Community development: an approach based on values and outcomes

From: Firm Foundations: The Government’s framework for community capacity building

(Dec 2004)


Launched at the ‘Together We Can’ conference, Firm Foundations is the Government framework for community capacity building. It identifies four priorities for action as the basis for change and illustrates ways in which the Government is already doing this or is committed to doing so, through particular policies and programmes.



Appendix 1 Community development: an approach based on values and outcomes




According to the National Occupational Standards for Community Development Work, the key purpose of community development work is ‘collectively to bring about social change and justice, by working with communities (those that can be defined geographically and/or those defined by interest) to:

 Identify their needs, opportunities, rights and responsibilities

Plan, organise and take action

Evaluate the effectiveness and impact of action all in ways which challenge oppression and tackle inequalities’.


This makes clear that community development is an activity founded on clear values.

Six values were identified in the Review findings, and they were endorsed by the consultation process. They are:


Social justice

Enabling people to claim their human rights, meet their needs and have greater control over the decision-making processes that affect their lives.



Facilitating democratic involvement by people in the issues that affect their lives based on full citizenship, autonomy and shared power, skills, knowledge and experience.



Challenging the attitudes of individuals and the practices of institutions and society, which discriminate against and marginalise people.



Recognising the skills, knowledge and expertise that people contribute and develop by taking action to tackle social, economic, political and environmental problems.



Working together to identify and undertake action, based on mutual respect of diverse cultures and contributions.


Environmental justice

Enabling people to take responsibility for the environment in which they live and to take action to protect and improve it.




In parallel with the community capacity building outcomes referred to on page 7,

note 4, characteristic outcomes of community development are:

a higher level of social capital (trust and co-operation) amongst local people

 a wider, stronger, better networked, more varied, accessible and inclusive local community sector

 more effective community groups and organisations, including in the delivery of their own forms of public service

greater confidence and motivation in active citizens from all sections of the community for participation in local activity and in decision-making and scrutiny roles

greater capacity amongst community groups and organisations to engage in joint working with public authorities.

The community development approach, based on these values and outcomes,

is at the core of effective community capacity building.



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