Alison Gilchrist CD Consulting
Alison Gilchrist CD Consulting

Supporting communities

I began my career as a community worker in the 1980s, supporting inner-city neighbourhoods in Bristol. I have been involved in community development ever since, and active in the national network, the Community Deveopment Exchange that supported practitioners and activists. I was a Big Local 'rep' from the beginning of the programme (2012) until March 2019. I worked with four areas in the north west to prepare their community plan. I have become a Plan assessor and also worked in two areas to help 'trouble shoot' local difficulties.


I have always enjoyed helping people to learn through reflection, peer-led discussions and developing theory that aims to makes sense of practice and experience. I am an experienced trainer, both through facilitating bespoke workshops or on professionally accredited training courses.


Recently I have facilitated the following:

2015 - workshop for Big Local areas to consider informal ways of working with communities

2015 - session for BL reps on 'maintaining resident involvement' using community engagement

2014 - 3 day residential course at Austria's Institute for adult education on community-led action research

2014 - workshop on diversity and inclusion for Dewsbury Moor Big Local Partnership

2014 - 3 parallel workshops for BL areas looking at the roles and responbilities of residents, workers and Partnership chairs.

2013 - 2 day residential workshop providing an introduction to community development hosted by Austria's Institute for Adult Education and COMMIT. 

2013 - two day residential course for COMCOT (Helsinki) on developing community tourism initiatives

2013 - workshops on developing action plans for Community First Panels



I have a Ph.D. and am committed to the principles of participatory action research. In 2015, I gained a William Plowden fellowship to explore the interplay between formal and informal ways of working with communities.  

I have successfully delivered research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Community Development Foundation and Local Trust, among others. These include:

2017-2019 - research fellow at University of Birmingham (INLOGOV) on a transnational project nvestigating the practices of 'smart urban intermediaries' (community connectors) in four neighbourhoods in Glasgow, Birmingham, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. .

2016 - evaluation of Little Lullaby project for young parents, commissioned by the Lullaby Trust

2015 - investigation of community experiences of co-designed research for Cardiff University for AHRC Connected Communities research programme

2014/5 - member of evaluation team for JRF's digital inclusion and CD strategy in East York 

2014 - scoping study of voluntary and statutory children's and young people's services in Cumbria

2014 - member of advisory board for Hidden Assets project using co-design approaches to community engagement, led by Brunel University

2013 - field work research and report for JRF on poverty, ethnicity and employment practices

2013 - interviews, analysis and report for JRF research programme on poverty, ethnicity and social networks

2011 - large scale literature review and 'think piece' on race equality for CDF/TRIF programme

2010 - research on community perspectives regarding the quality of empowerment strategies (for CDF)

Public speaking

I am a confident speaker at conferences and seminars, able to present ideas and evidence clearly through formal presentations but also to engage with different audiences through participatory exercises and Q&A sessions. 

2016 - Keynote speech on co-production, active citizenship and practice research - Roskilde University, Denmark

2015 - Public lecture for the William Plowden Fellowship, NCVO London (see publications)

2014 - Presentation at IACD interantional conference, based on a discussion paper on Empowerment in practice - a critique

2014 - Keib Thomas memorial lecture on 'Networking for community development', London Metropolitan University

2014 - Keynote speech at INTAR conference on 'Connecting communities for mental health and well-being' (Liverpool University)

2014 - Presentation at Beyond the Toolkits symposium (Falmouth University) on craft-based networking, community development and well-being

2014 - Guest lecture at Manchester Metropolitan University - a short guide to community development




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