The idea of the Asset-Based Area

The Social Care Innovation Network is helping 15 local areas and a similar number of innovative organisations take innovative approaches to social care and support. We aim to provide answers to the challenge of scaling up primarily small, community-focused examples of innovation. It’s led by The Social Care Institute for Excellence; Think Local, Action Personal, and Shared Lives Plus. We are keen to encourage as many people as possible to contribute, share and benefit.

I’ve co-written three blogs with Clenton Farquharson who chairs TLAP (among other things) on the thinking behind the Innovation Network and the workstrand that Clenton and I are leading on, which is on The Asset-Based Area. This is our first blog (the full article is here):

The idea of the Asset-Based Area (ABA) started life as a blog and was co-produced with input from many people and organisations working in asset-based ways, from the Think Local Act Personal national network for practitioners and commissioners who share an interested in Building Community Capacity. So many areas are doing some community building or transformational stuff, but so few are trying to turn their community initiatives into core business. There is not enough ambition, partly because it’s hard to get past the apparent paradox that the good stuff often feels small and personal, whilst the challenges faced by public services feel huge.

We need whole areas to take up the challenge of becoming asset-based, resetting their relationships with local citizens, as Wigan council and a few others have attempted, with local priorities defined and put into a community plan which is built on local knowledge. So we tried to distil down how an area can become asset-based in everything it does from strategy down to the grassroots, into ten actions, starting with mapping your local assets, and including sharing power with people who are usually excluded, and building a diverse range of community approaches which are now gathered in an online catalogue.

Three years after the original thinking, we are developing the ABA model in more detail through the Social Care Innovation network, and revisiting this as a work in progress as we do. We’ve grouped the ten actions into three:

  • Co-production, partnership and power sharing: building & valuing community capacity and community organisations, tackling inequalities
  • A strategic approach: a clear story translated into shared outcomes, asset-based commissioning, grant-giving, and provider market development
  • Diversifying workforces & building local enterprise: investing in volunteers & social entrepreneurs, valuing lived experience, growing mutuals & co-ops

We are also taking this opportunity to look at where the model needs improving – and as ever we want this to be a joint effort so your views are very welcome.

One key area that the model does not say enough about is self-directed support. (Read the rest here).


2 thoughts on “The idea of the Asset-Based Area

  1. Alyson McGregor February 3, 2020 / 10:02 am

    I think local ABA work will really help to reshape the local landscape. Our experience is that Collaborative Practices ( GP practices working with citizens as partners in GP practices and PCNs) are often leading the way in acting as a starting point to bring together ABA across an area – thinking of Alvanley Family Practice, in Stockport, Blackmore Vale Group in Dorset, Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Surgery in Gateshead, and Robin Lane in Pudsey to name but a few. Would like to explore how we can amplify and work more closely together to make change hapen

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