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In 2016 the Endorsement and Quality Standards Board for Community Development Learning (England) commissioned an initial piece of research about Community Development activity in England and the opportunities that exist for developing and supporting people involved in their community. We are publishing our findings here.

Teh context for the research was that in 2010 a Government resourced consultation involving a range of key actors from the community development field published an important report entitled The Community Development Challenge (Together We Can). The consultation set out to discern and envisage the future of community development in the UK.  It was noted that Society relies on community development yet the occupation is not well known. Government tends to invest in it unevenly through several funding streams but has no co-ordinated overview. Yet social policies and programmes repeatedly come back to community development as they grapple with the problems of overcoming disadvantage, engaging with residents and making public services work better.

The earlier report highlighted what it discerned was the community development offer  “...community development combines various functions: helping people set up groups, supporting forums and networks, and organising events and activities that enable people to work together across organisational and community boundaries. It actively tackles the divisions, social exclusion and discrimination that deter some people in communities from participating in activities and decision-making. It also works with public authorities and agencies to help them understand and engage with the communities they serve, and facilitates links upwards, downwards and ‘horizontally’ across communities and agencies.”

A distinctive ethos and perspective “...at the heart of the practice is a set of values about collective working, equality and justice, learning and reflecting, participation, political awareness and sustainable change. It is this combination of roles, values, responsibilities and spheres of operation that give community development its distinctive character. But in many places only one or two of these aspects are present, which weakens the impact and contributes to the confusion about what community development is. The report recommends that practice should only be recognised fully as community development if it meets this comprehensive definition.”