Reflections from practitioners

On 9th October, we brought together the practitioners who have been testing the personal asset mapping tool together for the last time. At this session, we were keen to hear more about how they’d been getting on trialing the tool out in practice, as well as listening to their reflections on the process and being involved in the project overall.

Here are some of the things that practitioners said that they had learned in the project:

“How beneficial asset mapping can be to achieve individual goals”

“I’ve learned that I didn’t know some of my clients as well as I thought”

“How the tool can be used across the board, not just about mental health”

“Potential to use the maps with individuals and groups but needs buy-in from practitioners”

“That practitioners from different backgrounds are very skilled”

Similarly, we were aware that many of the practitioners involved in the project were very used to working within set-out processes, with validated tools and that working in an exploratory way would take them out of their comfort zone. We knew this might bring a number of challenges for the practitioners, which we were keen to understand better.

We asked practitioners about some of the fears that they’d overcome throughout the project process, and one of the clear themes was developing confidence – both in using the tool, but in their own skills as a practitioner. Some examples of other factors mentioned by the practitioners include:

“Overcame the people I support’s initial doubts about the project.”

“Overcome- lack of confidence in my knowledge.”

“Making something complex simple enough to explain.”

Practitioners were clear that there were still some barriers that would need to be overcome before the approach could be embedded in practice. These barriers included:

“The future. Where we go from here? Will the digital tool be used.? Selling asset mapping to staff.”

“Becoming more practiced in utilising the tool with others with different needs and support.”

“Follow up and engagement with people who use services”

“Adapting it so that it works for the majority or at least so they will try it.”

It was invaluable to get this feedback from the practitioners, and the project team will be considering these issues as we move the project forward – particularly that of ‘selling’ and communicating the goals and outcomes of the process to other practitioners working locally.

As part of the project evaluation, and understanding the worth of the process, we will, of course, be following up with individuals to find out how they felt about their experience of being involved in the project, to understand if they felt differently after having gone through the asset mapping process and to determine any changes they might have made as a result of this. A full report will be available in due course.

We are also working together with the Connections (The Richmond Fellowship) peer-support group to develop the next prototype of the digital tool, ensuring that people who use services are at the centre of the development process.

We’d like to thank all of the people who were involved in testing the tool and process in practice – your hard work, commitment and openness has made the project possible.

Mapping Bishopbriggs

Last week, we spent quite a lot of time in Bishopbriggs – or ‘bishy’ and ‘the briggs’ as many people commented! Over the course of both events, we spoke to approximately 55 people from a wide range of backgrounds.

What was clear from talking to people, is that Bishopbriggs is an asset rich community with a wide range of resources and assets. Lots of people from surrounding communities visit Bishopbriggs to use their community facilities and resources – more so, than other areas we’ve visited to date.

Community Assets

We managed to capture a lot of information from both sessions in Bishopbriggs. Some of the assets that people said were most useful for their well-being included:

  • Hunters Hill village – a little village with a wide variety of shops including an art gallery, pet shop, cafe, and “it’s a really nice community area, whee people can go to meet each other”
  • Fort Theatre – a community theatre company offering creative classes, drama groups, film clubs and charity fundraisers.
  • The view from the canal across to the fields – described as “one of the best views in East Dunbartonshire, really beautiful and tranquil”
  • Bishopbriggs Cycle Co-op – offers cycle lessons, cycle events, cycle maintenance workshops and much more. “they taught my children how to ride without stabilisers”
  • Monteith Park – residents noted that there is a big hill at Monteith Park which is a great play area and “a great sledging hill when it snows!”
  • The Hub at the Evangelical Church – has a wide range of activities from youth groups, toddlers groups and a cafe which is really popular at lunchtime. Described as “a great cafe, with meringues to die for!”
  • Bishopbriggs School of Music – great social events and lessons for children and adults. “There is a fab ceilidh band that runs from the school”
  • Curves gym – friendly gym “as well as access to equipment and classes, they also do a walking group for older ladies.”
  • Bishopbriggs Memorial Hall – one of the few community halls which runs a range of activities from a swimming club to a dog training club. Local residents can also book the hall for parties and functions.
  • Delhi Darbar – a great place to meet and eat which is really relaxing and social. Renowned locally for having great, good quality tasty meals.
  • Transport – Bishopbriggs is one of the few areas visited in the duration of this project that has not highlighted public transport as a significant issue. Many people commented that the train line was one of the best local assets, particularly as many people living in the area commute for work.


