To have a common ground and the understanding of PB processes and concepts, training on related topics has to take place before starting an action. An extensive few-days training or few smaller ones and more targeted training sessions for specific stakeholders (an implementation team, possibly engaging strategic partners) as a training activity depends on the scale of PB, implementers’ background, and the variety of key target groups. There are no particular rules in setting up a training activity except for being relevant to an audience trained, incl. relevant content, an applied language, and a format.
In this section you will find guidelines on how to organize a training on PB implementation for municipal and civic organisations. The guidelines will address both content-related advice and technical implementation suggestions. The Train-the-Trainer approach is proposed as an effective way for a training on PB internally within an organisation or across several organisations interested in PB partnerships. The experience of EmPaci project is presented as the set of examples to follow, including the curriculum proposed for the beginners in PB implementation.
Guidelines for planning
Expenses to be considered
Structure to build up internal trainers
Training materials and videos developed by the EmPaci partners
T-t-T concept application in Lahti and Riihimäki municipalities
Examples of trainings by the EmPaci partners
An intensive training planning has to start at least 6 weeks prior the training with a clear vision on the purpose of the training. It means that before planning, needs assessment has to be carried out within PB implementing organisation(s) and/or team(s).
The collected data needs to be properly assessed to determine what would help PB implementors to act more efficiently and reach larger audiences by PB actions.
The selection of themes and topics for a training. Brainstorming or other forms of discussion should follow needs assessment and data analysis stage. An open-discussion or a design-thinking workshop is suggested if the resources allow, so potential participants are more engaged with the topic as active participants of its planning. Ideally, some of the trainees could do own research and come up with some module or specific information, therefore enabling a peer-to-peer learning (considered as more effective than a simple lecturing).
6 weeks prior the training, the most relevant themes and topics have to be selected to start searching for the relevant trainers, lecturers, mentors and supporters, as well as design a detailed training agenda and a curriculum. Below in the section “EmPaci Training Approach” you will find the EmPaci network-suggested curriculum and training materials.
The selection of trainers. Depending on the design of a planned training, you will need a support team delivering the training content. It is suggested to apply a variety of training methods and tools to create a dynamic training experience (and avoid a standard lecturing). It includes the engagement of several experts with diverse backgrounds, for instance, the combination of academic representatives, creative workshop holders, industry, and civic organisation representatives with relevant experience.
The tasks of a coordinator and his/her team are to draft a possible curriculum for selected training dates, contact several trainers (the number depends on the length and topics of a training) and propose a partnership in delivering the specific content – based on publicly available information regarding experts’ field of work. A training coordinator and his/her team may use Google search, LinkedIn, private/network contacts, or any other channels for contacting the experts of interest, unless it is GDPR-compatible and a potential trainer has agreed on sharing personal contact-information.
Several roles of involved PB experts can be defined according to a drafted curriculum – facilitators, lecturers, moderators, mentors, coaches, etc., as a training may involve an individual or a group work (discussions), follow-up tasks to be accomplished after or in between training sessions, case study presentations, simulations, etc. Selected training experts may also consult on the most appropriate methods and the improvement of a training curriculum/agenda based on their experience and expertise. An adequate reward must be discussed with experts, however some may agree on delivering some part of a module for free, therefore this option must also be considered when interacting with training experts.
! It is suggested to adjust the language of a training to the local conditions and the level of knowledge, so a training is as effective for the locals as possible. If international trainers are attracted, a coordinator has to be sure that the training will be accessible and convenient for all the participants planned.
Gathering training participants. The content and training methods and tools highly depend on an audience, which is determined at the very beginning of a planning phase. If trainees belong to a concrete organisation, all planning should be adjusted to their availability and specific needs. If a training design foresees a diverse group of participants, planning should include the timely sourcing of participants.
The following communication channels can be used for inviting participants to a training:
See “Communication and Dissemination Plan Guidelines”, Section “Selection of communication and dissemination channels and tools”, page 35.
