Gloucester praised for boosting community strengths
A report into how local authorities can help to make the most of their community’s strengths has recognised the work done by Gloucester City Council.
Gloucester City Council has been working with Nesta, the national innovation foundation, as part of their Upstream Collaborative; a group of forward thinking local authorities from across the country.
The report written by Nesta focuses on Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD); the way in which authorities engage with communities and support them to identify what they care about, and how this can make communities stronger.
ABCD can be applied in many different situations; to help people get more active, more connected and to improve many situations that affect their lives.
The ABCD approach was adopted by Gloucester City Council in 2012 when it started to explore the idea of Community Builders to ‘connect people with similar thoughts, ideas and interests’.
Following a successful Community Building pilot project the council helped to set up a community interest company, Gloucester Community Building Collective, to increase the number of Community Builders in the city, working to better connect residents in their communities.
There are a number of activities which residents have been involved in across Gloucester which community builders first helped to establish.
These groups and activities continue beyond the input of the Community Builders and are run completely by residents. They have included large annual street parties attracting thousands of residents right through to neighbours holding weekly coffee mornings.
Nesta’s report has also recognised the strong community links which helped to support people throughout the pandemic and in particular during the national lockdown.
They enabled elected members and community leaders to mobilise a network of over 500 street champions that other residents could contact for help for assistance such as vital food parcels.
Councillor Jennie Watkins, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities at Gloucester City Council, said: “I am passionate about ABCD and strongly believe that only by building on peoples’ own strengths we can bring about long term solutions. Essentially residents know their neighbourhoods much better than we do so the solutions must lie with residents themselves.”
Jenni Lloyd, Senior Programme Manager at NESTA, said: “Gloucester have been a fantastic contributor to the Upstream Collaborative and we have been impressed by their commitment to changing the relationship between the Council and its communities by focusing on ‘what’s strong – not what’s wrong’. The work of Gloucester City Council and other innovators has informed our understanding of the new operating models for local government that enable complex and interconnected social issues to be addressed in more effective ways.”
New Operating Models: https://www.nesta.org.uk/feature/new-operating-models-handbook/
ABCD Report: https://www.nesta.org.uk/report/asset-based-community-development-local-authorities/
Gloucester Film: https://youtu.be/Eh8y19obUKU