Skip main navigation

Barriers to engagement

Video featuring Emma Sparrow from RCPCH about barriers to engagement when you are working with people and communities.

We know it’s not all plain sailing, and that you might face some barriers when you’re working with people and communities.

In the video above, Emma Sparrow, who leads on engagement at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, talks about some the barriers and challenges she has seen in her work.

Here are some things that other people have come up against, with some ideas of how to overcome them.

“I don’t have the time”

Consider how engagement might win you back some time – e.g. engaged communities help their services such as when COVID hit and communities helped with vaccination uptake etc. Carve out time by enlisting support of others.

“I had a bad experience”

A bad experience can certainly put you off repeating an engagement exercise. However, it’s worth working through this course and thinking: What could I do differently next time to ensure a more positive experience of engagement? Also difficult conversations can often be the most important to have.

“I’ve no resources”

Some case studies will have been resourced, but others will have been managed within current capacities and assets. Make best use of the assets you have, and if you need additional resource then this is something you can apply for. Effective engagement can also make you more likely to be able to pull down additional resource, as you can evidence why it’s needed – though it’s important to acknowledge that extra resource can be hard to come by during difficult times.

“Is it worth it?”

Think back to earlier in the week’s learning when we looked at who we can realistically engage. How can you balance effective engagement with considering what you can realistically achieve? How can you use the information in this course to effectively target your engagement?

“I need to make it accessible”

Services are obliged to produce accessible information under the Accessible Information Standard.

Think about how your local voluntary and community sector might be able to assist you in the production of this information. For example, self advocacy groups have a wealth of experience in making information accessible for people with a learning disability and other people who use different formats like easy read. It’s important to support organisations financially, to make sure they have the resources to pay people for their time.

What challenges do you face when thinking about working with people and communities? Post your examples here, and then look if you can suggest solutions to comments from other people.

This article is from the free online

Working with People and Communities to Improve Health Outcomes

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now