Asset based approaches and resilience

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. 


Resilience refers to the process of positive adjustment in the face of adversity; responding well to challenge and stress. There is much we can learn from individuals and communities who succeed despite adversity and challenge. This is not to deny however that some communities and individuals have a greater number and severity of challenge.

We have produced a report Resilience for Public Health which reviews the well-established research base underpinning the sources of resilience at individual, community and city-levels. and sets out a GCPH position on what resilience means for the contemporary challenges within public health. The report is supported by a briefing paper and animation.

The aims of the resilience strand are:

  • To support practitioners, policy-makers and individuals through sharing learning around the processes that support resilient responses as well as understanding what undermines the ability to adapt and thrive in the face of change. 
  • To identify the communicable messages stemming from the themes’ outputs to support wider priorities of health and social care integration, Thriving Places, What Works Scotland and other national outcomes. 

These involve taking an applied approach to promoting a resilience perspective, working alongside partners at a city and national level to understand resilience challenges, community aspirations and assets and ways forward for utilising these in a manner that promotes positive adaptation to change, seen and unforeseen. Key activities include;

  • The delivery of the Life Expectancy and Neighbourhood Change project. This work takes a historical perspective of four Glasgow communities; Bridgeton/ Dalmarnock, Anderston, Easterhouse and Drumchapel to explore differences in similarities in their trajectories of change and regeneration and what this means for informing place based policy and practice with a view to promoting health and wellbeing. The work will include desk –based historical analysis, interviews with key informants on the ground and research led and conducted by community members. 
  • Supporting Glasgow City Council develop its 30 year Resilience Strategy as part of the Rockefeller Foundations 100 Resilient cities network. 
  • Delivering a climate resilient communities action research project with partners Greenspace Scotland and Glasgow City Council. This focuses on the North of Glasgow and explores how community and organisational priorities can be brought together to support thriving communities in the face of climate change. The work will strive to embed the findings within the on-going work of Thriving Places North and Scottish Canals.

Other on-going or completed work includes:

  • Our Representing Communities project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities theme, explores the creative power of people to improve health and wellbeing. The project recognises that strong narratives of place include recognition of local assets as the community understands them and that understandings of history and community aspirations can offer direction in times of change. 

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 on Thursday 12th February 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