An introduction to the research project on the subject of community development.
In my placement we create opportunities for people in the community to come along and be involved with the activities we facilitate. Because this is a fantastic development opportunity which brings people groups together. They can socialize and learn about the diversity within community, by engaging with different people. I think activity sessions are a great way of strengthening the community. Here are some of the types of activities we facilitate.
- All age community tea and coffee mornings.
- Preschool play 0-5 mother and toddler groups.
- Youth groups 8-18 years age appropriate groups.
- Over 60 lunch club
- Ladies Bible study groups
For this assignment, I will be focussing solely on the all age coffee morning as part of my research project for the community development. Studying the concept of the economics, social security and political cohesion of all people types, and services available in the NG8 area. The reason for choosing this activity session is because I want to have a wider age group to include within this reflection. In the coffee, cake, and chat session the people groups coming along are; The elderly, the unemployed, young mums and their children, child minders, carers with their clients, some of the council workers on occasion and church members. We did initially open the coffee morning for oversees students to come along to have fellowship and make new friendships. But, God had different plans a far greater need was providing a social environment for the lonely and marginalized in the community. We have occasionally had different ethnicity groups attend, but the majority of people attending are female white British, with an array of ages from 18 onwards. The eldest individual coming along is, Pete who is a 101 years old who loves to play the organ and sing us his favourite song, ‘oh what a beautiful morning’ he walks every week and enjoy a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake. In the sessions we provide a supportive atmosphere with a pastoral approach when interacting with people, being loving, caring and attentive to the needs of the people who are participating in the session. We have a prayer box for those attending so they can ask for prayer if they would like, as well as being verbally open to prayer if requested, which some individuals do ask for prayer.
The Basic information for the area is; It exists in the north of Nottingham known as a urban estate located in Aspley, Strelley, Broxtowe, Whitemoor, Bilborough and some of Wollaton. It belongs to the Nottingham City Broxtowe borough council. The area is situated in a wide spread area, although the church conduct their community projects in the Aspley area, we have people coming from the surrounding estates as named above.
Defining community development
When defining community, there is an array of books to access which broadens research methods but an actual definition can differentiate between peoples interpretation of community. An accurate definition of community exist in the heart of the people who create community development and construction. A forever changing community that exist with cultural diversity and a generation of change. Below is a list of community cohesion that shape community development.
- A group of people living in the same area sharing the same beliefs, values and interests.
- A community’s social and economics resource in social networks.
- A diverse culture of people both Christian and non-Christian. A multi-faith community.
- Social and political councils
- Health and social interests
- Education and training centres
- Schools and colleges
Valuing diversity in community, below is a spider graph of community division which shows the cultural shaping of how people relate to one another. Demonstrating distinctions with culture.
Language Disability Fashion/Clothing
Culture Social division Race/Ethnicity
Class Sexual Orientation
Art Religion Gender Region
What also defines different communities is there language, Arts, beliefs, clothes and celebrations. The origins of what makes up the worlds cultural communities, is the collaborating countries that are identified through their distinctive people sharing one co-existence. I have a few quotes to share on the importance of diversity in community development. “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.” (Gandhi, 2018) This quote explains how we as humans have the ability to love and except people which is a beautiful thing to see, creating unity in our communities. A theological quotation “O Heavenly Children, God’s messengers are as limitless as the fish in the sea. They come in all colors, regions, languages and creeds.” (Kassem, 2018) There is a sense of profound diversity amongst ethnicity communal gatherings and it should be embraced.
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The key foundation to remember when conducting yourself in community, is the laws and legislations that protect the human rights for people. Respecting their rights for freedom, dignity, value, and the equality to express their faith. The “UN universal Declaration of human rights and the European convention on human rights make reference to religious freedom, including the right to change one’s religion”. (wakefield, 2014, p. 5) The human rights are legal documents that protect people from acts of violence against them or persecution because of their culture, religion or beliefs. I think educating people on their human rights is an important factor in bringing knowledge to people; to protect the rights of human beings. Also to protect the vulnerable so they are not targeted, or taken advantage of by their naivety. Understanding the operation and functions of community, provides the principles and methods needed to be effective when working alongside vulnerable people. We use many skills in our communities to engage and interact with individuals. Our skills we use to build friendships and relationships, are listening attentively to the needs of people to provide the best possible support. To communicate effectively with individuals remembering, body posture and facial expressions are vitally important when working with people whether this is verbal or non-verbal or written communication.
