Creative Community Engagement Case Studies – Eden Project, Cornwall, UK

At Eden we use creative ways to engage visitors, including storytelling and practical activities. We’ve also taken these techniques out into neighbourhoods, to shape a series of community engagement events.

Using fun and inspiring techniques such as art, music, storytelling, humour and hands-on practical activities, has proved a fantastic way to involve people in influencing the future of where they live. We’ve used them in neighbourhood planning events, whether it be helping people make the most of green spaces, kickstart community enterprises, understand climate change, or respond to large-scale planning developments affecting the area.

Along with other forward-thinking organisations in Cornwall, we’ve designed sessions in all shapes and sizes – but we always make sure that they are as little like conventional stakeholder engagement events as possible. Among them you’ll find:

  • drop-in community planning days, designed like local fêtes
  • film-making workshops with local stakeholders
  • learning journeys to other communities
  • practical training on everything from gardening to business skills

What they all have in common is an ambition to value the process as much as the products of engagement. Our sessions aim to:

  • establish a real sense of participation
    We give people tangible ways to input to the day, such as setting up ‘washing lines’ or ‘rant pinboards’ where they can add their comments.
  • encourage new people to get involved
    We reach out to as many age groups as possible by providing a convivial setting (often with tea, cake and bunting!) in a venue that’s easily accessible.
  • inspire new thinking
    By creating an inspirational space and offering practical activities – such as contributing to ideas scrapbooks – we try to raise people’s aspirations of what’s possible.
  • catalyse partnerships
    We convene different people, from residents to service providers to community groups, in a neutral space where they can find common ground.
Contact the team about community engagement:
Click on link to case studies from the Eden Project: 

Social Innovation – empowerment, youth activism and engagement: examples from South London

Two, of many, very different examples of youth engagement and empowerment organisations in South London.

Ebony Horse Club: On the notorious Brixton Angell Town estate an inner city horse club is making inroads and engaging with some of the local young people at risk of being drawn into gang culture.


The Advocacy Academy:

What is it? The Advocacy Academy is a transformational Social Justice Fellowship for young people who are passionate about making a difference in the world. Across six intense months, we support young leaders from marginalised communities to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to tackle some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.




Substance Misuse and Young People – Early Intervention Approaches

The following extract is from ‘Young People and Substance Misuse’ by Young People’s Health Partnership, linked here:

The latest official data shows that drinking and drug use among young people has more than halved over the past 10 years. Yet there are still significant numbers of young people across the country using and misusing substances, and some of these are at risk of developing severe and enduring substance misuse problems that continue into adulthood. Health inequalities relating to substance misuse are evident, with vulnerable groups (such as those excluded from school, young offenders and care leavers) far more likely to experience substance misuse problems.

As a member of the Young People’s Health Partnership, a consortium of organisations working with the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England as strategic partners to raise the profile of the health agenda across the voluntary youth sector, Addaction has produced this briefing about young people’s substance misuse and how local services and commissioners can respond to this issue. This is a huge and complex issue so we have chosen to focus this document on one area that Addaction believes is vital in any local approach to drug and alcohol misuse among young people: early intervention.

Early intervention best practice demonstrates what the Young People’s Health Partnership is all about: an integrated approach to young people’s health and wellbeing, building the skills of the youth sector, partnership working, and – most importantly – young people leading the way.

Planning and Delivering a Drug Information Workshop

The following extract is from ‘The Substance Use Peer Education Responses Manual’, compiled by Bernie Roe, linked here:


  • To help the participants identify the practical skills needed when planning a group presentation
  • To explore the different ways of presenting information
  • To encourage participants to use their own language in presenting information on drugs
  • This exercise can also be used for doing some foundation work on the building of confidence and self-esteem

Materials needed

  •  Health promotion leaflets
  •  Drug information booklets
  •  Newspaper articles
  •  Other drug related handouts or literature
  •  Slides and visual aids are also useful


  • Split the main group into a couple of small working groups.
  • Ask each group to focus on one aspect of drugs or drug use that they have an interest in and that they feel is relevant to their peer group.
  • The groups are then given time to research and gather information on their chosen topic.
  • They have to prepare a presentation using whatever skills and resources that are available within their working group.

