The ABCD approach helps citizens to find answers to each of these questions. It can also show professionals and institutions how to make better use of the resources that they have access to, and how to support one another to use them to benefit whole communities and greater citizen-led action.

Hence, ABCD is the way to build healthier, safer, prosperous and more inclusive communities from the ground up, with citizens in the lead.

Regardless of how well funded an agency is, ABCD invites them to work beyond their administrative boundaries and understand that people, their families and communities, have unique competencies that cannot be replaced by competent professional intervention. Since the only people who can build community are the people who live sleep and work there.

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)

The first STAR Bereavement Peer Support Group (in Stockwood, Bristol) was wholeheartedly created by implementing an ABCD approach. Every person who volunteered their time to initiate the service was introduced to the concept of ABCD and the rationale for applying the core principles in order to make the community service self-sufficient, and also to understand such a creation would be a valuable asset within their neighbourhood.  

 

The service was initiated BY the local people, FOR the local people within their neighbourhood.  Everyone involved in the making understand that they have ownership of the community entity, and they do not volunteer for any stakeholder.  The facilitation team of support workers recognised and valued the assets (gifts, skills, experiences) within their newly formed team, they identified and mapped the assets that exist within their community (institutions, individuals, associations), and they made working partnership connections within their community to negotiate a variety of support ( 'gifts-in-kind' ) in order to create a sustainable entity which exists without monetary funding. 

The following information has been extracted from the Nuture Development website which illustrates the basic principles of ABCD

ABCD challenges the traditional deficit-based approach that tries to solve urban and rural community development problems by focusing on the needs and deficiencies of individuals, neighbourhoods, towns, villages, etc.   

 

ABCD demonstrates that local assets (people, physical assets etc.) and individual strengths are key to ensure sustainable community development, and that people have a life of their own choosing.

ABCD evokes conversation that involves citizens and associations as primary contributors to enduring change that happens close to their doorsteps. A conversation that asks fundamentally different questions:

1- What is it that communities can do best?

2- What do communities require help with?

3- What do communities need outside agencies to do for them?

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The ABCD approach helps citizens to find answers to each of these questions. It can also show professionals and institutions how to make better use of the resources that they have access to, and how to support one another to use them to benefit whole communities and greater citizen-led action.

Hence, ABCD is the way to build healthier, safer, prosperous and more inclusive communities from the ground up, with citizens in the lead.

Regardless of how well funded an agency is, ABCD invites them to work beyond their administrative boundaries and understand that people, their families and communities, have unique competencies that cannot be replaced by competent professional intervention. Since the only people who can build community are the people who live sleep and work there.

The starting point for communities, funders, commissioners, and practitioners is necessarily a different one, instead of starting with a focus on what’s wrong, ABCD invites us to start with a focus on what’s strong so that we can use what’s strong to address what’s wrong, and that way make what’s strong even stronger.

That means paying attention to assets that build community connection and power. However, these assets might not always be apparent, in fact they are often invisible. Nurture Development are therefore focused on making the invisible, visible by supporting organisations to use their supportive functions to support indigenous community invention.

This requires some risk taking on the part of the agencies we work with, since they are asked in the first instance to leave their agenda’s off the table, and instead relocate the authority for the setting of outcomes to local residents.

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As those who work with communities know, community building doesn’t work well when outcomes are already predefined!

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Identifying the
'Assets'
and harvesting the
benefits...

How do you know what you need until you know what you already have?

The Stockwood STAR group identified many 'assets' within their community, the first of which was recognising the gifts, talents, skills and experiences they had within their newly formed team!   Every peer support group will undoubtedly have a uniquely dynamic set of assets which will enable them to value and apply to shape their community service. 

By identifying and mapping the 'assets' that exist within their neighbourhood, the STAR group was able to make connections and invite others to offer to support them. 

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The outcomes were and continue to be amazing!  Gratuitous support from many institutions, associations and individuals enable the Stockwood STAR Bereavement Peer Support Group to continue to provide such a valuable and well established service in the heart of the community.

 

A local Church  provides the STAR Group with FREE space to run their sessions and access to using furniture, digital resources, free wifi, the kitchen, crockery, cutlery and a cupboard for storage.   The local Children's Centre gift their time to promote the service on their website and social media platforms, offer access to do printing, photocopying of literature and items of stationery.  The Medical Centre promote the service in their waiting room on the visual display tv and in the display stand.  Social Prescriber and other medical staff sign-post people to the STAR service. The local shops allow leaflets to be displayed and staff spread the word of the STAR service.  The local Community Garden project welcome the STAR service users to engage in activities within the garden to further help with people's mental health and well-being.  Local and national support organisations and establishments such as Training Dept at St Peter's Hospice, Peripatetic Nurses at Macmillan Cancer Support, Cruse, Oncology department at Bristol Royal Infirmary, Age UK Bristol, Southern Brooks, CURO , Community Development Team from Bristol City Council, Community Access Support Service (CASS) all recognise and value what STAR is doing; they help promote STAR and sign-post people for support. 

Through maintaining connections and networking within the neighbourhood, city- wide and beyond, a variety of support continues to flourish and enable the Stockwood STAR to tick along wonderfully.