In co-designed built interventions, children, their caregivers and other residents are not passive receivers of a service. They are fundamental partners who play an active role throughout the process. The role of the local community can be facilitated by community-based organisations
and institutions with established relationships and networks. This includes scouts, youth groups, religious groups, health facilities, local NGOs, schools, social clubs, community centres, etc. This is very important in urban contexts where reaching and organising the participation of the target group may otherwise be difficult. In some cases, the creation of an inclusive local/neighbourhood committee for the intervention can be appropriate, particularly where existing community-based organisations and groups represent only some of the potential users of the intervention.
Having community members as part of the project staff, for example
as animators/mobilisers or local researchers, is an effective strategy
for securing a continuous partnership. In contexts with high levels of deprivation, paid opportunities offered by the project can generate tensions. The distribution of these positions amongst community members and the levels of pay must be carefully discussed and agreed with local actors. For example, if they are offered only to members of the refugee community, this can create a backlash from other residents.
Being transparent about the intervention objectives and scale from
the beginning builds trust with the community, including children. Communication is crucial in developing this trusting relationship. The reputation of NGOs or local authorities within the community is an important asset to safeguard, as a poor reputation will shape community attitudes
and participation, thus undermining the success of current and future interventions.
Powerful local actors can influence or even block projects. These can range from powerful families, local groups, or in some contexts even criminal organisations. Recognizing these is very important, as well as developing
a strategy to deal with them. Interventions with and for children have the advantage that, in many cases, most community actors are in favour of interventions that benefit the children in their community.