How Asset-Based Areas invest in social action

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Social action, also known as community development, is people coming together to help improve their lives and solve shared problems. People volunteer, befriend, advocate, join social movements and  organise and develop community assets and services.

Asset-Based Areas support social action as it benefits both the activists and others in their community. It improves their health and wellbeing and helps people develop new skills that they can use in other parts of their lives. They gain more control over their lives, and help make services more integrated and person and community-centred.

Community development pays off

A social return on investment study of community development in four local authorities by New Economics Foundation on behalf of Community Development Foundation, showed that besides these positive attributes it produces £2.16 of social and economic value for every £1 invested.  

Invest in social action

Whilst social action can reduce demand for services, it does require proper resourcing. People’s time is also not a bottomless pit, so you need to invest in its development and maintenance.

Try this:

  • Co-commission support for social action – ensure that people who use services and community members who have experience of different forms of social action are enabled to become co-commissioners at all levels of commissioning.
  • Support local people as community researchers – to map social action projects in their local area, paying particular attention to informal groups operating below the radar.
  • Promote inclusive social action – ensure that all social action actively supports leadership by, participation of, and benefits to, people who use services.

Links to all of the above innovations and more can be found in:

Alex Fox. (2017) The Asset-Based Area. Online: Coalition for Collaborative Care, Shared Lives Plus, and Think Local Act Personal. 

Richard Field and Clive Miller. (2017) Asset-based commissioning: better outcomes, better value. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University. Available as a free download, in both its full (215 pp) and digested versions (11pp).