Camden Council has a vision for an open council, where all citizens have a say and people and agencies come together to get things done. But citizen engagement is not as simple as just opening the doors.
This year, Camden’s Health and Wellbeing Board set out to develop a unique, citizen-led approach to examine the local issues around health and wellbeing and explore opportunities for the Council and health partners to work in closer partnership. For the past 9 months, we’ve been working with Camden Council on a Neighbourhood Assembly, a neighbourhood-based pilot delivered by residents and the contributions of local and community-based organisations contributed to the process.
Doing it differently
My colleague, Eva, wrote earlier this about how our approach to the neighbourhood assembly differs from the traditional citizens’ assembly, blending deliberative democracy and co-design approaches. Over 150 energetic residents from West Camden, broadly representative of the diversity of that area, took part in 15 evening sessions exploring the evidence around health and wellbeing challenges, conducting research within their networks and developing and testing ideas for change.
The biggest outcome was seeing ideas generated and implemented, for the community by the community. As we progressed, an unintended secondary outcome emerged: we formed a community.