Empowerment is what happens when people feel able to get involved in their communities and make decisions that affect their lives. Involvement in decision-making can lead to better use of resources and the provision of services that more closely reflect the needs of local communities. Feeling empowered is also likely to increase an individual's overall sense of wellbeing, and may lead to their engagement with other areas of civil and civic life.


Initiatives to develop community empowerment can be seen as having five dimensions:

  • Confidence-building: working in ways which increase people‚Äôs skills, knowledge and confidence, and instill in them a belief that they can make a difference
  • Inclusive: working in ways which recognise that discrimination exists, promote equality of opportunity and good relations between groups and challenge inequality and exclusion
  • Organising: working in ways which bring people together around common issues and concerns in organisations and groups that are open, democratic and accountable
  • Co-operative: working in ways which build positive relationships across groups, identify common messages, develop and maintain links to national bodies and promote partnership working
  • Influential: working in ways which encourage and equip communities to take part and influence decisions, services and activities

These five dimensions provide a framework for planning work which is empowering for communities. They can also be used as a framework for identifying indicators and evaluating the work, helping us to make judgements about whether the processes and outcomes are leading to community empowerment. The dimensions offer a broad and comprehensive definition of community empowerment, and can act as a basis for developing collectively understood indicators.

The five dimensions are taken from What is Community Empowerment published by CDX and Changes for the National Empowerment Partnership, available for download here: http://www.cdf.org.uk/web/guest/publication?id=15349 (Opens in a new window)


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