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.
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!
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”
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.
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.
- Milngavie Town Hall
- Local Library
- Walking at Mugdock Country Park (people talked about the range of services and resources that were available at Mugdock as being a really valuable community asset)
- Stagecoach Theatre Arts (operating out of Cairns Church of Scotland)
- Milngavie train station
- Walking routes (West Highland Way starting point)
- Bearsden ski school
- Kilmardinny Loch
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:
- Monday Club (operating from Bearsden Cross Church)
- Fraser Centre
- Friendship Circle (Milngavie – Carins Church) (People commented that having groups like this to go to really help to lift a person’s spirits and keeps people active)
- Dobbies Garden Centre
- Bearsden and Milngavie youth orchestra
- Hockey club
- Milngavie Heritage and History Group
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: http://tinyurl.com/cdsdo8s
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
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
– 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
– 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:
‘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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
David Law – email@example.com
Lynsay Haglington – lynsay.Haglington@eastdunbarton.gov.uk
Lisa Pattoni – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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!