York has the potential to become a truly asset-based place

Featured article - 17 July 2017
Martin Farran, Corporate Director of Health, Housing and Adult Social Care, City of York Council

Head-shot of the author, Martin Farran, Corporate Director of Health, Housing and Adult Social Care, City of York Council

Behind its ancient city walls and along its narrow medieval streets, something transformative is taking place in York; people are increasingly coming together to define what they want and find new ways to meet them and deliver services. People's strengths, skills and networks - their assets - are being harnessed to provide self-supporting networks and a deep reservoir of community resources people can draw upon to keep well, independent and lead fulfilled lives.

York is on a journey to becoming an asset-based place.

In this context, the local authority and other statutory partners are facilitators. We can help bring people together, we can provide some of the resources - the buildings and infrastructure- and even in tough financial times, we can provide some of the money, to help more people build on their strengths and tap into local networks. As leaders of “place” we also have a leadership role in making sure a diverse range of support exists locally, be they across health, housing and voluntary / community sectors, pulling together and make the best use of resources to support communities. But we do not have all the answers, far from it; people and communities know best what they want to achieve.

York is building a place where we have strong, resourceful, and connected people - a hub of place-based social action.

To get there our approach is to encourage resilient communities that:

  • are self managing and less reliant on the council and other agencies for help.
  • are able to minimise the disruption to everyday life that unforeseen events present.
  • enable people to be more resourceful
  • enable people to have more control of their own lives
  • ensure people are equipped and willing to play a part in community life.

This is fundamentally an outcome focused approach, which encourages, supports and strengthens resilience of individuals, families and communities and reduces the traditional dependency culture - this is as it should be.

All of these changes do not happen on their own. We do need to invest in the supporting skills and infrastructure that people require; to understand what makes people tick and how to develop community based services. This is why we have decided to invest in local area coordination, a community-led model which seeks to bring people together to identify their issues and solve them with access to support. It can deliver fantastic outcomes and reduce demands on statutory services. Sam tells you more about how this works in another blog.

York is at the start of its journey towards becoming an asset based place. But like it's City walls, it has strong foundations on which to build and huge potential amongst its citizens that can be tapped.

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