Stakeholder support. In order to help attract the most motivated participants, the assistance of partnering organisations and networks should be considered. To do so, ideally prior an agreement with specific envisaged tasks should be set in between a training organiser and a support organisation - civic NGOs, community centres, regional universities, local schools or political parties, etc. (read more on a strategic partnership: “Communication and Dissemination Plan Guidelines”, the section “Establishing a strategic partnership”, pages 26-28). The engagement of a stakeholder organisation into lecturing, facilitating or mentoring training participants can assure a higher partners’ engagement into the promotion of an event to attract more motivated participants. The strategic involvement of partners can result in an additional case studies’ presentation during an event.
! Stakeholders can also be sourced internally, looking for the municipal staff with specific duties addressing target audiences (e.g. youth, elderly groups, unemployed people, families, etc.).
Setting up a training space. The implementation and results of a training are highly affected by the environments of a training. Online or offline trainings can be distinguished, bringing different opportunities and limitations.
Offline settings. It is suggested to organize offline trainings in a large open-space rooms where an appropriate climate can be set and tables and chairs for participants adjusted to the format and methods of a training. The interaction of participants should be enhanced by an appropriate room setting, which allows to move freely and interact in different ways. If a teamwork is expected, tables need to be arranged with chairs around. If a physical interaction and networking is expected, a free space needs to be ensured. Several large posters or flipcharts can be placed in a room to offer participants to reflect on some PB or training-related issues in a written form.
Offline Training Formats. A training can be organised to diverse types and sizes of an audience, which determine the most appropriate format of a training. Delivering diverse results, these can be:
! The length of a presentation depends on the background and interest of an audience. If an introductory presentation is planned for more than 1,5h, several presenters should be engaged to maintain the attention of an audience with several topics. It is not recommended to overwhelm listeners with theoretical information, rather focus on specific cases. Case studies are always better to be presented by the people directly engaged in their implementation or a research.
! Briefings should be relatively short and organised for specific implementation teams or responsible actors. The time for Q&A should be foreseen.
! Community info sessions should not last longer than 2,5 h and the number of participants should be planned ahead (with a prior registration option).
! The recommended number of participants for an offline workshop should not exceed 30 people. One workshop should not last more than one business day and depending on the length should include coffee-breaks, lunch and/or energizers.
! The recommended number of participants in one team is 3-5 people. An efficient team support should be ensured by several facilitators to guarantee the right dynamics of an activity – one facilitator per up to 3-4 teams. Simulation activities require time for a discussion on each offered scenario, so the activities should be well structured and timewise.
! An advanced PB training should be well structured and include a variety of learning methods – individual assignments, a group discussion/work, practical activities, case studies, etc. Do not forget about energizers and coffee breaks/meals to make participants feel comfortable and well-concentrated.
! Prior preparations are required in terms of communication with potential training participants. They need to be aware of the conditions and tools expected to be used during a training, so timely registration instructions, notifications and reminders have to be sent to training participants.
! If a training is designed in a way it can be used by more people than a physical training can accommodate, the recording and publishing of a training video can be implemented to engage more people into PB design and its facilitation.
! Do not forget about water, coffee breaks and snacks to make participants feel comfortable, especially if a training is supposed to last more than 3h.
Online settings. If the training cannot be organised offline, there are multiple tools to carry it out online. Although the level of an interaction and attention span at online trainings is limited, more people can be attracted to follow a training from any place (or even at any time). During the COVID19-pandemic, the level of digital skills has increased globally, as professionals from different areas are using video-conferencing tools, such as Zoom, MS Teams, Webex and other platforms to deliver highly visual presentations, share screens, chat, facilitate large or small group workshops (e.g. in breakout rooms) by adding other tools digital tools, conduct some problem-solving or mind-mapping activities, commonly design visuals, manage polls and surveys, collaborate in time, and much more.
The opportunities of online platforms and tools are almost unlimited, however the most crucial element of a successful online training is the design of activities itself – activities themselves have to be engaging enough to make sure participants are not distracted by checking emails and talking to colleagues or family members (as distraction is the main burden of an online training implementation).
! The usage of a variety of tools is recommended unless it distracts from the acquiring of content – do not overwhelm participants with too many side activities, such as registering in to too many platforms, learning how to use them, sharing codes and passwords across groups, as it may distract and confuse learners.
