Community-centred and asset-based approaches

There is growing interest in community-centred and asset-based approaches that help to improve health and wellbeing, reduce health inequalities and support people with long-term conditions. During COVID-19, our local communities have been a vital part of the pandemic response and will continue to be important as we move towards recovery.

There is published guidance on what we mean by community-centred and asset-based approaches and the types of approach that work. Outcomes from these approaches include increased social connectedness, empowerment, participation, cohesion, resilience and social capital. These community level outcomes help protect our health and buffer against disease.

Community-centred and asset-based approaches are, by their nature, diverse and work differently in every locality. It is often difficult to assess, measure and compare the wider social impacts of these kinds of approaches, but there is evidence for a good social return on investment.

Practice examples are an important way of capturing the evidence on what is working, why and how, and what learning may be useful for other areas. This page is part of a growing collection of practice from across England, that has been captured as part of our programme of work to improve access to evidence on what works when it comes to community-centred and asset-based approaches.

The full collection of community-centred practice examples is available below, or you can choose the appropriate topic from the ‘family of approaches’. Many of the examples in our collection use more than one kind of approach.


Community-centred and asset-based approaches: family of approaches
Strengthening communities Volunteer and peer roles Collaborations and partnerships Access to community resources

Some local areas have scaled up one or more of these using a whole system approach.

We have also collaborated with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) to collate some case studies that showcase the role of volunteering in whole system approaches.

Finally, we have also collaborated with the Local Government Organisation (LGA) to pull together case studies of community champion programmes which have supported local responses to COVID-19. For more information on community champions approaches more generally, please refer to our rapid scoping review on this topic.


Practice Examples

Click on the title of the case study in the table below to view the full text. The search box will return relevant results from the whole collection.

TitleSummaryAuthor OrganisationOrganisation TypeGeographical Area - Region
Addressing social isolation and loneliness in North Yorkshire
(May 2018)
Combining community and individual approaches at scale in North Yorkshire to reduce social isolation and loneliness in a large rural county.

