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.


Leeds City Council is working with local and community led organisations to embed the innovative ABCD model. Piloting the ABCD model with 3 third sector organisations in 2015, then expanding to 12 'ABCD Pathfinder sites' in 2019.


Each Pathfinder site has an employed Community Builder who discovers ‘Community Connectors’ - people who are active in community life and bring others together. Small Sparks’ grants are available to community groups to help them kickstart their ideas. 


Touchstone are commissioned as part of the ABCD Programme to provide learning opportunities for organisations and practitioners across the city to learn about the benefits of adopting strength based approaches in their work. 

What is Asset Based Community Development?

ABCD 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.