May 16, 2018
Knowledge is Power
There are all sorts of good reasons why publicly funded programmes come to an end but some just seem to disappear from view without anyone knowing why. One such programme was SCARF – small amounts of funding that enabled local people to determine for themselves what they wanted to research about their communities and then to carry out the action research themselves. It was a universally popular scheme but for some reason it just petered out. Almost 10 years on, SCDC, the Poverty Alliance and others are proposing SCARF 2.0.
In recent times, the benefits of independent community-led action have increasingly been recognised and, across social policy in Scotland, we now speak the language of ‘community empowerment’.
But where do ideas start? How do communities equip themselves with the knowledge they need to make sure their efforts make the most valuable differences? And how can they get the information, they need to help public agencies and funders make the best use of their investments?
Would support for community-led action research be one way of empowering communities to determine their own futures? We wanted to find out.
The power of community-led action research
“Community-led action research is not research for the sake of it, to prove a theory or to satisfy the curious. It is about people asking their own questions about the issues they experience, getting the information, and evidence they need, and testing actions for change.”
From June 2016 to October 2017, SCDC and the Poverty Alliance worked alongside ten community organisations from across Scotland to identify what a support resource, designed for communities to undertake their own action research processes, would look like.
Together we identified what impacts community-led action research can lead to, what more might be needed to embed action research processes and help them work well, and where challenges might lie. In short, we began to design an action research support project, from the ground up.