Community Development

What is it?

 

 

A Statement from the Community Development Foundation (UK)

"Community development is a structured intervention that gives communities greater control over the conditions that affect their lives.  This does not solve all the problems faced by a local community, but it does build up confidence to tackle such problems as effectively as any local action can.  Community development works at the level of local groups and organisations rather than with individuals or families.  The range of local groups and organisations representing communities at local level constitutes the community sector.

"Community development is a skilled process and part of its approach is the belief that communities cannot be helped unless they themselves agree to this process.  Community development has to look both ways: not only at how the community is working at the grass roots, but also at how responsive key institutions are to the needs of local communities".

 

A Working Statement on Community Development (from the Standing Conference for Community Development - a UK wide development network).

This is adopted as a move towards our understanding of Community Development.

  • Community Development is crucially concerned with the issues of powerlessness and disadvantage: as such it should involve all members of society, and offers a practice that is part of a process of social change.

  • Community Development is about the active involvement of people in the issues which affect their lives. it is a process based on the sharing of power, skills, knowledge and experience.

  • Community Development takes place both in neighbourhoods and within communities of interest, as people identify what is relevant to them.

  • The Community Development process is collective, but the experience of the process enhances the integrity, skills, knowledge and experience, as well as equality of power, for each individual who is involved.

  • Community Development seeks to enable individuals and communities to grow and change according to their own needs and priorities, and at their own pace, provided this does not oppress other groups and communities, or damage the environment.

  • Where Community Development takes place, there are certain principles central to it. The first priority of the Community Development process is the empowering and enabling of those who are traditionally deprived of power and control over their common affairs. It claims as important the ability of people to act together to influence the social, economic, political and environmental issues which affect them. Community Development aims to encourage sharing, and to create structures which give genuine participation and involvement.

  • Community Development is about developing the power, skills, knowledge and experience of people as individuals and in groups, thus enabling them to undertake initiatives of their own to combat social, economic, political and environmental problems, and enabling them to fully participate in a truly democratic process.

  • Community Development must take the a lead in confronting the attitudes of individuals and the practices of institutions and society as a whole which discriminates unfairly against black people, women, people with disabilities and different abilities, religious groups, elderly people, lesbians and gay men, and other groups who are disadvantaged by society. It also must take a lead in countering the destruction of the natural environment on which we all depend. Community Development is well placed to involve people equally on these issues which affect all of us.

  • Community Development should seek to develop structures which enable the active involvement of people from disadvantaged groups, and in particular people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups.

 

Principles of Good Practice from the Community Development Society (USA)

Community Development Society Principles of Good Practice

... a member of the Community Development Society International.

 

Community Development Practice (from the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Online Community Development Resource Kit)

Principles and Processes

 

And a text - "Community Development as a Process", Edited by Lee J Cary, University of Missouri Press, Columbia USA. 1970.

This book is old but remains a very good introduction to the field of community development.

Available from www.amazon.com


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