Give it a go

Councillors wanting to change how they work around community leadership may find it useful to think about working in ways which empower themselves and the people around them. If you don’t ’empower’ people, you may:

  • exclude people by maintaining barriers to involvement
  • favour some groups above others
  • do things for people so they don’t gain the skills, contacts and confidence to do it
  • feel isolated and believe people to be apathetic
  • ignore community strengths and assets

Implications include:

  • puts people off offering to do things
  • limits what is possible in an area
  • take on too much and exhausts yourself

Have you come across this?

Community empowerment is an overused phrase which, without further interpretation, is largely unhelpful.

1. Community empowerment should be seen as involving far more than just shaping and choosing services and ‘empowered’ individuals do not necessarily mean that we have empowered communities

2. Community empowerment should be happening in a collective, rather than only personal, settings

3. Community empowerment should be seen as an integral part of working, as a process which focuses on how we work in empowering ways; and as an outcome – for both communities and agencies; a change which is enduring, which is intended to improve the quality of life for communities and their environments

4. Despite the terminology, ‘community empowerment’ is not just about communities, it is also about organisational structures and processes being ‘empowering’

The five dimensions of community empowerment provide a systematic way of thinking through the ways we work to achieve empowerment outcomes – working in ways which mean that people feel ‘confident’, that they – and the groups they are involved in – are inclusive and organised, that networks are formed, are cooperative and support each other and – ultimately – they are influential

The following sections make some sugestions, give some food for thought and things to try out

Feeling confident – motivate people

Pooling resources – bring people together

A fair crack of the whip – create a fair community

Communities are us – build a connected community

Communities influencing change – champion culture change

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