Our asset-based community driven approach
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to
share your riches but to reveal to him his own” - (Benjamin Disraeli)
Our core belief that development not only involves addressing a lack of material resources, but must create opportunities for people to realise their own potential underpins our approach to community development. History has taught us that lasting and meaningful development can only take place when local people are committed to investing themselves and their resources in the effort. So our philosophy is simple – we believe that everyone has potential and instead of giving hand-outs we work closely with communities helping to empower individuals and families to realise their own agency and to positively shape their own lives.
Traditional approaches to development tend to focus on a community’s needs and problems, which we believe is disempowering and can result in individuals experiencing themselves as somehow deficient and incapable of taking charge of their lives and their communities. They might even begin to view themselves as having special needs, which can only be met with external support. Our alternative approach is ‘asset-based’ and begins by recognising the existing capacities, skills and resources of individuals and communities. Identifying the variety and richness of talents, knowledge, and experience of so-called ‘poor’ people allows you to unlock vast dormant human potential that has been suppressed through poverty and hardship. Starting positively by acknowledging and valuing what people already have also changes the power dynamic, allowing us to facilitate rather than drive the development process.
We recognise that you cannot work with an individual in isolation from their home environment, their community and the wider set of factors that influence their lives such as culture, physical environment, government and service provision. We aim to work systemically at the level of the individual, the family, the community and with the wider system which enables, and sometimes disables, development processes. Our aim is never to compete with services that should be provided by government but wherever possible to work proactively with government in order to complement and strengthen the effective delivery and use of services.
We have also learnt that human development is multi-dimensional and that it does not work to focus on economic empowerment without also taking into account social development in terms of health and education, as well as the spiritual and psychological work of healing, uplifting and building confidence and resilience in communities.