Central Doncaster’s Appreciative Inquiry 2021

What is an Appreciative Inquiry?

A four staged evidenced based community centred approach that gathers positive insight and works with the community to co-design and co-deliver action plans.

What does it look like in practice?

Discovery: Strength based conversations with residents focusing on gathering positive insight about their community which undergoes a thematic analysis to find key themes for each community

Dream: Community workshops where residents and stakeholders sense check and develop the themes identified through the Discovery into how they would like their community to look, feel and be.

Design: Community workshops where residents and stakeholder priorities ideas and aspirations developed in the Dream stage and co-design actions plans with short, medium and long term goals.

Deliver: Ongoing delivery of the co-produced community action plans by residents and partners.

Where and when is this happening?

Appreciative Inquiries have taken place in 20 communities across Doncaster since July 2021. Lets take a look at the first locality below…

Central Doncaster’s Appreciative Inquiry 2021


We kicked off Central’s Appreciative Inquiry in Hexthorpe and this was the first Well Doncaster have held here!

During the two-week discovery phase, a team of 15 community explorers were able to have 51 conversations with Hexthorpe residents and other key members of the community. There were three residing themes that community members highlighted:

  1. Green Space
  2. Local Activities and Support
  3. Community Spirit/ Pride

We had a great turn out at the Dream and Design workshops where conversations were centred on the themes identified.

Green Space:

Hexthorpe Park is the main attraction in Hexthorpe and all were very keen to discuss the development of this and to create a place for people to visit Hexthorpe for. Toilet facilities, increasing lighting, water feature, picnic area, opening up of the park for safety, re-development of the bowling club and car parking facilities were also discussed during this phase of the workshop. The park is currently in its first stages of its Future Parks investment plans which this insight will feed into.

Local Activities and Support:

Communication of activities and support on offer is a major concern in Hexthorpe. Written forms of communication was suggested as the best method to engage families, particularly with a large transient population and high percentage of non-English speaking residents. The Junction, Well Doncaster and the Communities team were tasked to find out how we can gain access to the notice board at Hexthorpe Astrea Primary Academy for future advertisement of local activities.

Community Spirit/ Pride

Residents discussed the types of activities they would like to see in Hexthorpe. Community events and multi-cultural opportunities including food festivals and musical festivals were popular amongst residents to help break down barriers between cultures. Food classes/ cooking on a budget and accessing local produce was a popular idea amongst residents wanting activities for adults. The use of the allotment groups and using local events to introduce this was suggested. Some suggested the use of afterschool clubs for children and young people to attend (homework clubs, dental hygiene bus) to offer a safe space for similar ages children to attend but also gain an educational aspect from it.  Engaging the local school and Dell Café was suggested as a way of engaging local people. A team of residents and Doncaster council staff are currently planning a 10 Flags Food event in April 2022 to support this need.

Hexthorpe Community will work towards their action plans during 2022 and onwards. Updates on the action plan will be shared at the Positive Action Group held at Travis Gardens every first Wednesday of the month. Please come along if you have any ideas of would like to support these actions in anyway.

Intake & Wheatley

Next to follow was Intake, Wheatley and Clay Lane’s workshops where 13 explorers had identified 4 themes from the 47 conversations with members of the community. The themes were:

  1. Support Network
  2. Accessibility
  3. Environment
  4. Children and Young People

Support Network:

Some attendees felt Intake received a lot more support than the other communities at Wheatley and Clay Lane. Those associated with a community organisation felt a community networking event was something that would be beneficial for all involved in the community and would help communication of local events and opportunities available.

The use of Wheatley’s facebook group was discussed as a method of communication to help develop and strengthen the support and uptake of support available in Wheatley. Development or re-introduction of more community events would be welcomed.

Residents expressed an interest in wanting more of a relationship with their local councillors and the re-introduction of a Positive Action Group (PAG) was suggested. Others suggested a walk around with councillors would help this too.

Accessibility/ Environment:

Accessibility issues for families with pushchairs and those living with mobility issues was a concern highlighted by all, particularly when using Grove Park. Grove park was the focal point of conversation and the need for re-development of the park was high on everyone’s agenda. Parking issues were also raised. Ideas around a gym area and play area for families to access together was suggested. The potential for sports pitches on Grove Park was suggested. It was acknowledged that utilising local people to run groups/ maintain areas for the community was something needed. This insight will feed into the Future Parks investment work in Grove Park.

Many felt there was no possibility for parents to access any physical activity groups as there was no childcare support available. Community activity which targets families would be beneficial. One resident expressed an interest in a parent and toddler group to be re-located to Flintwood church for the local community to access.

