GCPH worked in partnership with the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) to test asset based approaches to improving community health and wellbeing. We supported different communities across Scotland to design, test, and gather evidence of the change that comes from taking an asset-based approach in their local areas. The ultimate aim of the research and learning programme was to produce new evidence of the impact made by asset-based interventions on health and wellbeing. The programme ran until September 2015.
‘Animating Assets’ is a collaborative piece of action research programme. Action research involves researchers working alongside people for everyone to try out, develop and learn from different ways of doing things. There is a strong congruence between asset-based approaches and action research; action research is appreciative in that it recognises strengths and assets as a starting point for inquiry and builds and embeds resilience and capacity through the process of research itself.
Working with a number of test sites across Scotland and a small number of associate sites, this action research programme aimed to explore how the characteristics of asset-based working can be taken on more fully by services working at the community level, and to investigate how existing services and/or systems can change to effect tangible and sustainable improvement and outcomes through alternative approaches.
Animating Assets supported the initiation and development of asset-based approaches to a range of health and social wellbeing issues as identified by local communities or partnership groups in Scotland. The approach taken aimed to support real-time learning from real-time situations in the context of local issues, identified collectively by local people, practitioners and organisations. The programme supported work in a number of areas of Scotland within community settings and across agency-led partnerships.
In the final report we have sought to bring to life the Animating Assets localised approach and process. In the report we present and discuss new ways of thinking about the development and nature of asset-based approaches in community and systems settings. We outline the creative and innovative approaches taken by the team, how we captured and recorded knowledge and evidence along the way, the importance of external facilitation in guiding, not controlling, the process and direction of travel, and what we learned from our research sites individually and collectively.
Within the report we also reflect on the values and principles underpinning asset-based approaches and have identified from our experience what supports asset-based approaches and what constrains them, and propose our own early iterative model for action when seeking to apply asset-based approaches to change initiatives.
The report also presents a series of case studies of our research sites to share the process, progress and practice of the areas that engaged with the programme. Finally, we endeavoured to contribute to the evolving evidence for asset-based approaches and to extend the conversation about how to create the conditions which enable asset-based working to grow and flourish within communities and systems.
The sharing, collection and analysis of stories was an important part of the work of Animating Assets in the two Glasgow research sites. As a component of appreciative inquiry practice, stories were used to ‘make sense’ of the world, to build connections and to enable new meaning to emerge. The digital stories produced as part of Animating Assets provide an illustration of this process in action.
As Animating Assets was taking shape and progressing in a number of areas of Scotland, this Insights report presented progress and activity so far in the local research and associate sites.
The report includes a summary of the action research method taken and our approach to evidence gathering, alongside our learning so far and the next steps for the programme. In the report we also share and consider the learning emerging from Animating Assets about asset-based working in community settings, and how, and if, the characteristics of this way of working can be taken on more fully by services working in communities.
As part of Animating Assets research and learning programme a number of learning events were held to support collaborative reflective practice and learning in relation to asset-based practice and action at local and national levels. The events also offered an opportunity to develop practical ideas and momentum for practical implementation of asset-based approaches at local levels.
A learning event was in held in March 2014. Download the event report. The event provided background and context to the development of the programme, learning so far in relation to asset-based practice and action in our test site areas and presentations on the evidence base for asset-based approaches so far and the action research process.