Championing our Champions!

Natasha Bance

I don’t know about the user engagement champions, but I have had a busy year since the launch of the User Engagement Strategy for Statistics back in February 2021!

Since the launch I have been responsible for organising and co-ordinating our user engagement champions meetings. And what an exciting task it has been!

Our user engagement champions network has grown a lot over the past year. We have welcomed over 24 new, enthusiastic champions to the network. This means that our network is now made up of 56 user engagement enthusiasts from 35 government organisations. You can find a full list of our Champions on the User engagement champions page.

We meet every other month for a two-hour meeting. The meetings are full of interactive sessions, presentations, discussions, and a 20 minute ‘Champion Chat’. Champion Chats, as we call them, are an opportunity for four randomly chosen champions to… well… chat! These Chats take place every month, in-between the larger meetings. They are a great opportunity for champions to network, support one another, and share ideas. We ask the champions for a short update on their user engagement work after their Chat.

Thankfully, it seems my efforts to build a successful and sustainable network have succeeded! The network is vibrant and flourishing, and most importantly it’s actively supporting the User Engagement Strategy for Statistics. There are always lots of people at the meetings and lots of updates about progress. Thank you all so much.

Unfortunately, because of other commitments I am not leading the network in 2022. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know lots of people from different professions through the network. It has been great to work with them over the last year. I’m so grateful I have had the opportunity to help develop the strategy and network!

As it is now a year after the launch of the strategy, I thought this would be a good opportunity to think about our progress.

Commitments to user engagement

We have received 34 organisational commitments to the user engagement strategy. Each organisation has their own ideas for the strategy, but over the next three years organisations want to:

  • raise the profile of user engagement
  • get a deeper understanding of their users and their existing user engagement activities
  • review existing policies and practices – this includes using metrics to monitor their progress
  • encourage colleagues to work together across organisations and across government – this includes introducing automation, and using things like Reproducible Analytical Pipelines (RAP)
  • do user testing, gather user feedback, and get immediate feedback on publications
  • develop user engagement, products and services

Monthly updates from champions

Our champions have been keeping us up to date with the progress being made with the strategy in their organisations. We have received lots of updates about the work happening across government. For example:

  • nine departments have held an internal launch of the strategy – some departments did this with help from the User Support and Engagement Resource (USER) hub project team
  • eight departments have assessed their current user engagement work to develop metrics to monitor progress
  • some departments have held workshops with the USER hub project team to identify their most productive next steps
  • we have seen lots of departments working together to find out more about their users – the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and National Records Scotland (NRS) have been working together to find and understand their users
  • the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), the Office for Students (OfS), the Office of Road and Rail (ORR), Scottish Government (SG), Defra, and the Department for Transport (DfT) are using technologies and tools, such as Google Analytics
  • the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Defra and Ofsted are creating user engagement networks in their own organisations
  • NISRA, ONS and OfS are launching internal webpages and resources to support user engagement work in their organisations
  • lots of champions have been giving user feedback on the development of the USER hub, USER hub toolkit, and Theme-based user groups and forums

Case studies

Along with the excellent work they have done over the last year, champions are actively looking for brilliant examples of user engagement successes. They have been sharing these examples with us and we have presented them as case studies for the Government Statistical Service (GSS) website. These case studies include:

You can find more information about other departments and approaches on the User engagement case studies webpage. There are 19 case studies to read.

The future of the network

It’s been a busy but enjoyable year for all! I’ve thoroughly loved every second of getting to know each champion and supporting everyone through the year.

As I mentioned I am no longer leading the network in 2022. But it will continue to develop with a new approach to meetings and knowledge-sharing sessions. I know that the network will continue being a vibrant, engaged, and enthusiastic community!

If you want to become a user engagement champion, or would like to know more about how to support the User Engagement Strategy for Statistics, please contact us at GSSHelp@statistics.gov.uk.

Shamela Pepper-Grainger
Natasha Bance
Shamela is a member of the GSS Harmonisation team, but she is currently working in the Centre for Equalities and Inclusion at the ONS.