Why Stronger Communities Matter And What It Takes To Develop Them

Community development is a bottom-up, internationally recognised approach to addressing matters of social injustice and disadvantage at a local level. It is undertaken proactively and through a variety of approaches to build the capacity, empowerment and equality of communities.

To showcase community development in action, the Community Development Alliance Scotland (the network for national organisations that support the principles of community development) has produced a highly insightful report named ‘How Community Development Happens‘. Featuring several case study examples, it demonstrates how community action has the capacity to address a variety of issues in contrasting settings, facilitated by different organisations. The examples illustrate community-led action with various groups, including young people, those experiencing poverty, those with long-term health issues and former offenders. From social innovation to participatory budgeting, the report helpfully provides overviews of how innovative approaches have been successfully implemented, with website links to find out more.

As illustrated by the examples and quotes from national organisations, community development is key to building stronger communities.

Drawing on this valuable collective experience, the Community Development Alliance Scotland (CDAS) feels that there must be a common commitment to community development, across public services.

To take this forward, to paraphrase, CDAS suggests that this common commitment may comprise the following proposals:

  • To enable communities to develop independently and set their own priorities;
  • To acknowledge the importance of skilled, value-based community work already ongoing;
  • To implement robust arrangements for planning and resource allocation to deliver community-led action;
  • To enable effective and inclusive implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act;
  • To devolve decisions to as local a level as possible, with the support of strong local government.