This list sets out what we mean by capacity building. It draws on good practice, policy documents and research.
• It is inclusive and has an explicit equalities focus. It recognises that some people and some groups need more support and encouragement than others, and the processes to build people’s abilities include steps to reach and support people who might get missed.
• The focus is on both the abilities of people in the community and of the public bodies and systems. It is as much about systems learning how to adjust to the needs of people, and getting better at including more people and responding to people’s contribution, as it is about people learning how to contribute to and influence systems.
• It aims to be sustainable. People, organisations and systems are able to continue learning and using their abilities. There are opportunities for people to pass on what they have learned to others, who will continue to share their skills.
• It recognises the wider context of the benefits to the community from people, communities and organisations having increased abilities. An example is the way capacity building contributes to the Single Outcome Agreement priorities.
• It recognises that the concerns and priorities of organisations can influence and shape community capacity building, especially when they are initiating or funding activities to develop community capacity as a way to help the organisation achieve their objectives.
• It is community-led. It starts from what people want to do – their concerns and priorities and their reasons for wanting to increase their abilities.
• It is asset-based. It builds on the skills and resources that people and communities already have.
• The focus is on both the individual and the collective. The aim is to build both the abilities of individual people and the overall abilities within a group or community.
• The communities are those to which people see themselves belonging. It can be people living in an area, communities of experience, shared characteristics, and/or communities of interest. People can – and mostly do – belong to several communities.
It helps when community capacity building happens alongside building the capacity of organisations and systems. The aims and benefits include:
• Helping them to be better able to support and encourage community capacity building
• Being better able to respond to suggestions and requests
• Understanding and accepting challenges and responding to them in a constructive way, including explaining why they cannot or will not do what people ask when this situation arises
• Enabling staff who have a role to support the community to fulfil that role in a safe and professional way.
Have we missed out something you would like to know about community capacity building? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0141 419 0451.