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Getting an idea of what local people think

Some groups from time to time or when launching a group, decide to try and gauge what environmental issues are of concern to local people. This helps the group choose what campaigns to run. It also helps ensure that the campaigns are run relevant to local people – if campaigns are relevant to people then they are more likely to get involved and help out.

There are many ways of gauging public opinion. Below are just two ways used by groups successfully;

Having a stall in your local high street or other prominent place in your town gives you the opportunity to talk to people and find out their concerns. When one of our current local groups had a stall, they produced a big poster (90cm x 60cm) which they divided into six equal areas. In each of these areas they wrote the name of environmental issues (for example; transport, air pollution, tropical rainforest destruction, wildlife, energy, climate change). They generated ideas for the six issues amongst themselves. They then asked people to place a sticky coloured star on the issue they were most concerned about. At the end of the day the poster was full of stars on the issue of greatest concern, with less stars in the other areas. They found it an enjoyable day which was helped by the poster attracting people to the staff and being a focus for chatting to people.

Having a questionnaire in local shops is a less time consuming way of gauging peoples’ opinions but it has the disadvantage of not having a chance to chat to people. Questionnaires could be put in places such as local shops, newsagent, local schools/colleges, doctor’s surgery etc and would ask people to choose the issue that concerns them most from the four issues given or one of their own. It could also ask for the respondents’ names and addresses so that they could be told the results and told about what the group was doing and where it was meeting.

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