Community Engagement

The Strengths Based Approach in community engagement and development

The Commission aims to adopt a strengths based approach in all areas of work, both internal and external. This approach is based on the identification and development of strengths of an individual, organisation, community and system.  This approach begins by focussing on what is working, and where there is strength, success and passion.  The strengths based approach is an alternative to common problem solving approaches which tend to identify what is 'wrong' with a person, group or situation and apply externally-driven interventions to address the problem.  The Commission aims to actively identify, direct and support the capabilities of individuals and groups to achieve positive outcomes and create spaces where human rights can flourish.

One particular participatory method used by the Commission is called World Café.

The World Café is a process for stimulating collaborative dialogue, sharing knowledge and creating possibilities for future action in groups of any size.  It focuses attention around questions of relevance to the group/community.  Participants gather at small, café-style tables to explore key questions and issues that matter. After a set period of discussion, participants rotate to other tables where they discuss either a new question, or the same question with a different group of people. This allows for the cross-pollination of ideas and multiple interactions where connections may be formed.  As the conversations progress, the collective knowledge and wisdom grows and is harvested to direct future conversations and actions.  Strengths of the World Café methodology include:

  • the method is simple in design
  • it allows a large, diverse group of people to participate
  • it enables information sharing on a large scale
  • it can be facilitated face-to-face or online
  • responses do not have to be limited to written material, drawing would be equally as effective in articulating issues
  • it allows cross-pollination of ideas across a large group of people; and
  • it is a powerful technique for creating shared knowledge of a community's issues and a subsequent sense of community.
  • It empowers individuals and groups to take action both individually and collectively, to address issues that matter to them