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.

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.


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’.

Updated asset mapping template – no key and with notes

We ran the first of the asset mapping training workshops today. There are going to be two workshops to share the information provided in the first session so I’ll blog about these workshops after the second is complete.

For those who took part in the day and may be looking for the update of the mapping template you can find it in the blue links below, along with an additional template that you could use to take notes on.

1-1 template

1-1 template for notes

If you need anything else please don’t hesitate to get in touch. See you at workshop 2!


What’s good about living in your local community?

We are developing a community map of well-being that will cover all of East Dunbartonshire, and would like you to get involved! There are a number of drop-in opportunities as well as community workshops planned.

Community drop-in sessions

These are for everyone. They’ve been designed to be fun, informal and interactive. Come and share your stories about living locally, tell us what local assets are useful for your community – it won’t take up much of your time. See you there!

Community workshops

The workshops are similar to the drop in sessions but are more in-depth and structured. You can expect to be involved in a series of activities that will help to create a virtual online map that can be used to promote positive health and well-being for all. Book your space, or get more details by contacting:

You can find the dates and venues for all events in this flyer

Text us!

If you can’t manage to get along to any of the events, you can always text us to let us know about useful assets in your area. It couldn’t be simpler. Just text COMMUNITY to 60777 with details of assets in your area that you find most useful for your well-being. All texts will charged at your standard network rate.

Social Assets in Action Project Launch

On the 24th of May, In the glorious sunshine, we launched the Social Assets in Action project – phase two of the asset-mapping project in East Dunbartonshire.

The aim of the event was to introduce all key stakeholders to the project, to engage and excite them about being involved and to convey the relevance of the project work for them. In total, there were 45 participants representing a range of local agencies and services from across the local authority.

Mark Richards, East Dunbartonshire CHP, and Andy Martin, East Dunbartonshire Council, introduced the day and set the scene, explaining how the work built on the positive response to the assets work showcased at the, ‘Stop…See Me…Listen =  Better Outcomes’ event, held in October 2011.

Andy Martin talked about the recent IRISS Insight (focusing on strengths based approaches for working with individuals) that was published and highlighted to the group that, ‘asset based approaches are not about ‘spinning struggles into strengths’ and urged the audience to see the project as an opportunity to re-connect with their values and to foster a well-being focus within their practice.

I then gave a brief overview of the theory and evidence for the use of asset-based approaches and touched briefly on the project work from 2011 (which has been covered extensively on this blog).  We also showed videos from previous participants as well as presenting some comments from people who use services who had given their views about the project at an earlier event. You can download my Presentation here.

Fran McBride then gave an overview of the next phase of the project. She explained that there were three streams of work:

-development of a digital tool for practitioners to use alongside people who use services. This tool will be developed in partnership with a range of practitioners in order to make sure that it can be easily integrated into usual work

-extension of the community map to cover all of East Dunbartonshire. In order to facilitate this, there will be numerous events* held in the different towns and communities that will be opened up to a broader range of people

-project evaluation. We want to uncover the impact of this work on people as well as documenting the process so people in other areas can learn and build on the project . We have commissioned Jenni Inglis from VIE to carry out an independent evaluation of the project.

Most of all, Fran set the tone for the rest of the day by highlighting that this is a collaborative project. We want everyone to get involved – to spread the word about the project to their teams, colleagues and people who use their services. It is crucial that as a project team we learn from the wealth of experience that exists locally – we have some ideas but also want to encourage others’ input as much as possible.

It was then time to get hand’s on!

Each of the tables were set up to provide a demonstration of the different processes that we used in last years project. We wanted to give delegates a sense of what it would be like to be a participant, but also to think about how they might use the different processes in their everyday work.

We asked delegates a number of questions:

  • How would you see yourself using these tools?
  • What might make it easier or harder to use these tools ?
  • Have you used anything like this before? If yes what’s different about these tools?
  • What do you think might happen if you use these tools? What difference would that make to you?
  • Who (types of people or groups) would need to be involved for the community asset mapping project to work best?
  • What might help these groups get involved, what might stop them?
  • Is there anything happening locally we can link to? Is there anything happening that make this project more difficult to work well?

Common themes that emerged around these questions have been collated below:

Community asset mapping process

– really good way to engage people into the fabric of society – could reduce isolation. Needs to be promoted well in order to reach a wider audience (local businesses, churches, local community members). The project team should consider linking into existing community events such as the gala days etc.

– using the community map as a signpost really helps the wider community have a great sense of choice and control over the activities and resources they use to look after their well-being. It promotes the shift in thinking about resources beyond statutory services.

– many people thought that asset mapping would be useful, but thought a step further about the support people might need in order to use the different assets. Some thought that using the tools might increase client confidence to access new community resources, others thought that this needed to be considered further.

– using these tools would give practitioners a greater knowledge and understanding of services and resources that might be useful to people. It might broaden out the opportunity for discussion and exploration with an individual

Some ideas:

– people without access to the internet/computers will not be able to access the map. An idea might be to display some of the picture maps created at the workshops through out the area in health centres, churches, community centres etc.

– would be interesting to categorise the assets on the maps in terms of how people might be feeling. E.g. ‘I am feeling lonely’ or ‘I am feeling confused’ and signposting people to assets from there.

Personal asset mapping process

– personal map is a good starting point for support and is a tool that could lead to a care plan. Some delegates thought that the tool wasn’t new and in fact was closely linked to person centred planning. Others thought that the focus on well-being enables the conversation to be more generic and maintains a focus on the whole person.