The Council invested in two new teams (Stronger Communities and Living Well) which work together on community development and person-centred approaches to empower individuals and communities in North Yorkshire to meet their needs and achieve key health and wellbeing outcomes. Together with existing teams in the Council they draw on approaches from all four categories from the family of community-centred approaches.
North Yorkshire County CouncilLocal AuthorityYorkshire & the Humber
Auntie Pam’s peer volunteer scheme helps mums-to-be in Kirklees
(December 2016)
Auntie Pam’s is a support service for mums-to-be in Kirklees. In setting up and running this service we have learnt how user led service design and development can result in a cost effective service with many additional benefits to the community.Kirklees CouncilLocal AuthorityYorkshire & the Humber
Bright Beginnings: support for vulnerable migrant and refugee women during the perinatal period
(May 2018)
The project offers support during the perinatal period for women from migrant and refugee communities through five bilingual maternity mentors.Manor Gardens CentreVoluntary & Community SectorLondon
Building capabilities in young people: participatory action research
(September 2020)
This study embedded the views, values and opinions of young people in the design of future services, for 5-19 year olds, in Doncaster.Sheffield Hallam University/Doncaster Council Academic/Local AuthorityYorkshire & the Humber
Building Inclusive Communities: Hangleton and Knoll Multi Cultural Women's Group
(May 2018)
This community-led flourishing group has an active committee of 25 women in touch with over 180 mostly Arabic and Bengali women to meet their needs. The group is supported to provide an array of health and wellbeing activities for BME women including peer led health walks, weekly yoga, Zumba and swimming as well as training on assertiveness, food safety, first aid and English Classes.Hangleton & Knoll ProjectVoluntary & Community SectorSouth East
Champions Show the Way
(December 2019)
The service aims to improve physical and mental health through the provision of Volunteer Community Health Champion led activities within the community.Bradford District Care NHS Foundation TrustNHSYorkshire & the Humber
Communities Driving Change: a brave new world for commissioning
(November 2019)
Communities Driving Change (CDC) uses a community development approach to understand the assets, needs and aspirations of the local community. Residents are supported to co-produce and lead on plans for change they want to see in their communities in order to improve health and wellbeing.London Borough of Tower HamletsLocal AuthorityLondon
Community based approaches to addressing high blood pressure with black African and Caribbean men
(November 2020)
Our intention was to develop a community-centred pilot programme to offer blood pressure testing in two areas, as well as to raise awareness of high blood pressure in black African and Caribbean males.Race Equality FoundationVoluntary & Community SectorLondon
Community Health Champions - Redcar and Cleveland
(December 2016)
Redcar and Cleveland Community Health Champions programme aims to improve health and address health inequalities in Redcar and Cleveland.Redcar & Cleveland CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth East
‘Community in the Making’ – creative, collaborative community research in Bromley by Bow
(August 2019)
This practice example shares learning from collaborative and creative community research in Bromley by Bow. It was designed to both a) develop community-informed outcomes for the Bromley by Bow Centre and GP practices and b) build confidence, skills, relationships and ownership for change amongst the community taking part.Bromley by Bow CentreVoluntary & Community SectorLondon
Community Kick-Start Programme: Bristol Ageing Better
(May 2018)
The Bristol Ageing Better Community Kick-Start Fund Programme offers micro funds of up to £2,000 to support the development of new activities that enhance community contributions, and reduce isolation and loneliness in older age. The scheme is open to any charity, community group or group of older people, with a focus on small groups commonly bypassed in capacity building initiatives. A volunteer older people’s panel assesses applications and volunteer Community Researchers evaluate the programme with support from Age UK Bristol and the University of the West of England.University of the West of England/Age UK BristolAcademic/Voluntary & Community SectorSouth West
Community Organising for Health and Wellbeing in East Wycombe
(July 2018)
In 2015 Public Health at Buckinghamshire County Council as part of a programme of initiatives to improve the health of the most disadvantaged, reviewed potential models for community engagement, to address the broader social determinants of health. It agreed work should focus in an area of multiple deprivation in East Wycombe to harness the social capital within that community, including identifying interventions and initiatives to improve their health and wellbeing.Buckinghamshire County CouncilLocal AuthoritySouth East
Community Wellbeing Practices - Halton
(December 2016)
Community Wellbeing Practices is a service providing community navigation, social prescribing and actions to address the social challenges which contribute to poor health outcomes. From this project we have learnt the value of aligning clinical and wellbeing services aimed at using community assets.Wellbeing Enterprises CiCCommunity Interest CompanyNorth West
Connected people connected communities: Newcastle and Gateshead
(December 2016)
Newcastle and Gateshead are finding out what can be done to make their communities where people make and maintain good quality relationships.NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG, Newcastle City Council, Gateshead CouncilNHS/Local AuthorityNorth East
Co-production as part of commissioning, with a focus on assets and building the capacity of communities to participate in service redesign
(November 2019)
Commissioned ethnographic research with communities in Wirral to find out their views about health and wellbeing and how they want to work with the Council, by visiting community hubs and places that had previously not been visited. This included bingo halls, pubs and spaces not typically associated with a ‘service’.

