What is Community Development?
Community development is a way of strengthening civil society by prioritising the actions of communities, and their perspectives in the development of social, economic and environmental policy. It seeks the empowerment of local communities, taken to mean both geographical communities, communities of interest or identity and communities organising around specific themes or policy initiatives. It strengthens the capacity of people as active citizens through their community groups, organisations and networks; and the capacity of institutions and agencies (public, private and non-governmental) to work in dialogue with citizens to shape and determine change in their communities. It plays a crucial role in supporting active democratic life by promoting the autonomous voice of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. It has a set of core values/social principles covering human rights, social inclusion, equality and respect for diversity; and a specific skills and knowledge base.
Good community development is action that helps people to recognise and develop their ability and potential and organise themselves to respond to problems and needs which they share. It supports the establishment of strong communities that control and use assets to promote social justice and help improve the quality of community life. It also enables community and public agencies to work together to improve the quality of government.
SCDC promotes best practice in community development using this model:
Purpose: People want to live in healthy communities. These are communities in which they:
- feel able to be who they are
- have positive prospects for their future
- experience respect and equal and fair treatment
Focus: To achieve this people want to be in a community that:
- creates wealth and gives everyone access to its benefits
- cares for all its members, when they need it, throughout their life span
- provides an environment that is safe and attractive
- enables people to express and celebrate their creativity and diverse cultures
- enables everyone to participate in decisions that affect their lives
Methods: To support them to contribute to the creation of such a community, community development promotes:
- opportunity for people to learn and develop their own skills
- reaches out to and involves those who may be excluded or disadvantaged
- helps communities to create organisations that can tackle their needs and represent their interests
- works to promote engagement and dialogue between communities and agencies that affect their lives