Table 2

A social capital approach in practice
For policy & decision makers For local practitioners For communities & individuals
Policies and frameworks guide and enable effective practice at the community level Skilled and well-supported community workers facilitate community development and local initiatives Individuals and groups in communities develop strong networks of mutual support and social action and gain economic and other resources as a result
Long term vision & commitment
• Focus on social and economic sustainability despite demands of short term political agendas • Base initiatives on analysis of changing needs and developmental approaches • Experience long term changes with positive impacts on health and wellbeing
• Endorse community capacity building and development as valued strategy across government • Develop strategies for meaningful change rather than ‘quick fix’ with superficial impact • People in communities are part of the solution instead of being seen as part of the problem
• Invest in the future through planned on-going programs rather than short term ‘projectism’ • Link small and manageable local initiatives into coherent programs through coordinated planning • See lasting positive changes occur through public funding
• Explicit policy statements on health equity • Community people come to recognize that meaningful change can happen
Sectors working together
• High level endorsement of importance of collaboration • Pool resources to achieve better outcomes through effective and efficient collaboration • Services and initiatives are better able to respond to people’s daily lives with consistency and coherence
• Integrate programs across sectors to avoid the ‘silo’ effect • Underpin projects and programs with long-term social & economic goals as well as short term milestones • Economic objectives support the achievement of equity and population health
• All sectors committed to social& health equity • Reward workers for working together to generate more effective ideas and share resources • Provision of support services such as transport and childcare improves access to services
• Make collaborative and cooperative ventures standard practice
Building effective relationships
• Provide incentives for programs and funding frameworks for community building and participatory approaches • Engage local people in developing positive strategies as a priority • Local people have good reason to become involved and stay engaged
• Support resources and training to develop healthy and long term relationships • Take time and care to ensure that involvement is democratic and relationships are respectful • Relationships are built on trust and respect for others’ roles and contributions
• Make workers feel supported and rewarded for taking on the complex and demanding work of community development • People have access to a variety of helpful support networks and social relationships (bonding, bridging & linking social capital)
• Attract and retain experienced and skilled staff to community development projects
Generating knowledge about what works
• Learn about complex models of change from national and international experience • Design projects using what is known about models of effective practice • Best use of available time and resources
• Provide support and resources for monitoring and evaluating change as it occurs • Ensure skills and resources are available to assist in gathering information about what works and why in the local context • Evaluation is directed towards learning and improving and based on an understanding of complex models of change
• Respect different kinds of knowledge and expertise • Collect valuable knowledge at the local level from workers and community members and use it to improve practice • People feel valued and able to work as partners in developing ideas and strategies for improving health and reducing inequities

Putland et al.

Putland et al. BMC Public Health 2013 13:517   doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-517

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