Community Profiling: Auditing Social Needs

Community Profiling: Auditing Social Needs

Community Profiling: Auditing Social Needs

Community Profiling: Auditing Social Needs


Social auditing and community profiles are increasingly being used in relation to a number of policy areas including: housing, community care, community health, urban regeneration and local economic development. "Community Profiling" provides a practical guide to the community profiling process which can be used by professionals involved in the planning and delivery of services, community workers, community organizations, voluntary groups and tenants' associations. In addition, it should provide a step-by-step guide for social science students involved in practical research projects. The book takes the reader throygh the community profiling process beginning with consideration of what a community profile is, defining aims and objectives and planning the research. It then looks at a variety of methods for collecting, storing and analyzing information and ways of involving the local community. Finally, it considers how to present the informaiton and develop appropriate action-plans. The book also includes a comprehensive annotated bibliography of recent community profiles and related literature.


It has been over 12 years since we produced the first edition of Community Profiling: Auditing Social Needs. At the time we did not imagine what a success the book would be, nor how useful it would prove to be for students and practitioners in so many fields. The idea for the book initially grew out of a short pamphlet entitled Finding Out About Your Community: How To Do a Social Audit published by the then Policy Research Unit, Leeds Metropolitan University, in 1990. This early publication was intended as a guide for community groups and community practitioners wanting to undertake their own social audits or community profiles. Building on the success of the approach described in the pamphlet, the authors, together with other colleagues in the Policy Research Institute, undertook other social audits and community profiles adding to our experience, understanding and knowledge.

The first edition of this book drew upon the original pamphlet, the experiences gained in the field and discussions with others working on similar community profiling and social auditing projects across the country. Since then, however, the world has moved on in significant ways. The political context of communities has changed since the early 1990s, with the government now more concerned about democratic renewal and the role of local authorities as community leaders and taking an active role in 'place shaping'. But most striking of all, the technologies around accessing information have developed almost beyond recognition since we first wrote the book. Any community group with access to a computer and the internet can now find masses of information about their locality without even setting foot outside.

To reflect these changes we have had to substantially rewrite several of the chapters in this new edition of the book. However, the essence of the book remains the same. It is still intended to serve as a practical guide for anyone who is engaged in community profiling, social auditing, needs assessment or community consultation, especially community workers and community practitioners across a range of disciplines including regeneration, neighbourhood management, library services, housing, health, youth work and social care. We hope that it will also continue to be a useful resource for voluntary and community organizations as well as social science and other students who are required to undertake community-based research.

We have maintained an important principle from the first edition, which is that the book works on a 'need-to-know' basis. It is not a comprehensive review of social science research methods; there are many other texts which . . .

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