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Building on assets

Research by Institute for Voluntary Action Research

December 2015

'Building on assets' is the term the Institute for Voluntary Action Research have used to describe how Local Trust supports sustainable community development. 

Their research demonstrates that in Big Local, four kinds of assets are recognised:

  1. Residents and local communities.
  2. The 'character' of an area.
  3. Hopes, aspirations and enthusiasm that residents bring to Big Local.
  4. Physical assets in an area.

The research finds that we build on these assets in two ways:

  1. Programme managers, partners and reps identify and focus on community strengths.
  2. We encourage residents to look at the assets and strengths they have rather than focus on what's wrong or missing their area.

The research also describes:

  • The pitfalls and challenges we are learning from as we use the building on assets approach. 
  • Key strengths and successes of our way of building on assets.
  • Practical details of the structure of support we put in place around Big Local areas in order to build on assets.

The researchers identify that building on assets goes hand in hand with our 'resident-led' approach. We do not impose solutions from outside; we grow residents as assets themselves, trusting that they can lead. The researchers conclude that:

“The learning that is emerging from Local Trust's experience of adopting this approach will be crucial not only to the future of Big Local but to community development elsewhere.”
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