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About this book

Now going into its fifth edition, Alan Twelvetrees' invaluable guide to the theory and practice of community work has been educating students and practitioners alike for over three decades. Covering topics such as work with community groups, the various dimensions of social action and project planning and how to engage effectively with public bodies, this is a truly comprehensive must-read for community workers, as well as anyone keen to undertake effective work in the community.

Drawing on the author's wealth of experience, and benefiting from the grounded style of writing that has made the previous editions so popular, the book considers everyday community work situations to provide readers with a genuine feel for the realities of practice. This classic text is essential for anyone studying, working or just interested in community work, community regeneration and service planning.

Table of Contents

Understanding Community Work and Yourself

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: What is Community Work?

Abstract
In a South Wales valley a deprived community received money for three years to employ two community workers, and they successfully got many local organisations and activities going. Eventually the money ran out and the workers departed. Six months later, none of these organisations and activities existed. At the same time a neighbouring community, almost as deprived, received no money. However, they saw the community initiatives being set up in the other community and so established themselves a similar range of activities and projects. These were sustained by community effort alone for many years. My initial training in community development was provided by a lecturer who had been a District Officer in what was then Bechuanaland, Southern Africa. His enormous rural ‘patch’ consisted of about 40 villages spread far apart, and communications were poor. His job was to advise the villagers on aspects of health, school building, agricultural development and so on. He only had time to visit each village once or twice a year, for a day or so. So he had to work as an enabler, trainer, information provider, capacity builder (which are the essence, to my mind, of effective community work) as he had no time to do things for people.
Alan Twelvetrees

Chapter 2. Planning for Effective Community Work, and Evaluation

Abstract
Community work can involve one worker in an existing agency or the establishment of a project team of, say, four staff, or establishing a comprehensive community work programme in a city or a region. There are also differences between the employment of staff in a statutory, a non-statutory agency, or in/by a community group or partnership. The principles of setting up a comprehensive community work programme are covered in Chapter Eleven and in the Appendix. In addition, some of the rest of this chapter discusses how an individual worker might approach their work. However, I also deal here with setting up a project team of, say, four people. The most important thing is knowing what you want to do, how you intend to go about it and how this will produce desired outcomes. That is, you need a ‘theory of change’. (See later in this chapter for more on this.) In reality, project design often happens hurriedly, because bids for money may only be made for a limited period of time, or the bid has to be for a particular kind of project, which an experienced community worker would judge not to be entirely appropriate.
Alan Twelvetrees

Chapter 3. Survival, Professional Development and Reflective Practice

Abstract
Community workers nearly always have four ‘masters’: their employer, the community (or a particular group), their professional judgment, and their own conscience. Some employers set up systems which support and facilitate their professional staff to use their knowledge and skill (their best asset) intelligently within a broad management framework which, while strategically focused, is also, most of the time, ‘light touch’, resulting, in the best situations, in a degree of goodwill all round. Other employers are not! Either way, there may be times when the employer wants a worker to act in ways which the worker believes will not benefit the community or will conflict with what the community seems to want, or with the worker’s values. This brings the danger of either unthinking compliance or possibly conflict with a manager. We need to try to understand how we are being used – otherwise we can be drawn unwittingly into undertaking work which does not benefit the community.
Alan Twelvetrees

Community Development and Community Action

Frontmatter

Chapter 4. Helping People Set up and Run Community Groups

Abstract
Most community groups form without the assistance of an outside enabler, certainly a paid one. Also, groups get set up in different ways. Sometimes a worker makes contact with individuals who gradually come together; sometimes one or two individuals approach a worker, or there is a requirement (in order to access funding perhaps) for a group of a particular kind to be formed; or an existing group decides to set up a subsidiary group. And, sometimes, several existing groups come together to form a federation. The worker may occasionally be the leader of the group but, more often, at least ideally, its advisor. When you are setting up, or working alongside ‘autonomous’ community groups as an enabler, you are working with people as far as possible to their agenda, and you are always looking for ways of helping the group to be effective. Therefore, it is important to assist people to realise early on that, as far as possible (and within certain limits) you are there to ‘help them do what they want to do’.
Alan Twelvetrees

