Community Development


Community Development Essay, Research Paper

Community Development

A Community can be defined as a group of people who don?t just live in the

same area, but also share the same interests, experiences and often concerns

about the area in which they live. Often when individuals have lived in a street

or area for a while they become familiar with each other and the issues

surrounding them. Children often attend the same schools and in many cases grow

up together, again sharing the similar experiences. In some instances adults may

work together, and quite commonly all community members will share the same

doctors, dentists, hospitals, health visitors and other public services and


Frequently however, issues arise amongst a community that need attention. In

this essay I will outline and discuss some of these issues and the

interventions, projects or programmes designed and used to tackle and combat

them. The three models of intervention or, ?Community Development?, I will

discuss in this essay, ?Social Planning?, ?Community Development?, and.

?Social/Community Action?, all have the same aim regardless of how it is

accomplished and this is to improve and maintain the conditions which affect the

lives of the community.

?Social Planning?, is a model of development which can be described as,

?Doing For?, the community. If it is perceived by government bodies that a

community has sunk so low that is unable to be resolved by using alternative

methods, (some of which will be discussed later in this essay), the government

will intervene with methods deemed necessary. Initially a profile of a community

will be drawn up using research methods, surveys and statistics that will

highlight the issues faced by the community. Then a plan to tackle these issues

will be decided upon and put into action.

?SureStart?, is a Social Planning initiative, which came into force as a

government reaction to the levels of deprivation in Cornwall. Of the six

districts in the County Penwith came the highest, of the 60,000 population,

26,000 are aged 4 and under, 13% of households are lone parent households and

19% of the 201 lone parents are unemployed.

The ?Treneere?, area of Penzance showing as the highest area of

deprivation, 13% are unemployed, 46% are in receipt of income support and 16.8%

of adults are illiterate. During 1998 there were a total of 235 children

referred to social services 98 of which were aged 0-4 years old. With regard to

education, of the children attending the infant and primary schools in the area

33.4% are entitled to free school meals, the average in the county being 15.4%.

54% of the pupils between the two schools are registered with special

educational needs. Of the 244 primary schools in Cornwall the two schools ranked

1s and 4th in the deprivation rank. Along with these figures strong evidence

shows high levels of violence, high levels of riotism, high levels of drug abuse

and a complete absence of community facilities.

Figures taken from the ?SureStart Trailblazer?, proposal

As with all Social Planning the government specifies a time limit to achieve

the projects aims, goals and ultimately to improve living conditions. The ?SureStart?,

project has a specified time limit of 2 years, in this time limit the project

aims to achieve the following: -

- Improve social and emotional development

- Reduce the number of primary school exclusions

- Cut by 10% the number of children on the child abuse register

- Reduce the number of post-natal depression

- 5% reduction in the number of low weight birth babies

- 10% reduction in children admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis,

respiratory problems and severe injuries

- 90% of children to reach normal speech and language milestones by 18 months

and 3 years

- 100% under 4?s are to have good quality play and learning facilities

- 75% of families are to report they have had an improvement in the services

provided by 2002

- Parent representation on the local board

- Juveniles are to have less contact with the criminal justice system

- Drug related crime on the decrease

- 16 ? 19 year olds involved with economic activity i.e. Training or work

- Decrease in young people smoking

- Decrease in teenage pregnancies

- Finally long term outcomes.

Although the project was initiated by the government agencies the problems

were identified by government agencies, police and the Treneere residents and

Community Association the project has tried to look at the problems and the aims

from the point of view of the residents. The delivery of the projects intentions

will com from local representatives, voluntary organisations, church

representatives, health care providers, social services, education officials,

the police, the district council and housing association, the probation service

and the youth service most importantly the input of the community itself.

?Although immediate developments will focus on the needs of children under

the age of four and their immediate families they clearly cannot be considered

in isolation; through the umbrella of ?Family Support? a wide range of

services will be developed which will provide healthcare, education, advice and

support for a much wider population. In this way it is anticipated that the

project will have an almost immediate impact on the lives of some of the local

residents, as well as the longer term benefits anticipated from early

intervention and support for very young children.?

Cited in the Surestart Trailblazer proposal.