! Clear registration guidelines and explanations on formats and the tools to be used during an event need to be assured and sent prior together with a meeting agenda. Just like prior an offline meeting, a preparation has to be done by both trainers and training participants.
Gamification. Often trainings are more attractive to participants when organised in distant places with a nice relaxing atmosphere, overnight stay options and costs covered - to increase the interest of participants. However, such option is not simply achievable when operating with public finance, therefore other means of participants’ attraction can be practiced. Depending on the level of awareness about PB or a general activity of citizens/municipality staff, additional stimulus can be applied to enhance participation in a training. For instance, applying to organized teams and competing with other divisions’ or municipalities’ teams within gamified learning, which can be an option.
Gamification elements as progress bars, leader boards, avatars, the collection of points, badges and prizes for winners are practiced to make learning experience attractive and memorable. Digital tools for quizzes and tests (incl. simulations) can be applied to make online and offline trainings more attractive. In some cases, even a geocaching method can be used to make participants go outside and speak to citizens or particular organisations to find answers to specific questions (e.g., Where to find something? What are citizens’ needs? etc.). Such competitive activities are especially effective when carried out in groups. As a prize to compete for during a training, professional video/photo services or webpage development services can be offered to increase the interest of a municipal organisation and simultaneously offer a support for the quality of PB implementation (as a video and a webpage design are the tools to be used in PB campaign).
! Creativity is required to transform a simple training into an interactive game. However, it is important not to overwhelm participants with game-based elements, as the primary purpose and content of a training might get lost. It is necessary to adjust activities to participants’ age and profiles, remembering that informal groups of young people might be more into “playing” than working adults. An appropriate gamification strategy can be applied to all target groups, but mindfulness is necessary to avoid any irritation and loosing time.
Read more about the gamification application for a training here: https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/how-gamification-in-training-works-beginners-guide/
A budget planning should take place at the very beginning of a training event preparation. A budget highly depends on the format and scale of an event. Costs are lower if a training event only involves the employees of one organisation or is organized in structured modules with lectures. If an event is interactive and involves workshops, simulations, and group discussions, or an event is open for public, costs may be higher. However, interactivity is totally worth the costs if activities are implemented mindfully.
The following basic categories of expenses have to be taken into the consideration:
! You can extend/reduce the cost of items depending on different local conditions - e.g., trainers and mentors might be happy to participate pro bono or catering can be covered through sponsorship in kind.
Train-the-Trainer (T-t-T) is a model often used in a workplace to train employees, and at the same time to prepare them as trainers for other employees and stakeholders. Instead of having just one trainer who teaches a course for a long time, T-t-T involves multiple trainers teaching the same course at the same time in a T-t-T model. Becoming an internal trainer and picking up new competencies is a great professional development opportunity for the people involved. Originally a training programme is intended for (starting) trainers, teachers, and educators to optimise and professionalise their current method. However, the method is applied in addressing a wider scope of professionals, not only those expected to train on a regular basis.
Train-the-Trainer is a framework for training potential instructors or subject matter experts to enable them to train other people in their organisations.
T-t-T programmes are usually focused on the personal training style of a potential trainer. A thematic scope can be defined if all T-t-T programme participants are trained for a specific purpose (for instance, empowering PB in a region, as EmPaci project does). Together with an experienced trainer, participants look at creating a good training programme, focusing on all the stages of a training, from the preparation to the evaluation. It allows to precisely define the target group of a trainer and necessary elements of a training to make a specific target group satisfied with the content and form of a training. Creative industry representatives, seniors and municipal employees apparently need different approaches in terms of languages, tools and methodologies applied in training activities.
The length of a training is determined by the complexity of a content and the objectives of a training. One day, 3 days or one week-long training events have to be adjusted to available resources and target groups.
It is important to note, that a good T-t-T programme does not define precise steps to follow for the success, rather it focuses on HOW to train. Trainers learn how to actively listen with empathy, how to convey ideas and how to create courses that employees can easily understand.
The following 7-step guidelines are recommended for a T-t-T programme training:
1. Consider educational psychology. An effective course treats the relevant educational psychology and how a trainer can use this psychology, both in designing and delivering the learning options. A good understanding of educational psychology will enable a trainer to guide trainees more effectively while training them, as they’re able to respond to situations when these begin to arise.
