It’s a good idea to find out more about the groups of people that aren’t benefiting from your project, such as where they meet, what they have in common, how to get in touch with them, who else works with them and what is currently stopping them getting involved.
You may decide to hold interviews, focus groups and consultation events with the groups themselves, as these are useful ways to explore people’s needs and their experiences of using an activity or service. Or you may ask for help from those who already have a better relationship with the group you’d like to reach, such as local community leaders.
There may be forums, community groups and local businesses you can approach. Many local authorities and councils for voluntary service keep information about local groups. Or you may be able to find out more by referring to local strategies, newspapers and visiting the local library and picking up leaflets.
By learning more about the groups of people that aren’t benefiting from your project but could be involved, you’ll have a better idea how to promote your project to them and address any barriers. We’ve found the most common barriers are that people don’t know the project exists, or they feel there are real obstacles to getting involved, or they have had bad experiences before.
Having discovered that their project wasn’t attracting any members of the local Sikh community the chair of the youth club decided to visit the local school to try and make contact that way.
Following this initial contact a parent on the parent teachers association who was from the Sikh community offered to visit the youth club and discuss how to make its venue and activities more attractive to members of their community. The project learned that many Sikh parents would allow their children to attend the youth club’s mixed sex activities, provided they had appropriate leadership. So they decided to try and encourage adults from the Sikh community to join as helpers.