Bringing everyone together through our community’s assets

At the heart of every community in Torbay, there is a Community Builder bringing people together.

Often, they are the glue that holds things together, helping form and support a whole range of groups from knitting to crafts alongside socially orientated organisations, enjoying everything from coffee to skittles and dance.

We are lucky in Torbay because few parts of the country have Community Builders and yet in the eight years they have worked in the Bay, they have proved over and over again that they contribute to stronger, more resilient communities.

Our Community Builders use Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) when working in neighbourhoods and believe that “We have what we need when we share what we have”

In a nutshell, ABCD is an approach to community development that focuses on identifying and mobilising the existing strengths and assets within a community.

It flips on its head the traditional needs-based approach that often emphasises what is wrong within a community. Instead, ABCD seeks to build on the capabilities and resources that individuals, associations, and institutions already possess.

The key principles and elements of asset-based community development include:

  1. Asset Mapping: This involves identifying and mapping out the skills, talents, resources, and capacities within a community. This can include physical assets (such as parks or buildings), social assets (such as community organisations or informal networks), and individual assets (such as skills or knowledge).
  2. Capacity Building: ABCD emphasises building and strengthening the capacity of individuals and the community as a whole. This could involve providing training, fostering leadership, and creating opportunities for community members to share and develop their skills.
  3. Community Engagement: Active involvement and participation of community members are crucial. ABCD encourages a collaborative approach where community members, organisations, and institutions work together to achieve common goals.
  4. Relationship Building: Building solid social connections within the community is a key aspect of ABCD. It recognises the importance of relationships and networks in mobilising resources and addressing challenges.
  5. Empowerment: ABCD aims to empower individuals and communities to take charge of their development. This involves fostering a sense of ownership and control over the community’s future.
  6. Appreciative Inquiry: This method, often used in ABCD, focuses on asking positive questions to discover the strengths and successes within a community. It encourages a positive and forward-looking perspective.
  7. Local Solutions: ABCD emphasises the importance of finding contextually relevant solutions specific to a particular community’s unique strengths and challenges. Solutions are often derived from within the community rather than imposed from external sources.
  8. Economic Development: ABCD recognises the economic assets within a community and seeks to leverage them for sustainable economic development. This can involve supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs and job creation.

 

Overall, asset-based community development is a holistic and positive approach that values the strengths and resources within a community, fostering a sense of self-reliance and resilience.

No wonder then, that our team of Community Builders get so much job satisfaction from their work and the praise of the people in the communities they work alongside. A couple of weeks ago, I shared in this column just a few of the many positive comments we have received and we are in the process of adding many more here on our website.

In the meantime, here are a few more: “Ceri has offered me her utmost support and trust throughout my coaching practice, which aims to empower people with mental strength and facilitate positive change in life. Her dedication and passion to helping people truly inspired me to pursue my work with a shared purpose. Her professionalism and guidance in business start-up is so insightful and valuable to me. She is wonderful with people and for the people. I personally cannot describe how much gratitude I owe her.”

“Gill has been an absolute inspiration. Without the walks and the information provided, I think I would have given up. So very important to me and others. Long may it continue.”

“We moved to Torbay feeling very much on our own, feeling very low with no way to make friends, but then you are introduced to your local community builder. What a lifeline!”

“My Community Builder Jennie, has given me my life back. I had completely isolated myself during lockdown and was so very sad and lonely. I’ve been introduced to new clubs and people and I am so very happy. Thank you.”

Praise indeed.

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