Community Empowerment: Learning from Practice in Community Regeneration

David Adamson, Richard Bromiley

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    – Recent UK policies emphasise increased community participation in decision‐making. However, research points to an “implementation gap” whereby policy has not led to genuine community empowerment in practice. This paper aims to investigate community empowerment and influence over service providers brought about by the Communities First programme in Wales, a regeneration programme which aims to empower local communities.

    – The research analyses nine Communities First partnerships with a mixture of interviews, focus groups and community‐led partnership reviews. The case studies reflect the rural/urban geography of Wales and the varied governance models evident in Communities First.

    – Through Communities First, residents feel empowered to manage positive change in their communities. However, key public agencies have not responded adequately to this policy agenda. Notably, there has been a failure to “bend” mainstream services.

    Research limitations/implications
    – The findings point to future research with public sector agencies to identify the exact points at which community “voice” is lost and how it could be better assimilated into policy development and service delivery mechanisms.

    Practical implications
    – Community empowerment requires adequate training for development staff and support mechanisms for community participants. Roles of public sector organisations attending community partnerships need to be clearly defined. At an organisational level, incentives, including funding, and sanctions are needed in order to change ways of working.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)190 - 202
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2013


    • Community regeneration
    • Empowerment
    • Community development
    • Wales
    • Capacity building
    • Communities
    • Social planning


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