Our approach to communicating and engaging with our communities

Communication, engagement and involvement with local people and communities, needs to be at the heart of any decisions or changes made, in order to make them sustainable for the future and responsive to the needs of the Walsall population.

We want to make sure residents, patients and staff have an opportunity to shape our plans and that we have a true understanding of what people feel is important.

In order to achieve this we will:

Identify, inform and engage with people and organisations, affected by or interested in the focus of the communication and engagement, giving everyone an opportunity to get involved.

This includes those that are not only easiest or more convenient to reach, but a specific focus on individuals or representatives from within protected characteristic or seldom heard groups that experience the most health inequalities.

We will identify and seek to find innovative ways and opportunities to inform engage and involve.

We will aim to ensure that the way we communicate and engage is accessible by everyone taking into consideration physical, mental and digital accessibility, times and dates, formats and language as well as religious or cultural factors.

We will work together with individuals, communities and organisations from the earliest opportunity in the planning process to ensure that those who have lived experience of using local health, social, housing and voluntary sector services are able to share their experiences and understanding of what is needed to improve these.

We will aim to increase the opportunity for individuals, communities and organisations to co-produce and support them in developing their skills and confidence to represent the views of local population.

We will communicate clearly and regularly with local people, communities and organisations giving them easy to understand information on the aims, objectives and achievements of the partnership and how they can get involved.

We will ask people how they want to receive information about opportunities to get involved and use this information to ensure effective communication and engagement.

Where possible we will demonstrate the impact of communication and the engagement activities and use what we have learned to improve our approach to informing, engaging and involving.

We will provide feedback on the results and outcomes of all engagement activates and outline what has changed or improved as a result or explain why decisions made did not reflect the feedback received.

Making it Happen

In order to make it happen we will:

We will develop a Service User Group (SUG) that is representative of the diverse population of Walsall. This will include representatives with lived experience of long term health conditions as well as more vulnerable groups or those who are seldom heard.

We will work closely with our housing, voluntary and community sector partners to identify individuals and organisations that can represent the voice of these groups on the SUG.

SUG meetings will be held regularly to ensure representatives are maintaining an up-to-date understanding of the work of the Walsall Together programme and are able to give informed feedback that can be used shape service development.

Co-production is a way of working which involves engaging with people at the earliest stages of service design, development and evaluation. It recognises that people who have experience of using local services are best placed to advice on what can be done to improve these.

Co-production builds upon a range of similar approaches such as consultation, engagement and co-design. Clearly showing the difference between co-production and these related, but different, approaches is important if real co-production is to be put into practice.

The ladder of co-production is a useful way of making these important distinctions:

As a partnership we want to move to a more collaborative approach to designing services. We will do this by supporting board members, programme leads and other key stakeholders, including from the VSCE sector to develop their skills to ensure co-production is embedded throughout the programme.

This will be done through a training programme that will include a clear grounding in the principles and practices of co-production, introduction of a range of methods that support practical co-production and developing an understanding of the likely points in the engagement/consultation timeline in which the various methods are most appropriate.

We will ensure that opportunities for co-production are identified within the Walsall Together Strategy and this process is deep-rooted in the way the partnership works.

We will ensure we are effectively communicating opportunities to get involved in engagement events in a timely manner.

We will do this though linking in with our partnership organisations and utilising various channels available including social media accounts, websites, stakeholder newsletters and notice boards.

We recognise that many of the communications methods used are online approaches and will endeavour to ensure we are reaching those who are unable to get involved this way though other methods.

As a partnership we are aware some of our more deprived communities experience digital poverty and we are working to identify how we can better support these communities as part of our wider strategy.

We will share the outcome of engagement activities and what has changed as a result. We want to ensure our communities trust that their views, ideas and experiences are valued and used where possible to inform decision making.

We will always be honest about how much of an influence can be made when inviting people to get involved in engagement activities and if nothing has changed as a result we will justify why.

We will publish the opportunities to get involved in engagement activities as well as the results and outcomes on our website www.walsallealthcare.nhs/walsalltogether

We will engage with communities which we know experience higher levels of deprivation and inequalities to get a better understanding of the needs of their local population and ways in which they think things could be improved.

This information will be used to support the resilient communities work stream in identifying ways in which they can work with these communities to address their needs, build resilience and reduce inequalities.

Effective internal communications and engagement is essential to ensuring staff feel they are part of a shared vision and goal and purpose.

We will keep our staff informed, engaged and involved in the development of the partnership.

We will do this through promoting the strategy and its principles, ensuring staff have a clear understanding of the programme of work and their role within it and have the opportunity to share their experiences and get involved in decision making.

We will invest in our staff to enable them to develop their professional skills through a range of through a range of training, mentoring and couching opportunities.

We will support staff to share their success stories.

We will develop a culture where staff feel valued, have a voice and act as ambassadors for the partnership not only with the people they care for but also amongst their family, friends and communities.

Working with communications leads from across the partnership we will ensure all staff within all organisations are effectively communicated and engaged with using the channels available to us.

The Walsall Together Partnership Board and their leadership team have a key role to play in leading by example and modelling engaging behaviours.

They are crucial in helping to create a culture in which people feel engaged, valued, respected and supported.


We will do this by ensuring key leads are visible and involved in communication and engagement activities including the opportunities to have two way feedback through question and answer sessions.

They will support the communications lead in providing explanations of decisions made, updates on the strategic direction of travel for the partnership and ensuring stakeholders are fully informed, engaged, involved in the delivery of the problem.

You can read more about our approach in