Community development aims to improve a community?s living conditions by

encouraging the community members to help themselves, ?Doing With?, and

subsequently the community in which they live. Active Citizenship is an

essential part of community development initiatives, creating committees,

voluntary and charitable organisations, discussing problems, needs and ideas

with neighbours, joining local councils and going to public meetings encourages

empowerment and enables community members to have an active role in the

conditions and factors which affect their lives individually and collectively as

a community.

Initially the government can provide some funding to help with start-up of

community initiatives and programmes, after that is up to the community to

provide their own funding which can be raised in a number of ways, fundraising

events, charities and voluntary organisations. The main emphasis of this model

is on self-help, mutual support, (helping each other), building neighbourhood

integration, developing the communities capacity to problem solve and represent

themselves and promoting action as a collective increasing the attention of

political decision makers. Community Development is concerned with Social and

Economic development.

Five years ago, ?The Beacon?, and, ?Old Hill?, estate in Falmouth

were viewed by the police as an ?Open Prison?, where families warred over

drugs, mothers fought each other outside schools, pets were beaten and children

as young as 6 years old were found drunk in parks and streets. A study by

Bristol University found that a population of 6,000 were living in 1,500 homes

and 8-10 men were unemployed. The Penwerris electrel ward showed that compared

to the 132 electrel wards in the South West the Beacon had the highest rate of

poor households, the highest rate of children living in poor households and the

2nd highest number of lone parents. More than 50& of homes lacked central

heating; colds, asthma and other respiratory problems were high in children.

Figures obtained from

?The estate was sinking into ghetto status. The place was a virtual no go

area for the police. Social services cutbacks meant there was no hands-on help

for people. The number of child protection referrals just kept increasing. More

and more people were suffering from mental health problems, there was lots of

domestic violence and lots of crime and harassment. My colleague and I felt if

we did not try and reverse the spiral, we would have another Toxeth on our hands?.

Hazel Stutley, health Visitor, Cited in The Society Guardian November 15,


What happened next were a series of events instigated by a handful of

residents, 2 health visitors, local teachers, police and housing officers who

saw something needed to be done: -

1. A meeting was held between Hazel Stutley, Philip Trenoweth, (Health

Visitors), local police, education officials and representatives from Carrick


2. Coffee mornings were set up and attended by council officials and police

to encourage enemies to confront each other in a civilised manner and sort out

their differences.

3. The Penwerris Tenants and Residents Association was formed.

4. A successful bid for ?2.2 million of government funding was put in for

central heating and energy efficiency measures throughout the estate.

5. The Beacon Community Regeneration Partnership was set up, a multi-agency

group fronted by residents on the estate.

As a result of the efforts of tenants and with the assistance and

encouragement of health Visitors, Police, School Teachers, Council Members and

some government funding, the estate has been transformed into a thriving

community. Houses and low-rise blocks have been renovated changing the estates

appearance from of dark depression to a bright and cheerful sight. Energy

conservation measures have been carried out on 900 homes, 300 of which are now

centrally heated. Vandalism has been dramatically reduced with the installation

of increased security street lighting. A neighbourhood watch scheme is in force

with continued and regular liaison with the police. An empty shop has been

converted into Beacon Energy Action Office, offering advice and displaying job

vacancies, the office doubles up as a neighbourhood meeting room. Another shop

has been converted into Beacon Care where residents over 65 can receive health

checks, there are sessions for physiotherapy and advice on contraception and


Since 1995 the crime rate on the street has halved with 87% of the community

saying they feel safe, children on the child protection register has fallen from

23-4 in 1999 along with post natal depression falling from 18-4. 10-11 year old

boys exam results have doubled. Childhood accidents have fallen by 50%.

The regeneration project became part of the NHS ?Beacon? network for it?s

innovation and practice, and those behind it have been awarded the government

Nye Bevan award for excellence.

Social/Community Action ?Done By?, this is commonly known as the conflict

model. It can be described as the community?s reaction to community work being

carried out, state decisions which are deemed to be unnecessary by the

community, companies forcing ideas, buildings and changes which are unwelcome

and many such like factors influence a communities decision to act. Social

action itself can be demonstrated by, campaigns, protests, sit-ins, petitions,

Raleigh?s, letter campaigns, crowds appearing at hearings, phone calls

anything which generation and to a large extent hindrance. The intention of

social action is to generate power and the winner will inevitably be the side

with most power. The other point to make here that usually the side to which the

social action group are opposing often have legalities on their side which is

the greatest power.

