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?
  • What makes this a good place to be?
  • What does the community do to improve health?

The Bolton picture

Further useful links