Chapter 5. Community Groups: Dealing with Practical Issues and Problems

Abstract
You work for two years with little success trying to organise a group to take up a range of social issues in a geographical community. Then a newspaper article suggests some waste land may be used as an itinerants’ site. Overnight an organisation forms and quickly organises a 24-hour picket! The basis for bringing people together is self-interest, so, our first job is to understand this. As well as divisions of class, gender, age and race there are many more subtle differences between groups of people, which may influence their joining preferences. More broadly, in today’s world there may be a substantial ethnic mix in a community group, making it difficult for workers to understand the ‘realpolitik’ of a community. Also, whatever activity is started, it will quickly attract an image which, in effect, prevents other people from participating. In addition, people often think of their ‘home area’ as encompassing only a few streets, and, perhaps for that reason, it is common for meetings of neighbourhood groups to be attended only by people who live less than a quarter of a mile from the meeting place. All these factors tend to inhibit wider attendance and increase cliquishness.
Alan Twelvetrees

Chapter 6. Community Action and Broad-Based Organising

Abstract
We saw in Chapter 1 an analysis that, in order to be effective, citizen action of a campaigning kind really needs to be local, national and international at the same time, and also to involve a host of other organisations, such as trades unions, special interest groups and so on. And certain writers and activists, for instance, Ledwith (2011) have written impressively about these wider dimensions of practice (which are partly summarised by Craig and Mayo in Chapter 1). Also, in a 2015 lecture, Beck articulated this perspective along the following lines (I summarise): People are hungry for radical practice. This starts with people’s lived experience and develops critical thinking, leading to collective action. This ‘empowerment’ shifts power, leading to lasting change. In this process it’s important to help people make connections to bigger ideas so that eventually a counter-hegemonic block will be built. It may also be the case that local, national and international movements, as described by these writers, are more numerous and more effective than, say, 20 years ago, particularly with modern forms of communication allowing demonstrations to be organised and links to be built relatively easily between communities, countries and continents. Having said that, however, Saunders, 1983, pp. 125–36 (quoted by Popple, 2010, p. 50) claims that such movements don’t all ‘point in the same direction’. If that is the case, arguably, some ‘progressive’ movements can only be effective at the expense of others.
Alan Twelvetrees

Social Planning Approaches in Community Work

Frontmatter

Chapter 7. Rationale for and Nature of Social Planning

Abstract
However, terms such as ‘inter-agency work’, ‘programme bending’, ‘mainstreaming’, ‘staff work’ and ‘macro practice’ are sometimes used by different practitioners to cover such approaches. Let’s start with an example of a social planning approach. Alex Norman writes: ‘A friend of mine wanted to set up a shelter for women. I got a group of people together: social workers, people from the entertainment industry, judges and others. I engaged in a strategic planning process with them to obtain resources to set up and manage a refuge, for which we eventually received resources. Another time I facilitated meetings between organisations which were all working on children’s issues. They were all using different data, so I helped them set up common data sets in order to work effectively together’ (personal communication 2014). From 2002 to 2008 I worked in local government in the United Kingdom, as a planner of services for children and young people. Many things constrained one’s ability to meet need on the ground. These included: bureaucratic rules; pressures from top managers, central government and other agencies and departments; and having insufficient resources. While staff were mostly concerned to do a good job, these pressures all combined to make many keep their heads down, to focus on the small segment of need which was the centre of their job description, and not to even to liaise much with related service providers.
Alan Twelvetrees

