Coronavirus (COVID-19): Public Engagement Expert Advisory Group


The Scottish Government (SG) response to the Covid crisis has required the most substantive population-level behavioural adjustment co-operation from the public in generations, most especially in the lockdown and easing of transition phases. Scottish Government recognises the imperative to work with those affected by these changes in order to design and implement policy for best positive effect, and to mitigate the negative impacts. While able to draw on many existing productive relationships and engagement practices, Scottish Government seeks to underpin its Covid policy efforts with a refreshed and strategic approach to the critical requirement to engage effectively with the public.

The Expert Advisory Group  [the Group] has been convened to draw upon expert academic and practitioner experience and advice. The Group will provide expert advice to support the development and delivery of the Scottish Government’s Covid Public Engagement project. This project aims to develop a strategic approach to support the exit from the Covid crisis by providing advice and guidance to Ministers and across Scottish Government on the approaches needed for public engagement for the remainder of the routemap ‘respond’ period, and into the ‘renew’ period. (set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making.) The project reports to the Covid Public Engagement Steering Group which comprises SG senior leaders.

This will be a short term project to advise on specific Covid engagement challenges, and  comment on proposals on SG’s longer term strategic approach. It is expected that the Group will meet three times between June and September 2020, at which point the project will make recommendations related to future working.


The group will:

  • Offer advice on options to ensure the Scottish Government is able to fulfil the requirements for the World Health Organisation Criterion 6 – Communities have a voice, are informed, engaged and participatory in the transitions as we move between stages of the Route Map.
  • Help to set out options for effective and proportionate engagement and participation through the current crisis and beyond.

Define what “good” should look like as the Scottish Government takes a strategic approach to participation and engagement, identifying the benefits as well as what would be needed to deliver this in the short, medium and long


The Group membership comprises relevant academics and practitioners, drawn together for their specific expertise on the Covid challenges and themes, including:

  • Reema Patel, Ada Lovelace Institute
  • Simon Burall, Involve
  • Laura Bear, London School of Economics
  • Fiona Garven, Scottish Community Development Centre
  • Angus Hardie, Scottish Community Alliance
  • Anthony Zacharzewski, Democratic Society
  • Talat Yaqoob, Independent expert
  • Erica Reid, Independent expert
  • Diarmaid Lawlor, Scottish Futures Trust
  • Nasar Meer, Edinburgh University
  • John Beaton, Inclusion Scotland