Engagement and consultation


Public engagement and consultation specialists

Public engagement and consultation are key components of strategic planning and change.

Freshwater specialises in large and small-scale public engagement and public consultation.

We advise public and private sector clients on how to create meaningful opportunities for constructive and open dialogue between organisations and their stakeholders, in pursuit of better decision making.

Swansea Health Board

Public consultation planning that stands up to scrutiny

Freshwater has advised NHS trusts, healthcare commissioners, government organisations and other public bodies for over two decades. We counsel them on how to meet their statutory obligations, and avoid expensive programme delays, reputation-damaging public opposition and the significant legal costs associated with judicial review.

We are a member of the Consultation Institute, a not-for-profit body that promotes best practice in consultation, and regularly invite them to scrutinise what we do in order to offer independent assurance to clients of the calibre of our consultation work.

Effective public engagement strategies

We provide senior counsel to clients in health, local government, transport, housing and infrastructure sectors on the right public engagement strategies to meet their objectives. We have a track record of delivering engagement programmes that:

  • Increase awareness of planned change, a new development or radical service redesign.
  • Encourage greater public participation and reduce inequality by adopting innovative audience engagement techniques to reach seldom-heard groups.
  • Improve relationships and create a sense of shared ownership from the community and other key stakeholders by involving them in meaningful dialogue from an early stage.
  • Plan and prioritise better services by capturing feedback from a range of experts and experts-by-experience.

Engaging audiences

Whether minor or major, change impacts a diverse set of stakeholders. Members of the public, staff, politicians and others will have individual perspectives on what impact new infrastructure – such as a housing or transport development – or changes to school and hospital services will have on them, and their community.

We adopt audience engagement techniques informed by careful planning, thorough research and the latest in behavioural science to ensure those voices are heard. We use an integrated approach to select the mix of channels most likely to reach your audience. We also commit to:

  • Ensuring accessibility. We embed accessibility at the heart of our planning process and ensure any potential barriers to access, understanding or communication are addressed at the outset of a programme – not as an afterthought.
  • Promoting equality of access and participation. We use innovative techniques to engage, and secure feedback from, hard-to-reach groups using traditional and non-traditional channels of communication that offer the greatest penetration.
  • Communicating in plain English. We ensure our communication is driven by honest intent and underpinned by clear, concise communication, free from jargon or abbreviations.
  • Taking advantage of technology. We embrace the latest technology for public engagement to ensure we offer stakeholders multiple ways of accessing information, and sharing feedback.

Delivering public engagement programmes

Our specialist team is well-versed in implementing major engagement, consultation and community relations programmes and has supported organisations right across the UK.

Senior communication advisors, events, public affairs, community relations, media and social media experts at Freshwater work together to deliver a range of services including:

  • Coordinating listening exercises, public meetings and focus groups.
  • Establishing co-production meetings and developing advisory boards.
  • Delivering local, regional and national press and media campaigns.
  • Managing digital channels including websites, microsites and social media platforms.
  • Developing marketing materials for a range of channels including newsletters, reports, infographics, videos and animations.