Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 16 September 2021
In my blog last week, I invited you to join the Community Revolution. But what does this really mean? Can you, members of the community, actually make a difference? Quite simply – YES!! Let’s explore this a little further
What I love about working in Community Development is the ability to be alongside local people and help them to make a real difference on their streets. To help them gain new skills, try new things, meet people just down the street who they’d never met before, fix issues, start new projects and so much more.
Our friends at the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) have put together a great piece that explains Community Development in 60 seconds. You can see it here.
They explain that “Community development is a process where people come together to take action on what’s important to them.” Read that statement again and notice the key emphasis. People – you – come together. People – you – take action.
As community, we cannot rely on external bodies to do everything for us. This is not the place to argue whether they should be or not – we all have our views and probably agree on a lot but we don’t have time to banter that topic right now. It is worth noting however that those of you living in Tamfourhill (Ward 7 – Falkirk South) have the opportunity right now to challenge those wanting to be elected to serve in the bi-election next month. Ask them how they will help the community actually develop and how they will work alongside you. (All of you will get that opportunity next May when all council seats are up for grabs).
Aside of that, if you see an issue and instantly think that someone else will sort it, have you ever wondered if you might be the “someone else”? Could you be the person that steps up and makes a difference? SCDC suggest (and I agree) that there are 4 principles that are the foundation of Community Development:
- Self-determination – people and communities have the right to make their own choices and decisions.
- Empowerment – people should be able to control and use their own assets and means to influence.
- Collective action – coming together in groups or organisations strengthens peoples’ voices.
- Working and learning together – collaboration and sharing experiences is vital to good community activity.
What this means is that even if you’re the one who steps up first, there will be others who will join you. They might take a little while to come, but they will come. Together, you make your own choices, take control, form a collective voice, share resources and learn from each other. The second point is especially important. Empowerment has become a buzz word lately and there is a lot of talk about empowering communities and individuals. Unfortunately, the meaning gets lost when those deemed to be in positions of power simply give their permission for locals to do things. That is not empowerment – that is passing the buck. People need to feel that they are empowered with choice, opportunity and real genuine power. To be able to take control of who they are and what happens around them. There are various ways to do that so let’s have a chat.
SCDC continue that Community Development “recognises that some people, some groups and some communities are excluded and oppressed by the way society and structures are organised.” I don’t think we’d disagree with that statement. But rather than wallow in self pity and throw out another social media rant that the keyboard warriors will jump on, together you can turn the tide and create a more positive future.
So what is it that you want, either for yourself or your community? Do you want to learn? Do you want to tidy the place up? Do you want to do something active? Do you want a new group to start? Let’s be honest – the list is probably endless for all those questions (and more) together. But we have to start somewhere. One of our tasks here at OPCT is to support you to move forwards but also to manage expectations. We cannot fix everything and certainly not quickly. But together, we can do a whole lot more.
Let’s stop just talking about community matters and remember that communities matter. Let’s change the emphasis – together.
Until next time….