7: Community engagement

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Engagement is at the heart of what the community worker does. It is about working with communities, particularly those most marginalised, to find out what matters to them and then looking to work together to take action. This chapter follows the various stages of engagement from planning, to carrying it out, to making sure that it matters. Although it has a strong practical focus it argues that effective engagement requires a reflection on theory, particularly around power, voice and the valuing of knowledge. Too often, engagement can be tokenistic and part of a hegemonic process in which we consent to our own powerlessness. Community work needs to critically interrogate this process, bearing in mind inclusion, voice and multiple forms of knowledge.

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