Establishing a clear link between community-strengthening interventions based on social or psychological theory is not easy and whilst there is a wealth of activity in this area the results are often explained relatively uncritically.
In a paper which examines the theories, concepts and interventions which attempt to strengthen communities and create an impact on health and well-being, Professor Gareth Williams of Cardiff University and colleagues review theoretical ideas underpinning such community-strengthening interventions and provide a synthesis of their impact.
One of the the concepts which the paper explores is that of 'social capital' and how it has shaped empirical research on interventions. It's suggested that one of the reasons that social capital is popular in community policy is that it's a form of capital that is not financial and focuses on positive consequences. The interventions that are included in the review had to demonstrate some form of developing social bonds between people in a community and include activities such as community gardens, sports and arts interventions and timebanks.
Whilst acknowledging a long tradition of community health initiatives the conclusion reached in the paper is that there is little robust evidence to support these, however, the paper does recommend a number of ways in which research in this area can be improved'
Read the paper here
To view Professor Williams presentation on the paper click here