A new space for Social Work to engage with Community Development? a view from Northern Ireland (NI) 1 CHAITALI DAS, MARTIN O’NEILL, JOHN PINKERTON Outline 2 Community Development and Social Work History of Community Development in the UK Community Development in a socio-political context: NI as a case study Current Community Development in NI New Contested Spaces How and what can/does social work bring to Community Development? Some questions to consider Community development and Social Work 3 Key method in social work practice Underpinning assumptions: Social justice, HR, equality, empowerment, political Social Work history, nonetheless, fraught between the impulse to work with the individual and to work with communities (Jane Addams and Mary Richmond) History of Community Development and Social Work in the UK 4 Community development recognised as a method of social work in 1959 through the Young Husband Report (Popple 1995) Expansion of health and social care services in 60s and 70s to address issues of poverty, influenced by Marxist and New Left ideas (Alinsky 1969, Friere 1973, Bailey and Brake 1980, Corgan and Leonard) Barclay Report, 1982: Community Social Work Community Development Project in 1977 criticises Government policy on structural interpretation of Poverty 1980s and 1990s sees marginalisation of community development and community social work under Conservative governments Community Development in a socio-political context: NI as a case study 5 While Community Development in NI stretches back to 19th Century, NI’s socio-cultural context of the troubles shapes social workers role The troubles sees high need and brings social workers and community workers together but laid with tensions. During the troubles (1960 – 1990s), while community development flourished in other parts of the UK, social work in NI adopts a non sectarian approach to reach clients and protect themselves (Campbell 2007; Houston 2008, Kilmurray 2011). Community development relegated to councils and separated from integrated health and social services Depoliticisation of social work and withdrawal from community organisation/development. Community development becomes peripheral within social work practice. Mistrust of social workers in the community. Community development becomes ‘commissioning’ Current Community Development in NI 6 Community development is largely the domain of the community sector While community development as led by the community sectors has made significant strides, the socio-political context of NI remains largely segregated and divided. The community sector remains fragmented and un-coordinated (O’Brien 2007) Furthermore, community sectors are squeezed/controlled by funding requirements to meet agendas of larger public sector funders or philanthropic organisations (in terms of area of work, funding requirement, bureaucratic processes, evaluations: RCT) Community sectors have become vehicles of public services with little scope for community action and advocacy (Morrissey 2012) Community sectors responding to commissioning and provision of services in the community rather than advocacy/development: Neo-liberal policies (austerity), market policies (competitive, contract culture), evidence based and individual centred agenda New contested spaces? 7 Socio-economic and political changes are perhaps creating a new spaces in which social workers will operate Emphasis on community development remains an important area of work and has been outlined a variety of legal and policy documents (HSCB 2011, DHSS 1998, Children’s order 1986) Austerity, frustration and the impact of neo-liberal policies Globalisation (community development, welfare and other countries, Social Development) Merging of global issues and ideas (Global AgendaIFSW 2012) Political agendas and discourses (state neglect?) Public involvement initiatives, service user involvement, personal budgets, minority communities, children’s rights (from Pinkerton and Campbel) Call for politicisation (problematising of AOP and the mandate for social work) (Humphries 2004, Jordan) If social work is to remain relevant, it should support community development from within and outside the profession (Dixon and Hoatson 1999, Ferguson and Lavalette 2006) How/can we engage in community development 8 What do social workers bring to the table?: we need and should but can we… Social work practice in NI is currently shaped by statutory services that are regimented, residual and reactive (Heenan 2004) emphasis on technocratic functions and professionalisation has detached social workers from the community (Pinkerton 1998, Campbell and Pinkerton 1997) Emphasis on standardisation in training, corporatisation do not fit with community development dynamics Failed to address anti-sectarianism/gain trust in community Lack of training to do community development (Dixon and Hoatson 1999, Heenan 2004) Community development and anti-sectarian is messy, political stuff Hope? 9 The need for alliances for all: political action and engagement Build meaningful partnerships and rethink the hierarchical power relations we occupy (Healy 2000) Critically rethinking and strategising how we represent ourselves re statutory and regulatory functions Social work education and training Prioritise community development approaches Reconsidering our purpose and possibilities in light of changing contexts Some good practice possibilities The new spaces… Some questions to consider 10 Similarities or differences in social workers relationship with community development in other places? How can social workers engage with community development? Possibilities and risks of social work engagement in community development work? Challenges in Community development work?