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Thought Pieces

Community of Listeners for Local Councils

We help you understand your residents better. 

We provide local councils with skills and tools to help them understand their residents’ needs more effectively. This enables them to feel more tuned into the residents that they serve and means residents' voices better inform decision-making, policies and development of new services. 


We do this by helping councils to activate a FREE superpower that they already possess… eyes and ears that they already have on the ground day to day - their frontline council teams. These teams currently have a wide reach in communities as staff are already engaging with different residents every day. Some of them are regulars, others are one-off interactions, but all of them have the potential to be more valuable, providing in-the-moment insight into what’s going for residents in their local area, and finding better ways to support them.  


We train and develop councils to ‘switch on’ this latent resource by building a ‘Community of Listeners’ amongst frontline council employees across the UK to help tap into on-the-ground knowledge and help to share and disseminate these learnings within councils. This ‘Community’ helps to connect teams within and across different councils to share learnings, challenges and problem solve, so that holistic and innovative approaches to resident issues can be taken.

By building a ‘Community of Listeners’ with you, your council can experience:

  • Better listening to resident needs

  • Better information sharing/signposting

  • More effective problem solving 

  • Better targeting of local services

  • Trust building and relationships with residents

  • Increased inter-departmental working

  • The resident informed decision making 


If you are interested in learning more about our Community of Listeners and how your team or multiple teams within your council might get involved, please get in touch with Grainne ( or Tanya (

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Case Studies

Housing Transformation Ethnography with Residents,

London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

In 2022, Neighbourly Lab was commissioned by London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham to conduct ethnographic research with residents living on its estates. The research contributed to the borough's Housing Transformation Strategy so that residents’ voices were listened to. 


In order to do this listening effectively and sustainably, we trained up some of the Housing Teams frontline staff to carry out deep listening with residents. We created a Listening Squad of about 10 frontline staff and worked with them online and in the field, honing their skills to help the council to understand what’s really going on for its residents, so that insights could be fed into policy and support transformation ambitions. 


The Listening Squad and Neighbourly Lab team  established 5 types of resident engagement ‘types’, which were presented to the transformation team as case studies. They fed back on the implications and opportunities for the digital landlord in effectively supporting and engaging their residents. 


Together, we also developed a set of design principles, written through the lens of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham residents. That was so that any future work could be benchmarked by holding the residents in mind, and checking off whether those criteria were met.


Read below the comments of London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham regarding our work:


What I thought was particularly valuable about Neighbourly Lab’s approach, was how they concentrated their time on getting very detailed feedback from far fewer residents than we might ordinarily have done. Although we - as intended - worked with a smaller cohort than if we had, for example, sent out a survey, the feedback we got was really insightful and much more comprehensive.”

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Listening Squad for connecting and understanding residents, 

London Borough of Camden Council

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Camden Council wanted to find ways of connecting and understanding its residents better. We developed an interdepartmental model of the Listening Squad and went out with the Listening Squad, explored needs and co-designed interventions that could potentially meet these needs. 


The Listening Squads in this project included people who lived in and worked for the London Borough of Camden. They worked on different frontline teams: from Family Hubs to Repairs, to Community Engagement and Market Enforcement. 


As part of this work we engaged other Council staff, to help understand what else was going on in the community and build out the co-designed ideas. Thanks to some great deep listening, the squad surfaced a range of different solutions for better Council Resident connection, that often focused on empowering residents with care and social connection. 


“I wanted to get involved in this as you spend a third of your life as a resident/ employee, it is not just an employee and not just a resident.” (Listening Squad member, Repairs Team)

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