We describe Link Up as using ‘asset-based’ principles. We aren’t following a particular asset or community development model, but are developing and evaluating a practical way communities can be part of their own solutions. We are focussing in particular on the importance of connecting people and facilitating ways for people to help each other.
- Residents as contributors rather than recipients
- Being inclusive – supporting engagement of all residents of a geographic community and not defining them by their needs.
- Valuing community assets and what works well in communities
- Recognising the importance of social connections both for the individual and the community
- Understanding the importance of intangible outcomes such as ‘self-esteem’ and efficacy
- Supporting communities to sustain activity and connections
What this means in practice is that Link Up sees residents as contributors rather than recipients. Therefore activities and outcomes have not been pre-determined but are being developed with the community to build on existing interests, strengths and abilities. The activities might not address a particular need, and may just be ‘fun’ – but they bring people together with the starting point being what people can do rather than what they can’t.
It also means facilitating opportunities where residents can participate and contribute on whatever level they want to and by doing so increase the number of people they know and trust locally. Mapping, mobilising and connecting community ‘assets’ (built, human, cultural and environmental) for productive use is central to the sustainability of Link Up. By enhancing existing assets and building social connections, Link Up aims to increase the efficacy and readiness of local communities as a necessary precursor to addressing issues that are important to them.