Co-operative Engagement Toolkit

Co-operative Engagement Toolkit

Co-operative Engagement is Rochdale Borough's approach to working together to engage people and communities when a change is happening.

The Frame

A ‘Frame’ helps to begin the engagement process and provides a way to share information before embarking on work to inform, involve or collaborate with communities.

The 'Frame' should be your first step in outlining your topic, audience, engagement, resources and support.

Why not make use of our helpful template below to get you started? There is a PDF version and also on in Microsoft Word, just use what works for you!

The Frame Template [PDF]     The Frame Template [Microsoft Word]

A step-by-step guide to getting started

There are three levels of engagement - Inform, Involve and Collaborate.

Inclusive messaging ensures that we are informing all parts of our communities in a way that is accessible to them. This can include engaging with communities about the message's language, format and content, or sharing messages via VCFSE communications channels and networks.

Where communities could have some influence over the Frame topic, involvement is about working with existing groups and networks to gain deeper insight into the challenge or proposed solution.
Working with existing groups and networks means that there are already strong relationships, roots in the community and trust. It is a quicker and easier way to reach people in the target audience for the topic.
Our 'Co-operative Engagement Spaces Guide' lists all of the networks, forums, spaces and groups where involvement could happen across the borough.

Collaboration is most appropriate where communities could have a high level of influence over the Frame topic and there is enough time and resources to support meaningful engagement.
Collaboration is about bringing together people with professional and lived experience of a challenge to understand the Frame topic from new perspectives, develop and test out ideas, and evaluate shared solutions.

Insight Capture

Whenever we engage, it is important to capture the insight and use this to inform future work and to feedback to communities the outcome of their involvement.

Why not make use of our helpful template below to get you started? There is a PDF version and also on in Microsoft Word, just use what works for you!

Insight Capture Template [PDF]     Insight Capture Template [Microsoft Word]

Co-operative Engagement Spaces Guide

A guide to networks, forums and meaningful engagement opportunities between people, communities, services and the public sector across the Rochdale Borough.

This guide has been compiled by Action Together, with support from Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector and Public Sector partners.  It details the shared spaces and places where ‘engagement’ can happen.  

We are keen for our partners to use this table to plan engagement and would be happy to make introductions to any of the networks/groups mentioned below, please get in touch with us: to request an introduction.

Should you wish for your space to be added, or removed, from this directory, please get in touch with us at:

VCFSE-led Networks : Various networks/forums/groups formed around interest, opportunity, place or need

Action Together thematic networks/forums cross-borough networks that bring VCFSE organisations together to share insight and take collective action to address the root causes of poverty and inequalities. You can find out more about our Thematic Networks HERE book onto Network Meetings HERE.

  • Food Solutions Network - improving access to nutritious, appropriate food with dignity and without deprivation.
  • Women’s Service Network - Tackling inequality in women’s lives and connecting the dots between the voluntary sector support and statutory services
  • Emotional Health and Wellbeing Forum - Sustaining and developing inclusive VCFSE support pathways, creating new collaborative work, that benefits the whole network and supports the supporters
  • Digital Inclusion Forum - a group working to tackle digital poverty and exclusion in Rochdale
  • Rochdale Refugee and Asylum Seeker Multi Agency Forum - a space for groups with a shared interest of supporting Rochdale’s asylum seeker and refugee community, currently run jointly with the British Red Cross and meets bi-monthly.
  • LGBT+ Forum - bringing together individuals and services to support the LGBT+ community in Rochdale.  Aims include: making Rochdale spaces more inclusive, delivering training to the sector to promote inclusivity.
  • Ethnic Minority Network - hosted by KYP, this network is a space to provide a voice and collective representation for Rochdale’s BAME led VCSE groups and organisations

Wider VCFSE thematic networks/forums

  • Community and Faith Together (Near Neighbours/Community Safety Partnership/Robin Parker)
  • Disability Forum (RADDAG - currently paused)
  • BAME Emotional Health and Wellbeing Forum (Rochdale and District Mind)
  • Homelessness Network (Sanctuary Trust)
  • Women’s Homeless Service User Network (Petrus)
  • Culture Network (Cartwheel Arts/Your Trust)
  • Asian Business Network (Business in the Community)

Neighbourhood Networks

  • Rochdale, Heywood, Middleton and Pennines Network - quarterly neighbourhood forums bringing VCFSE and statutory colleagues together to build relationships, find opportunities for shared action and influence local decisions.

