Peer-Led Capacity Building Programme To Reflect On and Strengthen Community Work Practice
The Collective Action in an Era of Social Distancing initiative was developed in response to the changed context, created by the COVID-19 pandemic, for community work and community work approaches in marginalised communities. The project aims to stimulate a rethink about community work practice to match the demands of this context and its aftermath, and to deepen a capacity to take up and achieve gains from new approaches. ValuesLab were commissioned by Community Work Ireland to support the project.
ValuesLab facilitated two listening circles of community work practitioners to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the objectives and practice of community work, the opportunities and challenges this crisis poses, and the future perspectives for and demands on community work practice in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. These discussions shaped the parameters for a rethink of community work practice and have informed the development of this peer-led capacity building programme.
The Programme consisted of three two-hour workshops and was framed by the All Ireland Standards for Community Work that defines community work as: “A developmental activity comprised of both a task and a process. The task is social change to achieve equality, social justice and human rights, and the process is the application of principles of participation, empowerment and collective decision making in a structured and co-ordinated way”.
The Programme enabled participants to:
- reflect on and learn from the challenges and opportunities in the current context of COVID-19 and its aftermath for community work practice; and
- deepen knowledge and skills to pursue new approaches within community work practice that respond to these challenges and build on these opportunities.
We had participation from community workers working in diverse settings, with diverse communities and groups, and from a range of experiences in implementing community work approaches.
A Programme in Three Workshops
The Progamme consisted of three two-hour workshops and was delivered online. The methodology included input, discussions, and group work. To facilitate access, there were three options available for the Programme – one in May and two in June.
1. Workshop One: A Time to Reflect
This workshop explored participants’ experiences of and learning from community work practice in a context of crisis and systems required for ongoing reflection.
2. Workshop Two Community Work Values Driving New Practice
This workshop explored: the values of collectivity, participation, and community empowerment; what these values currently mean for community work priorities and practices; and the knowledge and skills to establish and pursue new priorities and practices suggested by these values, in the context of COVID-19 and its aftermath.
3. Workshop Three: New Social Change Agendas for Community Work
This workshop explored the change agenda of equality, human rights, social justice, and sustainable development established for community work, the implications of the current context for this change agenda, and the knowledge and skills to define and progress this change agenda in the context of COVID-19 and its aftermath.
The next step in the project is to produce a series of resources to support the practice of community work and to disseminate these widely.