As a group they must

  • Choose the most appropriate information
  • Agree on a presentation style
  • Co-operate
  • Listen to each other

When they are finished putting their presentation together, each group presents to the other members of the main group.

Questions for discussion

As a group explore the most important aspects of presenting information.

  • How important is adequate planning?
  • What are the most effective and least effective ways of getting your message across?


Peer Education

The following extract is from ‘The Substance Use Peer Education Responses Manual’, compiled by Bernie Roe, linked here:

Youth Peer Education is based on the belief that young people are the ones best equipped to inform, challenge and relate to other young people.

This type of Youth Peer Training has a valuable role to play in the health education of young people. It is not an alternative. It is an enhancement, so therefore it can work alongside and compliment other forms of youth work and health education.

The peer group is an important source of support and a place where standards begin to develop so working with Peer Educators means using the positive aspects of this process.

The Youth Peer Education concept makes positive use of potential peer influence, it is an approach which empowers young people to work with other young people and which draws on the positive strength of the peer group. This form of education encourages young people to place more emphasis on their own thoughts and decisions.

Youth Peer Education promotes personal growth and new skills for many young people that will assist them in all areas of their lives.

Peer Education can be an innovative way of breaking down barriers between adults and young people because in the process adults must be prepared to acknowledge the power and skills of young people and allow them to take control and make decisions.


  • promote self-confidence,
  • identify limits and rituals,
  • recognise young people as a valuable resource,
  • promote democratic development,
  • help the competence of young people
  • be voluntary and respect personal responsibility,
  • involve all participants in planning and facilitate joint ownership of project,
  • show clear roles and goals,
  • be supported and evaluated.

Peer Education in Mental Health – When the Students become the Teachers

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This video and the following text are from the Peer Education Project (PEP), linked here:

The Peer Education Project is a school-based programme that aims to give young people the skills and knowledge they need to safeguard their mental health, and that of their peers.

The project was born out of the idea that a key source of support to young people experiencing mental health distress is their peer group within the school environment. We developed this idea into a solution appropriate for schools.

By training older pupils to deliver mental health lessons to younger student, the project aims to bypass the walls many young people put up when being taught such nuanced, personal topics by adults whom they feel are detached from their personal experiences.

Mental Health and Youth Activism

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‘How a conversation changed my life’, YoungMinds Activist Alex

In this video Alex tells us why he decided to become a YoungMinds Activist, and how talking about his mental health helped him overcome his struggles. If you’d like to learn more about becoming an Activist with us, or want tips on looking after your mental health visit

Engaging the ‘Hard to Reach’

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Engaging the ‘Hard to Reach’, Craig Pinkney

‘Traditional youth work practice, struggles to engage the tail end of modern society that is labelled ‘hard to reach’. Society also dictates that young people ‘hanging on street corners’ are perceived negatively as noticed by the increase in Dispersal Orders. As violence, post-code conflicts, gang culture knife/gun crime has risen amongst the youth within the inner cities of the U.K it demonstrates that a radical reframing is required in order to navigate the increased demands now being made on youth worker practitioners. Craig Pinkney an Urban Youth Specialist, inspired by his mentors Carlton Howson (Sociologist), Raymond Douglas (Anti Youth Violence) and Martin Glynn (Criminologist), delivers powerful workshops across the UK up-skilling practitioners on how to engage the so called ‘hard to reach’.’ This is a snippet from a lecture Craig delivered at De Montfort University.’  21 August 2011

On participation and empowerment


Roger Hart’s ladder of participation above.

A selection of reports may be found below relating to both empowerment and participatory methods.

Article links: