This article outlines a framework for auditing community participation in public decision-making.
In its various forms – involvement in community groups, school governing committees, partnership boards, neighbourhood forums, etc – it is one of the most widespread forms of public volunteering.Yet rarely does it live up to expectation. Thousands of people retreat back into their communities after bruising experiences, disappointment and broken promises. Common explanations for the failures of participation schemes are often oversimplistic. Our intention was to delve deeper into the politics and the mechanics of participation, and from there to construct a tool which both communities and institutions could use effectively as part of an ongoing assessment process.