by Flying Geese Consultant, Beckie Smith

Screen shot of Culture in Common website home page


Working with The Forest of Dean District Council we crafted an informative and strategic report to identify the economic and social wellbeing of the district with particular focus on the shared strengths, opportunities, and communities that each town serves, and the barriers which prevent the towns from thriving.

What are we doing?

Our consultation used a number of approaches including community focus groups, an online survey, schools’ workshops, one to one stakeholder interviews, online consultation sessions and a crafting exercise for children; across the community leaders, politicians, councillors, businesses & business leaders, community influencers & steering communities, service providers, their employees & service users, volunteers, labourers, residents & members of the general public, and underrepresented community groups.

We grounded the public sentiment gathered from the consultation in data gathered from a series of publications and publicly available information including Audience Agencies EAPR reports, neighbourhood development plans, Active lives data, crime statistics and Arts funding, to name a few.

Our task was to provide clarity on the unique personality, purpose and position of each market town; better understand the sentiment, challenges and opportunities of each town according to its local residents and businesses; provide information on town demographics and fully understand the motivations and deterrents for visitation to each of the market towns.

Once the large-scale community consultation took place, we facilitated a number of sessions, both for all project partners and for town-by-town cohorts, to identify each town’s ‘heart, strength and active life’ qualities. These three qualities became the foundation for scoping a shared vision and strategic goals for the District.

Artful facilitation was needed to overcome differences in political alignment, geographical challenges and differences in funding levels. Our approach, as ever, was to offer the space where all stakeholders could speak, and then draw on the points of similarity and unity, to make connections between all involved and foster a culture based on togetherness.

Legacy and Impact

Our innovative regeneration recommendations saw the four towns unite by creating a shared strategy that enabled each town to play to its strengths to overcome their shared challenges. We identified an overarching gold thread of arts, heritage and culture, and silver thread of active living onto which all other sub sections of regeneration hung.

Subsequent action groups have been initiated to scope and resource action plans for each town that will see the shared strategic goals realised over time. The legacy of our work will see the four towns work together towards a shared vision, under the umbrella guardianship of the
District Council. This Forest of Dean project with multiple stakeholders was managed and delivered within a 3 month period, demonstrating our team’s ability to manage complex projects in a defined time frame.