Asset-Based Community Development

“No society has the money to buy, at market prices, what it takes to raise children, make a neighbourhood safe, care for the elderly, make democracy work or address systemic injustices….. The only way the world is going to address social problems is by enlisting the very people who are now classified as ‘clients’ and ‘consumers’ and converting them into co-workers, partners and rebuilders of the core economy.” – Edgar Khan

Knaresborough Connectors is passionate about, uses and wants others to embrace Asset-Based Community Development as an approach to building community.

The best place to start learning about ABCD is to watch Cormac Russell’s presentation on sustainable community development here.

The approach is relational and focuses on what’s strong and not what’s wrong. ABCD invites us to see people as “needed not needy” and so radically change the way organisations and charities treat people. It looks at strengths not weaknesses in neighbourhoods helping to activate them without managing them.

It uses building blocks to develop community:

    • Skills of local residents
    • The power of local social networks
    • The resources of public, private and non-profit institutions
    • The physical and economic resources of local places
    • The stories of our shared lives
    • Associational life

These building blocks or assets need connecting and mobilising to make Knaresborough a healthier sustainable place.

The Key Principles of ABCD are:

    • Having friends and valued relationships is key to people leading the life they choose
    • People are supported to connect and share their gifts, passions and interests where they live
    • Reciprocity is vital for community and individual well-being
    • Everybody has a valuable contribution to make
    • The assets of an area (as defined by the people who live there) are recognised and celebrated
    • Communities are best-placed to know what needs changing and make the changes

Knaresborough Connectors has started a community mapping exercise to understand the rich array of what ABCD calls Associational Life across the town, these are all the community groups and organisation and networks you’ll be familiar with.

ABCD believes a citizen at the centre of their community using their gifts is better for people than seeing people as clients of government or charity or a user of a church’s charity. As such, helping people set up their own groups and networks so they can express their gifts to benefit Knaresborough is key to how we want all our community organisations to behave.

We have a bold vision to have more local groups adopt an approach that is encapsulated by the phrase ‘Done by Us for us’, as illustrated below.

If ABCD works in Knaresborough then:

    • Individuals and community groups and neighbourhoods are better connected
    • Residents identify and work to bring about the changes they want to see
    • Everyone in Knaresborough has 3 good friends
    • A number of groups are formed around an interest
    • Changes that happen are initiated and sustained by local people
    • People know their neighbours’ names

This approach will ensure loneliness, isolation and poor mental health will be significantly reduced in Knaresborough.