Community engagement - working with communities

The chance for all members of a community to have a say in the decisions that affect where and how they live is now widely recognised as important. However, many people are often excluded from community engagement and consultation through poor planning, lack of understanding, and methods of engagement that are unintentionally difficult for people to participate in.

How Sensory Trust engages with communities

Sensory Trust has developed activities and techniques designed to enable people who normally have difficulty contributing to design and development processes to have their say and participate fully.

We create a positive and fun atmosphere to help people to think seriously about how they would like their places to be. For many people it's the first time they've been asked for their opinions. We engage people in activities and put on events at the site that people can enjoy and, while they enjoy them, we begin to gather real information on how they see their public spaces, in an open and non-threatening atmosphere free of conflict, frustration and plastic trees, preferably in the space we're talking about. Often, with Sensory Trust, public consultation is a walk in the park.

We understand the practical limitations that come from limited budgets, design constraints, deadlines and we are careful to keep expectations and results realistic. The reports we create from these consultations help identify priorities for action.

Case studies

Creative consultation

Which way for the Clay? creative community consultation

Inspiring people to get involved in their communities

Dementia friendly

Young and old together as part of Creative Spaces project

Creative Spaces, using the outdoors to inspire communities to be dementia-friendly

Social housing

Social housing for older people

Older people get the chance to influence the design of their new retirement housing

Eden sensory garden

Sensory rich community consultation gives ideas to garden design

Disabled people get involved in making new sensory-rich spaces at the Eden Project

Capacity building

Creative community engagement as part of the clay project

Giving project development support to community groups who are often left off the radar

Ancient woods

Community consultation as part of Capital Woodlands project

With Trees for Cities, improving access and community links with London's ancient woods

Urban parks

Creative community engagement as part of audience development plans

Development of Audience and Access Plans helps Kent's Mote Park secure a major HLF bid

People and woods

Group takes part in creative community consultation in the forests

Helping Westonbirt Arboretum diversify its audience and improve the experience for all visitors


Community Engagement (pdf 299k): Involving local people in development decisions helps ensure that the eventual designs are appropriate, enjoyable, well used, and cared for by the community

Creative Spaces activity sheets: Ideas and activities that explore spending time outdoors with people with dementia

Can we help?

Sensory Trust runs consultancy in community engagement. Read more about our consultancy services >>