Adult learning. There are a few general principles that can help you orientate yourself while designing your training sessions for an adult audience. First of all, adult learning differs from what is experienced as learning in childhood. Adults are better at making decisions, drawing conclusions, and recognising patterns. Also, adults are less likely to do something just because, therefore logical reasons and arguments to do something are expected. Malcolm Knowles, an expert in adult learning, identified four principles that help to create an environment where adults learn the best:
The application of these key principles allows to design a more effective T-t-T programme, incl. both content-related and instructional elements.
2. Make it interactive. Make sure lessons are interactive and appropriate for an audience. Engage trainees in a dialogue and work with various senses. Apply active listening, observing, discussing and train trainers to do the same.
! Although, you may focus on adults as a training audience, for more interactivity do not forget to include some icebreaking activities, warm-ups, and energizing elements to make a training less formal and participants more relaxed and willing to engage and cooperate in group tasks.
3. Start with a goal. The training should start with considering the purpose and main goals of a trainer, therefore the following questions have to be asked:
By answering these questions, you can determine what type of a trainer and what other resources may be needed for an effective training, as well as which area you need to focus on in your training curriculum.
4. Develop objectives and an assessment process. You will need to set measurable objectives for a program and figure out how to measure course outcomes. Both trainers and trainees have to work on the series of objectives based on behaviour. Training objectives can focus on practicing particular skills, for instance, mastering public speaking, delivering attractive presentations to specific target groups (seniors, youth, etc.), facilitating a PB project proposals design, enhancing social media management skills, etc.
By setting some measurement criteria and measurement methods, at the end of a course, participants will know whether they have or haven’t achieved these goals. Tracking the progress of both trainers and trainees indicates the effectiveness of a program, and it is essential to be able to evaluate and improve your train-the-trainer program over time. A training outcomes have to demonstrate the progress and areas of improvement, by discussing and providing a feedback on each participant’s (group’s) results or implementing evaluation sessions in groups, where each trainee is willing to reflect on own achievements, challenges, and areas for improvement.
There are several ways to assess the results of a training. A print-out questionnaire with open-ended and close-ended questions can be handled to each of a training participant at the end of an offline training to be filled in and submitted to organisers. Another option is to design an online questionnaire and send it to training participants via email after an event (with the second option the rate of submitted feedbacks can be lower). Another option is to discuss the value and results of an event in groups at the end of it, but with this option recording of each discussion and a proper analysis should be ensured (a time-consuming option).
In “Communication and Dissemination Plan Guidelines”, the section “Coordination of Communication and Dissemination Activities”, page 50, you will find the example of a short feedback questionnaire applied by one of the EmPaci project piloting municipalities. Only close-ended questions have been included in the questionnaire, focusing on the following questions:
To receive more information on the training results, at least one open-ended question should be included, for instance, “What was the most valuable information gained during the training?” or “Other comments or recommendations for improvement”.
! Remember to construct a feedback questionnaire as short as possible. It makes sense to ask only those questions which you know how to use further. The shorter is a questionnaire, the better it is.
The evaluation of a training belongs to the formative evaluation measures. Read more about the approaches and methods of the evaluation in Communication and Dissemination Plan Guidelines, the section “Evaluation”, pages 55-57.
5. Make sure the content of lessons supports objectives. The content of lessons should be closely related to the objectives of a training. As a train-the-trainer model is based on both teaching subject matter knowledge and training delivery skills, your curriculum will need to reflect on both. At first, you need to define course-by-course objectives, what is the focus of content that you want your trainers to train and disseminate in an organisation. Secondly, you need to allocate time to instruct about a group facilitation and training delivery.
6. Include a practice-based learning. Make sure at least a part of training tasks is a practice-based, making each participant to reflect and craft own ideas, as well as to present them to others. It will boost interaction between participants (or even a positive competition), as well as interaction between an individual participant and a topic discovered. A group work and individual assignments can be given, for instance, to design a strategy for attracting young people to PB-campaign on social media, or practicing storytelling in a group in order to create attractive informative materials on PB impacts.
