Realising Community Development

Realising Community Development is a new service that enables a community to come together to support the development of individuals living or working in it to improve things for themselves, their loved ones or the community.

The RCD service is focussed on promoting enterprise in the very broadest sense of the word, by enabling people to develop their ‘readiness to undertake challenges’ or to act on their ‘spirit of daring’. The nature of the challenges undertaken will be defined by the individual service user and not by the project. In this way the project will start from where it’s users are at – rather than from any policy drivers or strategic plans. An RCD project aims to be fully responsive.

People supported by the RCD project maybe working on challenges that might include:

  • home ownership
  • debt management
  • freedom from fear and abuse
  • managing and overcoming addiction
  • employment and income generation
  • enterprise – self employment and entrepreneurship
  • seeking adventure and adrenaline
  • living inside the law
  • managing community based events and projects
  • improving health and well-being
  • establishing a social business

The service is provided and managed by a group of volunteers in the community, the RCD Panel, working in partnership with a lead project agency providing professional project management support.

The RCD Panel can manage one or more professional RCD coaches. Each RCD coach is trained to use client centred skills to support the personal growth and development of individual service users and to enable them to use resources, skills, expereince and services that already exist in the community to help them to meet their challenge.

RCD coaches help service users to:

  • develop detailed visions for their own challenge
  • establish well formed pathways and plans that they can follow to make progress
  • access sources of support that are already available in the community

RCD coaches also:

  • develop the capacity and understanding of support service providers so that they can engage successfully with individual service users
  • build comprehensive routes into accessing the full range of support services available
  • provide comprehensive performance data to the RCD panel and the ‘lead project agency’ to enable effective development of the project and reporting to funders.

RCD projects can be evolved from existing community enterprise projects or started from scratch. RCD coaches might include Neighbourhood Wardens with an Enterprise Specialism or Enterprise Coaches and Advisers already active in the community. RCD panels too maybe created from scratch or developed from pre-existing groups such as Neighbourhood Forums or Tenant Groups.

The role of the Lead Project Agency is to provide professional project management and secretariat support to the RCD panel. They take responsibility for financial management and administration of the project and will, where necessary, provide a vehicle for the employment and supervision of the RCD coaches. They are also responsible for monitoring the development of the project and promoting project achievements to relevant stakeholders.

If you are interested in learning more about the Realising Community Development and how it may be used in your community please use the comments box below to get in touch. I would also be delighted to hear your questions about how RCD might work in your community.

  1. March 27, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Is this a tool that could be used to attain genuine bottom-up participation in a community-based enterprise? I’m looking for a model that doesn’t end up reverting to top-down managerialism but that can still achieve local sustainability. Something that listens, empowers and releases but that isn’t hamstrung by fear of risk. Local Leeds context.

    • March 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

      Who knows Tim? That is very close to my aim though. Perhaps we should have a real conversation. Things have moved on a lot since I wrote the RCD piece. Ideas refined, projects costed – even got some interest from potential funders….

  2. Tim Jones
    March 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I’d be interested in grabbing a coffee and knocking a few ideas around. I’m a long way off being able to offer work but I’d like to hear your thoughts if you could spare an hour? Mail me back if interested.

  3. June 6, 2009 at 12:11 am

    I have found what i was looking for !!! thx )

  4. August 10, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Hi Mike
    I run a Learning Network for 16 public health projects across York and Humber as part of the Altogether Better Programme. Projects are funded by the Big Lottery wll-being fund until 2012.

    Many of these projects use a Community Health Champions approach which looks to have some similarities with the RCD projects in that local people from communities are trained as ‘Champions’ and then become volunteers within the community to encourage others to have improved health and well being.

    We’re organising a Learning event for these projects on 12th Oct in Leeds to get them thinking about sustainability and what they’ll do once the Lottery funding ends (some end sooner than 2012). I wondered if you would be willing to speak at the event and share some of your learning from the RCD work which may be of relevance?

    I’ll happily provide further details by email and look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks and best wishes


  5. David Gray
    February 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Is RCD live and running anywhere? Do you have some stories to tell about how it has worked or developed?

    • February 12, 2010 at 11:54 am

      Sadly not running anywhere yet David. Although I can tell you much about how the thinking has developed.

      Still working hard to persuade funders and communities (who always look for funding and investment) that it is a viable approach. I seem to be fighting a losing battle against the architects/builders and the asset transfer brigade – who actually have quite an overlap! The mantra that says ‘we don’t need to build any more’ is not a popular one!

      Thanks for you interest. It will happen one day – somewhere!

  6. Kathy
    November 26, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Hi Mike, I’m interested in the concept but can’t get my head around how it is sustainable. Having run projects with Volunteers previously, I am very aware of the attrition rates and the urge to chase funding to compensate people for their time when the going gets tough or immediate self-interest is addressed. Any insight to tackling this would be great.

    • November 29, 2010 at 7:33 am

      Secret to keeping volunteers on board is to keep their commitment time limited (couple of hours a month), engaging (no detailed agendas, long discussions and boring decisions), practical and useful.
      I also think that a change in mindset from ‘chasing’ funding to ‘attracting’ funding can help.

  7. Ivor
    March 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Hi Mike, I believe the ONLY form of sustainability we should be concerned about is one of funding resources.

    There is a desperate need to ‘Listen’ – Understand, Empower and Enagage, while also forming Supportive guidlines and establishing objective goal setting for these Challenges Groups in our communities – who, otherwise, will not get teh support they need – nor the Social justice as a result of the policy failings they have experienced. At least these well-thought out ‘plans’ are a direct counter to what our government FAILED to achieved. this, therefore, has to be seen as a START – a ‘hand-up’ and not a ‘hand-out.’

    A Plan, I would most certainly want to be Supporting you with its implementation in london.

    Where do I sign-up Mike???!!

  1. February 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

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