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Workshop in progress: asset-mapping and why it can help build communities

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'A workshop on asset-mapping’ wasn’t the snappiest title, confesses Pamela Holmes, Practice Development Manager at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). ‘However, the event saw so much energy, information and engagement that it put a spring in the step of the most hardened cynic.'

Pamela Holmes: 'We need to re-shape services around the creativity and capacity of people and their families.'

It took place in Woking as part of SCIE’s work with Friends of the Elderly (FOTE). FOTE is a charity that provides residential, nursing and dementia care for older people.

The workshop was part of SCIE’s commission to help FOTE develop structure and confidence in their plans for engaging more actively with a community like the one in Woking.

A core part of the Care Act 2014 is about using assets in communities; it’s known as a strength based-approach.

As our Chief Executive Tony Hunter recently told Sky News: “Let’s stop treating people simply as recipients of services.” People’s skills can be used for longer if services are prepared to support and enable those in need to live  full and productive lives.

This change in attitude is part of increasing attempts to reform the delivery of social care and support.

In our paper Total transformation of care and support, we say that we need to re-shape services around the creativity and capacity of people and their families; and around leadership within communities.

So, for instance, people who are referred to the community agent model in Redcar and Cleveland are reporting improved health and wellbeing, including feeling less anxious and isolated, and more confident.

The workshop was led by Spice, a social enterprise that develops time-credit systems for communities and public services to increase community volunteering and participation. About 20 local people were there; a small number perhaps but they included commissioners, a volunteer befriender, representatives from local older people’s charities, the council, and a sheltered housing scheme.

They were asked to identify what they currently offer older residents; for instance, buildings and places, services, activities, as well as people with the capacity and ambition to make things happen. The room buzzed as people shared knowledge and provided information, which suddenly sparked ideas with others. Connections were made and people talked about working together in the future. From small acorns…

Asset-mapping is a step-up from the traditional focus on a community’s needs and challenges. The process does not deny there are gaps to fill and barriers to overcome. But it does create a feeling of empowerment and a sense that communities can create exciting ways of offering care and support.

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