The New Labour government has pledged itself to promoting active citizenship and community engagement at all levels and in all policy areas. David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has argued that ‘civil renewal’ should ‘form the centrepiece of the government’s reform agenda for the coming years’.
Yet, over recent decades, social scientists, politicians and commentators have become increasingly concerned with falling levels of community engagement. The picture in the UK is not as dramatic as that painted by US academic Robert Putnam. Informal social networks, membership of community organisations and voluntary groups appear to have held up relatively well, even as formal political participation and trust in political institutions and politics has fallen. Nevertheless, relative to levels of education and prosperity, we probably have seen an overall decline. Levels of social interaction and trust are often lowest among socially excluded groups, where, arguably, it is needed most. At a time when academics and politicians are coming to believe, as never before, in the importance of community engagement, this is a worrying trend.
One of the most important challenges for public service reform is how the needs of diverse citizens can be met in a manner which takes their differences into account sensitively and effectively. The agenda for the ‘personalisation’ of public services calls for a much sharper focus on connecting the development of public policies and services with the real requirements of users and stakeholders. A major opportunity to achieve this would be through community engagement.
Community engagement encompasses a variety of approaches whereby public service bodies empower citizens to consider and express their views on how their particular needs are best met. These may range from encouraging people to have a say on setting the priorities for community safety, through involving them in shaping and supporting health improvement programmes for themselves, to sharing decision-making with them in relation to defined services.
Editor's comments - [ What benefits does the application of community engagement actually bring? What do we know about the key features of effective application? To help answer these questions, the governments Civil Renewal Unit commissioned IPPR Trading Ltd to review the available evidence. Not specifically Sport and PA related, but this document deals with the wider issue of community engagement and (inter alia) social capital. ] Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from <this page's full URL>
In the text: Cryer (year)
Reference : Rogers, B. Robinson, E. (2004). The benefits of community engagement: A review of the evidence. London: IPPR
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