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Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How to recruit or fund Community Development Workers

Across the Fair Share Trust (FST) network, Local Agents have funded Community Developments Workers to specifically focus on enhancing capacity, social capital and liveability within FST areas. In this How To you can read about some of the successes and glean some ideas that might be of use in your area.


Case Study: Basildon

In 2006, a survey was undertaken by the Basildon, Billericay & Wickford CVS to determine improvements required by local residents. A pressing concern was the lack of a safe crossing for young people from a housing estate to the Community Centre over the road. A number of young people had already been injured by speeding cars and many residents highlighted the danger. The local Residents Group, which was formed by the CDW, started a campaign in 2008 to have a zebra crossing installed. A letter with supporting evidence, photographs and correspondence with the residents was sent to the County Council’s Transport and Highways department, followed by email contact and further information. After several months of traffic speed tests and pedestrian surveys, the County Council approved the planning application for a zebra crossing and funded the installation.


In February 2010 the crossing was installed, linking the estate with the Community Centre, and benefiting young people accessing the youth club, elderly users of the centre and the wider community. The campaign’s success has highlighted the impact of residents working together on common issues as well as the importance of long term commitment by the CDW. It has boosted residents’ confidence that change happens and left an important and sustainable legacy to the community.


What else do CDW do in the FST Network?

Community Development Workers are employed to undertake a huge range of tasks and priorities around the network. Here are examples of roles identified through Local Agent monitoring & evaluation returns:

  • Building capacity: develop, promote & support new groups and activities; help to identify & secure funding; organisational development i.e. business planning and management structures; develop sustainability of local groups; identify & address training needs of local VCOs & residents; facilitate the  effective engagement of residents in local forums and decision-making; represent the local community. 
  • Building social capital: organise community events, especially joint events in partnership with other local agencies; support & encourage partnership working; develop a directory of VCOs in the local area; co-ordinate organisations involved in multi-agency work; develop a neighbourhood ‘charter’ to define standards, responsibilities & timescales for multi-agency projects & activities; increase the number of people engaged in local activities; produce newsletters & other publicity; attend local forums; liaise with local authorities.
  • Improving liveability: enable greater use of community buildings and assets through the above; source & co-ordinate jointly owned materials and assets; run consultations; lead & support campaigns.

Organisational development

The FST panel in Basildon agreed under their priority ‘Community development, citizenship, volunteering & community safety’ to fund the CDW mentioned above for six years, to support and empower the local communities and residents. Employed by the Basildon, Billericay & Wickford CVS, the CDW was approached by a group of young people and their parents to ask for support in funding a youth club in Queen’s Park. The group already had an idea of the activities they wished to run and how much it would cost, but needed help developing a constitution, brand, statement of interests and funding applications. Thanks to support from the CDW, the group was successfully constituted and funding secured.

The group is now running itself, with a chair and treasurer taking control of all organisational and financial dealings, and over 50 members, and as well as organising a range of activities for the young people, they are also sponsoring 10 young people to attend summer Pool Academy with a professional coach. Although they are now running themselves, without the expertise of the CDW in the first instance, this group might never have got off the ground.


A lesson learned: Weston Super Mare

In Weston-Super-Mare, a Community Development worker was funded 50% each by FST and an external funder. Due to the withdrawal and then re-instatement of the 50% matched funding, the project suffered from a lack of continuity and the loss of the worker in a ward already suffering lack of cohesion and capacity. The project has since re-started and new workers come on board, but within a changed environment, with new initiatives coming to the area such as Community Researchers and Neighbourhood Management. Therefore the local panel has decided not to continue funding the project in its current form.

The benefits brought about to date by the project and the exit report from the out-going worker will be used by the local panel to help inform future funding options and priorities in this area for the remaining years of FST and within the wider context, but the Local Agent has learned a valuable lesson in that the level of intervention required, and the timescale over which they have to be sustained, need to be realistic if tangible results are to be seen in areas lacking cohesion and capacity such as this.


Sustaining the work longer term: South Lanarkshire

In some cases, the role itself may not need to continue beyond the end of the funding period. £147,550 was awarded by the Scottish Community Foundation for a three-year project to encourage joint working across a rural area of South Lanarkshire. The grant supported the employment of two Development Workers – one to build the capacities and abilities of local groups to run projects and access funding streams, and one to specialise in environment, culture & heritage. Achievements for the project include: bringing almost £1.5M to local groups through fundraising advice (72% success rate); establishing 20 new groups; 28 networking events bringing together 54 local groups.

A second grant of £79,000 was then given to extend the project for a year, to implement a Leadership & Skills Development Programme in partnership with the Social Enterprise Academy. ‘Community leaders’ were recruited – ordinary villagers who had successfully been through the capacity building phase and raised funds for their own projects. 34 local people were assembled for inter-village work and accredited skills development, and joint projects were developed for the first time, overcoming the traditional parochialism and competition in the area.

The skills and relationships built through the Development Workers project are seen as the most important legacy of FST and a major contributor to the longer-term sustainability of the voluntary and community sector in this area.


Employing a CDW

CDWs can be employed by any local agencies that have the capacity & expertise to do so.

For example, FST-funded CDWs are currently employed by:

  • CVS’s (Councils for Voluntary Service)
  • Local Authorities
  • Local Agents
  • Voluntary & community groups


If you are considering recruiting or funding a Community Development Worker, think carefully about priorities for the role before agreeing funding or putting together a job description.

For example how are the roles of the CDW weighted – will the post-holder be required to undertake more capacity building or liveability work, and what skills would be required for these roles?

To what extent would the ideal CDW already have a good understanding of the specific local priorities of your area, and how might this affect recruitment targets and processes?

Are you looking for someone to identify & address training needs or to undertake the training themselves? These require very different skills.


Page last edited May 25, 2017 History

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