Social identity is closely researched in culture and community. The first is to look at the policies within the government and private organisations and voluntary groups that conduct face to face contact with individuals, people and families. The social policies are targeted to protect human welfare by government legislation, which instructs the establishment that allows the functioning of services liable for overseeing the needs of individuals, people or families. To understand the concept of social policy in community development you need to research were it stems from and why it is important to have social policies within an establishment. The policies were introduced for the welfare of humans from the ninetieth century through the evolving of cultural changes and development. The value for people was demonstrated through the howling conditions in which people worked due to being uneducated citizens living and working in poverty stricken environments. The uneducated children were treated unfairly only having a choice to work in mines and mills which was socially excepted until the social welfare intervened bringing about welfare policies in the later ninetieth century. (Blakemore, 1998, pp. 1-7) The children Act was legislated in 1989 to protect the welfare of children and for wider establishment to take responsibility in the welfare of children and families. Then shortly after “the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty that grants all children and young people (aged 17 and under) a comprehensive set of rights”. (education, March 15 2010) Roger Hart is a professor of psychology and geography, and director of the children’s environment research studies at the university of new York. Professor Hart’s particular area of research studies are to involve young citizens in community development. He argues that young citizens should have a voice within our economic and political construction of the community “looking simply at participation as currently defined to focus more broadly on how public and communal life can be revived for all generation” . (Thomas, 2009, p. 2) I agree with what Hart is saying, in order to progress in a community environment suited for children and young people then we should involve them more in our economic welfare. Creating an integrated community involving children and young people who are the future generation.
A understanding of a communal community
In the coffee, cake and chat sessions. There is a strong sense of community amongst the people coming along, and the friendships they are making through talking with each other and attending every week. The volunteers dedicate their time in helping to serve the community which is great. But the only criticism I have is all the volunteers are church members and believers, and what message is this showing to the attendees, that you have to be a member and a Christian? I think there should be more opportunities made available for attendees, who want to get involved because this can create a work experience skill by volunteering. The positive outcome is the volunteer positions could be open to teach and enable individuals from the community to get involved and also enhancing skills.
The majority of people we come alongside are non-Christian people who we demonstrate love too, not everyone has made the commitment to follow Jesus but equally we treat everyone with respect and dignity. Ultimately we know God has the power to transform lives, we are the labourers and witness of our God. Theological Reflection on engagement with community, “the great commandment to love your neighbour as ourselves” (NIV, 2011) only makes sense on the basis of dignity and worth. Because to love your neighbour is a unconditional love even if you have disagreements. In our community there isn’t a lot of people attending church, especially inner city citizen. “In the 2011 census, 59% of the population defined themselves as Christian, down from 72% in 2001. One in four people said they had no religion, up from 15% in 2001.” (media, 2018) So, with this decrease of people not coming in to church the help and support of church aid to the people as developed by providing community resources such as food banks and breakfast clubs, youth clubs, coffee morning providing snacks, lunch clubs. This as shown to be a practical help to the marginalized people in society, and reliable for those seeking refuge and solitude in times of desperation. Helping to build a community of love and security; From the insecure and broken community, quiet the parallel. We need relationships in our lives and to live in a community, this is a biblical example that can be seen from the early church. In the early church the disciples lived in fellowship, eating and praying and conversing with each other.
The theory in the idea that we are a creation of our own cultural influences absorbing all the information around us, the society we grow up in defines how we develop morally and spiritually or our belief system. Theorist state that in urban areas adults are more likely to be: self-focused, free of obligation to others, they tend to lead unstable lives changing job, or entering new relationships and feel in between- adulthood and youth stage. In the modern era adults are taking longer reaching adult roles but in my local area we see many young people becoming mums and dads at a young age. (A.Rider, 2015, p. 6) The majority of people living in the area are single people but equal between genders from female and male. “Across the UK as a whole, the gender split is roughly equal at 49% male, 51% female. This address in Nottingham North constituency is broadly in line with those figures, with 44% male, 56% female.” (checker, 2018)
Issues concerning the community we outreach too, and the concerns for the people.