7. Create training materials. To maintain a consistent rollout and delivery of your training curriculum, you should design and provide all the materials that you trainees will need when they deliver the training content to their colleagues. Training materials may be both focused on trainees of a T-t-T programme and answer the “How” question? Questions have to be prepared for further users of the trained by the trainers, if the training is a field-specific. This may range from detailed training facilitation plans to slideshows and participant handouts. Participants should be directed to supplementary resources and reference materials.
Sari, J. (2018). Train the Trainer. Retrieved [insert date] from Tools Hero: https://www.toolshero.com/management/train-the-trainer/
Bolatito, S. (2020) Train-of-Trainer Workshop for New Intakes. Sheikh Abdallah Makki Centre for Training and Reformation of Thought.
EmPaci project partners have jointly designed the curriculum as an example to be followed when planning the first PB trainings for municipality staff. The purpose of such training is to build capacity of municipal employees, their respective institutions and representatives of a civic society in the domain of PB and to provide participants with knowledge and skills to design effective citizen participation processes at the local level.
The curriculum of a training is structured into 3 modules facilitating such methods as lecturing, a group work, a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ approach, brainstorming, case studies, a role play, discussions, presentations, and an individual work. The length in hours depends on a local situation. Content can be adopted according to the time which will be dedicated to a training and the needs of a target group and can be implemented just partly as well.
The proposed modules are:
Contains a theoretical module and practical exercises. This module seeks to provide participants with the basic knowledge about PB - models, priority areas, benefits and challenges, examples and case studies.
Contains a number of case studies and demonstrates how to apply various concepts, methods and tools presented in the previous module; technical solutions for the implementations of PB concepts; a group work/an individual work on an engagement strategy, PB implementation and an evaluation plan.
Contains a number of group exercises and individual assignments, which will allow participants to apply gained knowledge into the practical concept of PB and implementation processes; a group reflection on the different concept drafts of participants.
For specific information on themes and topics can be found in the other sections of this Online Manual:
Here you can find the compilation of the resources designed by the EmPaci project team to support a comprehensive PB training by focusing on:
Further videos with contents on the PB pilots and trainings can be found on the PBbase network YouTube Channel.
Train the Trainer (T-t-T) concept was used in Finland to help the municipalities of Lahti and Riihimäki to prepare for PB pilots. In Lahti, training was provided for city officials and Participatory Budgeting Coaches (municipality staff), as well as Project Guardians – citizens who took part in running the pilot. The aims of the majority of online events were to bring all stakeholders together for establishing a good working relationship, provide them knowledge on PB, promote participation within their communities and promote awareness of the EmPaci project. Most training sessions were held online using Microsoft Teams platform that could be accessed from any place using a computer, a tablet or a smartphone.
As a part of EmPaci, T-t-T consisted of several modules. A basic module included the basic information of the PB idea and case studies (with a special focus on Finland), the local experiences of citizen needs’ assessment and the survey results in Lahti. An advanced module included topics as participation in municipalities, resourcing for PB, case studies and the overview of participatory budgeting within international settings. Special online spaces were created for participants (Project guardians, PB Coaches) to discuss internal matters, exchange ideas and share knowledge. For ease of use, the Finnish EmPaci Team provided further study materials, such as documents, videos, links and presentations for the groups on the platform.
Train-the-Trainer course structure in Lahti
Most training sessions were held online using Microsoft Teams platform that could be accessed from any place using a computer, a tablet or a smartphone. Additionally, supporting online events were arranged to give the overview of the topics and promote communication between all involved. A follow up event was held for Project Guardians in autumn 2020 as the piloting was coming to an end.
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
One of the key objectives of the ‘Empowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region’ (EmPaci) project is raising awareness of and knowledge on the Participatory Budgeting (PB) concept and its mechanisms among local governments and citizens of the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The particular interest of the project partners lays in increasing the knowledge and building capacities of municipality representatives, such as local administrations, councils, communication specialists, and other participants involved in the PB empowerment – locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. The training approach was selected to test and evaluate the knowledge and confidence regarding practical PB design and implementation.