Support available for those isolated and older residents was discussed. Channels of communication and getting these residents to know what support was available for them was an issue. The local PCSO suggested a trusted figure/ team of people that vulnerable residents could trust to share support services and in some cases help them to access them would be beneficial. PFG are currently working on a similar project and some learning and sharing will be done to establish how well this works with this community.

One organisation suggested the lack of community venues made it hard for their services to be accessed.

Stronger Communities officers and local volunteers were quick to action a litter pick for Warwick Avenue where residents discussed the issues of litter. The first was held on November 29th 2021. There will be another held in the New Year. This is a great example of how these workshops work to bring local people together to discuss ideas and establish a way to work together and create a stronger community!

Children & Young People:

Residents strongly believe work experience and opportunities for children and young people to get involved in a variety of activities would help deter them from the streets.

Some suggested there was a lack of groups for parents and babies when compared to other areas in Doncaster. Free or affordable activities for all was discussed as a key element of family fun activities and to ensure engagement at them. One local resident and volunteer took away the action to put together a booklet of all local activity groups on offer. It is hoped by working collaboratively we can ensure this is available online, on-paper and regularly updated.

Members of Intake, Wheatley and Clay Lane will be invited to drop in to our AI sessions in the New Year and discuss any potential work or ideas they may have in helping make Intake, Wheatley or Clay Lane a stronger place to live and feed into the action plans. If you like more information on these please contact Hannah.McWilliams@doncaster.gov.uk


The last of Central Doncaster’s workshops were held at Woodfield Park, Balby. 13 community explorers were able to speak to 67 residents during the discovery phase. Residents and key stakeholders were invited to come and discuss the 4 themes identified during this stage:

  1. Local Activities/ Amenities
  2. Travel
  3. Community Spirit/ Pride
  4. Community Safety

Local Activities/ Amenities:

Attendees had mixed ideas on the best ways to advertise community events. Some suggested the use of facebook and having a virtual notice board, whilst others suggested posters and leaflets at the local notice board and library would be sufficient. All agreed that having a buddy system that ensured trusted figures/ community members with access to these communication channels should tell 10 others in the community to increase engagement and help spread the word. Any events being held need to be affordable for families and producing events around ‘holiday times’ is a good way of having something to celebrate and bringing communities together. There are plenty of assets (community groups, green spaces etc) and these need to be utilised as best as possible. A networking event was suggested as a base for sharing ideas, latest events and best practice. A 7pm facebook session was also discussed and a number of voluntary organisations were up for putting plans in place to trial this.


Discussions centred around the idea of travel being split into two parts; how easy travel is around Balby and active travel.

How easy travel is: Some residents suggested there was reduced bus routes through Balby compared to previous years and this creates issues when getting around.

Active Travel: The idea of maps being on offer and indicating where there are walking routes and cycling routes available would potentially increase active travel. Cycling routes were popular amongst attendees and whilst cycling may have been identified as a popular activity across Balby residents there is no safe space for them to engage in this activity. The Well Doncaster officer has fed this into the Get Doncaster Moving to help future works in the area and provide some community insight towards the cycling and walking infrastructure plans in Doncaster.

Community Spirit and Pride:

Some discussed the removal of waste and fly tipping as something that benefits their local street and helps everyone keep high spirits. Whilst others suggested particular areas of Balby are targeted by fly tipping and this reduces any sense of pride and community spirit.

Most suggested hosting street parties and community events (outdoor cinemas, holiday themed walked, galas) would help increase community spirit and to utilise local green spaces to do this. Balby and Hexthorpe community Engagement Society and Flourish were very keen to promote the Jubilee celebrations as a community event in 2022 as a way of targeting this theme.

Community Safety:

More police presence to ensure safety of residents was prioritised by most in Balby. Having trusted figures holding events was discussed and the idea of council staff and trusted figures marshalling events made them feel at ease and comfortable enough to attend with children. One example given was the Halloween walk run by Central community team in October 2021. The re-development of youth hubs or skate parks for children to attend rather than hanging around on streets was discussed.

Community members of Balby will be invited to drop in to our AI sessions in the New Year and discuss any potential work or ideas they may have in helping make Balby a stronger place to live and feed into the action plans. If you like more information on these please contact Hannah.McWilliams@doncaster.gov.uk

There will be some development of work in Town Centre and Hyde Park in the New Year so another exciting opportunity to get involved.

I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone that got involved in the Appreciative Inquiry work in Central Doncaster in 2021 and to keep posted for regular updates and good news stories of the work that goes on during 2022!

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