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Community development worker: Job description

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Community development workers help communities to bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area. They work with individuals, families and whole communities to empower them to:

  • identify their assets, needs, opportunities, rights and responsibilities;
  • plan what they want to achieve and take appropriate action;
  • develop activities and services to generate aspiration and confidence.

A community development worker often acts as a link between communities and a range of other local authority and voluntary sector providers, such as the police, social workers and teachers.

They are frequently involved in addressing inequality, and projects often target communities perceived to be culturally, economically or geographically disadvantaged.

Typical work activities

Community development work seeks to actively engage communities in making sense of the issues which affect their lives, setting goals for improvement and responding to problems and needs through empowerment and active participation.

A good deal of the work is project based, which means that community development workers usually have a specific geographical community or social group on which to focus.

Tasks often involve:

  • identifying community skills, assets, issues and needs;
  • ensuring that local people have their say;
  • developing new resources in dialogue with the community and evaluating existing programmes;
  • building links with other groups and agencies;
  • helping to raise public awareness on issues relevant to the community;
  • preparing reports and policies;
  • raising and managing funds;
  • developing and implementing strategies;
  • liaising with interested groups and individuals to set up new services;
  • mediating in matters of conflict;
  • recruiting and training paid and voluntary staff;
  • planning, attending and coordinating meetings and events;
  • overseeing the management of a limited budget;
  • encouraging participation in activities;
  • challenging inappropriate behaviour;
  • general administrative duties.

Community work can be generic or specialised. Generic community work takes place in a particular geographical area, focusing on working with the community to identify their needs and issues, and formulating strategies to address those issues. The setting is either urban or rural, with rural community development work increasingly attracting attention.

Specialised community work focuses on either specific groups within a region (such as the homeless, the long-term unemployed, families with young children or ethnic minorities) or on particular concerns such as:

  • public transport;
  • mental health;
  • tackling drug abuse.
 
 
AGCAS
Written by AGCAS editors
Date: 
October 2014
 
 

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