Participation is Multifaceted

Through my lived experiences in working with residents, patients, service users, clinicians, researchers, and minority communities I have gained a wealth of understanding about how they work best. Participation is a multifaceted concept rooted in fundamental aspects of human interaction, engagement, and collaboration. At its core, people’s participation is built upon several key principles that reflect the essence of inclusive and meaningful involvement.

Here’s some food for thought


Effective communication forms the foundation of participation. It involves active listening, expressing ideas clearly, and fostering open dialogue. Creating a space where individuals feel heard and understood is essential for meaningful participation.


Inclusivity ensures that diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences are valued and integrated. Encouraging participation from a broad range of voices advances a richer and more comprehensive understanding of issues and promotes a sense of belonging.


It is most meaningful when individuals feel encouraged to explore their capabilities to contribute and make a difference. Supporting people by providing them with the necessary information, and resources to actively engage in the decision-making processes.


When people come together to share their strengths, expertise, and ideas, the collective impact is often more significant than individual efforts. Collaboration promotes a sense of unity and shared responsibility.


Building trust and credibility comes with being transparent. Providing clear information about objectives, decision-making processes, and outcomes, promotes a sense of accountability and encourages individuals to actively participate with confidence.


This involves acknowledging and appreciating diverse opinions, even in disagreement. It is healthy to ‘agree to disagree,’ but disagree with the point and NOT the person. Creating an environment where differing perspectives are respected contributes to a culture of constructive dialogue.


Recognizing the dynamic nature of human interactions, adaptability is crucial. Systems and processes should be flexible enough to accommodate evolving needs and preferences, ensuring continued and sustained participation over time. Clarifications and adjustments must be a part of the process to accommodate everyone, including the provision of further training if required.


    Delegation is part and parcel of ownership. Pushing a sense of ownership introduces a personal investment in the outcomes of collective efforts. When individuals feel a stake in the process and results, they are more likely to actively engage and contribute to the best of their abilities.


    People generally have many things happening in their lives simultaneously, so if they are giving their time for your project, be considerate to give something back. Remunerate people on time, every time, without a chase! This will build trust and a strong sustainable relationship.


    Making participation accessible ensures that everyone, regardless of background or circumstance, can engage meaningfully. Removing barriers and providing equal opportunities for involvement contribute to a more inclusive and equitable participation framework. Jargon-busting and understanding how systems work can create a more inclusive work environment where everyone is on the same page.


    Having refreshments creates a seamless flow while working. It makes people feel comfortable to talk openly over a hot/cold beverage with a content stomach. Providing refreshments that cater to people with specific dietary requirements is vital. Cleary ‘labeling’ food that is set out for consumption is as important including allergy information. Serving hot food on cold days and cold food on hot days is usually a winner. Little adjustments can make big differences for people.

    Convenient Venue:

    Providing a suitable and convenient venue (almost) guarantees a great turnout. This means having a venue that is local, easy to find, easily accessible via public transport and has ramps and lifts for those on wheelchairs or other disabilities.


      By weaving these core fundamentals into the fabric of any participatory endeavour, we create a nurturing environment where individuals can express themselves, collaborate effectively, and collectively contribute to positive outcomes.

      By Yesmin Begum,
      December 2023


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