I recently joined Audit Scotland on secondment from West Lothian Council, to help the organisation explore its approach to community engagement. As you might know from Audit Scotland’s recent efforts to reach out to parents and carers and to young people, engaging better with the people who use public services is a big priority for the organisation going forward.
I used to be a community planner, so I know what it’s like to be on the other side of an audit and I’m using that perspective to explore Audit Scotland’s approach to auditing community planning, engaging with citizens, and how it measures public bodies who claim to be good at this.
I’m really passionate about communities and individuals being involved in the planning, design and delivery of public services. That’s why I’ve been really pleased to be involved in the revision of the National Standards for Community Engagement, launched recently in Kelty Community Centre. People (as well as managers) who use services are best placed to be able to help co-design the services they need and the revised national standards will provide much needed consistency and good practice to support this.
I’m really glad to be working with Audit Scotland to develop new robust ways to measure community engagement and assess how well public bodies are rising to the challenges set in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The revised standards will no doubt be useful in taking that work forward, and we hope to be able to publish some information on benchmarking activities that we’re holding with a range of public sector bodies in the near future.
On November 17th, I’ll be chairing a roundtable event at Audit Scotland with representatives from the Scottish Health Council, the Consultation Institute, the Scottish Rural Parliament, Community Ownership Support Services, SCDC, PAS and the ALLIANCE. Together we’ll be exploring what good community engagement delivers, how we assess it and what tools we need to do it. I’m really looking forward to having these interesting discussions and sharing the learning that comes from the event. If you’re interested to hear more about Audit Scotland’s work in this area, be sure to keep an eye on the website for updates.
About the author
Lorraine Gillies is on a 23 month secondment to Audit Scotland from West Lothian Council. A former community planner, she has a keen interest in the field of citizen engagement. She is chair of the housing and disability charity Housing Options Scotland.