Notwithstanding the rhetoric of ‘Big Society’, both local leaders and national policy makers face major challenges in enabling communities to identify and build upon their strengths.
This is essential so that people at risk of marginalisation can contribute to their local communities as well as receiving their communities’ support.
The authors of this pamphlet reflect on the extensive experience of five agencies which have been, in different ways, at the forefront of promoting innovations which unlock communities’ strengths and recognising that people with support needs can also be assets to their communities. We see a real danger that, in a prolonged period of austerity, the rhetoric of empowerment and inclusion will remain just that.
In this paper, addressed to all those who share our commitment to advancing equal citizenship, we draw out succinct lessons for inclusive community-building.
In particular we make a case for well thought-through investments in some emerging areas of community development, especially in those services and initiatives which neither patronise nor abandon people and communities, but which instead work alongside them in the design and delivery of solutions to what they define as their challenges.
Our seven principles for empowerment and inclusion in an age of austerity are:
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