Communities around the UK and Republic of Ireland are under pressure to ‘do it for themselves’. This is part of the UK Government’s Big Society vision that local people can take on local services and greater responsibility for local wellbeing.
Today sees the launch of a new ‘how to’ guide called ‘Appreciating Assets’
. Published by the Carnegie UK Trust and the International Association for Community Development (IACD), it tells the story of the potential of individuals and their communities, using the relatively new language of building on both the human and physical capital or ‘assets’ in a community. In other words, the strengths that are to be found in every individual, group and community.
The key message is that it is possible to produce remarkable results - through the hard work of local people who have learned to build on community strengths (rather than dwelling on weaknesses or the absence of abundant resources). Seasoned practitioners share hard-won lessons about building more vibrant, sustainable communities – even through tough times.
Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, Martyn Evans, says it is about helping build on the ‘assets’ that are to be found in every individual, group and community:
“The central message is that it is possible to produce remarkable results through the hard work of local people who have learned to build on community strengths rather than dwelling on weaknesses or the absence of abundant resources. Assets are not just the things you can put a price on, they are also about people, skills and opportunities.
“Appreciating Assets gives a practical and critical view about building more resilient communities. Without being starry-eyed about how tough it can be, it gives a very positive message.”
Ingrid Burkett, President of IACD says the strength of the publication is that it sees seasoned practitioners share their own hard-won lessons about building more vibrant, sustainable communities – even through tough times:
“This report aims to incite discussion and dialogue in practice, policy and academic circles about the place of assets approaches in community development.
“The report is also timely given the conversations about the future of community development that are happening, both in the UK and Ireland and also, increasingly, around the world, as governments and community organisations alike examine new ways of working with people in communities.”
As well as tips and check-lists, the guide is full of questions that groups and individuals need to consider such as ‘when is an asset a liability?’ and ‘what skills are needed to enable – rather than stifle – community initiative?’.
The guide is expected to have universal appeal for people involved in any aspect of planning and building resilient futures for communities – from local authority staff, social entrepreneurs, local activists and anyone wanting to develop their understanding in this fast-moving field.
Notes for Editors
The Appreciating Assets report is the outcome of a nine-month inquiry process, initiated at an international event in London in November 2009. Across different fields, from regeneration and community development to health, a new language of ‘assets’ is helping practitioners find new ways of tackling old issues.
The International Association for Community Development (IACD) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation with members in over 70 countries worldwide. Its aims are to promote community development across international policies and programmes, and to provide opportunities for learning, networking, information and practice exchange.
The Carnegie UK Trust works to develop evidence-based policy to support beneficial change for people living in the UK and Ireland. The Trust is one of over twenty foundations worldwide endowed by Scots American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. For more information or to speak to the authors, please call John Macgill, media adviser to the Carnegie UK Trust on 0131 557 7727 (including out of hours).