The ABCD Project was for just 9 months and we wanted to make sure we were as effective as possible in that time. We wrote this Strategy to help us stay focused on what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to achieve it.

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Core Values

We believe:

– every single person has skills, talents and gifts

– we all have capacity to experience mental health issues and go through tough times

– our mental health is just as important as our physical health (this is also called “parity of esteem”)

– you have to see the person behind the illness

– everybody is equal (and no-one should be discriminated against because of their race, gender, sexuality, disability, mental health, religion or belief, age, class)

– every community is filled with untapped resources (”assets”) and ABCD is a great way to release and connect them

– co-production is essential (this means that professionals, people who use services, families and neighbours all work together as equals)

– sustainability comes from people owning the process (if people believe in what we’re doing they will keep doing it long after the project ends)


We want to inspire caring, connected communities where people support each other during tough times


We want to use ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development) to ensure that people experiencing mental health issues in the South Norfolk CCG area are valued members of their communities and they can give and receive the information and support they need to stay well.


To develop and promote the project we will:

– work in co-production with people who have lived experience of mental health issues/tough times, either for themselves or with someone they love or care for (at least 50% representation at every level).

– work in partnership with local health services, voluntary organisations, councils

– work collaboratively with local people and community groups

– use digital and paper-based media (e.g. posters on community notice boards) to tell people what we are doing

– attend key local events to talk to people about our work e.g. South Norfolk on Show

To equip people with the skills and knowledge to use ABCD we will:

– develop a website, twitter account, facebook page and monthly newsletter (in digital and paper formats) to share stories and ideas

– organise a series of training events with people from ABCD projects around the country

– create a “community of interest” where people using ABCD can come together regularly to give one another support

– produce a toolkit of resources that people can use independently in their communities

– link with ABCD projects around the world via twitter etc

To ensure we reach our target of 50% co-production at every level we will:

– have a private monitoring form at each event where people can disclose information about their identities

– give presentations to “service users” and carers in forums, drop-in groups etc to explain face-to-face what the project is about and listen to their thoughts and ideas

– encourage partner organisations to support their members to get involved

– pay travel expenses and involvement fees where appropriate

– create spaces where people can feel safe to be themselves without fear of prejudice, discrimination or intimidation

To create safe spaces we will:

– show that we understand that access is an emotional as well as a physical issue and we are committed to making all our events as accessible as possible.

– have regular breaks where people can relax and process what’s happening

– have chill-out areas where people can take time out when they need it

– produce information in easy-read formats with lots of pictures so people can grasp what’s happening, even if they are really ill

– avoid jargon and conversations dominated by professionals

– use interpreters if we need them to communicate with people (including British Sign Language)

– make a set of ground rules around behaviour to ensure everyone is treated with respect at all times

– make it clear that people can opt out of things that cause them anxiety e.g. bring and share lunches

– monitor messages on social media and remove content that could cause distress

– recognise that people can have “good days” and “bad days” and accept what they bring to the project whenever they come

– have “no photography” stickers for people who don’t want their image used

– remind people that this is one small project and it is not the answer to everything; signpost people to other organisations and forums

– be positive. ABCD is built on “glass half-full” philosophy and we need to stay focused on the project being about finding and developing personal and community assets.

To ensure we reach as diverse a range of people as possible (including minority groups where we know there are high incidences of mental health issues) we will:

– recognise that community is not just about geography but can also be based on cultural identity e.g. the country where you come from; the colour of your skin; your sexuality; your age

– consult with minority groups and listen to what they say and ensure their voices are heard

– include images in our publicity that signal that we celebrate diversity e.g. the rainbow flag sends out a positive signal to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people

– use photos that represent a diverse range of people

– send information about the project to diverse groups to include in their newsletters

– ensure that we have a diverse range of people represented on the Project Reference Group

– support people to use the ABCD approach in their cultural communities

To ensure this project is sustainable after the Project Coordinator’s post ends we will:

– use an empowering approach at all times so people and communities are equipped to do things for themselves

– continue to pay for the hosting of the website so it remains an archive of stories and resources to inspire people

– work from where people are at i.e. don’t parachute into towns and villages and impose ABCD on them; nurture the interest that’s been stimulated by the training events and support people to do ABCD where they live

To ensure we look after the mental health and well-being of the Project Coordinator we will:

– give her good support and supervision (Robin at Together; Chris and Wendy at CCG)

– use her skills and limited time (2 days a week for 9 months) as effectively as possible

– work collaboratively and take responsibility for ourselves and the group (she is not our “leader” or an “expert”; she is a creative resource that can support and inspire us to “sow the seeds” to make ABCD happen in our communities)

– give it a go. We’re living in difficult, stressful times and it’s impossible to forget that, but this project is an opportunity to try something a bit different and see if it helps. A wall of negativity will drain the Project Coordinator and everyone else in the group. Let’s maximise the chance of the project succeeding by trying it and see what happens.

To record what happens with the Project we will:

– use artists to create graphic reports of events

– encourage participants to add comments and pictures to the graphic reports

– use multimedia technologies e.g. film and photography

– create an online diary “blog” and tweet and facebook any news

To celebrate the end of the Project we will:

– have a party, a “winter festival” in January, where we bring together all the people who have been involved in the project and encourage them to share stories and photos and presentations about what they’ve found and achieved in their communities

– showcase some of the assets we have discovered and developed e.g. a singing group might perform; Men’s Shed might make something

– encourage everyone to get involved in organising the event so they own it and can do it again in future.

To ensure the Project influences the way the South Norfolk CCG commissions mental health services we will:

– ensure a representative from the South Norfolk CCG is at all the key events to listen to people and answer questions

– involve as many people as possible in the Project so that they can hear as many voices as possible

– show the CCG the things that make a tangible difference in people’s lives

– give the CCG information in a clear, creative way that enables them to understand what it’s like to live with mental health issues in their area, so that when they commission services they think about real people with real lives (not just statistics)

– show them the challenges and opportunities of living in rural Norfolk and the differences between living in towns and villages to living in a city

– show that communities can use their resources (“assets”) to connect people and create mutually-supportive relationships; enable the CCG to use funds effectively to fill gaps that communities can’t fill.

project board

The ABCD Project Board are here to make sure we stay on course