There were a number of areas highlighted as potential development areas in Bishopbriggs. Many of these were pointed out at both the workshop and the drop-in session:

  • there are lots of grandparetns in Bishopbriggs that do childcare for their families, there is potential to devleop a group for these people who may not feel as comfortable going to the same groups as younger people
  • there is a lot of congestion in Bishopbriggs. Opening up cycle routes that would connect both sides of Bishopbriggs would be a great opportunity
  • there was a lot of talk about the new hypermarket which is proposed for the community. It would be fair to say that discussions around this provoked mixed feelings in residents – many people highlighting that there should be space planned within the development for community activities.
  • some residents highlighted that it would be great if some of the green space could be opened up to create a community garden/ allotment.

We were also lucky to have Catherine Exposito along for these workshops. Catherine is working to understand local resources and groups that might be useful for people with long-term conditions. We are keen that the data we collate can be used as far and as wide as possible, so it was fab to have Catherine along to share her experience and to involve her in the work that we are doing. More to come about Catherine’s project soon.

Thanks again to Bishopbriggs Community Church for their hospitality – including encouraging people to come along to the session. We had a lovely morning and hope to be back again soon.

Using the personal asset mapping tool in a group setting

This week, we visited the EDAMH Peer Support Group to facilitate a session which would help people uncover their personal assets [we were interested in testing how the personal asset mapping approach would work in a group setting].

Prior to the session the group had been discussing the different types of activities that they each do to help them relax or that they use to help distract themselves. This was a really useful starting point to help people think about the types of things that they’d like to put on their map. The map itself seemed like a natural progression from this.

What was clear to see, was that the group were really comfortable with each other, and were supported well by the facilitators from EDAMH. This really helped people to think clearly and to share with one another their reflections of having created their map and what it had felt like to go through the process.

Some comments included:

“what I’ve put down is only the tip of the iceberg – there is so much more I could put down”

“There is more here than I thought”

“I’ve had a go… my map is a work in progress. I hope (and trust) that the next time I do it, it will look a bit different”

“its been good to write this down, I couldn’t think about it all in my head”

Everybody who participated in the group took their map away with them, and the facilitator noted that it could be revisited at a future group session. We asked the group if, and how, they would use their maps again, and the majority said that they would use it to reflect on how they were feeling at different points, and to record how they were getting on.

Thanks to Debra Reid and Julian Court from EDAMH and the friendly group that made us feel so welcome. We hope you found the session as useful as we did, and that you all have success receiving and giving complements gracefully over the next week or so!!

Personal asset mapping – feedback session 3

On 6th September, practitioners got the opportunity to view the early prototype of an electronic version of a personal asset map programme. There was much interest with many questions asked and also useful feedback and ideas on how it can be improved (the prototype is available on an earlier blog post). Those who are interested have the opportunity to give more feedback on the later stages of development of this tool alongside any people who use services who also wish to be involved.

The next session allowed practitioners time to discuss and reflect in small groups their experience of introducing personal asset mapping to people using mental health services. From this discussion it was apparent that a variety of approaches have been used to introduce and revisit a personal asset map, that some barriers have occurred and that there have been a wide range of experiences for both practitioners and people using support. Practitioners found it useful to share experiences and to talk through the different issues that they have been facing.
Time was then spent reviewing the use of the reflective diaries. There was some discussion on the WEMWEB tool and how it fits into the overall evaluation process. As we might have anticipated, the group seemed pleased that the project deadline has been extended to the 9th October to afford the practitioners more time for these tasks to be completed!
Sessions facilitated by Paul Hart, Jenni Inglis, Gayle Rice and Fran McBride

Meeting young people at Kirkintilloch Skatepark

The asset project was invited to hold an asset-mapping event on Wednesday August 1st with the children and young people who attend the skatepark initiative in Luggie park. It was a cracking day attended by over 76 people of varying ages.  The resultant asset map is currently being developed and will be available shortly. The skatepark is unique as it is the only one of its kind and is obviously seen as a great local asset by those who attend from across the whole of East Dunbartonshire.

