Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
Messages from 'Having a good day' - Community capacity-building
Community capacity-building requires a strategic approach because it's about more than just supporting people to be present in the community. Doing an activity in a community setting does not mean people are achieving social inclusion. A community infrastructure that's welcoming to people with learning disabilities needs to be developed. Planners and managers have to engage more with the community outside the learning disability and social care world. It's happening in employment services, but the same kind of cultural change is needed in developing community day services.
What is community capacity-building?
'Community capacity is the ability and will of people who live in a locality to act collectively for their common good. This means everyone working together to make a better place to live.'
North Belfast Community Action Unit
'.the process of encouraging, enabling and supporting individuals, groups and organisations to build strong communities.'
East Lothian Learning Partnership, Community Capacity-building Forum
'. a systematic approach to assessing and increasing the level of organisation, support and resources in a community, by involving the people who live within it.'
University of Bradford School of Lifelong Education and Development
- There is an increased focus on local support and opportunities which is reducing reliance on transport and helping people build sustainable relationships and a sense of belonging.
- New partnerships are being built with community and mainstream organisations to create positive new opportunities for people, although many are arising from practice and chance opportunities rather than being strategy-led.
- There is more use of 'mobility' benefits to create individualised travelling solutions for people, but there continue to be major organisational barriers to the development of improved transport, particularly managers not having control over transport budgets.
- There are too many new initiatives being set up with short-term funding, and there are difficulties in keeping them going. Some of the most person-centred and inclusive practices are in small projects and employment schemes with insecure and fragmented funding. Sustainability is a big issue.
- Integrated further education and adult learning opportunities are still the exception, and support for people to access college courses is an issue.
Key messages about further education
- Further education is not providing an inclusive experience.
- There is little emphasis on relevant skills.
- There are insufficient 'exit strategies' for students.
- Local FE and adult community learning services could work together better to provide joined-up provision.
- Be deliberate! Make sure there is a clear plan that says how your area will build the capacity of community organisations, facilities and local communities to welcome and support people with learning disabilities. Use the Community capacity-building checklist (11kb PDF file) to help you.
- Find your local training courses on community capacity-building and make sure that some of your local leaders go on them. For example, the University of Bradford runs a short course on community capacity-building.
- Learn from initiatives being taken with other 'user groups' in your local area, and see what you can do together. Join forces to avoid duplication of effort.
- Bring local FE and adult learning providers, the Learning and Skills Council and local authority services together to map provision and discuss issues with people with learning disabilities and their families. Consider young people in transition as well as adults. Develop a unified action plan.
- Build the capacity of local faith communities to include people with learning disabilities. Use the FPLD pack and DVD listed in Links and resources to help.
- Read about Small Sparks initiatives (see Links and resources) and see if you can do something similar in your local area. A small investment (£2,500 would be good) but one that brings much bigger returns for both individuals and communities. Give it a go. The Norfolk practice example in Key task 7: Supporting people into paid work is based on similar principles but focused on building micro-enterprises.
- Make sure that senior managers and politicians make the link between the day service modernisation agenda and the objectives of local area agreements. You could use the Briefing for local politicians and board members
- Ensure that any services for which you are responsible receive copies of local papers and that staff are encouraged to read them. It's worth investing in regular delivery. They are a great source of information about local developments, opportunities and networks. Make sure you read them too.
In the London Borough of Newham people with learning disabilities are supported to check local leisure services on all aspects of accessibility. They report back to both the leisure provider and the council's leisure services. This has resulted in more equipment and better facilities for people with physical impairments in two leisure centres, and the council's leisure service is now taking more of a lead by requiring more of providers.
- Community Development Exchange - useful information sheet on community development and links to other helpful websites.
- Community Development Foundation. Tel: 020 7833 1772.
- Federation for Community Development Learning - useful summary of good practice standards for community development work.
- Reminding people about community, Alex Hamlin, QUEST (2004). About community development approaches. Available via the Being Included section of the Valuable People website.
- Asset-based community development institute - John McKnight's work on community development and community building.
- Scottish Community Development Centre (Glasgow). A useful source of information and ideas about community development. The centre also produces a twice-yearly publication, 'The journal of community work and development'. Tel: 0141 248 1924.
- Community Development Journal - Quarterly publication produced by Oxford University Press, reporting research and practice in community development worldwide.
- Community Connecting - A web-based publication.
- 'Faith in Practice DVD' (free to people with learning disabilities and family carers) about including people with learning disabilities in faith communities. FPLD (2006)
- 'What About Faith?' A good practice guide for services on meeting the religious needs of people with learning disabilities. FPLD (2004)
- Small Sparks community building programme.
- University of Bradford