Groundswell Innovation were appointed to develop a strategic marketing proposition for Preston in December 2019. The ‘listening’ phase of this project comprised 6 months of conversation with community spokespeople from across the Preston community.
The resulting narrative puts forward Preston as a city that is firmly focused on ‘putting the richness of life within reach’ for residents and visitors. This narrative has been warmly welcomed by those who took part in the project and has also been used as a galvanising vision, within Preston’s successful submission to the Government’s Towns Fund for £20m.
As part of the second stage development of this stakeholder engagement, Groundswell designed and facilitated a Youth Voice programme with 3 local Education establishments. This enabled a key element of the Towns Fund programme – a Careers, Education and Advisory service – to accumulate large amounts of information about the needs of young people, seeking to begin work or further education. The Youth Voice programme comprised monthly discussions that were organised in collaboration with UCLan, Cardinal Newman College and Preston’s College. The programme was deliberately designed to ensure we heard from young people whose lived experience spanned a wide range of cultural and social class experience.
Each session was attended by 10-12 students and discussion revolved around a specific topic relating to the strategic objectives of the City Investment Plan – the 15-year vision for Preston.
A far-reaching goal for the programme was to encourage civic engagement among the students – so that they could appreciate their opinions were of value and were being heard by people in positions of power within their home city, but also so that they could begin to appreciate their roles as engaged citizens within a much larger local ecosystem. Students were encouraged by Role Model speakers and by programme organisers, to include in their CV, recognition of the fact that they had taken an active part in the Youth Voice programme.
During the first student session, components of the Towns Fund scheme and City Investment Plan were explained in more detail.
- Supporting young people in Preston through education with facilities and services to help maximise their potential – Careers Service (CEIAG).
- Providing integrated skills development and training to enable Preston’s residents to secure good quality work, develop businesses and increase economic participation.
- Developing Animate – a new cinema & bowling alley complex with multiple food and drive outlets
The overarching question we posed in each Youth Voice session was: What do we need more of to make Preston better for young people growing up in the city?
Other sessions focused on:
- Culture – as defined by participants
- Shared prosperity / community wealth building
- Environment & sustainability
- Health and wellbeing
Following on from the Youth Voice programme, students from two of the 3 educational establishments went on to take part in a national civic engagement programme entitled You Count.
Throughout this project, Groundswell teams worked collaboratively alongside other external consultancies so that strategy-setting as well as PR and communications work dovetailed with wider stakeholder engagement.