– the fact that the physical pieces can be moved means that the process is fluid and flexible – empowering people to become part of their own recovery and utilising more natural supports. A digital version of this may make it easier to update and track changes in progress.

– this process makes the default position person-led, not service-led. The tools are a creative way of thinking about what is supportive, rather than the traditional way of fitting people into services. Practitioners will need to adapt practice to work in this way.

– this tool is useful for helping people to see the small steps they are making – which might not be so evidence unless they are made visual. It is also more concrete – making it difficult for people to deny progress/assets

Some ideas:

– would be useful to re-visit maps every few months to monitor progress and to see how far people have come on (or not)

– maps should be completed when people are ‘well’ and used in conjunction with a ‘keeping well plan/recovery’. Some people thought that the use of the tool would support the ‘where are we? how do we move on?’ conversation with clients.

The project team will be collating all responses in order to shape the next phase of the project.

Some comments from delegates evaluation forms included:

I’ve learned:

‘a whole host about the assets approach and how it can change people’s lives’

‘that the asset mapping can be an important tool in obtaining a clearer assessment of an individuals strengths and help to shift emphasis from a resource led to a strengths led approach when accessing services’

I think the tools are:

‘fun and useful. Interesting how they can be used to engage people in different ways and at a different pace’

‘useful, dynamic and visual’

We were pleased that delegates overwhelmingly noted that they would use the tools in future and half of all delegates left their names to continue to be involved in the project and to be contacted by the project evaluator. We will be in touch!

For more information about this project, please contact the project team:

Fran McBride –

David Law –

Lynsay Haglington –

Lisa Pattoni –

You can expect regular updates on this project blog from different members of the project team, but we’d really like to hear your views – so feel free to add comments, thoughts and reflections to any of the blog posts.

*Community events

You’ll see us around many events that are already taking place locally. But we’ve arranged these dates specifically to get people to think about their well-being and local assets that might help promote this.

Bearsden and Milngavie:
Saturday 23rd June 2012, Allander Sports Centre, Bearsden     12pm – 5pm
Friday 29th June 2012, Enterprise Centre, Milngavie 10am – 1pm

Friday 20th July 2012, Healthy Living Centre, Twechar 10am – 1pm
Saturday 28th July 2012, Healthy Living Centre, Twechar 12pm – 5pm

Monday 23rd July 2012, Caldwell Halls, Torrance 10am-1pm
Saturday 18th August 2012, Caldwell Halls, Torrance 12pm – 5pm

Monday 17th September 2012, Bishopbriggs Community Church 10am – 1pm
Saturday 22nd September 2012, Bishopbriggs Leisure Centre 12am – 5pm

Lennoxtown and Milton of Campsie:
Tuesday 9th October 2012, Campsie Memorial Hall, Lennoxtown 10am – 1pm
Saturday 20th October 2012, Campsie Memorial Hall, Lennoxtown 12pm – 5pm

To be confirmed.

Thanks and acknowledgements

Our friends at East Dunbartonshire Association for Mental Health (EDAMH) were also on hand to facilitate a table and share their experience of using an asset based approach in practice. We’re really happy that Julie Leonard from EDAMH will be co-facilitating sessions with practitioners alongside Fran McBride in the project.

See Mindapples for more information about their campaign which aims to make looking after your own mental well-being as brushing our teeth, by asking everyone, “What’s the 5-a-day for your mind?”.

We love using the different wooden blocks, sticks and cubes for the different mapping processes. If you do too, see Tessy Britton’s shop on Etsy.

Many thanks also to East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action who helped with the administration of the event, and the Kirkintilloch Baptist Church who provided a lovely, accessible venue for the event.

Re-connecting with previous asset-mappers!

One of the crucial aspects of the project is really making sure local people are at the centre of the work and get an opportunity to shape and direct the next phase of the project.

That’s why, on Tuesday this week, we met with some of the participants from the first asset project. We wanted to get their views about what worked well, and what didn’t work so well from the first project. It was lovely to see people again!

After a brief catch up about what had happened since we last met, Jenni, the project evaluator, got us down to work.

Jenni asked us questions both about community asset mapping (finding out about what is useful for well-being within the community, and personal asset mapping (thinking about your own personal assets).

The questions included:

  • Have you done anything like the asset mapping workshop before?
  • What worked well about the workshop/ what worked less well?
  • What would encourage you to come to future workshops?
  • Who else do you think should get involved (types/ groups of people) What do you think would encourage them to come?
  • What do you think about the map that has been created?
  • What ways did you use your personal asset map and what difference did that make to you?

There was a range of views from participants, comments included:

  • I think we should broaden out the types of people who come along to workshops, so that we can get the views of more people
  • I think people can learn a lot about themselves by mapping their own assets – it makes you think a bit differently
  • its good for people to share what they know about the community
  • people’s experiences are so important
  • being involved can help individual well-being – but also that of others – giving them a feeling of being  part of the future of their community

Jenni will be writing up a fuller record of the meeting and we’ll be using the comments to help shape the indicators for the project evaluation – so it was really valuable to have people come along.

We asked the participants whether or not they would like to continue to be involved in the project in its next phase and were really pleased that they said yes! We’ll be following up with these individuals over the next few weeks.

Thanks to Ceartas Advocacy for allowing us to use their rooms – they served as a lovely neutral place for us to work. We’ll be back to visit again soon!