Community capacity building supports communities to get involved in a wide range of opportunities to influence what happens in their community. It can also be a starting point for many wider outcomes – like creating a greater sense of community; more effective and sustainable regeneration; more opportunities in life; and reduced inequality.
Inclusion, equality of opportunity and anti-discrimination are central principles of community capacity building. So all activity needs to be planned on the basis that some people may need additional support to overcome the barriers they face.
Make sure that one section of the community does not dominate the process of capacity building. Although you want your activity to be driven by community need, it is important to recognise that what is effective for one section of the community is not always best for others.
Some vulnerable and disadvantaged communities need more support to ensure their voice is heard and they are able to have power in the decision making process.
Remember that everyone is an individual. People do not always like to be categorised as from a particular equalities group. And individuals within equalities groups will have vastly different experiences, views and opinions.
Be very careful about expecting people to be 'representative' of certain communities. Unless people have been elected through some formal structure, it is not really fair to expect people to represent the views of a whole group or community.
Sometimes, representatives can also be gatekeepers. It is important to get beyond the most vocal and active people in the community, to make sure that community capacity building activity meets the needs of all individuals.
Develop your practice
Think about the barriers that people might face because of things like:
- gender or gender identity
- ethnic origin
- sexual orientation
- communication, literacy and language
- pregnancy or family responsibilities.