As a part of PB communication strategy, the training course curriculum and materials were jointly designed by the EmPaci project team in 2020 to facilitate knowledge and experience exchange, as well as other forms of capacity-building activities. These included topics such as Civic Engagement Tools, PB Cycle, Informing and involving Citizens in PB process, Assessment of Effectiveness and PB Evaluation, Effective Public Discussion Offline and Online, as well as Case Studies. The EmPaci partners, that were involved in PB piloting, have tested the materials by applying gathered information according to the local needs. The variety of applications were demonstrated in German, Polish, Finnish, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian municipalities, as diverse forms, and the modules were individually applied in preparing local training activities.
Learning Internationally. First of all, the levels of advancement of PB practices within the EmPaci project network initially were diverse. In the countries of three municipalities namely Lahti and Riihimäki (Finland), and Bielsko-Biała (Poland) there are already years of experience in PB design and implementation and so that the national partners were able to share their knowledge and experience with other members of the EmPaci network. LAB University of Applied Sciences, Tampere University (Finland), Klaipeda University (Lithuania), ITMO University (Russia), and Rostock University (Germany) have heavily supported the learning of the EmPaci network partners, as well as local municipalities in all three countries. The experience exchange was done during regular internal EmPaci partnership meetings, international PBbase network events organized by the EmPaci partners, and other distinct initiatives where the EmPaci network partners were invited as expert speakers.
Similarly, partners have upgraded their knowledge on PB design and practical implementation by learning from other PB implementors and stakeholders, such as Cities of Cēsis and Gulbene (Latvia), City of Eberswalde (Germany), City of Helsinki (Finland), Alytys and Kretinga municipalities (Lithuania), City of St. Petersburg, Moskovsky district of St. Petersburg European University, and the North-West Institute of Management RANEPA (Russia). Additionally, partners had opportunities to launch new networks to learn on PB design and communication (e.g. PeoplePowered workshops), to take part in the national and international conferences (e.g. 3rd All-Russian Conference on Participatory Budgeting "Initiative Budgeting as a Social Phenomenon", Digital Transformation & Global Society, St-Petersburg, a series of networking events of the German PB network, Conference „Participatory Budgeting: A useful tool or just a fad?" of the project Innovations in Local Government Government Budgeting in Slovakia) and other smaller events.
Target audiences. Partners have both implemented training events locally (for one municipality representative or involving several municipalities at once, as in the case of Lithuania or Finland represented by two EmPaci pilot municipalities), as well as presented their approaches and knowledge on larger regional, national, and international events to a diverse public.
For instance, by starting the training for diverse citizen groups with the presentation titled ‘PB: The Complicated in Simple Words’ („Līdzdalības budžets: vienkārši par sarežģīto”), Vidzeme Planning Region from Latvia commenced an engaging PB event consisting of several lectures and thematic workshops. The event included speakers from research settings, as well as local and regional groups, who presented specific cases of PB positively impacting the cultural life of the region. The event was done as a part of Vidzeme Innovation Week, hence attracted diverse groups of citizens from various fields.
Regional and national training events were able to gather more participants with online streaming options. Training events in Russia were organized as online events and managed to gather more than 80 participants (the topic – ‘Organization of interaction with citizens in social media’). However, at the same time, the methods chosen for streamed events were not fully engaging (e.g. compared to workshops in smaller groups) due to the one-sided communication between facilitator and participants.
Regarding the restrictions of pandemics, some regional training gathered more than 50 participants onsite. For instance, Telšiai municipality engaged 52 residents of Telšiai town, representatives of Telšiai town and regional public organizations, representatives of elderships and NGO, who then become the ambassadors of PB in Telšiai. Part of the event was organized in a form of ‘World Cafes’, discussing possible models for community creation and the emergence of project ideas.
To promote civic participation among younger citizens, representatives of Rietavas municipality (Lithuania) have initiated PB simulation for Rietavas L. Ivinski Gymnasium students (aged 15-18) and teachers. The idea of simulation included students developing ideas and the larger society of Rietavas voting for the best ideas to be implemented for the good of citizens. The training and simulation itself included lectures on PB, learners’ researching, developing proposals for their projects, and establishing local partnerships with public institutions - culture centre, library, etc. In result of the cooperation between the municipality administration and the school, 17 real proposals were submitted, 2 430 persons voted and 5 best ideas were selected to take part in the second round of PB voting on the municipal level.
