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Introducing social work: a starter kit
Introducing social work: a starter kit

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3.4 Community profiling

This is a photograph of two women in a kitchen.
Figure 14

Community profiling is a tool and methodology for recording and measuring the resources and assets in a community, in order to ensure that assumptions about solutions and resource allocation are well-founded and targeted effectively. Hawtin and Percy-Smith (2007) define a ‘community profile’ as:

A comprehensive description of the needs of a population that is defined, or defines itself, as a community, and the resources that exist within that community, carried out with the active involvement of the community itself, for the purpose of developing an action plan or other means of improving the quality of life of the community.

This process can help give voice to all sections of the community. It can identify underutilised and potential resources, identify social capital within the community, and contribute to the empowerment of a wide-range of individuals and groups.

Communities are often portrayed in a positive way, with an emphasis on the support that community members can give each other. Teater (2014) points out, however, that communities can also exclude and marginalise particular individuals and groups, with potentially damaging consequences for people’s wellbeing and safety. Community work that is both anti-oppressive and inclusive provides a means of enabling community members to support each other to stay safe and connected.

Social workers and other professionals clearly have duties to prevent and respond to abuse and neglect. However, adult (and child) abuse is not only a professional responsibility – it is ‘everybody’s business’ (Department of Health, 2016). Whatever communities we may live in or belong to, community members have responsibilities to one another. In this regard, the needs and skills of all members of the community are crucial elements in the overall profile of each community.

Governments of all political persuasions devise and enact policies that reflect and express the primary discourses of the day about the distribution of wealth in society.