By its nature, social work comes in many forms. In this article we will consider the wide-ranging roles a community development worker has to cover.
Bringing people together:
Community development workers are tasked with bringing about social change and improving the quality of life in local areas.
Key requirements are a selfless devotion to helping others. This will involve assisting individuals, families and community groups.
An important link:
As a community development worker, you will act as an important link between the communities you assist and a range of other authorities including law enforcement, social workers, teachers and those providers from the voluntary sector.
You must also be prepared to address inequality on a regular basis. The reason for saying this is that the projects you will be tasked with often target those communities that are perceived to suffer inequality due to cultural, economic or geographic disadvantage.
As a community development worker, you will find specific project-based work as an important part of your general responsibilities.
The ability to actively engage communities in understanding and improving issues that affect their lives will be a specific goal. This will be achieved by responding to problems encountered and addressing the needs required through goal setting which will improve quality of living.
Responsibilities will include, but certainly not limited to:
- Identifying assets, skills, needs and issues within the community you are working with
- Mediation in matters of conflict
- Giving a voice to the local community
- Evaluating existing initiatives and developing new ones for the benefit of the community
- Forming and building relationships and links with other agencies and groups that will benefit the community concerned
- Raising public awareness on crucial issues that are relevant to the well-being of the community
- Producing reports and implementing policies for the benefit of the community
- Fund raising activities and the management as well as disbursement of funds raised
- Recruitment and training of paid as well as voluntary staff
- Constantly seeking ways in which to encourage the local population to participate in activities beneficial to the community
Generic or specialised?
Those men and women deciding on community social work as a career can choose to carry out rewarding work which is classed as either generic or specialised.
Generic community work:
This takes place in particular geographical areas and focuses on working with a community in order to identify needs and understand issues.
Once this base is in place it will then be the responsibility of a community worker to formulate strategies that addresses issues in priority order.
While traditionally this type of generic community work has been in an urban setting, there has been a significant rise in focus on rural community development.
Specialised community work:
This type of work will see a community worker focusing their efforts on specific groups within a region. Examples being:
- The homeless
- Long term unemployed
- Under-privileged families with young children
- Ethnic minorities
A wide, varied and demanding role:
The above has merely skimmed the surface of what a community workers role involves, but hopefully it has established that those considering such a rewarding career will need to be focused, determined, flexible and extremely active within whatever community-based project they are involved with.