Wider VCFSE-led place-based forums/networks

  • Flood Resilience Group (Littleborough Civic Trust)
  • Darnhill Festival Association (Cartwheel Arts)
  • Better Health 4 Middleton (Tony Ettenfield)
  • Community Base Network (Community Centres)
  • Middleton Co-operating
  • Big Help Langley

Citizen Engagement Opportunities

Citizen Engagement Groups and Spaces

  • Community Champions (Living Well volunteers supporting others with a range of skills/ expert by experience approaches)
  • Rochdale Citizens (Citizens Curriculum - Place Team)
  • Street Engagement Volunteers (Living Well)
  • Community Influencers Forum (Living Well)
  • Family Hub parent carer forums (Rochdale Borough Council)
  • Healthwatch Rochdale Advisory Group (residents focused on health and care issues)
  • Healthwatch Rochdale Youthwatch (Young people focused on health and care issues)
  • Co-op Pioneer Champions (Co-op)
  • Youth Parliament (Youth Service)
  • Elephants Trail (Residents experiencing multiple disadvantage)
  • The Bigger Picture (Sanctuary Trust)
  • Rochdale Council of Mosques

Wider VCFSE Engagement Opportunities

There are 1239 VCFSE organisations in Rochdale Borough. Community groups across our different townships in Heywood, Middleton, Rochdale and Pennines run regular events and groups which could welcome an opportunity to share their experiences or insight, for example:

  • Coffee Mornings and Social Groups
  • Peer Support Groups
  • Food Banks and Food Pantries
  • 'Friends of' Groups for Green Spaces
  • Community Work or Faith Groups
  • Housing Association Residents Groups

Cross System Networks and Partnership

There are a number of spaces and places that are led by Public Sector partners and include VCFSE sector organisations.  These can be places to share information and consult with VCFSE organisations.  Networks and partnerships include:

  • Voluntary Sector Partnership (Elected Member led)
  • Mental Health Partnership Board (HMR LCO) 
  • Prevention Partnership Board (RBC)
  • Early Help and Family Hubs (RBC)
  • Age Friendly Partnership (RBH)
  • Social Prescribing Network (Rochdale Health Alliance/KYP/Petrus - currently paused)
  • Local Pilot (Your Trust)
  • Township Meetings (Elected Member led)
  • Patient and Public Engagement Committee (CCG led)

There are also networks, organisations and resources at Greater Manchester that the VCFSE in Rochdale are engaged with and can support Rochdale Borough working.  Some of these include:

GM Equality Panels more info on panels HERE

  • GM Equality Alliance – the umbrella group providing an intersectional strategic influencing space
  • GM Women and Girls Equality Panel 
  • GM Race Equality Panel
  • Youth Combined Authority (convened by Youth Focus NW)
  • GM Disabled People’s Panel (convened by GMCDP)
  • Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (independent)
  • Disability Design Reference Group (convened by TfGM)
  • LGBT Adviser to Mayor of Greater Manchester
  • LGBTQ+ Panel (convened by Manchester Pride)
  • GM BAME Leadership Group (convened by GMCVO) 
  • Engagement ongoing around setting up ‘Faith Equality Panel’.
  • Inclusion and Wellbeing Partnership (convened by GMCVO)

Information Sharing

Though ‘communications’ is mainly focused on information giving, engaging with VCFSE and communities about how information is given can help ensure that messages are received well and by the intended audience, achieving the intended outcome. Some methods set up to support this are:

  • #TogetherRochdale – communicating in partnership (Healthwatch Rochdale/ Action Together/ Living Well / HMR CCG / Rochdale Borough Council)
  • Rochdale e-bulletin (fortnightly newsletter to Action Together VCFSE membership)
  • #WednesdaysWeekly Training, Q&A’s and Service Updates from Action Together and Partners 
  • Crescent Radio - reaches 5,000 people
  • Carers Hub Newsletter - reaches 2,000 people
  • Get Rochdale Working Facebook Group - over 17,000 members (work and skills)

Several VCFSE organisations and public sector partners in Rochdale have a directory of services, which signpost people to activities. Many of these are online and used by the general public and by frontline workers and support Social Prescribing services. Some of these include:

How do people link and connect into VCFSE activity?

Word of mouth, social media, local newspapers, noticeboards, recommendations, and radio are always mentioned as ways VCFSE organisations connect with people, either as volunteers or as activity participants. As the importance of the role of the VCFSE, in supporting people’s health and wellbeing has been further appreciated, the number of roles and teams that link to VCFSE activity and refer or connect people to activity has also increased.  These include:

  • Action Together Community Development Workers 
  • Community Connectors (Adult Care run service connecting people to services and community information, advice and signposting)
  • Social Prescribing Link Workers and Focused Care Practitioners (support with multiple issues accessed via GP practice and working with the whole practice team)
  • Living Well Health Coaches and Health Trainers (Supporting people to improve their health and wellbeing)
  • Action Together Volunteer Centre (brokerage and placement of volunteers)
  • Living Well Volunteer Coordinators 
  • RBH Community Partnerships Team (Supporting RBH Communities and residents)
  • Rochdale Borough Council Place Teams (Focused on place, working together to reduce ‘crisis’ demand on services)
  • Early Help Teams (Supporting families holistically)
  • Integrated Neighbourhood Teams (5 core neighbourhood teams delivering a wider range of health and social care services, across the Rochdale borough which consist of district nurses, community matrons, community nurses, therapists, general practices, social care and VCFSE sector services)