GCHU funding success: Listening Exchanges

A research team from the GCHU and Primary Care has been awarded funding from the University’s OPEN Network to explore a new community engagement method developed in Oxford, called “Listening Exchanges”. The aim of the Listening Exchanges approach is to bring together citizens with different views on specific policy approaches, to encourage mutual understanding, reduce polarisation and support community cohesion and resilience.

The project is set within the local policy context of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) that were introduced in Oxford in 2020 to restrict the movement of motorised vehicles through residential streets. The LTN policy has been controversial and has prompted considerable divergence of views. The Listening Exchanges approach will bring together two citizens with different perspectives on LTNs, together with a mediator, to enable each participant to listen to the other’s point of view and reflect back what they hear.

This is a pilot process to test out this innovative method of engagement, as a potential tool for building trust between neighbours. The objective is to enable people to be heard and understood, whatever their perspective, by someone who disagrees with them. It is not aiming to change anyone’s mind and will have no influence on what happens with LTNs. Ultimately, it aims to improve community cohesion. The project has the endorsement of Oxfordshire County Council though it is independent of the Council and is funded by the University.

This pilot project will run from May to July 2024, culminating in the publication of a “Listening Exchanges” concept paper summarising the findings.

To hear more about the project, listen to a BBC interview broadcast on Tuesday 5th March (the interview commences at 1h 27m 45s).

For more information, contact:

[email protected]