What is community action?

Community action is any activity that increases the understanding, engagement and empowerment of communities in the design and delivery of local services.

Community action includes a broad range of activities and is sometimes described as ‘social action' or ‘community engagement'. These activities can vary in their objective, the role the community plays, the types of activities involved, their scale and their integration within the council. What they have in common is that they all involve greater engagement of local citizens in the planning, design and delivery of local services.

Why is community action important?

Community action is about putting communities at the heart of their own local services. Involving communities in the design and delivery of services can help to achieve a number of objectives, including:

  • Building community and social capacity – helping the community to share knowledge, skills and ideas.
  • Community resilience – helping the community to support itself.
  • Prevention – a focus on early access to services or support, engagement in design, cross-sector collaboration and partnerships. 
  • Maintaining and creating wealth – for example helping people into employment or developing community enterprises.

Objectives and enablers of community action chart


Role of the Community

The role the community plays can include community consultation, joint planning, joint design, joint delivery and community-led activities.

The types of activity can include:

  • Asset transfer (either through formal transfer to bodies such as parish councils or community interest companies, or transfer of their management to local community and voluntary groups).
  • Making better use of physical resources, such as council-owned buildings, to support community-led activities.  
  • Community engagement in decision-making (for example through public engagement events where the community helps to decide local priorities, co-design or co-commission services).
  • Community networks
  • Community grants

Role of the community chart