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ABCD - Nurture Development Building stronger, more inclusive communities


Nurture Development is the strategic partner of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute in Europe. We are the lead for the promotion of Asset-Based Community Development approaches in Europe.

Asset Based Commissioning Development  (ABCD) is a type of community development that focuses on building healthier, safer, prosperous and more inclusive communities from the ground up, with citizens in the lead. 

Nurture Development was established in 1996 and has worked as a social explorer for change in over 35 countries since then. We are deeply committed to the principles of inclusion and transparent approaches that support citizens and professionals working in citizen space. We continue to gather evidence of impact and seek to advance and deepen authentic practice.

What is the innovation

ABCD works on the basis that the only people who can build community are the people who live, sleep and work there. Nurture development and the model of ABCD encourages different conversations around the strengths of the communities rather than the reliance on traditional services.

ABCD  supports neighbour to neighbour connections in local places. By identifying, connecting and mobilising assets, communities can enhance wellbeing, safety, and a range 

The approach is described in detail here: https://www.nurturedevelopment.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/4_Essential_Elements_of_ABCD_Process.pdf (opens new window)

What is the problem this innovation solves

ABCD addresses the break up of communities and the resultant sense of social isolation and disempowerment. 


The solution comes in the form of community animators/community builders (paid) and local community connectors (unpaid local residents) who are able to tap into existing local resources and thereby, enhance collective agency of the community.  The methods include: learning conversations, asset portraits, community building, active inclusion of all members of the community to create and implement a shared vision.

Evidence base

1. In 2014 the Scottish Government funded a three year independent evaluation of an Asset-Based Community Development approach in South Ayrshire which was supported by Nurture Development. The findings showed significant impacts on wellbeing across populations in the six geographical neighbourhoods that participated: https://www.nurturedevelopment.org/news/ayrshire-3-year-evaluation-most-important-finding-is-significant-increase-in-mental-health-and-wellbeing/

2. Leeds City, Croydon Council, Bristol City Council and Thurrock Borough Council, among many others, have conducted independent evaluations of our work. All of which can be viewed at www.nurturedevelopment.org

3. The wider evidence based is grounded in the formative work of Prof. John McKnight at the ABCD Institute at DePaul University, Chicago( www.abcdinstitute.org).

Expected impact

A greater level of social cohesion within communities which in turn enhance socio-economic, environmental  and democratic processes. 


Expressions of ABCD are widespread in their organic nature. More intentional examples can be found through our work in the UK where ABCD Learning sites have been established, such as Leeds, Bristol, Croydon, Gloucestershire and many other locations. You can read about our Learning Sites here:  https://www.nurturedevelopment.org/learning-sites/

Nurture Development have also trained thousands of people across the UK in the ABCD process and they, in turn, are integrating the methods and philosophy into their practice and citizen participation. 

What would councils/health organisations/local areas need to do to enable it to develop

A strategic approach towards the enablement of ABCD is required. 

  • Over two or three years of deep and committed practice, participating local neighbourhood(s), community animators and host organisations and associations will have done the following:
  • An initiating group of residents will have connected and mobilised hundreds of local residents to share their gifts, skills and passions.
  • Local residents will have worked out together what a strong and vibrant community means to them, and are organising to bring about their clear vision of the future. They are clear about what they will do as citizens with no help from outside, what they will lead on with some help, and what they expect outside agencies to do for them.
  • Practitioners will have deepened their individual and collective practice to support citizen-led action.
  • A strong sense of stewardship will emerge amongst leaders to create the conditions that support the growth of community driven change.

What would kill it

Confusing it with volunteering; measuring the wrong things; institutions trying to appropriate community assets to meet their targets

Where to get more information