Chapter 8. Management and Partnership Working

Abstract
‘Management’ has been a bit of a ‘dirty word’ in community work, and indeed, in many cases, this is understandable, as illustrated by Popple (2015, pp. 128–32). Yet, if community workers do not take managerial type positions, others will take them, who have less commitment to and knowledge about community and related empowerment work. Similarly, since the 1980s there have been ‘partnerships’ for just about everything. Certainly, they may not deliver much for disadvantaged communities, but there is, it seems to me, no alternative to seeking to make them work. In Britain, a council for voluntary service (CVS) provides voluntary organisations with advice, funding guidance, information, and training. Carol Green, who ran such an organisation, told me she tried to work according to the following precepts: You need a strategic view. What is likely to happen in the future? Where are things going? Where will something take you? What can you afford to neglect? What is money likely to be available for next? It is crucial to be well connected and for others to have respect for you. Have contact with key individuals or constituencies regularly. Understand your organisation’s money. Your finance person might not understand the politics and you will have to argue for resources outside your organisation, not them. If funding drops, you may have to cut jobs.
Alan Twelvetrees

Specialist Community Work and Advanced Practice

Frontmatter

Chapter 9. Specialist Community Work

Abstract
There are now many jobs in a range of sectors where workers need certain community work skills and understandings about how to intervene in ways which empower the target community or group. Many workers doing these jobs do not have these skills, and they and their managers often don’t even see the need for them. So I try to show in this chapter how aspects of community work need to be central to a wide range of social interventions. The ‘generic’ neighbourhood worker works with groups which have a clear connection with place. Some of these groups have a broad range of concerns and can, potentially (though in practice virtually never do) consist of all the adult residents of the locality. Other groups are specialist in that they may be concerned, say, about the environment or the needs of older people only. While a generic worker potentially works with any of these groups, and on any issue, specialist community workers have a more limited focus. Such ‘communities’ consist of people who share a particular condition or circumstance and are usually excluded from access to resources, good services and power.
Alan Twelvetrees

Chapter 10. Highly Skilled Work, and work in Difficult Situations

Abstract
Over the last 30 years or so there has been considerable emphasis on various forms of community economic development from community workers and their employers in many countries (see, for example, Twelvetrees, 1998a). However, setting up small community owned businesses is highly problematic. For this reason I cover this subject in some detail. Let’s look initially at some pitfalls, before going on to discuss the circumstances when CED can be successful. There are a number of terms for community organisations engaging in business activity: community business, community enterprise, community interest company, development trust, social enterprise, community development corporation. The range of organisations which could be called, let us say, a community enterprise is also huge, from small, virtually totally voluntary initiatives, to large scale housing associations and national charities. At a simple level, the idea of a community enterprise is that a community group identifies a local business opportunity. It may then carry out a feasibility study, obtain funding, and hire staff to carry out the work. The aim is that sustainable local jobs will be created, also benefiting the community by providing goods and services.
Alan Twelvetrees

Chapter 11. Conclusions: Community Work and Public Policy

Abstract
Community work projects are often started with great hopes. However, they are rarely well thought through, resourced and implemented, making not as much difference to people’s lives as they could. They often don’t last long enough, either, for a real difference to be made. Yet, when such a project dies, it often surfaces later in another guise. Whatever the limitations of practitioners, sponsors and funders, some form of community work keeps on being re-invented. Also, as we have seen in the two previous chapters, aspects of community work, often not under that name, are now almost ever present in many service areas, as providers realise that they must involve their ‘communities of need’ (or service users) if services are to meet need effectively, and if certain social policy objectives are also to be met. However, the ‘pure’, mainly small area focused form of community development work has, in Britain, generally not prospered in the last 10 years because several programmes have been completely cut or severely emasculated, especially in England. So, the purposes of this chapter are to: provide evidence that large scale regeneration programmes, which are virtually always with us in some form, need community work/involvement if they are to be fully successful, and, make the case for a strategic approach to community work, indicating in particular what such a strategy might consist of. I also draw lessons from the Communities First programme in Wales, which is one example of a nation-wide attempt at such a strategy.
Alan Twelvetrees
Additional information