The City Conversation

Building place-based partnerships for inclusive growth

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 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.

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