Voice, Choice and Power: Using co-production to develop a community engagement strategy for an ethnically diverse community

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Lizzie Caperon
Sara Ahern
Fiona Saville
Better Start Bradford Community Reference Group


The context of the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need to increase co-production activities to empower communities. The pandemic has further highlighted systemic health and socioeconomic inequities, especially for those from ethnic minority communities and in areas of economic deprivation. This research article presents a complex, collaborative process of co-production we undertook as part of the service design of Community Engagement work within the Better Start Bradford Programme; a program of projects for pregnant women and families with children aged 0–4 years living in an ethnically diverse area. Using theory of change as our underpinning theoretical framework, we co-produced a community engagement logic model or ‘strategy’. Our approach involved nine 90-minute workshops with a range of community stakeholders. We used the seven Scottish National Standards for Community Engagement and Communities’ self-identified key concepts of ‘voice’, ‘choice’ and ‘power’ to structure the partnership activity. Workshop discussions were analysed using qualitative framework analysis, and we developed a comprehensive, multi-faceted community engagement logic model with the community.

Discussions with the community highlighted that (1) the COVID-19 pandemic had opened new avenues of community engagement, primarily virtual ones, and a blended offer of face-to-face and online activities; (2) vital support for community readiness to engage, facilitated through culturally sensitive engagement delivered by trusted sources, transparent governance processes and informal consultation, combined with a flexible approach to adapting to the community’s needs; (3) the need for a continuous reflective process of recruitment to key governance roles to include a range of diverse voices to ensure power is given to community voices.

A strong two-way feedback loop is at the core of our community engagement strategy, with both the community and the organisation playing equal roles.

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biography

Lizzie Caperon

I am interested in exploring how the social determinants of health influence health outcomes, specifically how health
inequalities can be tackled. I research how to amplify the voices of marginalised communities on global, national and local levels
using a range of methods. I explore how community-based participatory research and community engagement can identify
culturally appropriate solutions to tackle health inequalities. My research seeks to use socio-ecological conceptualisations
(which consider the political, ecological, social, cultural and individual environments), to envisage community-led solutions and
improved public health policies.