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Case Study:

York’s Local Area Coordination - working with communities to inspire wider system innovations

Published: 29 June 2022
2 minute read

The ambition

In recent years, City of York Council has embraced Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) to build wellbeing in the city. ABCD is a method of community development based on identifying, maximising, and benefitting from the existing resources, skills, and experience within a community. York’s approach focuses on shifting power to people to define what they want from their neighbourhoods and build more connected, caring, and compassionate communities.

The action

A key element of this approach is the city’s Local Area Coordination (LAC) programme. Through a team of Coordinators ‘walking alongside’ local people, citizens are encouraged and supported to build on their own agency and capabilities. Often people have forgotten about their experiences, hidden talents, and skills – conversations with Coordinators tap into this and unearth passions, contribution, and action.

Coordinators focus on the assets that exist in communities, building knowledge of hyperlocal, neighbourly, non-service options and potential connections. Where there are gaps, they can support communities to mobilise and establish their own groups and responses too.

The result

The city has deliberately aligned multiple initiatives and teams to embed the LAC approach, creating system change and a ‘new normal’.

The approach has had tangible impacts on several delivery areas:

  • Adult Social Care – By building community capacity to support citizens – particularly those experiencing loneliness and isolation – the council now seeks to put prevention and early intervention at the heart of social care provision.
  • Volunteering and social action – Alongside the city’s VCSE sector, the council has reviewed the city’s volunteering and social action strategy – ‘People Helping People’. This has facilitated the coproduction of solutions to complex public and neighbourhood problems with citizens – based on growing social action and impact volunteering.
  • Housing – The council has used ‘layered’ stories to demonstrate the impact of social action in the city – the individual’s story, the community connections created, and the ripple effect on the system. One story told using this approach inspired the council’s Housing team to restructure their services to adopt a more ABCD approach.

These knock-on effects of one approach to ABCD is a great example of how wider system change along Keep it Local lines doesn’t have to be set by whole-council strategies. Instead, it shows how community development can be infectious when done well in one programme – inspiring other parts of the council to embrace this model and its benefits for a joined-up approach.

The effect of the approach on individual wellbeing and community resilience is clear. This short video explains just how great a sense of purpose and belonging it has given Denise, a Community Health Champion supported through the initiative.

People helping people

The effect of the approach on individual wellbeing and community resilience is clear. This short video explains just how great a sense of purpose and belonging it has given Denise, a Community Health Champion supported through the initiative.