The platform provides an open and safe environment for participants who can engage with the council and each other, including space for private moderated and facilitated forums. In the 16 months since the launch, KCC has carried out over 420 projects, including engagement for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, No Mow May, and Great Big Green Week (GBGW). For the Jubilee celebrations, EngagementHQ’s places tool was utilised to show where KCC members had volunteered, highlighting some brilliant charities and community initiatives, details of beacon lightings, and other local community events. The stories tool was used to hear from people about their volunteering efforts and the events taking place in their communities. No Mow May invited people to publicly make a pledge to forgo mowing their lawns to support pollinators. From the GBGW project page, people could find a green event or activity using the map, share their top green tips or ideas on the ideas board, and let the council know what green action(s) they were taking and what they needed more support with using a quick ‘pulse check’ survey.
This is just a taste of the range of activities the council has implemented so far. In total, KCC carried out 232 surveys and 21 idea boards. They have also utilised the stories, Q&A, and places tools as well as document commenting and quick polls with a total of 41,690 responses.
Let’s Talk Kent gave KCC the opportunity to engage and consult with their community, partners, and staff in a more creative and meaningful way, increasing participation by making it attractive and easy. In the past 16 months, KCC has built a cohort of 23,431 active registered users, with over half requesting to be kept informed. There have been 904,552 page views and 370,916 visits by 332,146 visitors. 30,567 participants have engaged with the site and 130,192 have been informed.
This high level of engagement is strengthening the decision-making processes, which is why Kent County Council is known as a ‘listening council.’
The growing number of diverse, registered users means KCC is building a community of engaged residents who are invested in the work of council services. The council is dedicated to the continued growth and involvement of this group of community members. The increased functionality of this new platform means KCC can host hubs for their statutory Highway, Public Rights of Way, and Minerals and Waste Planning Policy consultations that save the council money on separate platforms.
While face-to-face engagement will still be a preferred method in some circumstances, providing greater opportunities for online engagement is broadening the appeal and participation in engagement and consultation activities. Let’s Talk Kent also enables the council to save time and money by providing a wide range of in-house, digital engagement tools that support ongoing conversations with service users, residents, staff, and other stakeholders in a way that is convenient and accessible.