Working in communities

Explore the benefits of community-based initiatives, and how to support them.

Why work in communities?

Place is important

Despite rapid changes in the economy, in technology and in the way we relate to each other, place is important to people, especially many of those in disadvantaged areas – people who have been left behind by the pace of change.

Power is collective

People benefit from working together to identify common issues, to find ways of addressing them together and to be heard by the state, businesses and others whose decisions influence their lives.

Community matters

People benefit from drawing on connections with members of groups and communities they identify with, in order to have the confidence to get involved and take action in the place where they live.

Building on assets

Community assets‘ enhance the services that organisations or groups provide in their local area. Some residents we worked with defined assets as: 



Their skills, knowledge and relationships



The history and character that makes the area special



The imagination and enterprise of local people to make things happen

Services, facilities and amenities

Services, facilities and amenities

Getting the most from these for local people

Building on assets Decorative Arrow

Case study

St John Ambulance: Community Advocate Programme

In March 2018, IVAR was appointed by St John Ambulance to evaluate its Community Advocate Programme. The purpose of the evaluation was to work alongside the Community Advocate programme team to gather data on progress towards the programme outcomes and test and refine data collection methods for the programme. We learned that: 

Tailored content and responses help reach communities that have not previously engaged with first aid. The programme’s targeted approach enabled it to build detailed demographic profiles of the focus areas and look at how Community Advocate workshop content could be tailored to respond to specific needs, e.g. making workshop materials available in a range of formats and giving careful thought to the workshop location. 

Time spent building relationships at a local level is the route to engagement. Becoming embedded within the communities they were working in, enabled those delivering the programme to build relationships with local residents and partner organisations/groups who acted as brokers into the community. Local partners stressed the importance of the workshops allowing for participants to have fun and learn through dialogue about first aid, as well as taught content.  

Confidence and skills are built over time. Follow-up mechanisms – certificates, the Community Champion network, ongoing communications, etc., were an essential vehicle for tracking and responding to potential factors impeding individuals’ confidence in their first aid knowledge and capabilities.  

Opportunities to engage are tailored to the individual. The range of activities and volunteering opportunities that make up the programme help to convey the message that anyone, regardless of age or experience, is capable of both administering first aid to others and passing on the knowledge and skills that they have learnt.  

Read more

Our assets, our future

The economics, outcomes and sustainability of assets in community ownership

Read more   Publication
The Future for Communities: Perspectives on power
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Community accountability in community business
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With thanks to Paul Coleman/Eden Project Communities and CaVCA for the photo used on this page.

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