At this event, we really valued having the opportunity to speak to younger people from across East Dunbartonshire about the local assets that they find useful for their well-being. It was interesting to hear (and map) the different places that young people like to use to hang out, socialise with friends and mess around. Having a place to do this was seen as crucially important for the young people’s well-being.

The skatepark initiative itself shows how collectively the young people got together (and engaged their friends, families, little sisters, uncles and grandmas) to create change in their local environment. The whole community owns a part of its success, and in creating the skatepark and involving people in its development the community has seen that the young people of east dunbartonshire are important and responsible citizens when they are given the opportunity.

NB: Kirkintilloch Skatepark was the dream of local youngsters for many years.  The first petition by skaters went in to the local Council in 1987 and their demands featured regularly in the local paper, the Kirkintilloch Herald.  In 2003, East Dunbartonshire Council agreed to work in partnership with a local charity, Kirkintilloch Skatepark Initiative or KSI as it is now known.   The Council gave the KSI the site and the youngsters raised the money to build an open access concrete skatepark at a cost of £458,000 opened in 2009. Today KSI run competitions, events and coaching at the skatepark and the Council has adopted the skatepark and does the repair and maintenance.


Mapping Torrance

Our world tour of East Dunbartonshire continues on schedule with a visit to the Torrance Caldwell Halls where we were assisted and supported by the Caldwell Hall Champions Cathy and Rona.  The Caldwell halls are a charitable organisation run by the local community that aims to promote a sense of community connectedness.

However, despite torrential rain, 5 people attended and helped us create an asset map of the Torrance area. Although the event had relatively low numbers it provided an opportunity for participants to learn what assets they have at their disposal and how they feel about their local community.

One of the key features described by local people (similar to Twechar) was their access to green and open space – particularly the River Kelvin and the Forth and Clyde canal walkways “this has enabled a lot of community groups to become established such as the Ramblers association, fishing and cycle clubs which all enjoy the natural assets available”.

Many people recounted stories of how they used to play with their friends beside the disused Tower Bridge “it was the best swing ever!” indicating how much these elements of the local landscape means to people, but also highlighting features of the landscape that have the potential to be developed and used differently.

We heard how a lot of new “assets” have recently been developed to improve the local area including:

  • Book exchange (“increase local knowledge and history”)
  • Bardowie Loch (“lots of chances to get wet!”)
  • Greenspace group (“Improving the environment for the kids to use to get them out and about”)
  • Local Historian (“it encourages an interest in local history and a sense of achievement of the past”)
  • Balmore Church (“good church support”)
  • Torrance Community Centre (“keeps up the community spirit”)
  • Local pubs (“people come to talk about different things and just get together”)

We had a great opportunity to talk at great depth with Cathie and Rona who know the area like the back of their hands! We were able to hear about what Torrance is like now, but more importantly, we were also able to hear about their future vision of how Torrance could be, and how it its currently a great asset to those who live there.

Some quotes from the day:
“Great place but could be better if we had improved transport”
”lots of walks and open spaces”
“The local pub grub is great”

It was really interesting to hear how people began to think a little bit differently about the different assets that were described. For example, many people hadn’t originally seen some of the local businesses as an asset, but were then able to consider the different contributions that each of them made to the feel of the area. Most importantly, people began to think of Torrence itself as an asset – which was lovely to hear!

Mapping Twechar

On 20th July, Twechar Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre hosted our most recent asset mapping workshop. We were fortunate to talk with 9 local people (age range from 4- 70  years old) to find out what assets they have at their disposal and how they feel about their local community.

It was clear from the beginning of the day, that although Twechar is a very small area, there is a whole lot of community spirit! When we walked through the doors of the centre we were struck by how many notices and signs that were available that highlighted lots of community assets and resources.

