morgan Moore)

As part of creative community engagement, people identify the heart of their community on a map

Community engagement as part of Clay Futures

Children explore the trees as part of community engagement at Westonbirt Arboretum

Community engagement in the forest

map with symbols is part of inclusive community engagement session

We often use maps in community engagement so people can apply their ideas to the realities of a place