Wirral Council used this information to redesign their health improvement services, it gave clarity on where to spend the budget more effectively. For example, they decommissioned the health trainer service, and commissioned community connectors, door-knockers who supported getting people out of the house, into employment and volunteering; focusing on the individual wider determinants of health whilst also building community capacity.
Wirral CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth West
Developing Health and Independence ROADS Peer Support Service/Buddy System
(May 2018)
Developing Health and Independence (DHI)’s peer support/buddy system looks to provide peer-led support for those accessing drug and alcohol services, by providing peer-led telephony and face to face support provision. Further information: Buddy System Review.DHI BathVoluntary & Community SectorSouth West
Embedding CABA approaches across the North East
(June 2020)
The North East has developed a sector led improvement programme of work to build capacity and capability across the system to adopt community centred and asset-based practice, and to engage effectively with communities. This practice example outlines the key deliverables and successes in relation to this.PHE North East CentreCivil ServiceNorth East
Engaging communities in local alcohol decision-making: examples from three areas
(November 2019)
We identified multiple ways in which community members can contribute to local authority decision-making that shapes the local alcohol environment. These included statutory consultation processes (e.g. licensing), contributing to development of new alcohol policies, representation on committees and through more informal relationship-building. While barriers to engagement persist, there are clear examples of community contributions to the alcohol decision-making process.Sheffield Hallam University/London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine/Public Health England ADT&J DivisionAcademic/Civil ServiceNational
Fit for Future – taking a more community-led approach to public health
(December 2019)
We are in the process of shifting public health from being more focused on programmes and interventions to a more bottom-up approach working with communities on the issues that matter to them. Fit for Future was a flagship project as part of this process, which used a place-based, community-led, transformative approach to address childhood obesity and wellbeing.Gateshead CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth East
Friends, Families and Travellers Health Project
(May 2018)
The Health Project at FFT has been running since 2003, funded by various bodies. The project paved the way for health trainers, by using peer education and support as its main focus.Friends, Families & TravellersVoluntary & Community SectorSouth East
Get Oldham Growing
(November 2019)
Get Oldham Growing (GOG) is a programme focused on connecting people using food and growing. This is done through ‘Growing Hubs’, which bring people together and build connections between residents, the local voluntary and community sector (VCS), social enterprises and the local authority. These hubs are platforms for community engagement, leading to improved levels of social connectedness in an area and bringing people together to improve health and wellbeing, promote enterprise, and build skills and confidence. Access to fresh, unprocessed fruit and vegetables also improves local peoples’ diets and encourages people to try new things, widening their knowledge of unfamiliar fruit and veg.Oldham CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth West
Get Yourself Active – local coordination in Cheshire and Leicester
(May 2018)
Get Yourself Active is about developing local partnerships and new approaches to engaging disabled people in physical activity using a local coordination model.Disability Rights UKVoluntary & Community SectorNorth West/East Midlands
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Safe and Well Visits
(December 2016)
Safe and Well visits carried out by GMFRS. The visit expands on the scope of previous home safety checks by focusing on health and wellbeing and crime prevention, as well as fire.Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue ServiceEmergency ServicesNorth West
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller health needs in County Durham
(December 2016)
Community based commissioning aims to address health inequalities and improve health and social care for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families in Durham.Durham County CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth East
Health and wellbeing community development and Health Improvement Programme in Aylesbury Town, Buckinghamshire
(May 2018)
The programme uses a community development approach to health improvement providing a Healthy Living Centre (HLC) within the Walton Court / Southcourt community of Aylesbury Town in the Buckinghamshire County Council area, alongside engagement in other key areas of deprivation across Buckinghamshire.

The overall programme includes a generic Skilled for Health Programme called English for Health and Wellbeing (SfHW), a Skilled for Health maternity programme with Black and Ethnic Minority (BaME) women of childbearing age, a range of health improvement activities e.g. simply walk, chair based exercise, youth hub and boxing club, dementia activities such as silver singers and senior lunch clubs, underpinned by a range of community development and engagement approaches, including volunteering.