In the community, people can benefit from the community protection and security such as: The emergency services, social care, social workers, outreach workers, play workers, training and voluntary work services, schools and colleges, counselling services, youth centres and health clubs and places of worship. The issues people in the community are experiencing is; Crime, low income, substance misuse and mental health, overall these are contributing main factors to a struggling community. The majority of people living in the Broxtowe borough council community is 112.700, equally both male and female. The population between the ages 16-64 are 70.000 which means there is a large number of retired elderly people living in the area approximately 42.700. For many people they just don’t know how to break the social chain of claiming benefits instead of working, which provides people with responsibility and value in society. The crime rates in the area in July 2018 there was over 786 crimes reported in just that month, that is the highest out of the whole twelve months. In the whole of 2018 the approximate amount of crimes reported was 5835 in the NG8 area. The most crimes reported were acts of violence 229 for the month of July. I was one of the 229 people to experience acts of violence in that month. (UKcrimestats, 2018) In the mix of these violent acts were reports of domestic violence, there are approximately 70% of domestic violence reports that go unreported. “An estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16-59 years’ experience domestic abuse in the last year according to the ending March 2017 crime survey for England and wales (1.2 million women, 713.000 men)”. (Flatley, 2017) The overall majority of people living in the area is 63,920. (UKcrimestats, 2018) The community outreach is to the NG8 area which is helping people within the community either rich or poor, happy or oppressed, no matter what the age or gender. We try to help those who are in need of support and direct them to services that we don’t facilitate. We can write character references for job applications on the basis of what we know of the person after establishing a long term relationship or the pastor will sign for passports. The volunteers would like to provide more opportunities within the outreach but we don’t have enough people to carry that out. We are practical providing light breakfast such as tea cakes, crumpets, toast and tea or coffee, along with biscuits and cakes. God demonstrates a communal living consistently through out the Bible but we can learn from the disciples and Jesus by the gatherings they shared, together enjoying being with each other, eating, praying, talking and conversing with others. I love talking with people and providing support to the people in the area whether this is practical or spiritual care. The reason I have the desire to work within church and community projects is because, “ The church mission is…the acting out in the whole world of the confess that Jesus is lord of all” (White, 1992) a demonstration of love. That is the example I follow as I learn in His footsteps. If I am going to ethically conduct myself in the nature of God, then I am to share the same characteristics, showing to be a true witness of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever seen the classic country town film. “The Tremors” what I love about the film, is the heart warming sense of community. Where there is only one shop, one pub, what this demonstrates is even in a desolate small town, people come together being of one heart and mind; When disaster strikes they come together practically helping one another wanting to be saved. The liberating feeling of a rescuer or saviour leading and guiding the way, our Lord Jesus. At the heart of community is unity that joins people together. If there is a tragic accident that happens in your area or a horrible crime, the people come together to help one another no matter what the crisis may be. But yet in contrast you can live next door to your nightmare neighbour and live in hostility. This is two very different views of community living that creates division among neighbours, and people will either love and except or hate and reject. There are 3 key values to remember that create a safer community: 1 respect cultural diversity, 2 Encourage equality, 3 Promote social inclusion. “There are all variation on the themes of equality and social justice” (Sarah Banks, 2003) Equality within community is for all people to follow the law, and if you break the law there will be consequences. If you are physically hurt you all have the right to access emergency services, or health centres. People are at the heart of the community regardless to their status or class, equally people are treated respectfully. “The creation of a structure of participation which enables people to draw alongside the poor and the oppressed”. (morisy, 1997, p. 7)
To conclude my assignment I want to share with you a testimony of why it is important to ensure all people group are included and integrated in to society. I was invited to an afternoon English cream tea at a local church. They had a afternoon of quizzes and games. I participated with a quiz based on the era of the silent generation and baby boomers renamed cohorts for the generation. I teamed up with a small group this provided a opportunity for conversations with this elderly lady. As she continued to talk about her experiences from her life and her happy filled memories. She talked about being moved in to an elderly complex. This lovely elderly lady was filled with tears in her eyes as she went on to speak of her current situation of being moved in to a an elderly complex and she didn’t have a home anymore. I felt compelled to want to make her smile or give her a bit of joy, so as we went on with the quiz I was determined that together we will win the quiz. Showing her that she still had a place in todays world as we connected she kissed me on the forehead and said our lovely I was. Which was a testimony that I had showed her that younger people are nice and respectful but also how valued she was. I couldn’t believe it! We won! the quiz and the prize, a box of Yorkshire tea bags. Which I gave to this lady, I said “you can share these with the rest of the ladies”, has she had mentioned how the tea wasn’t very nice. What a lovely afternoon me and this lady had enjoyed. “It is primarily about realizing that older people are vitally important, not just to God but to the mission and ministry of church” (o’Hanlan, 2008, p. 3)
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