ABCD in Leeds


Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is a way of working with people and communities that starts with

what is STRONG not what is WRONG.

It puts people and communities at the centre of an approach that focusses on the assets - the gifts, skills, talents, resources - that people and neighbourhoods have got, rather than what they lack or the problems that need 'fixing'.   

Traditional approaches to working in communities have tended to be 'top-down' interventions by outside agencies to resolve problems like poor housing, high unemployment, high crime rates, low education attainment, etc.  Third sector organisations proliferate with time-limited funding to offer services to their 'service users'. 

Starting with what is strong rather than what is wrong, with what is present not what is lacking, Asset-Based Community Development asks different questions:

What is it that local residents care about and are best placed to do themselves? 

What is it that local residents can best do, but with some outside help that they decide they need?

What is it that communities need outside agencies to do for them?

Leeds has a long history of asset-based approaches, from investment in Neighbourhood Networks, to Children’s Services adopting a restorative practice, to more recently Adult Social Care adopting a strengths-based approach to social work practice. ABCD is part of this continuum of asset or strength based working in the city.

Touchstone, in partnership with Leeds City Council, is supporting other local organisations looking to adopt asset-based community development approaches across Leeds. Through hosting workshops, training, asset mapping, networking opportunities and celebration events we aim to deepen understanding of ABCD practice and develop a shared understanding for what this innovative approach means for the city of Leeds. 

ABCD In Leeds

Leeds City Council is working with local and community led organisations to embed the innovative ABCD model. 

In 2018 a pilot scheme was funded by the Leeds City Council to work across 11 localities across the city in sites called 'Pathfinders'. Each Pathfinder site has a strong base in a local community in Leeds and has employed a Community Builder to discover and connect activated citizens to their gifts and assets in their local community.

Community led initiatives and ideas are then provided with“small sparks” of funding and given the tools to uncover a community led 'asset maps'. 

Alongside this work Leeds City Council are working with Touchstone to provide learning opportunities for organisations and practitioners across the city to learn about the benefits of adopting strength based approaches in their work. 

Howard Bradley of LS14 Trust Pathfinder, Seacroft