These activities both build the capacity of individuals and the local community, and include recruiting target individuals into the relevant health improvement programmes to improve health and wellbeing. The Healthy Living Centre also has a community café which draws people in to the centre, a nursery and the management and hire of the attached community centre facilities on behalf of the local housing trust. See also: case study.
Buckinghamshire County CouncilLocal AuthoritySouth East
HenPower: henergising older people's lives
(May 2018)
HenPower combines hen-keeping and creativity to combat loneliness and improve the wellbeing of older people and those living with dementia.Equal ArtsVoluntary & Community SectorNorth East
Highbridge Ladies Running Club
(May 2018)
A free to participate, volunteer led, sustainable beginner’s ladies running group in Highbridge, Somerset. The group has been set up to encourage complete beginners to give jogging/running a go and those looking to re visit the activity to ‘get out there and give it a go’. Set up to promote health and wellbeing through physical activity whilst encouraging a strong social element tackling isolation and again promoting inclusion.Knightstone Housing AssociationPrivate OrganisationSouth West
Increasing Physical Activity Levels: Halcon
(May 2018)
Zing Somerset’s work aimed to increase the physical activity levels and social wellbeing of the most inactive local residents in Halcon.SASPVoluntary & Community SectorSouth West
Integrated Wellness (Live Life Well) Sunderland
(December 2016)
An integrated wellness service has been developed in Sunderland to provide a holistic approach to improving health. From this work we have learned a lot about the benefits and challenges of public engagement and service integration. Communication with our service provider has proved to be critical to the project’s success.Sunderland City CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth East
Lunch Positive HIV support
(December 2019)
Community lunch clubs, groups and initiatives for people with HIV. Frontline volunteer service delivery that supports people with complex need & multiple disadvantage. Addressing social determinants of health within a user-led service environment.Lunch PositiveVoluntary & Community SectorSouth East
Macmillan Social Prescribing (MSP) Pilot in East London
(August 2019)
Social Prescribing is a linking service which connects people to community-based activities and supports which help improve their wellbeing. It is an assets-based approach which works with people’s individual circumstances and aspirations to help link them to meaningful activities and support.

The Macmillan Social Prescribing (MSP) pilot works across four Boroughs in East London (Tower Hamlets, City & Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest), with a remit to help people who have, or have had, a cancer diagnosis to find and access support which meets their non-clinical needs.
Bromley by Bow CentreVoluntary & Community SectorLondon
Mapping assets for wellbeing in the Wakefield District
(October 2016)
Building on previous asset-based work within the District, the aim of this project was to inform future strategic planning, commissioning and delivery around health and wellbeing, by:•Wakefield CouncilLocal AuthorityYorkshire & the Humber
Mind Fit – Pat Benson Boxing Academy
(May 2018)
Mind Fit is a unique programme using boxing and physical exercise to engage adults and young people suffering from mental health issues. The development of the programme was led by community members who were regularly attending our gym. In the process of getting to know us better, several members started talking about their mental health problems, and drug/alcohol dependencies and they told us how attending the boxing club really helped.Pat Benson Boxing AcademyVoluntary & Community SectorWest Midlands
Minded to help: Darlington
(December 2016)
Minded to Help employs a network of experienced peers to promote positive mental health in the workplace and improve employees’ wellbeing.Darlington Borough CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth East
Mytime Active – engaging inactive women and girls
(May 2018)
Mytime Active engaged over 200 young women aged 14-25 to start moving more, with the aim of improving their physical activity levels and overall wellbeing. The project sought to improve the participants self-reported health and wellbeing. Further information: Us Girls Bromley - Youth Consultation & Insight.Mytime ActiveVoluntary & Community SectorLondon
National Carer Passports Toolkit
(May 2018)
Website, animations and templates that support the setting up of a Carer Passport scheme, intended to improve carer recognition and support. It reflects co-produced practice locally in many cases.Carers UKVoluntary & Community SectorNational
Our Neighbourhood Asset Based Community Development Project
(May 2018)
Our Neighbourhood uses an asset based approach to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Weston-super-Mare.Alliance HomesPrivate OrganisationSouth West
Our people, our place, our approach - Northumberland
(December 2016)
Community engagement through listening exercises with residents helps local authority identify local strengths and assets to improve public health and wellbeing.Northumberland County CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth East
Pathway Project Group Programme
(May 2018)
The Group Programme is a therapeutic approach to recovery from domestic abuse, using a range of approaches with an emphasis on peer support.Pathway ProjectVoluntary & Community SectorWest Midlands
Physical Activity – Asset-Based Community Development
(December 2019)
Utilising a community asset-based approach with partners and residents in Nottingham North (Bulwell) to support people to be more active.PHE East Midlands CentreCivil ServiceEast Midlands
Rotherham Active for Health
(December 2019)
A multi-agency approach to the delivery of condition specific exercise for people with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) musculoskeletal (MSK) lower back pain, falls prevention, stroke, cardiac and heart failure. The programme linked healthcare to specialist community-based exercise rehabilitation.Functional FitnessPrivate OrganisationYorkshire & the Humber
Sanjuro Training Systems: Bruce Grove Youth Club
(May 2018)
Sanjuro delivers accessible, health improving physical activity, through the development of inclusive programmes, centred around each participant’s needs. This participant-centric approach helps to continually develop our offer and services so that a young person can start training with us in primary school and continue until they are in the world of work.
Further information: Sanjuro Training Doorstep Sport Club and Sanjuro inclusion coach training for group exercise (AQA). Case study 1: Gary -Sanjuro student to instructor. Case study 2: Issachar - student to instructor.
Sanjuro Training SystemsPrivate OrganisationLondon
Shoreditch Trust Bump Buddies: support in pregnancy and parenthood
(June 2018)
Bump Buddies is part of Shoreditch Trust, an organisation working to reduce economic and social disadvantage in the London Borough of Hackney. It targets socially isolated women during pregnancy and early parenthood who may also be coping with a range of issues, such as poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, insecure immigration status, trauma, poor mental health and/or physical health and female genital mutilation (FGM).Shoreditch TrustVoluntary & Community SectorLondon
Skelmersdale International (Welcoming and valuing new arrivals)
(December 2016)
Residents of West Lancashire held a welcoming party for new arrivals seeking refuge in the UK, for both individuals and families. Local residents have been involved in ongoing activity to map the gifts, skills and capacities that the new arrivals bring to the community and support them to get involved in the local community. Activities are focussing on existing and new arrivals swopping skills for mutual support e.g. the improvement of language skills and cultural knowledge. This helps to connect individuals to a community that generally has a very small black and minority ethnic (BME) population.West Lancs CVSVoluntary & Community SectorNorth West
Smoking and Tobacco: Using a Community Asset Approach to Improve Health in Hull
(June 2018)
The vision for the practice is to create community driven solutions for smoking and tobacco control which contributes to improved wellbeing for residents in Hull - by understanding people’s perception of their own smoking issues to inform solutions.
The project is the implementation of a community wide intensive approach to smoking and tobacco control to create a groundswell for change around smoking.

