Well the original idea was a good one, but I think the phrase “focus group” has become debased such that sometimes it can be code for getting a group of people together to legitimise a decision – policy based evidence.
Effective engagement takes time, needs to be authentic and use different methods to attract different views. Think again about “Hard to Reach”. How well represented are white men, aged between 30 and 50 who are in work in consultation meetings, how do make your services relevant to a single working mother juggling work, school and home? Not easy questions, but authentic engagement is not a quick fix either.