Community Development

We help local communities develop in the way that is right for them, to everyone’s benefit.


Barca-Leeds is the lead agency for the West Leeds Community Centre Consortium. This aims to sustain ongoing community development work from three local community centres while valuing the independence of each one. 


Why Community Development?

A thriving community is one that’s safe, healthy, enjoyable, friendly and cohesive. Authentic community development aligns service provision with what local people really want and need. This cuts waste, improves uptake and increases sustainability.

We help local communities develop in the way that is right for them, to everyone’s benefit.


How it works

No one will use a service they don’t want or feel they don’t need. Professionals sometimes make standalone decisions about which skills they think people should have, or which services they believe would be good for a community. But when they do this, the outcomes often fail to materialise. Barca-Leeds supports people to identify their community’s needs, as they see them, so that community development, in the truest sense, happens.

What we do

Some people in West Leeds face issues that have a dramatic impact on their life chances. These include unemployment, lack of access to educational opportunities, and social or housing problems. The result is often low aspirations, low self-esteem, lack of life skills and little chance of self-development.

We work within 5 areas of West/ North West Leeds, Fairfields, Hawksworth Wood, Wythers, Moorside and Broadleas. Our community workers deliver and promote health based interventions to the community, encouraging people to eat healthier and promote referrals into various medical interventions such as smoking cessation, weight management services and NHS health checks. We promote independence and work with people to improve their self esteem and confidence in creating a healthy community through various group work activities throughout a year.

The West Leeds Community Centre Consortium runs two community centres (Fairfield Community Centre and New Wortley Centre). From these bases, Barca-Leeds and our partners build strong, long-term relationships with local people and a grassroots understanding of the community. This means that we are uniquely placed to notice and develop opportunities, talent and potential. From smoking cessation and cooking to urban planning and policy, people can, with our support, engage with and take ownership of both problems and the solutions. They can make sure that the services they get really will help them to build cohesive and sustainable communities. Through careful asset management, we hope that these centres will enjoy a financially sustainable future.

Barca-Leeds supports people to identify their community’s needs, as they see them, so that community development, in the truest sense, happens.



Community First

Barca  are hosting two community panels: Bramley First and Armley First. The Community Development Foundation has provided funding for people in Bramley, Stanningley and Armley to apply for grants for projects in their areas. The panels are made up of  Mark Law MBE CEO BARCA-Leeds, Rt Hon John Battle and local residents from Bramley and Armley.

People can apply for funding for community projects after April 2012. For more information please refer to the Armley First and Bramley First websites:

What Barca-Leeds says:

There’s nothing easier than just saying, right, we need to raise awareness about childhood obesity – let’s put on some cookery courses. But Mrs B might think, ‘A course isn’t really right for me’. It might be that she hasn’t got the time. Or she never liked teachers. Or she’s embarrassed, or feels patronised. What does work is when you’re having a chat about school, and Mrs B mentions that she struggles to make the lunch-boxes. That’s your brief, unscheduled window of opportunity. That’s when you can make a difference. By working on the ground, we see the barriers that others miss, and we’re around to spot the chances that others miss.

Facts and figures

In 2010:

  • we worked with 500 community members
  • we held events to promote health and well-being ,holistic approach to all local community members in five neighbourhoods.



How we could grow the service

We would love to have the resources to train the community members who want to be involved and help. Even just to introduce them to the basics of volunteering, by running inductions to our organisation. This would help with the long-term sustainability around community centres. We could keep them open, and perhaps work more collectively with other parts of Barca-Leeds to develop opportunities around social enterprise.


Susan’s story

Susan used to bring her small children to the luncheon club at Fairfield Community Centre. One day, she mentioned that she’d be interested in doing some volunteering. She wanted to do a bit more with her life. After a few more conversations, we invited Susan to join the Fairfield Partnership group. Susan went to the meetings to express her opinions as a local resident. As her confidence grew, her leadership qualities began to emerge, and Susan began to organise local events and peer groups, as well as contribute to the Partnership’s strategic plan and helping to find funding. She continues to develop transferable skills that could help her find a job when her children go to school.

Reg’s story

During a conversation with a community development worker, Reg, 71, mentioned that he’d recently been drinking a lot of water. The staff member suggested that Reg look his symptoms up online. Reg balked at this, saying he had no idea how to use a computer, never mind the internet. He hasn’t set foot in the library for 20 years. But he agreed to drop in the following week, just to see what all the fuss is about. Within an hour, Reg had browsed the NHS Direct website, learnt about the symptoms of diabetes and asked for someone to accompany him to the GP.


Danielle’s story

A family of five teens generates a lot of laundry. So Danielle would use the community centre laundry facilities every day. While she was putting in a fresh load, or folding the load out of the dryer, she’d chat with any of the community development workers who happened to be passing. As her relationship with them grew more comfortable, she would sometimes mention some turn of events at home. Danielle never made any appointments. She never directly asked for help. Yet time and again the highly experienced staff, who are always alert to an expression of need, however it is presented, were able to respond.

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