The wider aim of this practice is to improve health and wellbeing, with smoking as a measurable marker.
Hull City CouncilLocal AuthorityYorkshire & the Humber
Social Prescribing: the Shropshire Model
(December 2019)
Strategic level partners from across the NHS, voluntary and community sector (VCS) and local government, through the Health and Wellbeing Board, have developed a model of social prescribing for Shropshire, over the past two years. This has been led by the council’s public health team, working directly with local GP practices, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), voluntary sector organisations and other local partners, as part of the wider Healthy Lives Population Health Programme. The model has followed a step by step methodology, which is further outlined in section 7.

The model aligns to national guidance set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, and is proactively supporting the development of social prescribing, and supporting primary care networks (PCNs) in their new role by adopting a place-based approach.
Shropshire Council, QUBE, Shropshire CCGLocal Authority/Voluntary & Community Sector/NHSWest Midlands
Solutions - social prescribing pilot
(May 2018)
Solutions is a social prescribing project with quality assured advice at the centre of a network of specialist support services and community-based social activity groups.Citizen's Advice North East SuffolkVoluntary & Community SectorEast of England
Stockton Navigator Service for asylum seekers and refugees
(May 2018)
Peer support, personalised assessments, information and support help new arrivals improve their wellbeing and access services.Stockton Borough CouncilLocal AuthorityNorth East
Taking a whole system approach to developing resilient communities in DudleyThis programme focuses on bringing together – and building on – a strong history of community-orientated approaches to improving health and wellbeing in Dudley. It has three elements:
• Embedding community centred approaches into the refresh of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy
• Developing the Council’s contribution to resilient communities
• Investing in innovation in the local voluntary and community sector

