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The neighbourhood scan is a participatory measuring instrument that maps the social capital of a neighbourhood, in dialogue with its residents. This methodology is based on a few principles of “asset-based community development” or “abcd”. Which spaces lead to encounters, which talents can be used, is it easy for newcomers to find their role in the neighbourhood, etc.?

In other words, the neighbourhood scan is a neighbourhood analysis in collaboration with local residents. By discussing their neighbourhood, residents see their local community in a new light. The dialogue exposes all kinds of opportunities, such as interesting collaborations. This method was developed by Vicinia (Dutch and French website only) and hosted by Hoplr’s Knowledge Centre. Our experts carry out the neighbourhood scan in four phases. We discuss these below.

  1. Project structure
  2. Online and offline survey, in-depth interviews
  3. Physical workshops
  4. Reporting

Neighbourhood Scan Phase 1: Project structure

In this first phase, we sit down with the client – often the town or city council, social service or a local service centre. We discuss the entire project. Together, we determine the scope and make some decisions:

  • The timing of each phase;
  • Which channels will be used for the announcement;
  • Which engaged citizens or key people are suitable for an in-depth interview;
  • Which tasks will be executed by the client and which by Hoplr;
  • Where and when the workshop(s) will take place; and
  • How the results will be communicated.

Neighbourhood Scan Phase 2: Online and Offline Survey

We start the neighbourhood analysis by collecting a lot of interesting data about social relations, spaces, accessibility and activities in the neighbourhood. What aspect of the neighbourhood are residents satisfied with, what is lacking? We ask a large number of local residents a series of standardised questions. The anonymous survey takes place online, by telephone or on paper. In addition, we conduct in-depth interviews with a few local residents.

Representative survey

The survey is based on a sample. By inviting a limited group of residents on the basis of socio-demographic characteristics (gender, age, origin, income, etc.), we monitor the representativeness of the results.

In order to achieve maximum participation, we apply the Dillman method. Research shows that an invitation and two reminders via addressed mail, of which the second one includes a paper questionnaire, produces the best results.

This guarantees a high participation rate within a representative sample. However, this is no guarantee for correct socio-demographic distribution. That is why the survey is also weighted. Data from underrepresented groups (compared to the population) are weighted more heavily, and vice versa.

In-depth interviews with neighbours

In the survey, we present neighbours with a series of questions that were developed to map out the satisfaction and needs of local residents. By means of in-depth interviews with a number of local residents, however, we can also collect more nuanced information.

The in-depth interviews focus in more detail on needs, experiences and talents. We look at neighbourhood stories and subjective experiences. Personal experiences often give a better idea of what is important in a specific neighbourhood. For example, which needs exist, where people meet, which organisations or customs are important, which elements make up the identity of the neighbourhood…

Relevance for neighbourhood analysis

This individual survey prior to the neighbourhood dialogue is an important part of the neighbourhood scan and brings various advantages:

  • The results offer a framework in which the neighbourhood dialogue can be conducted;
  • the findings of the neighbourhood dialogue are compared to those of the broad consultation;
  • more citizens are given the opportunity to contribute in an accessible way; and
  • awareness within the neighbourhood is raised to subsequently take part in the dialogue.

Neighbourhood Scan Phase 3: Workshops

We then engage in a dialogue with the neighbourhood. The survey in phase 2 allowed us to paint a broad picture of local situations and opinions. But only by promoting cross-fertilisation can we complete the picture. That is why we organise an offline workshop with as many local residents as possible.

Getting started with the neighbourhood lens

We present the results of the survey and interviews through the neighbourhood lens. The neighbourhood lens comprises four themes, being people, spaces, access and activities, each with three subcategories (relationships, talents, participation, housing quality,…). Each of these twelve dimensions is given a score. These scores are represented visually in a wheel.

Neighbourhood dialogue methodology

We’ll use the neighbourhood lens start a discussion with those present. During the workshop we will:

  • see if participants agree with the scores;
  • determine what the neighbourhood wants to work on;
  • identify what the local residents can do themselves;
  • what they can work on with the local government; and
  • see what connections could lead to fruitful collaborations.

Under the guidance of a moderator, the local residents work on these issues in small groups.

Upon request, this workshop can be preceded by an additional ‘Neighbourhood capacity mapping’ workshop. Here participants list all the positive aspects of the neighbourhood. This way, they discover the potential of the neighbourhood themselves and connections can be made more easily. These strengths of the neighbourhood (organisations, talents, activities, initiatives, places, groups, materials, etc.) can serve as inspiration for solving the “needs” that arise from the neighbourhood dialogue. This extra workshop also ensures a constructive atmosphere, connection and cooperation between participants.

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Workshops with the Hoplr Knowledge Centre

The Hoplr team is right at home in community management and therefore knows exactly how to initiate and moderate a dialogue. Citizen engagement expert Anastasia Van den Bossche has a lot of hands-on experience with community projects and fieldwork. Moreover, she is supported by her fellow experts to make the workshop a success: from organisation to processing all input.

The Hoplr Knowledge Centre recently organised offline and online participation events for the city of Diksmuide and Boechout, among others. Read more about the entire neighbourhood scan process, including workshops, in Papegaaiwijk, Ghent (Dutch only).

Neighbourhood Scan Phase 4: Reporting

Finally, our experts provide an extensive analysis. This analysis is translated into a clear report. The report includes:

  • a concise summary of methodology and participation rate;
  • an overview of relevant findings from the survey and in-depth interviews;
  • the neighbourhood lens with explanations and scores;
  • a short report of the workshop; and
  • action points from the workshop.

The result is a document that can be shared with the board, local residents and other stakeholders. It forms an excellent basis for both policy-making and neighbourhood initiatives.

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Click here to view a report that our Knowledge Centre prepared for the town of Halle earlier this year (Dutch only).

Starting with the Neighbourhood Scan

This autumn, the first Hoplr Neighbourhood Scans will be launched in Flanders. In addition to the 360° neighbour scan, we are also offering a digital and thematic version. These variants in terms of channel and scope offer a more limited neighbourhood analysis to experiment with. Interested? Contact our team for more information on availability.

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