by Jane Winter, Faith Based Regeneration Network
The role of faith-based groups in social action in communities has been demonstrated in a significant body of regional publications. A systematic review of this literature (Dinham 2007; Dinham 2008) shows the considerable extent to which faith groups are engaged in social action in communities across England. Current legislation requires such groups to provide strong governance support for the projects they run. This is often the weak link in a chain of service delivery and partnership working. Weak governance is also a prime factor in the demise of a local project.
In partnership with Goldsmiths University of London, we conducted research (2010-2011) using a recognized quality standard tool to consider adaptive approaches to capturing quality including governance in faith-based social action. This paper presents findings relating to the impact of the governing body. It identifies the tensions between governance and service delivery highlighted through the use of a quality standard framework. This affects the confidence stakeholders, partners, staff, volunteers and users may have in a local faith based project.
We raise questions about the level and appropriateness of resources available for effective governance within faith based settings identifying the potential for using measurement as reflection as a tool to develop robust governance structures and create sustainable practice. We argue that such a tool should be rooted in community development approaches and values. The aim is to balance the demands of accountability and demonstrability with the values of community development to produce a ‘bottom up’ reflective praxis which can support both.
Jane's presentation is available here (pdf format)