York - Community Facilitators

York has introduced Community Facilitators who are becoming instrumental in building community capacity across the city. Their role is to provide advice and information, undertake preventative work and run community development projects.

The idea of Community Facilitation in York began life in 2007/8 within the context of the re-provision of large day centres in the city. The movement beyond 'traditional services' towards individually tailored and individually experienced support carries challenges beyond how 'services' are organised and raises questions about how society is organised, how we are valued as individuals, and how those values can be supported and developed in wider communities. The shift towards individual budgets requires individuals to negotiate their own support and engage in their community, a community from which many have been historically and systematically excluded. However, the council decided that the Community Facilitation role could make a significant difference for all people in York.

The Community Facilitators have three areas of work: advice and information, preventative work with individuals and community development projects. At the beginning they 'walked and talked' to community organisations and groups all over the city. People they met helped to shape and clarify the role. They offer individualised support to individuals, for example: helping people to find voluntary work opportunities or identifying social and leisure opportunities. Community development has become a significant part of the role. They have a Small Sparks fund which has been welcomed by community groups and have funded people setting up a range of small projects from chair aerobics sessions to art projects for a homeless centre.