“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Community Development provides a catalyst for change. It is a central ethos and strategy for improving the health and social wellbeing of communities.
Community Development Workers within the Trust have a dual role:
- We work with people in local communities to set up and sustain community initiatives and self– help groups to improve health and wellbeing.
- We also support Trust staff to better understand the benefits of collaborative working with local communities and to maximize the opportunities to do so.
What is Community Development?
Community development is a long-term, value-based process which aims to redress imbalances in power and bring about change founded on social justice, equality and inclusion.
The process enables people to organise and work together to:
- identify their own needs, strengths and aspirations
- take action to exert influence on the decisions which affect their lives
- improve the quality of their own lives, the communities in which they live, and societies of which they are a part.
Why is Community Development Important?
Community Development is a catalyst for change. It is a central strategy within the promotion of health and wellbeing of communities and the work to address inequality and disadvantage.
As a Health and Social Care Trust, we want to see strong, resilient communities where everyone has good health and wellbeing, care about each other and have pride in where they live. No one organisation can meet this challenge on its own, so we need to work in partnership with families and communities, voluntary and other statutory organisations such as local councils through community planning to maximise all the resources and energy available locally to achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes for those living in the Southern Trust area .
Benefits of a community development approach to improving health and wellbeing include:
- Improved community and individual capacity, confidence, self-esteem and resilience
- Better community infrastructure to support innovative and sustainable approaches to health and social wellbeing
- More people involved in shared decision to achieve positive changes in the delivery of health and social care.
Links to key strategies
Community development is a cross cutting theme underpinning key regional health strategies, including :
- Transforming Your Care
- Making Life Better
- Health and Wellbeing: 2026 – Delivering Together
- Community Planning for each of the Councils across the Trust area
It underpins a range of social work practices including early intervention and prevention, reablement and action research.
Community development approaches strongly support key Trust priorities including:
- Maximising independence and choice
- Supporting people and communities to live healthy lives and improve their health & wellbeing
- Making best use of resources
- Being a good social partner within our communities
It is also central to meeting statutory duties under Sections 19-21 of the Health and Social Care (Reform) NI Act 2009 in relation to promotion of health and wellbeing and public involvement & consultation .
Corporate Community Development Action Plan
The Trust’s Corporate Community Development Action Plan is produced annually, in line with the Regional Community Development Strategy. The Promoting Wellbeing Division develops and reports on an annual operational CD Action Plan that informs the corporate plan and progress report.
How Can We Help?
Community development practice in the Southern Trust is underpinned by the Community Development National Occupational Standards. Within the community, we provide a range of support, based on what the group needs. This may include:
- Capacity building and support for good governance – including training
- Assistance with action planning
- Funding information, advice and practical assistance with applications
- Signposting – internal/external
- Support for partnership approaches and multi-agency work
- Support in addressing inequalities in health and social wellbeing
Our work seeks to address inequality and disadvantage, so we prioritise support to groups working with some key population groups including:
- Older people
- Children, young people and families
- Mental health
- BME including Irish Travellers
- People from disadvantaged areas
- People on low income
- Groups with a focus on health and wellbeing across all programmes of care
We also support Trust staff to better understand the benefits of collaborative working with local communities and to maximize the opportunities to do so.
If you think we may be able to help you or would like further information, please contact us.
Find out more about what we do and the impact of our work in our Community Development Annual Report and case studies.
Carolyn Agnew, Head of User Involvement & Community Development, Promoting Wellbeing Division, Tel 028 37 564469 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org