These have now been brought together under our new Future Communities Transformation programme which has three aspirations:
• Safe and secure communities
• Connected Communities
• Empowered Communities
Dudley CouncilLocal AuthorityWest Midlands
The Hop50+ Community Space and Café
(May 2018)
The Hop50+ Community Space and Café offer a seven day week service to isolated and vulnerable older people across the city of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex.Impact InitiativesVoluntary & Community SectorSouth East
The Hub @ Castlepoint
(May 2018)
A mainly volunteer-led community hub supports wellbeing by developing social connections and friendships, so combating isolation and preventing problems becoming crises. It is based in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, one of the most deprived London boroughs.Community ResourcesVoluntary & Community SectorLondon
The Wellbeing Burger
(May 2018)
Physical activity and nutrition programme to improve the wellbeing of homeless young people in preparation for greater independence.Salvation Army Housing AssociationVoluntary & Community SectorNorth West
Time Union at Coventy City Council’s award-winning Pod
(May 2018)
The Pod creatively supports people on their mental health recovery journey. It uses social brokerage to help people re-engage with their communities, re-discover their interests and find new opportunities across the city. Time Union is one strand of many at the Pod that supports people to connect with each other, whether they live with mental illness or not. These approaches, based on citizenship, help tackle the stigma of mental illness. There is also an annual Mental Health Arts Festival, Food Union and café.

Time Union is a city-wide time bank through which members exchange skills/talents by the hour, each time exchanging a Time Credit note rather than money. Its current membership includes plumbers, life coaches, yoga teachers, guitarists and sound engineers to name but a few. Members may have lived experience of mental illness or they may not. There is no need to say. Everyone has something to offer. Current examples are language lessons, reiki, DIY, admin, fitness coaching, cleaning, filmmaking lessons, filing etc. The possibilities are endless.
Coventry City CouncilLocal AuthorityWest Midlands
'Us Girls' – Sheffield Wednesday FC Community Programme
(May 2018)
This is a new initiative, delivered by Sheffield Wednesday FC Community Programme (SWFCCP) in partnership with the StreetGames ‘Us Girls’ project, to engage inactive girls and young women into football for the first time.Sheffield Wednesday Football ClubPrivate OrganisationYorkshire & the Humber
Ways to Wellness Newcastle for people with long term conditions
(December 2016)
Social prescribing helps patients to manage their long term conditions through one-to-one support from a link workerWays to Wellness/NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCGVoluntary & Community Sector/NHSNorth East
Wellbeing Exeter: Social Prescribing Meets Asset-based Community Development
(May 2018)
Wellbeing Exeter is a partnership pilot, working at scale to deliver a whole-system approach to social prescribing in combination with asset-based community development.Devon Community FoundationVoluntary & Community SectorSouth West
Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST), Manchester
(May 2018)
A user-led peer-support group for women seeking asylum. Activities are run in response to members’ needs and requests.Maternity Action, WASTVoluntary & Community SectorNorth West


Community Champions

Community champions: a rapid scoping review of community champion approaches for the pandemic response and recovery

This rapid scoping review pulls together existing research on community champions and considers the potential for community champion approaches to be used to support the pandemic response and recovery. It summarises the best available evidence from previous UK champion programmes focused on health improvement and from international studies of champion-type roles in communicable disease control.

Overall, findings show that champion approaches are highly relevant to reducing health inequalities as champions are able to reach and connect with different communities. Community champion approaches can be applied flexibly to meet local needs and assets, and there are range of different models that can be used. The review also highlights evidence on what’s needed for successful implementation. Examples from practice are used to illustrate and strengthen these findings wherever possible.

Are you interested in submitting a practice example? Visit the practice examples homepage for templates and checklists.

Last Updated on 16th June 2023 by rgledhill

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