One of the key features described by local people, was their access to green space – particularly the forest. Many people recounted stories of how they used to play with their friends outside “we used to just let our imaginations run riot!” indicating how much this element of the local landscape means to people.

Similarly, every person that we talked to mentioned the close-knit community spirit, and that networks between people were particularly strong. Some highlighted that there was increasing demand for housing in Twechar, thought to be due to the attraction of the community spirit. There was also a sense that as the community had already achieved so much together, there was a belief (and hope) that there is always a way to get things done which was quite surprising, and very inspiring to hear.

We also heard about a number of initiatives driven by local people, that have helped bring services to the community, rather than the community having to go to them. For example, the Healthy Living Centre now hosts a weekly doctors surgery which has helped the doctors get to know the community better and has increased access for people.

As well as this, other assets included:

  • Fruit delivery service (“delivery straight to your door”)
  • walks from Castlehill (“lovely walks – if you’re fit!”)
  • swing parks (“for the kids to use to get them out and about”)
  • Dr Twechar DVD (“it shows the history of the area”)
  • community gym
  • Twechar Beach Party (“keeps up the community spirit”)
  • Twechar Parish Group (“people come to talk about different things, get tea and home-baking”)

My colleague, Marta Riberio from IRISS, was on hand on the day to add markers to the map electronically as we were talking. This saved a lot of time, and helped us categorise the assets as we went along.

We were also really fortunate on the day to meet Sandra Sutton – a true community champion – who has lived and worked in Twechar over the years to ensure that the community makes the decisions about its future, and who takes a truly asset-based approach to her work. Sandra and her team imparted a wealth of knowledge about the history of the area, as well as some of the plans for their future, which left the team feeling really inspired.

Thanks to Sandra and co for your hospitality – it was lovely to meet you all, and it was great to hear all your stories!

Some quotes from the day:

“its handy for me – everything is on my doorstep”

“with me being disabled, everyone looks after me”

“its a wee tote gym, but it does the job”

Mapping Bearsden and Milngavie

Regular blog readers will know that over the coming months, there are a number of events happening across East Dunbartonshire designed to engage residents in a conversation about living in their local communities and finding out what assets are the most useful.

The first of these events was focused on mapping Bearsden and Milngavie.

Drop-in session

Our first drop-in session was held in Allander Leisure Centre on Saturday 23rd June. We talked with over 60 people (ages ranged from 3 years old right up to those in their 70s).

We asked people what was good about living in their local community, and what local assets they’d want to promote on a digital map. We retrieved a varied response, some of the assets are listed below.

What was clear from talking to people, was that they really appreciated having lots of open green space in Milngavie and Bearsden. There is a host of evidence which reports the significance of access to green space for health and wellbeing (Ellaway et al 2001, Sooman & Mcintyre 1995), many people discussed how this was the most valued community asset, but that potentially more could be done with the green space to open it up to be used by more people.

Similarly, people were not shy in coming forward to identify local residents who they thought of as being the heart and soul of the community and who helped to foster a unique community spirit.

Following the mindapples philosophy, we also asked people what different things they do every day to promote their own well-being. This is in response to lots of recent evidence that suggests that as many as 50% of our mental health issues are preventable (Department of Health, 2009) with much of our mental health and well-being being down to our individual choices and actions.

This proved to be a difficult task for some people – many hadn’t ever taken the time to think about their own well-being. With some helpful prompting from the team, however, people were able to think more broadly about the types of things that they do generally (perhaps not every day!) to keep themselves well. These varied from doing a good deed, taking exercise, investing time in relationships, taking time to appreciate things and trying new experiences.

Many people (particularly families) commented that it had been useful to take the time to think about their well-being and we think that this is vitally important and as such we will be repeating this exercise through the rest of the drop-in sessions. So, why not come along to the next session and share your personal wisdom?!


We also held a community workshop at the Enterprise Centre in Milngavie.This gave us the opportunity to work in a more structured way with a smaller number of individuals. Over a three hour period, we talked in-depth about the local area and were amazed by the wealth of contributions with such a small number of people. Thanks to those of you who came along!

