What is the Community Development Support Unit?
In August 2000, the Community Development Unit
(CDSU) was established by the NCCRI to provide assistance and support
for community groups working with ethnic minorities. The CDSU is
co-funded by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs under the auspices
of the Community Development Support Programme.
Aims and Objectives
The CDSU aims to:
- Develop a clear national strategy to support community groups working with
ethnic minorities including refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers,
taking into account the variety and diversity of these groups;
- Provide technical assistance and capacity building supports to ethnic minority
support and solidarity groups, e.g. relevant information and useful tools
to strengthen their profile and participation;
- Support prepared groups to become more established within the community
sector - e.g. through accessing core funding and building alliances
with other community organisations and structures;
- Bring added value to the supports provided by other organisations working
in this area such as community and local development programmes, local and
national community groups and NGOs;
- Develop specific strategies to address the needs of women and particularly
marginalised groups such as Roma;
- Integrate the work of the Community Development Support Unit into the overall
work of the NCCRI.
What do we mean by community development?
Community development is a way of working with communities
or groups that supports them to play a confident and active role in the society
of which they are part. It is primarily concerned with social change, and works
towards collective rather than individual outcomes. Community development enables
groups and communities to articulate their own needs and viewpoints and to take
part in collective action to influence the processes that structure their everyday
lives. Community development prioritises work with the most marginalised. It
actively challenges exclusive structures and discrimination such as racism and
Who does the CDSU target in its work?
The CDSU targets community sector organisations that have
a focus on minority ethnic groups.
This includes groups specifically set up around such issues, groups that are
owned and directed by ethnic minorities themselves as well as community organisations
that focus on minority ethnic communities in their work. The CDSU seeks to support
the work of projects affiliated to the Community Development Support Programme,
but also other community and local development groups such as Family Resource
Centres, Area-Based Partnerships and ADM-funded community groups.
The CDSU also targets government departments, politicians,
statutory agencies and service providers to promote the importance of community
development in working with ethnic minorities. The CDSU identifies and allies
with other like-minded organisations in building a collective approach to its
What does the CDSU do in practice?
Some practical examples of how the CDSU supports community development include:
- Providing relevant information on issues such as funding or policy and legislation,
that is necessary for the empowerment of organisations of ethnic minorities
or 'new communities';
- Holding information meetings, seminars and other events where community
groups can exchange ideas and good practice, and network with similar groups;
- Developing and disseminating useful tools through seminars and/or written
materials that build the abilities and skills of groups;
- Supporting the work of those groups to bring the collective issues and
needs of ethnic minority groups to the attention of relevant government bodies,
policy making arenas and service providers to ensure that these are addressed
through inclusion and resourcing at national and local levels.