Enventure Research was commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) to carry out the second phase of its Meeting the Challenge consultation. The feedback received from this consultation was used by the Council to refine its draft strategy and budget and subsequently develop three draft policies: Active Communities, Active Individuals and Growing Older in Gloucestershire.
The second consultation phase was intended to help further shape the draft policies, issues and ideas and their implementation in Gloucestershire, seeking to find out whether the draft policies were the right ones to deliver the Council’s change in approach. Enventure Research devised a qualitative and participatory approach to meet the requirements of the research. Seven focus groups were conducted with carers, community groups, Councillors and residents, including one group specifically for young people.
The focus groups lasted 90 minutes each and were moderated by Enventure Research’s skilled qualitative researchers. A semi-structured discussion guide was developed to ensure all topics of conversation were covered, without constraining the flow of discussion and debate. Copies of the draft policy papers were provided to all focus group attendees in advance, to ensure that they were well-informed enough to be able to participate in the discussion. A variety of research techniques were employed to help maintain participants’ interest throughout the group and encourage them to communicate their thoughts more clearly.
Two half-day workshops were also conducted (one targeted at the voluntary sector and partners, and one targeted at the Council workforce) to provide a structured forum for the target audience to come together to discuss ways of delivering and implementing GCC’s proposed new approach. The workshop event programmes and plans were prepared by Enventure Research and approved by the Council’s client team. A combination of workshop techniques were used, including different methods of grouping people, small group working, plenary sessions, presentations, feedback from small groups working and voting and prioritisation exercises. Workshop packs were also produced for all attendees.
Following completion of the consultation exercises, Enventure Research analysed the feedback from the focus groups and workshops, identifying common responses and developing main strands, or themes, which were related back to the overall aims and objectives of the research. Key differences in results between different sub-groups were explored.
Separate detailed reports were developed for GCC which outlined the findings from the focus groups and workshops and provided clear and practical conclusions and recommendations based around the three draft policies. The workshop report has been published on the Council’s website and can be found here:
Overall, the events were very successful and elicited a number of useful suggestions and practical recommendations. Based on the feedback from the second phase of the consultation process, several important changes were made to the Council’s draft strategy and the proposed budget was also altered.
The following reference has been provided by Gloucestershire County Council:
“We commissioned Enventure Research to carry out some focus groups with residents, community groups and partners, to consult on the Council’s new strategy and underlying policies. They delivered a high quality consultation in tight timescales and delivered reports to us in a timely way. Joanne was very easy to work with and there was a good level of communication throughout the project to ensure that we were kept informed of progress and any issues were addressed quickly. Enventure Research were very flexible and adapted well to a change in scope during the project timeline. We would recommend them highly for any high level consultation project.” (Emma Burchell, Gloucestershire County Council)