Asset Based Community Development and Local Area Coordination Network - Further questions and answers

To what extent do you work with your CCG/PCNs and specifically the NHS Social Prescribing Link Workers? If not - any plans?

We have a strong relationship with the CCG, as they are strategic investors in ABCD in Gloucester. We recognise that Community Building and ABCD sit in a wider ecosystem alongside approaches such as social prescribing. These approaches lie within a broad continuum, which ranges from ‘informal volunteering’ centred on neighbourly relationships, through to commissioned services that patients can be referred into. As a local system we recognise the value of the entire continuum, especially the informal element, as it can be overlooked and undervalued as there not a contract or financial transaction with the council or service providers.

Through the Integrated Locality Partnership, we are actively exploring better links between the social prescribers and community builders. There is still some work to do to influence partners in health of the opportunities for asset based approaches, as opposed to formal medical interventions.

Do you work with your local VSC?

Gloucester Community Building Collective has a good relationship with colleagues in the VCSE. There is broad recognition that building up community capacity can complement more traditional service delivery programmes or organised activities.  As we have good relationships, we can share ideas and express where community building may be more effective than service provision or vice versa. As leaders in the city we tend to lean towards collaboration over competition, but also recognise where there are limitations to that. 

You have talked about working with community leaders, have you considered any kind of volunteer 'community champions/community connectors' scheme as part of the ABCD approach?

We have run and participated in Stewardship Circles, a leadership development programme that has created a safe space for cross sector leaders to think deeply about establishing a culture where community led action is a new norm.

We have found many Community Champions aren’t particularly interested in being part of a scheme as such, as their motivation is about serving their own community.  We tend to focus on this being a more natural process through weaving relationships and connections.

How explicitly are you able, or do you think it's reasonable, to link your ABCD activity to improved outcomes for people and the L.A. area you represent?  What macro and micro outcomes do you use?

As an enabling organisation, outcomes are achieved by the residents, not the organisation. Therefore, we can only claim to be contributors to the outcomes, rather than the results being attributed to us.

How did you use existing third sector infrastructure organisations, do these remain important conduits to communities in your areas?

We do have a third sector infrastructure organisation who are well placed to support established VCSE organisations. ABCD tends support resident led actions which often occur in unconstituted groups. Sometimes these groups are connected to local formal organisations, where a fiscal vehicle is required, but in many cases people want to retain their group without formal structures and don’t require financial investment.

Does measuring the ripple effect capture something that would have happened anyway, or do you use it to drive better things happening?  If it's the latter - how do you go about doing this?

Mapping the Ripple Effect makes the invisible, visible, and therefore gives validity to action which are happening under the surface. Often the outcomes mapped would not have happened had there not been a catalytic action at the start or if the subsequent actions were not supported from a distance. The mapping process makes it clearer why and how somethings spread and why other things stop.

With regards to your digital assets such as the App you mentioned, are you using a 3rd party or are you able to utilise the skills within your local authority team? Have you shared your model with other local authorities (apart from today of course)?

We are using a third party app called Groop ( . We are aware of other authorities who are using this or similar technology to handle the additional data and communications that have arisen as a result of covid19. 

Do you have social prescribing in Derby, how does this interact with local area co-ordination?

We do have Social Prescribers now working within the five Primary Care Networks that cover the city and prior to their appointment, as a team we already had strong relationships with GP practices. What we are starting to see is a much clearer relationship emerging, often with SP’s introducing residents to Local Area Coordinators, when that individual faces multiple and more complex challenges. We are also starting to see LAC’s and SP’s working together with residents and community partners on wider neighbourhood issues.

I live in one of the most ethnically and religiously local authorities in the country I would be interested in any particular challenges in ensuring that residents from particular ethnic and religious groups are able to get involved.

Councils adopting Local Area Coordination work with the Local Area Coordination Network to ensure community boundaries are defined by residents and that Local Area Coordinators are recruited by and with the communities that they go on to serve.   This means spending time to ensure a balanced and diverse representation of citizens supporting the recruitment process.   This encourages community ownership from the start, with people spreading the word with their friends and networks within the overall community boundary. When the Coordinators are eventually in place, they ensure they are based out of a mixture of ‘community touch points’ and ‘bump in places’ that reflect the spaces that members of that community frequent and spend time in.  Besides that, bespoke communications are encouraged from the outset to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to find out what is going on with Local Area Coordination and to help shape the plans.

Contact details:

Richard Holmes

Carmel Langstaff

Anne Brinkhoff