Before the simulation, several webinars took place for 8 teachers and several high school students to clarify PB and the procedures of submitting project ideas. Following the training, the local action group called “Ideas for Rietavas” was formed to promote PB across the school community (e.g., parents, other schools, friends etc.).
In the German pilot municipality Bützow, to specifically address children and young people, classes about PB were organized in the local school. Representatives of both partners from the City of Bützow, the local administration and a local citizen initiative, informed pupils about objectives, advantages and methods of citizen participation and PB. Since in the Bützow PB pilot, no age limit was attributed to make proposals for projects in the PB, it was the aim of the German pilot partners to specifically increase the number of proposals but also more generally to disseminate the PB idea and to inform young people of democratic decision-making.
Content. The Empaci network countries are very diverse in terms of PB experience. In some countries, PB is well known in each region (e.g. Poland), for others, the PB concept still might seem unclear, especially when discussed in detail from the organizational point of view (e.g. Latvia, Lithuania). Therefore, the content of the training events on PB was customized to fit the knowledge base of representatives of municipal entities, local NGOs, and citizens.
For instance, Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia) and Telšiai municipality (Lithuania) have delivered seminars, lectures, and workshops focusing particularly on the community benefits from PB (in culture area) and showcasing specific examples. The involvement of external experts and community project implementors gave deeper insight into the topic and possibilities PB can provide. In Russia, the emphasis was also put on the cases, but also PB implementation mechanisms and communication (incl. modern forms of interaction, social media) issues were discussed in detail. Particular legal aspects were emphasized to make clear how PB fits the state legislation. In the German pilot municipality Bützow information events for citizens were organized by the local citizen inititaive (which is also part of the EmPaci consortium) to give citizens a general idea of what PB is and how it can be designed, since it was the first kind of „citizen budget” ever applied in the German federal state Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Bielsko-Biała municipality has specifically focused on parties' involvement in cooperation with residents, communication, and problem-solving. LAB University of Applied Sciences has shared own experience with the involvement of PB Guardians and Coaches, as well as developing the Train-the-Trainer (T-t-T) concept (see below).
Approaches. The approaches were first of all adjusted to the needs of primary target audiences content-wise, as well as to the national and local restrictions concerning pandemics. A large part of the training and capacity-building activities were moved online, however offline trainings were also done by the EmPaci network partners. Face-to-face and online one-, two- or three-day trainings included seminars, lectures, creative workshops (incl. work on own community projects), webinars, ‘World Cafe’, Q&A sessions, as well as individual consultations. Consultations were mainly relevant for the citizen groups in the phase where specific projects were developed, submitted and evaluated in the PB cycle. Additional benefits were provided by inviting PB-interest groups to the national and international conferences, facilitated group discussions and open panel discussions
Special attention within the EmPaci project was dedicated to the practices in Lahti and Riihimaki municipalities in Finland, where the T-t-T approach was used to support PB implementation and communication. Besides that, both Finnish municipalities prepared special PB Project Guardians and PB Coaches, who helped in running PB internally and doing preliminary checks of citizen project ideas (Guardians), and promoting PB externally in own community groups (Coaches). T-t-T approach was overtaken and replicated by other EmPaci network municipalities (e.g. Bielsko-Bia).
Also, a unique type of PB event was carried out in Lahti – PB Lackathon. The idea was to carry the event in a publicly accessible spot – shopping centre – and invite citizens and NGO representatives to collaboratively work on 14 ideas in order to improve them before the citizen voting. Such practice has demonstrated the significance of innovation and creativity in PB design and allowed international partners to reconsider own practices.
The diversity of methods reflect creative and customized approaches to specific target groups within each municipality. The EmPaci partners have delivered educational sessions and practical co-creation workshop activities using the resources jointly developed within the partnership, as well as attracting external experts to facilitate learning activities. All training activities were carried on with the support of external experts representing either edult education centres (or university units), or practicing implementors of PB initiatives in represented countries/ regions, or both. Experts have undertaken the role of either guest speakers or facilitators, depending on the needs of organizers.
In all cases, the information about the EmPaci project supported by the Interreg BSR Programme was presented and relevant project outcomes disseminated.