Mounting evidence shows that when practitioners begin with what communities have – their assets – as opposed to what they don't have - their needs - a community's ability to address those needs increases.
A health asset is any factor or resource which enhances the ability of individuals, communities and populations to maintain and sustain health and well-being. These assets can operate at the level of the individual, family or community as protective and promoting factors to buffer against life’s stresses.
Antony Morgan Associate Director National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), 2009
An asset is considered to be any of the following:
The practical skills, capacity and knowledge of local residents
The networks and connections – known as ‘social capital’ – in a community, including friendships and neighbourliness
The effectiveness of local community and voluntary associations
The resources of public, private and third sector organisations that are available to support a community
The physical and economic resources of a place that enhance well-being
An asset approach starts by asking questions and reflecting on what is already present:
What makes us strong?
What makes us healthy?
What factors make us more able to cope in times of stress?