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Leeds Fund Supports Innovative Mental Health Approach

Community Links has received a Leeds Fund: Strategic Grant in association with Asda Foundation, to develop an innovative mental health project – the ABCD Transformation Project.

Julie Ward, Asda Foundation Senior Manager, said: “It is really important to us to support local community organisations such as Community Links that are making a difference by providing valuable services and activities to improve the mental health and wellbeing of local people.”

Community Links was one of 22 projects across the city to have received money to support people living with mental health support needs. All of the funded projects have been developed by people with lived experience of poor mental health and the community groups that work with them, meaning they are tailored directly to the needs of local people and can make the greatest impact.

Asset Based Community Development, more commonly referred to as ABCD, is an approach that builds on the ‘assets’ that are found within the community, focusing on people’s strengths and talents rather than on their shortfalls.  It is all too common in traditional healthcare models to concentrate on what is wrong with a person and focus on fixing the problem. The ABCD model does not commence from the point of illness, but instead encourages service users to identify what is working for them in ways that will hopefully also benefit the wider community as a whole. As a result, ABCD transforms service delivery into community development and strengthens service users and their environments.

The ABCD Transformation Project will work with service users at our Leeds based Community Options service. ABCD differs in that as an approach it is not service provision as such, but a methodology that will change the way Community Options provides its core services.

A key part of the project will be to develop community assets – identifying professional and community assets and spaces through the establishment of working relationships and connecting them with service users.

Instead of a standard model of service delivery, in which a service user receives services at a given location because he or she is unwell, service users are asked to identify their strengths according to the Head (What knowledge do you have?), Hands (What skills do you have?) and Heart (What are you passionate about?) mapping technique. By identifying personal, professional and community assets, service users will be engaged in building a map of support networks.