Community Capacity Building
...supporting communities to be skilled, influential and sustainable
SCDC understands community capacity building (CCB) as one of the ‘twin pillars' of community development. The other pillar is community engagement. Most of the beneficial changes in communities come about through the process of engagement, whereby communities are able to respond to opportunities, or deal with problems, by bringing them to the attention of those with the ability to respond and carrying out agreed plans of action.
But such engagement cannot take place unless the community has the capacity and the recognition required to engage in such discussions. Also, the most excluded groups and communities are most often the ones with the least capacity to do so. Communities with capacity are confident, organised, cohesive and influential, and mean that community members are likely to enjoy a better quality of life. This means they can deal more effectively with public bodies to come up with solutions to problems or opportunities; that they can do more to set up and run projects or initiatives, and that they can encourage people to support each other.
A good working definition of CCB is:
"Activities, resources and support that strengthen the skills, abilities and confidence of people and community groups to take effective action and leading roles in the development of communities" (Strengthening Communities, S Skinner, CDF publications, 2006)
Building community capacity is one of the three national priorities for community learning and development in Scotland and SCDC supports this in a number of ways.
- Achieving Community Empowerment (ACE)
- Provision of training & consultancy support on key aspects of community capacity building
- SCDC produced a guide to some of the resources available for good practice in CCB on behalf of the Scottish Government - Building Community Capacity - A Guide (pdf, 0.5Mb)
- A short version is published on the Scottish Government website - Building Community Capacity - An Introductory Guide (pdf, 0.3Mb)
- SCDC have produced a set of 7 educational resources on sustainable development for community organisations called Community Action for a Sustainable Scotland. These were adapted under creative commons licencing from resources produced as part of the Every Action Counts programme in England.
SCDC can provide development workshops on community capacity building to interested organisations. Their intended audience and content is described below.
Training and development workshop sessions to help organisations with the following:
- Planning a Community Capacity Building Strategy
- Achieving Community Change
- Effective Community Organisations
SCDC is currently developing and testing a new tool to help assess and understand the capacity of communities, and the ability of support agencies to provide advice and assistance. Called SCORE, it provides a set of criteria to assess the status of communities in relation to four key elements:
- Organisation: local groups, organisations and networks that are well managed, accountable to the community, and effective in improving community life
- Skills: the intelligence, understanding, skills, and learning, that underpin effective action by community interests
- Equality: the underpinning value that all actions involve all groups and interests in a community, and that the benefits are experienced by all
- Involvement: this includes the way groups and organisations involve community members, as well as their involvement with other bodies and their influence with them
The SCORE framework has been used extensively in Glasgow to support a strategic approach to CCB within a partnership setting, and it has been adapted for use as an assessment tool with community groups participating in the ACE programme. For more information, please contact Susan Paxton (email@example.com), Stuart Hashagen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or David Allan (email@example.com).