Step 3: Think about who should be engaged

Take time to work out who you are going to engage…

Why do this

  • So that everyone who might have an interest is included
  • Some communities may have particular requirements from a service or policy that you haven’t thought of
  • There may be people who don't currently use a service but might have used it in the past or may be thinking of using it - both groups will have relevant views
  • Who your participants are will determine the method you decide to use


  • How do the aims affect the choice of which individuals and communities should be engaged?
  • Who would have an interest in participating?
  • How will you remove barriers for certain groups?
  • What is the geographical spread?
  • Do you need to involve a large or small number of participants?
  • Do you need a tightly defined representative sample?
  • Are you confident the method or type of contact you propose will get through to the community you want to engage?

Case Study

Tools 1 and 2 will help you to map out who participants should be:


  • Everyone involved in a service has a view on how it could be improved.
  • Consider engaging people who no longer use a service, or who are potential new users of a service
  • Use a phased approach – who will you listen to first?
  • Pilot the activity with a small group and learn and improve as you go.
  • Some communities feel over-engaged. Don’t engage with absolutely everyone about absolutely everything. Do whatever you feel an objective observer would think reasonable and appropriate.
  • However you do have a duty to ensure standards for equality and diversity in your public engagement. Ensure people aren’t accidently excluded. Use an Equality Impact Assessment checklist to identify particular communities who would be affected. Make sure barriers to involvement are removed.
  • Keep a record of who you are planning to engage - and why - as evidence for e.g. future audits.
  • Keep a record of who actually took part. Compare it with the Population Census for your area to check how representative the results might be.

Tool: Equality Impact Assessment Checklist


  • Key communities and individuals will be included
  • The public will experience a reasonable amount of engagement
  • If required, it will reflect the population profile for your area
  • You will obtain comprehensive information 
  • There will be public confidence in the results
  • The engagement activity will provide value for money