Gabriel is a researcher and strategy adviser on community engagement, empowerment and development. He directed policy and research at the Community Development Foundation (CDF) through the 80s and 90s and carried out pioneering European research on the role of local citizen organisations (Out of the Shadows, European Foundation, 1992) and on citizen involvement in regeneration (Added Value and Changing Values, European Commission, 1997).
Gabriel was the main author of CDF’s widely used guidance on the Single Regeneration Budget in the 90s. In 2003-4 he produced influential research for government on community involvement in urban development (Searching for Solid Foundations, ODPM, 2003) and measurement of community strengths (Measures of Community, Home Office/CDF, 2004). From 2005 to 2008 he was seconded to the Home Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG), working on community participation and empowerment.
He has played a leading role in the movement to modernise community development (editing The Community Development Challenge, CLG, 2006), to create objective indicators of community strengths and to embed commitment to strengthening communities in public policy. Recent work includes guidance to local authorities on ‘Thriving Third Sector’ for the Office for Civil Society; and assisting with regeneration and third sector developments in Northern Ireland.
Gabriel was awarded an MBE for services to community development in 2009. In June 2010 he and Colin Miller launched the PACES Empowerment website containing critical-friendly analysis of the ‘big society’, a set of practical standards for community development and other products: www.pacesempowerment.co.uk