About community development
Community development is a set of approaches undertaken by individuals, informal groups and organisations. It can – and should – be practised in all sectors, whether public, private or voluntary. Community development can be paid or unpaid, qualified or simply experienced. This modern image of community development is what drives CDF’s work.
What is community development?
The role of community development is to support people and community groups to identify and articulate their needs, and to take practical, collective action to address them. It works with communities of place, interest and identity, helping diverse and competing community voices to be heard. By addressing issues of power, inequality and social justice, it aims to bring about change that is empowering, fair and inclusive. Community development is both a practice and an occupation. Individuals, informal groups and organisations can all practise community development, whether in paid or unpaid roles. Those who practise community development come from a range of backgrounds and gain their skills and knowledge both from formal qualifications and through practice. Community development can – and should – be practised in all sectors, whether public, private or voluntary.
Why do we need community development?
There are lots of reasons why we need community development now more than ever. Expectations are increasing for communities to take on roles in service design and delivery, planning and budgets for their local neighbourhoods. Accounting for differing and minority voices in the process will be a challenge for diverse and rapidly changing communities. Localism and greater community control will see local people dealing directly with statutory authorities, developers and others to negotiate financial benefits and management or ownership of assets. Reduced spending in the public sector brings dangers that deprived communities will decline further, while prosperous communities may tip into deprivation or experience widening inequalities. This often leads to tension and unrest. Community development can address issues of power and inequality, and can help competing community voices to be heard. It can also create communities that are more resilient to stress, preventing tensions from spilling into unrest.
What does community development look like in practice? Watch Alison Seabrooke, Chief Executive of CDF, talk about the value of community action and see the impact that can have on local spaces.
For more videos about community development, check out our Youtube channel.