ABCD in Leeds
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a neighbourhood-based approach to community building that supports people and communities to consider what they can resolve themselves, what they need support with and what is best delivered by the local authority and other agencies.
Key to the approach is the belief that given the tools and the opportunity, small groups of individuals can change the things that they believe need changing in their community better than anyone else.
Over the last 10 years Leeds City Council has funded the Asset Based Community Development programme, working with our partners in the third sector to discover people in neighbourhoods and communities, unlocking potential and creating the key building blocks of sustainable community led action.
Our key principles
People driven – People are the instigators and leaders of positive change.
Relationship oriented – Relationships and friendships drive the approach not systems and processes.
Asset-based - We focus on people’s gifts and talents – harnessing what’s strong, not what’s wrong.
Placed-based - The person defines their neighbourhood or community of interest and is the leader in setting out what work through ABCD will have the biggest impact for change.
Inclusion focused - Everyone has their own gifts, and everyone has the opportunity and is welcomed to make a positive contribution through ABCD.
The ABCD in Leeds Programme
The Leeds City Council ABCD Plan on a Page sets out our ambition for ABCD ‘to expand Asset Based Community Development across Leeds, shifting power to people and supporting communities to thrive.’
It links clearly with the Best City Ambition which puts an emphasis on working with people in a different way, investing in prevention, using asset-based approaches, and building community capacity. To support this, we have developed four priority areas, each supported by a programme of work:
Raise the profile of ABCD in Leeds.
Build on the pathfinder model.
Focus on social capital, community building and neighbourliness.
Asset-based approaches underpin and transform ways of operating in Leeds.
In 2019, the Council awarded a grant to Leeds Beckett University (LBU) to evaluate and measure impact based on an common evaluation framework create with ABCD Pathfinders, Leeds City Council and Leeds Beckett University. These were:
People have good friends
Individuals and communities are better connected
Communities identify and work to bring about the changes they want to see
Changes for individuals. There is evidence that being part of ABCD leads to people having more confidence and self-esteem and improved social connections (attending more activities). It also helps people feel less isolated and have more understanding for others.
Changes for communities. ABCD leads to people talking more to their neighbours and friendships forming between different groups of people. Social networks become stronger and are less likely to leave people out. Feeling part of the community, increased pride in their area and feeling more hopeful were outcomes seen in communities who are often excluded in society. Connections were formed by working together for positive change.
Changes in community involvement. There was evidence of communities coming together to change things, increasing the number of local activities, and doing more volunteering. Increased empathy and taking part in community life can lead to people becoming more able and more active as citizens – trying to change things for the better.
Changes in organisations. some organisations have stronger partnership working because of ABCD and a better understanding of the communities they work with and the need to involve them.
A Social Return on Investment Study was undertaken. The estimate of SROI for an ABCD pathfinder site is between £5.27 and £14.02 of social value returned for every £1 invested.