Strategies for engaging the hard to reach

20 Apr 2015 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 6 Jul 2015

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Many of us are aware of people or groups of people that we would like to engage more with but that currently do not come along to our events or make use of our services. These strategies will help you to be more engaging and accessible.

The Big Lottery Funded Reaching Out Connecting Older People (ROCOP) development and support held a session on 24 March 2015 with 32 people from grant holding organisations.  One of the objectives of the programme is to help Grant holders to engage with older people considered to be ‘hard to reach’ and at risk groups.

The aim of the event was to define the characteristics of the hard to reach, what barriers there are to accessing them, and what strategies we can use to engage them more effectively. Below is a list of strategies that the group came up with and that they use to good effect.

  • Offer incentives – refreshments, food, entertainment, complementary therapies
  • Provide support - transport, childcare and interpretation
  • Go to where they are – provide service in their own home to start with if you can, then gradually integrate them in.
  • Timing - when are they available? When are they about to get out?
  • Venue - Use familiar venue, think of good transport links, near park and ride.
  • Provide transport, use volunteer drivers
  • Use Trusted Intermediaries - use other people and organisations to reach them, eg post office, doctor, church
  • Provide a non-threatening environment
  • Consider different cultures
  • Use the people that already engage to invite people they know - word of mouth
  • Ask them what they want - Involve them in decisions and plans. Go door to door if possible, use events when people are together to ask them
  • Use their skills – ask them to volunteer/help, show them that they are needed
  • Provide taster sessions
  • Use community champions (people who have benefited from service) to promote and publicise
  • Collaborate with other organisations in the area- provide joint services/events, signposting, links, share expertise
  • Have a “meeter and greeter” - Someone who sits with person, introduces them and reduces fear of coming into room and feeling uncomfortable.
  • Allow them to use services at own pace – come and go at their ease.
sandra.bailie@nicva.org's picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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