Purposes of Community Organisation
To engage with community groups, community workers must also be able to define specific purposes for such engagement. These purposes should be developed in conjunction with those with whom the practitioner works and provide the central motivation for practitioners and community members to move toward a common mutually supported goal.
Weil and Gamble have provided a set of eight purposes which provide the basis for most community practice engagement. (Weil and Gamble 2004). These purposes are:
1. Improving the quality of life of the members of the community.
2. Extending human rights by developing participatory structures and opportunities and deepening democracy for citizens who are excluded and feel powerless to influence policies that have an effect on their lives.
3. Advocacy for a community of interest, such as children; for a specific issues such as political and social rights for women and marginalized populations.
4. Human social and economic development to assure social support, economic viability and sustainability by expanding participation and building grassroots leadership; building economic, social and political assets for the poor in impoverished urban and rural areas.
5. Service and programme planning for a newly recognized or re-conceptualized need or to serve an emerging population.
6. Service integration developing local to national and international means of coordinating human services for populations in need.
7. Political and social action to build political power for the economically and socially marginalized, protect the weak and the poor, foster institutional change for inclusion and equity, and increase participatory democracy and equality of access and opportunity in local, regional and international efforts.
8. Social Justice to build toward human equality and opportunity across race, ethnicity, gender and nationality.
In conclusion, the community worker who has a focus on values and purpose, and who makes those explicit with community groups, will have a greater capacity to develop mutually respectful relationships with the group members and to work as a facilitator to find sufficient common ground for collaborative action.