Silent Spring Consultants have years of experience in engagement methods and techniques for working with people, groups and organisations in partnerships.

Effective, genuine engagement with mutual benefits is at the heart of our approach. We can help you work together on projects from the ideas stage through to evaluation and impact (and beyond).  

If you are asking yourself these type of questions: 

  • How do I engage with people and communities from a range of backgrounds and contexts? 
  • How do I ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, including those most disadvantaged? 
  • How do I communicate effectively and engage with a wide variety of audiences?  
  • How do I build partnerships? 
  • What are the risks, pitfalls and advantages of co-producing research? 
  • How do I build and maintain trust? 
  • I want to start a co-produced research project and use participatory approaches and methods – how do I start? And what do I need to take into consideration? 
  • What are the ethical guidelines that I need to take into account and how do I work through ethical issues and challenges that may arise? 

If you require Research and Consultancy Services on citizen engagement then don’t hesitate to contact us. To find out more about our services click the link below.

Selected Publications and Research Projects on Engagement by Dr Andrea Armstrong:

  • Armstrong, A. et al (2022) Trust and temporality in participatory research, Qualitative Research.
  • Banks, S. Armstrong, A. et al (2019), Between research and community development: Negotiating a contested space for collaboration and creativity: In Banks, S., Hart, A., Ward, P., and Pahl. K., (eds) Co-producing research: a community development approach, The Policy Press, Bristol, pp 21 – 48. 
  • Banks, S. and Armstrong, A. with et al (2014) Using co-inquiry to study co-inquiry: community-university perspectives on research, Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship 7(1): 37-47.
  • Banks, S. and Armstrong, A. with et al (2013) Everyday ethics in community-based participatory research, Contemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences.
  • Banks, S. & Armstrong, A. (eds) (2012) Ethics in community-based participatory research: case studies, case examples and commentaries.
  • Armstrong, A., Banks, S. & Henfrey, T. (2011) Co-inquiry toolkit: Co-inquiry and related participatory approaches to community based research.

The Trust Map research project was joint-funded by the Digital Economy, Connected Communities and Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security themes within the Research Councils UK (ESRC, AHRC, EPSRC), along with additional support by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). The project explored the dynamics of trust in minority communities (broadly defined) with a focus on digital technologies. 

Imagine: Connecting Communities through Research was funded by the ESRC through the Research Councils UK Connected Communities programme. The aim was to look at the ways people engage with their communities and with wider society through taking an active role in civic life. To explore this were four work packages (social, historical, cultural and democratic) and Dr Armstrong's involvement was in the North East of England on the historical work package called - Imagine North East.  The research was based in Tyneside (Benwell and North Shields). These areas were chosen because they were part of the first British anti-poverty programme, the National Community Development Project (CDP), in the 1970s. The aim was to produce snapshots of changing conditions and attitudes in these areas over time, from the different (and sometimes conflicting) perspectives of local people, community development workers, policy makers and politicians.  We also worked with eighteen community-based organisations, each undertaking creative projects to enable reflection on the past, present and future of the areas. 

Ethical Issues and Challenges of Community-Based Participatory Research. Dr Armstrong worked on two projects funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme. The first was a scoping study to provide a critical overview of a range of literature on participatory approaches to community-based research with a particular focus on ethical issues and the evaluation of outcomes, drawing on national and international experience. The study focussed on participatory approaches to research in and with communities, particularly those categorised as 'diverse', 'hard to reach' or 'easily ignored' and involved a Co-inquiry Action Research group of community partners and academics and a team of international advisors. The second project, brought together community partners and academics from 4 existing Connected Communities (CC) projects in a workshop and small working groups to share ideas and experiences and develop guidance and learning materials on ethics in community-based participatory research (CBPR). The project was supported by international advisors from 5 countries (USA, Italy, India, Australia, New Zealand) and the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) as a partner.