A brief overview of asset contributions from the workshop included:

All of the assets identified will be added to the community map over the next few weeks. In the meantime, please remember that you can text COMMUNITY to 60777 followed by your favourite local asset to ensure it is added to the map (all texts will be charged at your standard network rate).

We found that Bearsden and Milngavie has a wealth of community groups and voluntary organisations with significant experience of community engagement. We also found, however, that there is potential for improvement in partnership working between public and community agencies. We heard that local people are concerned about the sustainability of current initiatives and believe that long-term solutions can only be achieved through greater community leadership and a focus on volunteering.

We also learned a lot about the history of the local area, and changes that have happened over time. Although the proposed community hubs were considered to a positive asset, there were some concerns voiced about the locations of these and lack of parking facilities to enable access to a wider reach of people.

Interestingly, when we asked participants how they thought local residents might engage with the digital map, they were clear that in certain groups there is a lot of apathy around trying out new places/activities. This was particularly so for older people. The participants thought that in some instances, it would be crucial to provide support, a ‘buddy’ along with sufficient transport to get people to even think about using some of the assets that had been mapped.

The project team were using these sessions as ‘tester’ events so that we could learn what works best and what doesn’t. We would have liked to get the views of more people in the area, and it is likely that we’ll arrange a future session at one of the local groups that were identified. Also, we didn’t get the chance to categorise the identified assets in the time allocated in the session, which is something we will incorporate into future events.

Participant quotes from the day:

“I’d just like to say how nice this group has been, you’ve made me feel very at home and I’ve enjoyed being part of it”

“I didn’t really realise how many organisations there are in the area”

“[the best asset] is our community spirit”


Department of Health (2009) Flourishing People, Connected Communities: Available from:

Ellaway A, Anderson A and Kearns A (2001) Perceptions of place and health in socially
contrasting neighbourhoods, Urban Studies, 38 (12) 2299-2316

Sooman A and McIntyre S (1995) Health and perceptions of the local environment in socially contrasting neighbourhoods in Glasgow, Health and Place, 1(1) 15-26

First training workshop for individual asset mapping

The first workshop to support practitioners get to grips with asset mapping has taken place in Kirkintilloch. We provided two different dates for the first session, hoping to enable as many practitioners as possible to make it. We were really pleased to welcome a range of pracititoners from both the NHS and voluntary sector organisations.

The purpose of the workshops was to introduce the project to people, provide them with the opportunity to try out asset mapping in one-to-one settings, and discuss barriers and opportunities to this method of working. The objective was that by the end of the session, staff would have enough knowledge and experience to reflect on asset mapping and who they might use this tool with before the next workshop.

First workshop

The workshops ran for 3.5 hours and everyone was asked to fill in questionnaires to get a sence of how they currently work. The same questions were asked of each person again at the end of the project to see if and how their practice may have changed.

Background to asset mapping

After introductions and a bit of background about the Asset Mapping project that ran in 2011, Julie Leonard from EDAMH spoke freely about her experince using asset mapping as a tool in the 2011 project. She described how she had approached service users about engaging with the tool, what their thoughts had been, barriers to using the tool and the way it enabled a deeper, quality conversation with service users.

Example of a photo Julie took whilst using the asset mapping tool with a service user


Example of a photo Julie took whilst using the asset mapping tool with a service user


We also used quotes to share what service users had said about asset mapping, for example:

“This is a really good visual way of tapping into what’s around you”

“I’m surprised at how much I have very close to me”

“I have a lot in my life, I just need to decide how to use it better”

“It’s made me see the progress I’ve made”

Discussions about barriers and opportunities

While Julie was talking, everyone round the table asked questions about the process and shared their thoughts and ideas about ways it could be used with people they were working with. We were also lucky enough to have a Peer Support Worker at the table who was able to reflect on how he may have used this tool at different periods of his life.

Thoughts focused around the length of time it may take to use asset mapping, if it would be worked on over a few sessions, and if practitioners were going to be able to use it with the three people during the project process or less.

