Leeds GATE

Working to improve the quality of life for Gypsies and Travellers

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Asset Based Community Development... a reflective opportunity.

By Claire Graham |  August 6, 2018 |

Last week I was privileged enough to be invited to a session ran at New Wortley Community Centre by Michelle and Dee from the Jeder Institute.  Dee Brooks, self-termed ‘international nomad’, and Michelle Dunscombe, from Victoria, Australia, travel the globe to teach and discuss ABCD with many a willing participant. 

As a Community Development practitioner myself I really appreciated time out to reflect on the theory and concepts that unite community work across the globe, what Dee and Michelle have learnt from years of delivery in Australia rings true for work we are currently doing in West Yorkshire.  

It's great to see Mick Ward from Leeds City City Council continuing to champion this approach and recognising the value of the asset-based work that many small charities in Leeds have been carrying out for years.  

So I thought I would use this blog to share with the reader some of the concepts that Dee and Michelle discussed with us and how it has shaped my thinking in the progression of some of our Community Action Group projects that we are running at Leeds GATE.  

Firstly, I would like to share a few suggestions of how to work with groups to draw out hidden assets and work in ways that people can share those assets with others.  

In 2015 we began our Lankelly Chase funded project which allowed us to explore ABCD from scratch, we worked with our members to define what we understood as ABCD “…a community building itself up from its strengths’. One of the most difficult things I found was getting people to name their assets, you don’t really think about it but putting anyone on the spot and asking ‘what are you good at’ is likely to either cause them to dry up and underestimate themselves or turn to humour to deflect the question ‘I’m good at shopping for clothes, I’m good at eating my favourite chocolate bar’…..  

It took a really deep and honest community conversation to begin to draw out the assets within the Gypsy and Traveller communities of Leeds but when we did open the lid what riches we found (ABCD Blog) 

Jeder Institute divide our assets into 6 different areas as shown: 

This model asks people to explore individual and community assets together, it also adds a 6th all-encompassing asset that values the diversity of people not forgetting how history and culture can add to the strength of communities. 



A practical grid of assets is also a great tool to use when working with community groups, we completed this one together and although in the past I have used something similar I love it that this way of gathers assets also brings in a skill sharing aspect.  

Our We are Citizens Big Lottery Funded project is now in its second year of delivery. A lot of the work is centred around Community Action Groups, this involves a group of people who want to make a change or do something to benefit their community.  We designed a CAG (Community Action Group) form which allows groups to name what success looks like and then work their way along the road of actions to achieve that aim.  

I don’t want to share any working CAG documentation publically (because people’s names etc. appear on it) but here is a copy of a blank form.  


It gets groups to look at what we want to change, who is in the group, what our individual assets are and who/what do we know that we can pull in to help.  The form then looks at ideas for action then the possible challenges that we might face, the group then comes to the formation of an action plan, (this might include training needs) and they review this plan at a set date.  

This has worked well with many groups that we have worked with, especially residents groups with lots of issues, it helps to prioritise issues and make actions.  

But it's also great to not get fixed to one method, one thing that stood out for me in this diagram that Jeder shared was the recycling of an idea when we hit a brick wall.