8 - The golden rules of community development

  1. Good development work is only possible once you have earned the trust and respect of the community, or group you are working with.
  2. Get to know the neighbourhood in which you are working. A community worker needs an informed understanding of the make-up and geography of the community, its issues and infrastructure.
  3. When working with minority ethnic and faith communities, workers should have some insights into cultural norms, practices and language. However, all learning is acquired, so make a start by introducing yourself to local groups and organisations; and ask questions. This process needs to be repeated when working with new communities, or in new neighbourhoods, no matter how experienced the worker is.
  4. Observe equal opportunity principles: do not discriminate against people on the basis of race, class, gender, religion, disability, culture, or sexual orientation.
  5. It is both common and desirable for community workers to develop friendships within the communities they support. It is also important to maintain professional boundaries, and some degree of professional distance.
  6. Be clear about your aims and objectives, but avoid making promises.
  7. Paid workers need to be aware of their limitations, as they usually have to work within defined parameters.
  8. Communities, even those that have high levels of needs, may not want your involvement. Do not insist on trying to help them.