Building healthy, caring communities is as easy as ABCD and as sweet as chocolate cake!

ABCD Michelle Savage and Kevin James

20 people from villages and towns across South Norfolk and Breckland attended a community development training day in Connaught Hall in Attleborough on Thursday 28th May. The day was part of a project that seeks to build healthy, caring communities by teaching people how to “asset-map” the talents and resources available where they live. The project is funded by the NHS East of England Strategic Clinical Network and supported by NHS South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group. Part of the day involved the trainees going out into Attleborough armed with tourist maps to find out what keeps people happy and well in the town. When they came back they plotted what they’d found out on a giant map. The range of assets they discovered included carers groups, the town archive, sewing, reading, games and social groups, digital photography days, ladies’ cycling weekends, amateur dramatics, art, massage and therapy.

Karen Patient is a member of the Patient Participation Group (PPG) for the Attleborough and Pulham Surgery. She said:

“I’ve lived in Attleborough for 10 years and people found about more about the town in an hour than I have in a decade.”

The project is based on a model called ABCD – Asset Based Community Development and the trainer was Deborah Klee from Vintage Communities in London. Nick O’Brien, assistant headteacher at Dereham Neatherd High School said:

“We’ve been working with the anti-stigma campaign Time To Change on a whole-school approach to mental health awareness involving pupils, staff and parents. The training day has inspired me to think about how we could use ABCD to expand the work we’ve been doing within our school community into the wider community. We definitely want to be involved.”

People from Poringland, Swardeston, Wicklewood & Wymondham, Attleborough, Mulbarton and Dereham have now signed up to say they would like to do some ABCD work in their communities and they will attend a follow-up day on Wednesday 3rd June, 11-3 at the Willows in Cringleford.

Kevin James is part of the Project Group that designed the project and is Chair of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s South & Central Service User and Carers Forum. He says:

“Our training day in Attleborough was hugely inspirational. Deborah’s stories about how the ABCD approach had transformed communities in London inspired everyone to want to take part here in Norfolk. I’m looking forward to the follow-up day and making concrete plans with people about how we can make this happen.”

People were encouraged to bring food to share for the lunch, and tea and cake were provided by the ABCD Project, including a chocolate cake iced with the letters ABCD. Artist Eloise O’Hare was drawing pictures all day to create a graphic report of the training. The Project Coordinator is community filmmaker Michelle Savage (Shelly Telly). For more information you can call Michelle on 07497 003539 or email her at shell@abcdproject.org.uk.