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Public involvement event

5 March 2009

Followers of the Big Lottery Fund on Twitter and members of our Facebook Group, Big Mouth, will know that BIG hosted a fascinating event about public involvement today. Go and view some of the highlights on our Public Involvement Live page.

The Big Lottery Fund is expected to engage and involve the public in how lottery funds are spent. We’ve tried a range of approaches in the past. Our media link ups are probably the best known examples. The People’s Millions, where projects go head to head on ITV regional news programmes in an effort to attract the public’s votes. Prime Time in Scotland with the BBC. But in opening the conference I chose to major on the Fair Share programme.

Working with the Community Foundation Network we made endowments about four or five years ago, to parts of the country that weren’t getting their “fair share” of lottery cash. We encouraged the development of Communit Panels to decide how the money should best be spent. At its best, we can now see groups of people making decisions affecting their neighbourhoods in ways they never in their wildest dreams imagined they had either the confidence or wherewithal to administer. We hope this investment will not only lead to the money being spent on good things but will give them a better chance of bidding for other funds in the future.

Public involvement is flavour of the month. All the political parties have ambitious empowerment agendas. The technology is opening up new possibilities.

Listening to the debate, I came away inspired by the efforts of so many people grappling with how to involve people in a meaningful fashion but also with a sense that we could waste a lot of time and resource doing this stuff badly. Time and again, however, it was clear that iterative debate with people improved ideas, understanding and trust. BIG will try to keep this debate going and would love you to join in.

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