Asset based approaches

Asset based approaches emphasise the need to redress the balance between meeting needs and nurturing the strengths and resources of people and communities. They are ways of valuing and building on the strengths, successes and skills of individual and communities.

There is a national emphasis on integrating the insights that come from the assets perspective into policy and ways of working. The published evidence on the impact of these approaches on health is, however, limited and the work of this theme looks to provide evidence and support for policy makers and practitioners in developing asset based approaches to individual and community wellbeing. 

The aims of asset based work are:

  • To explore, understand and define asset based working within services and across services and sectors within communities and to develop an understanding of the implementation of asset based approaches in practice.
  • To draw together and synthesis our learning in the areas of resilience, social capital and asset-based approaches and health economics. 

See our Understanding Glasgow website for 19 case studies of community projects which illustrate how asset based approaches are currently being applied in Scotland.


We are working in partnership with the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) to undertake an action research project, to support asset-based working in a small number of areas across Scotland.

The research aims 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/systems can change to effect tangible and sustainable improvement and outcomes through alternative approaches. 

Asset based approaches and health economics: What do we value and how can we capture it?

There is growing acceptance that asset based approaches are important in improving the health and social conditions of individuals and communities. However, in a climate where projects and services are increasingly expected to demonstrate their value against competing priorities, the need for asset based approaches to demonstrate their economic worth is vital.

We held an event in 2015 to stimulate conversation around the application of health economics to innovative approaches. The event report covers the research findings discussed on the day, the challenges inherent when applying models of economic evaluation to innovative projects and some potential ways forward. Participants included health economists, social researchers and practitioners, managers and resource allocators who share an interest in developing and promoting asset based approaches.

Download the event report
Download Lisa Garnham presentation slides
Download Emma McIntosh presentation slides