Thinking big, starting small and growing – learning on journeys to Asset Based places
The 12 Local Area Coordination areas in England and Wales are, I think, singularly and collectively demonstrating many of the key factors outlined in the Asset Based Place paper published by TLAP last week.
Person by person, place by place, Local Area Coordinators and local people are creating their good lives and building strong communities. What can be misunderstood as the small and ordinary are often the most powerful. In South Normanton in Derbyshire the Coordinator and Alice worked together to reinvent a previously funded coffee morning. With Alice’s home baking as part of the contribution the coffee morning now rotates around the groups’ houses, including people who previously had not felt able to go out but now have this as a part of their weekly routine. Through connections and hosting people are developing relationships, their own confidence and for 1 person returning to being a practicing alternative therapist.
In the same area the parents of 2 sons with Autism are working with the Coordinator to look at their support options and how they might set up a community café / shop that can be a community resource and gathering place. By seeing people as contributors the Coordinator has worked with the family to identify what positive action they want to take and help them connect to local organisations who can support them in developing the community enterprise. Through focusing on their vision of a good life the family are contributing to their local area as well as offering peer support to other parents on a similar journey.
Each of these stories begin to show how an asset place can be built person by person but as Alex Fox outlines in the paper some deliberate action is needed for this to make sense at a service system level. There are many examples of that happening including in Thurrock where Local Area Coordination has been in place since 2013 and is now in place across the whole area. That is part of Stronger Together a partnership with the local Voluntary and Community Sector and communities that includes investment in asset based ways of working through supporting micro enterprises, Time banking and volunteering as well as asset mapping and small sparks. In Thurrock now these approaches are helping to drive the reform of how some social care services as organised.
The Network members have lots of learning on starting small with a big vision and growing steadily based on learning.
Sam Clark is the CEO of the Local Area Coordination Network CIC