Several recent protests, campaigns and petitions in Falmouth have been aimed

at a mobile phone company to erect a phone mast next to a junior school. The

argument against this proposal is the damage it could do to the children at the

school and the surrounding dense housing estate. The land is owned by the

council and a lot of money will be gained which is the argument by the council

for the proposal, more money more improvements in the area. Parents, teachers,

local traders and residents have marched through Falmouth with placards,

gathered in large crowds outside the Town Hall and sent petitions to the council

and the mobile phone company. While this has generated a lot of attention it has

also caused some violent out breaks when a number of individuals tried to cause

a riot at the Town Hall.

Another example on a larger scale can be seen in recent petrol strikes and

convoys, while it generated a lot of attention at the time the long-term effects

appear non-existent.

The advantages of Social Action can include: -

- Showing a large group of interest and power can gain interest and support

of those in power i.e. Politicians

- Embarrassment and humiliation can sway a decision to be changed or made

- Shows that communities are strong and will not be walked over again

influencing ideas

- Lets people in power no exactly what a community wants

However the disadvantages can include: -

- Can be threatening in a way that instigates violence

- Petitions may not always be read and there is no way of proving this

- It is possible that all the facts are not taken into consideration

- It isn?t always possible to get everyone in a community involved

- Time consuming

Quite often social action projects are instigated by community members who

feel they are not being heard or feel that more drastic measures need to be

taken to gain attention in some cases community workers may get involved either

to assist with things such as facts and possibly a mediator or simply to ensure

things don?t get out of hand although with the large size of some groups this

isn?t always possible or sensible.

In conclusion it is possible to see how all three of these models have the

best interests of the community in mind. However with the Social Planning model

although it is the intention to improve the conditions in which the community

live, it doesn?t appear very empowering in fact it appears rather patronising

making decisions for the community almost telling them what and how to do things

also creating dependency on the government in many ways something the government

is aiming to stop.

?The Government places great importance on involving local people in


?It is important to the success of regeneration programmes to involve as

many people in the community as possible, in order to establish priorities fro

action and effective solutions to problems.?

Cited in Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions.

Regeneration Research Summary 1999.

The fact that most social planning projects are set a period of time to

achieve their goals it doesn?t appear to make any provision for long term

measures it also doesn?t appear to give any indication of what will be done if

the goals of the project are not attained leaving a very tokenistik impression.

The aims and goals of the SureStart project appear wonderful the intentions are

great but through all my research I found it easier to find outlines of

intentions than hard facts of what had already been achieved.

?if improvements in housing investment and the quality and availability of

public services are not forthcoming,??..families could start leaving

troubled estate, compounding the problems faced by those involved in

regeneration efforts?.

??this study found that resources were not getting through to provide the

scale and quality of services required o tackle social exclusion. The government?s

national strategy for neighbourhood renewal is a move in the right direction,

but there is clearly still a long way to?.

Cited in regeneration Policies are not Working

Community development is it appears the more productive model, encouraging

and assisting community members to become actively involved to attain what they

need and want together as a community. It?s strengthening the community by

doing with rather than weakening it by doing for. Community development creates

independence and an ability for a community to stand up and control, to an

extent the factors that affect the lives, exactly what the intentions were in

the first place.

Social/Community Action while this appears affective in some instances it can

become out of control and altogether unproductive. It is probably the most

empowering model yet at the same time the most confusing if the aims, objectives

and facts are unclear.

Through the study of each of these models it is apparent that the best form

of community development embraces all three Social Planning, Community

development and Social/Community Action, and quite often community workers and

practitioners do. Taking a piece from each model and using it at the appropriate

time will be much more beneficial than using one single model.


Society Guardian November 15th 2000

Sure Start Traiblazer proposal

Popple, K (1995) ?Analysing Community Work: Its Theory & Practice?,

OU Press

Twelvetrees, A (1991) ?Community Work? (2nd Edition), London, Macmillan


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