VOiCE - Off to a flying start!

One year on since the launch of VOiCE Online, the software is already helping to improve the quality of community engagement in Scotland.voice logo

Speaking in Edinburgh in May 2010 (prior to the launch of VOiCE Online) Alex Neil MSP, then Minister for Housing and Communities said: "The Scottish Government along with COSLA will work to realise our ambition to get many more people in Scotland to voice their opinion, to take part, to engage, to become active part of the community and to empower themselves.

VOiCE is about planning, monitoring and evaluating and then picking up the lessons from all that work as to how we go forward in the future. And the work done by VOiCE in this process should inform policymaking on community empowerment and community engagement in the future.  If we are really about community empowerment and community engagement, what we need to establish is what the end user, what the customer, what the community, thinks of what we are doing."

In a short period VOiCE has gone a long way to realising the Minister's ambition of supporting workers on the ground with a good practice tool and helping partnerships and policy makers to learn lessons for the future based on what the community thinks. The numbers are certainly impressive - there are currently 810 users and 445 community engagement reports on the system.  The users and the reports cover a wide range of Scottish neighbourhoods and thematic groups ranging from NHS and local government workers to a wide variety of people from the community and voluntary sector.

Local Authorities such as Dumfries and Galloway, Shetland, and Perth & Kinross have embraced the good practice tool into their approach, looking towards more staff and partners increasingly using the software for community engagement activity.  The Scottish Health Council has also trained their local officers in the use and promotion of VOiCE within Health Boards.

Commenting on the success of VOiCE Jacqui Stevenson, Patient Focus and Public Involvement Officer - NHS Ayrshire & Arran said: "Having an easy to use tool such as VOiCE is really helping us improve the quality of participation activity. It helps us encourage our staff and partner agencies to really consider how they can more effectively involve patients, service users and our local communities when making important decisions about local services."

VOiCE online imageThe online software is freely available to organisations/agencies that work within Scotland's communities. The system will help users to; plan community engagement and service user participation, to conduct it effectively, to monitor progress and to evaluate outcomes. 

If you are interested in attending one of SCDC's upcoming VOiCE courses or simply want more information please complete the attached form to register your interest here

To learn more about VOiCE or to create your own free account go to: http://www.voicescotland.org.uk/