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Asset-based Approaches and Inequalities

Ambition for Ageing has released a briefing titled Asset-based Approaches and Inequalities, looking at the risks of exacerbating inequalities that we know asset-based approaches can result in.


The document highlights the need for recognition of the barriers faced by marginalised groups as a key part of asset-based work in order to avoid contributing to existing inequalities.


A number of solutions to the issue are raised within the briefing, in addition to collecting some key findings from the Ambition for Ageing programme so far.


Asset-based approaches use a community’s own assets to achieve positive change using their own knowledge, skills and lived experience of the issues they encounter in their own lives.


The key findings from the briefing were:



  • People who are the most socially isolated are often also the most marginalised.
  • If implemented without an understanding of marginalisation, asset-based approaches risk contributing to existing inequalities, excluding those who are the most socially isolated.



  • Members of marginalised groups need to be supported to be involved in genuine co-production and asset mapping.
  • Targeted approaches for the identification and engagement of marginalised, minority, and socially isolated groups can be a way to meaningful and inclusive asset-mapping and co-production.
  • Well-planned processes for enhancing community capacity are critical for meaningful engagement and in ways which motivate future forms of participation. Such engagement and support processes take time and require resources and expertise.


John Hannen, Programme Manager for the Ambition for Ageing Programme said, “Taking the learning from the Ambition for Ageing Programme so far and using GMCVO’s experience as lead partner on the programme, we have a good basis from which to look into this issue.


Over time, we have seen some brilliant examples of where asset-based approaches to building and developing communities have worked really well, but in the past we have also seen examples where such approaches have not been well applied and have had a negative impact on the most marginalised in our society.

With the increasing popularity and renewed interest in asset based working we hope this briefing will provide a dialogue point for those who use these approaches. With the challenges faced by many of the communities in Greater Manchester it is important we develop approaches that promote social, economic and political inclusion for all”.


Asset Based Approaches and Inequalities: Key references and further reading

The findings from the Briefing on Asset Based Approaches and Inequalities are drawn from analysis of the current research and findings from the Ambition for Ageing programme.

The following references help to complement the findings of the briefing and place it in context:

  • Ambition for Ageing Baseline Data Analysis; Nelson, Chloe; New Economy 2017. [Link]
  • Ambition for Ageing Findings from Equalities Reviews and Visits 2017; Matziol, Valeska & Berry, Hannah, LGBT Foundation, 2017. [To be published]
  • Social isolation in later life: the role of co-production with older people: A Report for the Ambition for Ageing Programme; Goulding, Anna; MICRA/Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group 2017. [Link]
  • Age Friendly Cities and Communities: A Global Perspective; Buffel, Tine; Handler, Sophie; Phillipson, Chris, Ageing in a Global Context 2018 [Link]
  • Assets in Action: Illustrating Asset Based Approached for Health Improvement, McLean, Jennifer and McNeice, Valerie, 2012 [Link]
  • Community Development National Occupational Standards; Community Development Learning, 2015. [Link]
  • Social Capital Briefing. Martikke, Susanne, 2017 [Link]
  • The Rise of Community Development Work in Manchester, Community Development Practice Working Group, 2017
  • Unearth Hidden Assets through Community Co-design and Co-production, The Design. Busayawan Lam, Theodore Zamenopoulos, Mihaela Kelemen & Jea Hoo Na, 2017 [link]
Greater Manchester