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Community engagement

Community engagement is the process by which Bedford Borough Council establishes and develops positive relationships with diverse community groups and voluntary / third sector organisations.

The purpose of the Community Engagement team is to serve as a bridge and facilitate relationship between the Council and the Bedford Borough Strategic Partners Board and Bedford Borough’s diverse communities and key stakeholders, including parish and town councillors.

Effective community engagement will help ensure that the Council and the Bedford Borough Strategic Partners Board priorities understand, consider and respond to needs of communities. It will also help to ensure strategies have community support.

Objective 

The Community Engagement team has a three fold objective to carry out specific engagement activities that inform, involve and support the VCS.

Inform

Develop new, and maintain existing, relationships with VCS to:

  • Build an ongoing understanding of communities and share relevant community issues with Council directorates and partners as appropriate
  • Provide VCS with easy to understand information to assist in engaging with the Council and the wider Partnership

Involve

Work together in partnership with VCS to:

  • Ensure VCS concerns are heard, understood, considered and responded to by providing opportunity for regular dialogue, scrutiny and influence
  • Support VCS networks and partnerships and help ensure their outcomes are considered by the Council and key partners in the development of priorities and strategies
  • Facilitate involvement in key Council consultations.

Support

Facilitate development of a strong local VCS by:

  • Working in partnership with infrastructure organisations to identify joint objectives with the VCS and opportunities for partnership working 
  • Ensure feedback to VCS on the outcomes of specific community engagement activities
  • Supporting community led initiatives and projects in line with Council priorities.

Targeted community engagement

The Community Engagement team will target its activities with VCS groups and organisations that currently have no formal structure for engagement with the Council and the wider Bedford Borough Partnership. These are largely groups and organisations working with women, ethnic minority communities, LGBT communities and faith communities.

Bedford Borough Strategic Partners Board

The Bedford Borough Strategic Partners Board is made up of representatives from the Borough Council, health, police and fire services.

Its website has information on a number of issues which may be of interest to you or your group but also has a What's On page and a Community News and Information page.

If you have an event that you would like to promote on the site or something for the Community News page, please email the details to Jo Tester at jo.tester@bedford.gov.uk or enter them yourselves using the online forms.

Planning an event

Is your group planning an event? Are they thinking of holding a party in the park, having a picnic by the river or arranging a street parade?

Follow this link to all the information you'll need - what forms you have to fill in, who you need to tell about the event and much more.

Grant funding

The Community Engagement Team has a small budget and can use this to support local community or voluntary groups in their work. They can also offer other kinds of support, such as event advice; photo-copying/printing; poster/leaflet design.

If your organisation would like to make a request for funding, one or more of these criteria must be met:

  • Encourages participation from underrepresented/hard to reach groups
  • Educates
  • Involves
  • Promotes understanding
  • New/ emerging community
  • Partnership working

Requests should be put in writing, explaining the work of the group, what the funding will be used for and how it meets the above criteria and emailed to Jo Tester, Community Engagement Officer at jo.tester@bedford.gov.uk or posted to:

Community Engagement Team 
Room 317, 3rd Floor
Borough Hall
Cauldwell Street
Bedford
MK42 9AP

If you have any questions, please call Jo on 01234 276204

You can find a list of other potential funding opportunities at the Grant Funding Information page.