Other discussions focused around using asset mapping with someone you know well and have worked with for a while, the stage in the recovery process that the tool could be introduced, and if it could be used to consolidate work.

Some of the opportunities that were identified were about a service user using asset mapping with two practitioners from different services, helping not only the service user but the practitioners recognise how each service could support a person. Ideas about using asset mapping in a peer or group sessions were also mentioned – ideas similar to the community asset mapping element of this project.

People saw a lot of similarities with cognitive behavioural therapy, spirit work and person-centred counselling, recognising that asset mapping connects with current practice and could be used, or modified, with these approaches in mind.

Other benefits people talked about were the visual aspect of the tool and how this can differ from having to write things down (which was considered more intimidating when someone’s mental health is poor).

There were also thoughts about recognising that no matter how well you think you know someone you work with, there is always new evidence that could support their mental health. Asset mapping was thought to be possible tool to access new information. Continuing on from this, others considered that it might be beneficial for use with people who tend to live in a circle of crisis and then stability – supporting them to reflect on their assets at different time and depending on how their needs change.

Opportunity to try out and discuss

After the break, everyone got their own asset mapping box with bits and pieces they could use. We broke into pairs and each couple got 15 minutes each to try out completing an asset map for themselves.

One this was complete, we all talked about the experience, what could have improved the experience and what was missing. Everyone said that the boxes needed more stuff in them – most adapted what they were given to create new ‘stuff’ i.e. a dog, or car, and it looks like most practitioners will add in their own elements and invite those they are working with to include what they want to as figures too. People hesitated drawing on the maps (although not writing), and people said that the bits and pieces in the pack were good as it meant people did not feel like they needed to draw.

There was an issue around the colour coding on the map (green, blue, red for different kinds of assets). Some people said they needed coloured pens to connect what they were doing up to the key, others preferred not to use the key and did their own thing, and others said they would like to have blank boxes into which they could create their own key once they figured out the themes that were arising from their map. To accommodate these preferences we have created a new version of the map with blank boxes and no key to be used by people as they wish. It was deemed the practitioners responsibility to support interpretation of the possible colour coding if this was necessary in a conversation.

People also noted they would like some guidance on using the asset mapping tool, prompts to help explain the tool, that people can dabble with the tool until they understand how using it is working for them, and that service users have ownership of the tool and can make it their own.

Some people thought that it might be good to give service users a taste of using it and then go back to it. Others thought that it was a shame that the box of bits and pieces would be taken away once the asset mapping had been done and the discussed needing it to be able to take pictures of the map once it is created and that these need to be shared as quickly as possible with each service user. Other possibilities shared by Julie were to write where the assets were on the map so that people have a written explanation of what they had placed where.

There was also a discussion about the absence of notes using this method. Some practitioners who were already working using asset mapping said that they had been writing notes on the back of the map to record the justification of service users for placing things on certain areas of the map. Some said they could write comments at the side of the map, others suggested a separate map that enables people to write justifications on the same place on a different piece of paper. As a result, we have adapted the map to accommodate these preferences too.

There was quite a bit of excitement about how asset mapping could be used in a digital sense – recording audio, taking photographs, service users typing up their own justifications and that it could be constantly updated. As it happens, we have one of our digital gurus on hand in the project (Paul Hart) who was observing how practitioners used the tools so that he can start thinking about transferring asset mapping to a digital medium. Whilst there was some excitement about this, it was noted that the physical asset map may be preferred by others.

Ultimately, people felt that it really depended upon who they were using the tool with and that it was like any kind of conversation – once you sit down and start thinking and it how it changes all the time. There was an expectation that the asset map would reflect this is done repeatedly over time and there was a note of caution around spinning assets into conversations and the possibility that people may become emotional when using the tool.

Feedback about the session

The session came to a close then, with people having tried the tool out and shared their thoughts. We asked that each person start to think of three service users they would like to use the tool with and come back next time with this in mind.

The feedback about the session itself was positive, practitioners spoke about it being good to get a sense of asset mapping and what it could feel like from a service users point of view. Others thought it was ‘fun and interactive’, ‘not what they had expected from a training session’.