8. Appendices

8.3. Community Area Profile


On Day One of your placement you may be invited to virtually walk around the local area, making observations about the place, the facilities, and the local community. The aim of this activity is for you to gather knowledge of the neighbourhood by applying and developing your skills of observation. You should make observations and note them down. Although only one session is allocated for this task, you may discover additional information about the neighbourhood on subsequent days, especially if you are able to attend the practice in person and explore the local area on foot, and you should use this to supplement your initial observations. After your virtual walkabout you should get together with your group and try to develop some hypotheses about the local area, and what they might mean in terms of problems and opportunities for your practice.

The checklist of categories listed below are applicable to a wide variety of neighbourhoods, but not all will necessarily relate to the area you will be in. However, as you consider each section, please note that it is not only the presence of certain elements that are significant, but also their absence. You may not have time to comment on every category, but make brief notes on what you discover, as you will be able to discuss these issues further with your tutor.


Within your local area, record your observations on the following:


  • Type e.g. houses, terraces, flats
  • Ownership e.g. owner-occupied, private rented, council-owned
  • State of repair
  • Empty, multi-occupied
  • Access for residents e.g. is there a lift? Does it work?

Industrial and commercial property:

  • Type e.g. factories, workshops, offices
  • Is there evidence to suggest whether the business employs people living locallyor from outside the area?


  • What do they sell? / What services do they offer?
  • Do the products cater for a particular religious or ethnic group?
  • Do they serve the immediate neighbourhood or a wider area?
  • Are they chain stores or small businesses?
  • Who owns the shops? Do the names of the shops indicate the presence of particular nationalities?

Places to eat and drink:

  • Type e.g. pubs, cafes, restaurants, take-aways
  • Which ethnic groups provide the food and who are their customers?

Local offices serving the area:

  • Which offices serve the local area? e.g. housing, social services, social security, job centre, post office, police station, advice centre

Educational facilities:

  • Which schools (nursery, primary and secondary) and colleges serve the local area?

Leisure and recreation facilities:

  • Are there any sports facilities, places of entertainment or libraries?
  • What are their opening hours? How much do they cost?
  • Are there any open spaces, parks or playgrounds?
  • Are these safe, supervised and well maintained?

Health services:

  • e.g. health centres/clinics/General Practitioners
  • Where are the nearest dentists, chiropodists, chemists and hospitals?
  • Are there any centres for alternative medicine/therapies?
  • Places of worship and cultural centres:
  • e.g. churches, mosques, synagogues

Community facilities:

  • e.g. community centres, tenant halls, meeting places, social clubs
  • What kinds of groups meet at these places? e.g. playgroups, tenants
    associations, youth clubs


  • What major roads, railway lines, canals exist in the area?
  • Do they service the local community or are they for commuters?
  • Do they appear to be boundaries or barriers?
  • What is the volume and nature of road traffic?
  • Are there pedestrian crossings, subways and bridges?
  • What type of public or private transport is there?
  • Are there bus stops, tube and BR stations, mini-cab offices?
  • What routes do they take and how frequent are they?
  • Is the transport accessible for the elderly and parents with buggies?

Derelict land:

  • What is the condition of such sites?

Historic features:

  • e.g. places of worship, cemeteries, monuments, plaques
  • Is there evidence of communities with a long presence and/or communities with
    little or no current link with the area?

Additional environmental facilities: 

  • Street lighting – does this seem adequate to provide a well lit safe area?
  • Condition of paving – could this cause problems for people with walking difficulties?
  • Accumulation of rubbish – e.g. domestic, furniture, commercial
  • Availability of public telephones
  • Evidence of who appears to be investing resources in the area (e.g. new developments) – who will they benefit?

In addition, you may want to use the following questions to guide you as you walk around the area:

  • What do you consider are the most significant characteristics of the area?
  • What do you think are the positive and negative features of living in the area?
  • Can you identify any major issues facing the local community?
  • Are the local services appropriate and accessible? If they are not present in the area, how far away are they and how might local residents get to them?
  • How could health and other statutory services in the area be improved to cater for the needs of a particular group in the area? (e.g. the elderly, lone parents,people with disabilities, the Bengali community)
  • Is there anything you consider unusual, that you have never seen before or would expect to see but have not?
  • Have you observed evidence of collective action taken by local people to address a community issue? (e.g. a poster advertising a public meeting or a local campaign group meeting at the community centre)
  • Have you seen any food you have not eaten before? Find out what it is.