I have been inspired to start this blog to try and provide a home for the practice of community development work in Leeds.
It seems to me that much ‘community development’ work in the city is actually the delivery of national and local government initiatives prepared in response to policies that may have had very little input from the communities that they are designed to help.
Just because we call it community development work does not make it so!
Good community development workers are increasingly becoming an extension of the state rather than a catalyst for genuine community development. I am fed up of hearing people tell me that they take public money and then see how far they can go in subverting it to do ‘proper’ community development work. Not only are the ethics of this questionable – but so too is the efficacy.
If high quality community development processes work then we should ensure that they are properly resourced. And if the public purse won’t pay for stuff that it can’t control then we must look elsewhere for investment.
But this is not about turning our backs on public funding. It is about developing a proper relationship with funders so that they recognise what underpins effective community development work (long term relationships and an adherence to a set of values and practices) and themselves managing to resist the temptation to buy pale imitations and short-cuts.