What can social work and social care learn from asset-based community development?

17 November 2020


Dr Nick Andrews, Swansea University, Dr Oliver Davis, Cardiff University and David Horton, ACE Caerau Ely.

This webinar considers how social work and social care can learn from community development approaches, using an example from west Cardiff.

Social work and community development have always been uneasy bedfellows not least in terms of where power and ‘experts’ are located (Walker 2016). Two decades of neo-liberal influences on social work have increasingly pushed the profession toward managerialist, detached ‘professionalism’, rather than kinship, solidarity and activism.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 has set the stage for a reuniting of social work and community development with a focus on relational rather than procedural ways of working and re-engagement with communities. However, there is a danger that this could become an opportunist and exploitative venture, that focuses on the transfer of responsibility rather than resources and power to local communities.

This seminar will outline a particular approach to community development in a particular area of Cardiff, that is asset-based and people-led. It will provide a narrative of community development that illustrates its complex, relational, creative and emergent nature. Such an approach does not sit well with traditional approaches to planning and evaluation in social care, which often try to control and predict rather than go with the flow.

The fruits of asset-based community development will be illustrated by the example of a heritage project involving archaeologists from Cardiff University. The seminar will conclude with an outline of a storytelling approach to evaluating such work that is focused on learning, rather than performance.

Participants will then be invited to engage in dialogue about what they have heard. They will explore the opportunities and obstacles to community development and social care becoming more easy bedfellows.