Since it was established in 2005, UK-based organization, Hopkins Van Mil, has aimed to create safe and productive spaces in order to explore people’s views on relevant societal issues through deliberation.
Mission and Purpose
Hopkins Van Mil (HVM) focuses on facilitating meaningful public engagement in order to encourage shared learning and achieve understanding on relevant societal issues. The organization aims to create safe, impartial, and trusted spaces for participants to express their opinions and engage in productive and evidence-based deliberative processes.
HVM works to enable “stakeholders including those with lived experience of an issue, technical specialists, members of the public and community groups to work together as equals to take actionable, better informed and powerful decisions.”
The organization values giving “all those with a stake in a discussion...an equal opportunity to express their views” through creating this safe, welcoming space to discuss even complex or emotionally challenging issues. They hope to use a “rich range of methods for gathering qualitative findings,” which can then be used to make actionable policy recommendations.
Origins and Development
Established as a business in 2005, Hopkins Van Mil was founded by current Lead Facilitator, Henrietta Hopkins, and Anita Van Mil.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
HVM’s small team comprises experienced facilitators, public engagement specialists, and data analysts.
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Specializations, Methods and Tools
The organization aims to enable rich engagement between stakeholders and policymakers; they test public attitudes on a diverse set of themes, including genetic technologies, nuclear energy, health and wellbeing, food and the environment, using a variety of methods to do so. HVM creates “connections through public engagement and social research, stakeholder engagement and training & mentoring.” As part of their social research, they facilitate dialogues, focus groups, surveys, in-depth interviews, and community mapping to discover and highlight participant views. Ultimately hoping to spark actionable policy recommendations, they engage stakeholders in workshops and meetings, co-designed with partners based on the aims such organizations hope to achieve. HVM provides “objective facilitation to ensure the group can focus on what needs to be discussed so that ideas, solutions and decisions can flow from the process.”
Hopkins Van Mil is commissioned to facilitate public dialogue on policy areas when “decisions on how to proceed are still needed” — thus, they aim to create independent and impartial spaces for careful reflection based on evidence and data. Dialogues often involve day-long workshops, over time, which involve “exploratory activities...with members of the public working closely, on an equal footing, with stakeholders” who bring technical expertise. To enable these individuals to work together and engage in meaningful discussion, HVM also makes use of expert presentations, Vox pop stakeholder videos, theatrical scenes, and think pieces or technical guides.
Major Projects and Events
HVM is currently in the process of running deliberative public dialogues, Citizens’ Juries, and other deliberative programmes for numerous clients, including the National Food Strategy, the Ada Lovelace Institute, and National Health England. More information on their past and current projects can be found on their website.
- Naturally Speaking... Public Dialogue for the UK National Ecosystem Assessment
- UK Public Dialogue on Reducing Carbon Emissions
- Embedding Wellbeing Science in Decision Making
- Leap Seconds Public Dialogue on Time Changes in the U
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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HVM published reports are available on their website.
 Hopkins Van Mil. Welcome. http://www.hopkinsvanmil.co.uk/home#/new-page-1
 Hopkins Van Mil. Our Values. http://www.hopkinsvanmil.co.uk/home#/teamvalues
 Hopkins Van Mil. Team. http://www.hopkinsvanmil.co.uk/the-team
 Hopkins Van Mil. About Us. http://www.hopkinsvanmil.co.uk/the-team#/about-us
 Hopkins Van Mil. What We Do. http://www.hopkinsvanmil.co.uk/home#/whatwedo
 Hopkins Van Mil. Public Dialogue. http://www.hopkinsvanmil.co.uk/tools#/public-dialogue