Being a community development worker is both a challenging and a rewarding job. It requires a lot of heart, and it is one of the few jobs that create real, immediate positive change in society. We’ve put together a list of questions to ask yourself before deciding to become a community development worker:
1. Are you passionate about social change?
Community development work is all about addressing inequality and empowering people. This means working with socially and economically disadvantaged communities and vulnerable individuals. If you’re committed to fighting a cause such as homelessness or drug addiction, this line of work is a hands-on option.
2. Can you remain calm in stressful situations?
Seeing and dealing with severe social disadvantage every day can be taxing. Community development work requires a strong, resilient person. Conflict resolution is one of the duties for which you will need the ability to keep calm and mediate between two or more people.
3. Are you a good, compassionate listener?
Community development workers are in constant conversation with communities, making sure that everyone has their say. They get to know community members well enough to understand their problems and to identify their skills. This requires great listening skills and compassion.
4. Are you flexible about your location?
You will most likely be based where there’s a pressing need for you. While office bases are common, community development workers are predominantly out in the community, visiting people and attending meetings. Your location will change according to the project you’re working on and the role might require you to travel to meet with the necessary groups.
5. Can you manage money and projects?
Community development workers manage limited budgets. They are often responsible for raising funds for various projects. Many of the activities in this job are project-based and deal with the specific needs of a specific community (for example, the mentally ill or the elderly). Relevant project management and organisational skills include planning events, scheduling meetings, co-ordinating activities and drawing up budgets. These skills are hugely beneficial for someone in this role.
6. Are you flexible about your time?
Working hours can vary for a community development worker. Hours may include evenings or weekends occasionally, depending on the activities scheduled for a particular project. However, short-term contracts and part-time work opportunities are often available in this industry because of its project-based nature.
7. Are you a patient and positive person?
Social change is often a slow process. Community development workers are social change agents and it could take a long time to see a community improve or thrive. You need perseverance to succeed in this role. A positive attitude is vital, as you’ll need to dedicate your days to finding solutions to difficult, sometimes heart-breaking problems – without getting discouraged.
If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, you might have what it takes to be a community development worker.