3-Year Participant Advisory Project

May 2019 – July 2021


Our client ran a 3-year project where they sought feedback from newcomer communities in the Halton region about the benefit of receiving legal information through workshops held by lawyers. They organized meetings in which members of these groups could give advice on how to gather the feedback from these communities, how to digest the feedback collected, and advice on what recommendations to move forward with to improve the impact of the workshops based on the feedback received.

Neolé’s role was to facilitate these meetings in such a way that a diverse group of newcomers with different levels of Canadian experience could participate openly and give their ideas and opinions with a level playing field.


Since this project started in 2019, we had to shift from facilitating the meetings in person, to facilitating them online when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This was a bit of a challenge because not all of the participants were able to join from a computer (some had to join from their phones) and so we were limited with the types of software we could use to facilitate the meetings.

It is often easier to participate in an in-person setting than in a Zoom meeting when there is a language barrier among participants. We had to plan and design inclusive facilitation strategies that took into account differing levels of communication skills and comfort levels.

The other factor that we had to take into consideration was that they only met every 3-4 months, so we had to make sure that we spent time rekindling the relationships and the trust that had been built in the previous meeting(s).


Trust Building Activities

We designed a variety of activities that create psychological safety. We made sure the activities were simple and meaningful, helped reconnect the group from their time apart, create opportunity to rebuild the trust within the group, as well as for personal connection with others and comradery. We also wanted to include an element of fun and lightness in these activities. An example of these activities is the postcard sharing activity, where participants were invited to choose from a selection of postcards one that represented an update in their life. They then would each present their image and corresponding personal story. This activity elicited laughter and sympathy, and helped the group to reconnect in a genuine way.

Discussions and Communication

During discussions, we had focused questions for the meetings as opposed to free-form discussion, and really promoted turn-taking. This created an opportunity for every participant to use their voice without having to worry about talking over each other, or finding the “right time” to say something.

The Client had a researcher at each meeting, and provided summary updates at each meeting. They would tell us what their desired outcomes for each meeting. The lead facilitator, Ginny Santos, would plan an agenda and an approach to facilitation that ensured the desired outcomes were met.


This project allowed us and our client to bring together a diverse group of people to work towards a common goal. The group generated ideas and suggestions at every meeting that were useful to the client and met the project’s desired outcomes.

Since we were able to help the organizers shift this program online, the research has been able to progress despite the pandemic and the Client has been able to stay on schedule and meet the funding deliverables.


Started May 2019, ran 8 meetings over 3 years