16: Reflections: valuing community work

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We have sought in this book to introduce approaches and methods practitioners can use to show the impact of what they do. The book has focused on community workers, but the greatest challenge we face as practitioners lies in recognition of the profession in which we work, which concerns us collectively, not individually. Increasingly in times of austerity, it is the developmental work embracing community work that is easy to cut in the short term, as it often has a longitudinal impact rather than meeting goals in political timescales of a short number of years. Working to show the effectiveness of individual projects does contribute to the overall esteem in which the profession is held, but we should also consider how we can foster esteem in other ways. A starting point is to consider the change we wish to make in the way which the profession is valued. We consider that this change lies in convincing people of the values that underpin what we do and the value of the principles that govern the ways that we work. Working towards the wellbeing of the individual and community are at the core of our work and this brings together community workers from all disciplines. This provides a basis for cross-sectoral strength. The principles that underpin our work are also shared and provide a platform for cooperation across professions. The problem, if we accept that there is a problem, is that the approach is not well understood and we ourselves seem to find it difficult to communicate exactly what we do.

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