Potential barriers to engagement

Potential barriers to engagement

Understanding potential barriers to engagement can help make communication and engagement activities transparent and accessible.

This short animation looks at some common barriers to engagement – and ways to deal with them. Identifying potential barriers in advance helps to work with people effectively when making changes to services.

When planning a change to services we need to ask ourselves a key question: How will we keep everyone engaged in the process and able to participate meaningfully?

Understanding any barriers to engagement will help you plan your communication and engagement activities to ensure your process is transparent and accessible.

Common barriers that can prevent or hinder participation

Lack of clear information

Make information about your plans for engagement readily available. Increasing awareness of proposed changes to services  and how people can participate through engagement  will make your process more accessible.

Different support or access needs

Think about who your different stakeholders are and what support they may need to take part. It is important you work with people to understand how you can provide access to support, and offer alternative ways for them to get involved.


Listen to people and show them how you have taken their views into account. This will help build relationships and trust. Clear communication and feedback is needed throughout the project to help ensure transparency.

How to identify and overcome barriers

Put yourself in the other person's shoes and think of the process from the stakeholders' perspective:

  • Why would they make the time and effort to get involved?
  • What support might people need? What would they hope to get back?
  • Think outside the box. Is there a different way to involve people?

Carrying out a Stakeholder Analysis and an Equalities Impact Assessment should help you to identify any potential barriers, solutions and support that people may require to fully participate.

Understanding potential barriers to engagement  and how you might overcome them  will help the engagement processes be more accessible and support effective planning, decision making and delivery of services.

You can find resources and information to help you plan your engagement on our website.

Last Updated: 8 March 2021