MyClubmoor is all about making Clubmoor the best it can be. It’s a gathering place for the community and a place where local people can discuss the things affecting their lives and how things can change.
Over the past 12 months, we partnered with the University of Liverpool and Liverpool City Council on the ‘City Conversation in Clubmoor’ project at the beginning of last year to get a better understanding of local issues, and of how local services can better reflect – not only the priorities of our residents – but also the knowledge, the passion and the resourcefulness that we have here in the community.
Before the first lockdown, we got over 20 local residents involved as community researchers, who helped to shape the project and – until the pandemic hit – would have been its eyes and ears, on the ground, all across the area.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 meant that, like everything else, our project had to adapt – so we moved the conversation online and over the phone, gathering as much feedback from residents as we could.
The residents we spoke to told us how much they value their green spaces and the strong sense of community in Clubmoor. They identified ‘getting involved and helping each other out’ as the number one thing that they could do to help improve Clubmoor, and many expressed a desire for more communication and consultation with local services.
The public agencies that we spoke to – in health, housing and the local council – are just as eager to work together with local communities to co-create better designed services that work for local people.
The next step, with our partners, is to work towards that goal. But to do that, we need to speak to the many members of the community that we didn’t speak to last year; and for many more members of the community to get involved. This is just the start of the conversation, and we want people in Clubmoor to be a part of it.
The City Conversation project involving the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place at the University of Liverpool, Liverpool City Council and the MyClubmoor Partnership Board was funded from the UKRI’s enhancing place-based partnerships in public engagement programme. The project aimed to develop participatory approaches to community engagement that would lead to a better understanding of local issues and contribute to the design of more effective public services.
Focusing on Clubmoor ward, a neighbourhood of 15,000 people in north Liverpool, the City Conversation project aimed to better connect citizens to decisions about inclusive growth. In an era of prolonged pressure on public sector budgets, the potential applications of this research – most notably, in facilitating a meaningful dialogue between local residents and policymakers to inform Liverpool’s City Plan and the potential redesign of public services – are clear.
A key objective for the project was to strengthen the dialogue and engagement of public and community partners in developing policy and services. The project also established a method of engaging and training community members and frontline workers to be researchers. This has not only created a cadre of trained individuals that can be involved in future community-led research activity but has established community-led research as a practical tool for public agencies to use.
As a case study, the City Conversation also illustrates how community-based participatory research methods have been affected by the pandemic and the wider implications for research practice.
Despite the difficulties of adapting research methods during the Covid-19 pandemic, the City Conversation in Clubmoor has demonstrated the value of taking an asset-based approach to capture local insight and lived experience to inform public policy-making. The learning points have been shared with Liverpool’s People Power Partnership to inform community engagement practice.