Pioneering Leeds Community Development programme a success, according to university study
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a community building approach which Leeds City Council has developed into a pioneering programme in the city. Third sector organisations, funded by Leeds City Council, employ community builders who work with neighbourhoods to uncover and develop pre-existing assets, strengths and connections between people. Their aim is to help neighbourhoods to thrive by bringing people together and improving their health and wellbeing.
The study by LBU, which was commissioned by Leeds City Council, showed positive outcomes and strong evidence that ABCD works in different communities and contexts. The research was conducted over a two-year period and looked at the functionality of the ABCD approach and its ability to be implemented in a wide range of communities both across Leeds and nationally.
It looked at how the ABCD model worked in practice evaluating the impact of three positive outcomes: people having good friends, individuals and organisations becoming better connected, and communities identifying and working together to bring about the changes they want to see.
The report also found that the ABCD model could offer significant social return on investment for the Council and third sector. A pilot Social Return on Investment study with one of the established neighbourhood projects found that for every £1 invested in ABCD it returned up to £14 in social value within the local community. Social value allows for the quantification of the impact of new friendships, volunteer time, increases in life satisfaction, as well as a wide range of other changes in communities where the ABCD programme has been introduced. The future potential for the ABCD model to be utilised across Leeds was also highlighted in the report.
Ahead of a launch event to discuss the findings of the report for the ABCD model, Jane South, Professor of Healthy Communities at Leeds Beckett University, who led the ABCD evaluation said: “We took a really collaborative approach to doing this research, working closely with Leeds City Council ABCD Team and the community builders. It has been a very positive relationship with lots of shared learning about how to evaluate these types of community programmes and how to capture change.
“There is so much interest in the UK and internationally about the value of ABCD and how it can benefit people and communities. This evaluation is a major contribution to the evidence base for this new way of working and we hope it will be used to help others to develop this approach.”
Cllr Fiona Venner Leeds City council Executive Member for Adults and Children Social Care and Health Partnerships said: “ABCD is an exciting new way of working in partnership with our local communities, focusing on pre-existing strengths to help empower community growth and development. The report conducted by Leeds Beckett University validates the impact of the ABCD model and supports expanding the use of the ABCD model across Leeds. As a council we are committed to the ABCD model and believe it is a can be a key contributing factor towards achieving our goals set out in the Best Council Plan.
Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council said: “We welcome this report conducted in collaboration with key partners across the city, including Leeds Beckett University, the Leeds ABCD team, third sector partners as well as community builders, highlighting the productive relationships that underpin our city. The results point towards an exciting future for the ABCD model and its potential use across the city and nationally to drive communities forward. “
Leeds City Council in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University are hosting an online launch event on the 1st of July to discuss the report as well as the next steps for the ABCD model. As part of this they would like to invite any interested parties to attend the webinar. Please contact ABCD@leeds.gov.uk for more details