Community Development Practice Hub

Community Development Practice Hub

The Community Development Practice Hub is a resource for people and organisations who ‘work with’ people in Birmingham so they can take collective action to make changes to things that are important to them and their communities. 

We aim to connect, inspire and upskill community development practitioners across Birmingham.

Come join us on this exciting journey, as we collaborate with the sector to offer a tailored approach with a focus on Birmingham-specific learning, challenges, and achievements.  

Want to work with community assets?

This page shares learning from the Ageing Better programme, a test and learn programme that aimed at reducing social isolation in people aged 50+. Working with community assets was a key component since the inception of Ageing Better. This learning can be applied universally.

Working with community assets means being people focused, building on positives and strengths and finding ways for the community to work together. It is also often place based allowing people to come together within a recognised geographical area although the size and context of that place will vary.

Each community is different and the speed with which each community and the individuals within those communities’ move is different. Connecting to people requires skills which include the ability to listen, connect with and build trust in the community. It is important to recognise that some people may be in difficulty or crisis, and you can support them by having a links to a wide range of services that can support people. A wide range of tools are needed to reach out into the community and help those people who may otherwise be missed.

There may be local barriers to working in an asset-based way. This could include organisations used to working in a particular way or recent history making people sceptical about engaging. It is important to understand both the community and its history before you begin working in and with it.

Working with community assets will involve reaching people and supporting them to take action. Micro-funding and supporting people to establish groups are key parts of supporting this to happen. Community assets include wider programmes and local businesses who can often provide additional support to help make activity happen on the ground.

1. Why focus on community assets? What are the benefits

  • Working with community assets is a key component of Ageing Better’s strengths-based programme. It means being ‘people focused’ and ‘place based’.
  • Community assets include the skills, knowledge and interests of individuals, and the many resources of the voluntary, community and business sectors locally.
  • There is an opportunity to improve how we share community asset development tools and data collection methods across different organisations and places; improving outcomes for people and contributing to the wider evidence base.

2. What are the challenges?

  • Localised factors such as the demographics of an area, the relationship between some communities and organisations or initiatives, and the loss of shared spaces, can all present challenges when working with community assets.
  • Personal challenges often need addressing before people can contemplate wider community involvement. This could include support for financial issues, health problems and caring responsibilities.
  • Ageing Better found there to be a lack of continuity by services using qualitative tools to measure community asset impact.

3. How can we work with community assets to improve outcomes for people?

Good practice community asset development embraces principles of co-facilitation and co-design. You can help activate existing social networks and connections and mobilise new ones in the following ways:

  • Help people to set up their own groups around shared interests; developing strengths that exist in the community.
  • Provide training and mentoring; especially for the more complex organisational, legal and financial structures.
  • Be sensitive to the level of support needed (or not) for established groups.
  • Link existing programmes, activities or support and help mobilise new partners such as businesses and space providers.

4. So what can we do with this learning?

Mapping local asset opportunities, building on existing local strengths, and demonstrating the impact of community asset development will help achieve better outcomes for people, support future funding bids and engage place based asset partners.

Test and learn from services in your area:

Track the people you connect with, the support provided and the outcomes.
Track the growth of interconnected relationships within the local ecosystem.
Compare the extent of assets in communities you have worked in with those you haven’t. Map the opportunities.
Create opportunities for people to share their own stories creatively, promoting community assets and celebrating impact.

Want to know more?

Full Learning Report

A paper that focuses on Ageing Betters learning around working with community assets. It explores:
1. Working with community assets helps people set up their own groups and helps create the opportunities with which people ‘want’ to engage
2. Taking a community development approach is part of the mix of activities that helps reach the people who are socially isolated and can start to address social isolation issues.

You can read the full learning report here

Why not run a workshop?

A powerpoint presentation that has been designed for use either in person, or through video conferencing. You can use all of the existing slides to talk through the key Ageing Better learning for working with community assets, with the aim of promoting discussion and further understanding. The presentation is designed so you can remove and add slides to make the content more relevant and useful to your specific community, projects, local area and team requirements.

Download here