We had our ABCD training with Deborah Klee from the NDTi (National Development Team for Inclusion) and Vintage Communities. We had a two day course – the first day was at Connaught Hall in Attleborough and the second day was a week later was at the Willows, Cringleford. We invited anyone who wanted to find out about ABCD and help us to make the ABCD Project a success. Here’s a short film capturing the excitement of the first day.

We learnt what ABCD is all about. We played the We Can game to look at all the assets we have in our little groups. We were given a stack of cards with lots of different skills on them. We were asked to talk about them and arrange them into into  piles “We can”; “We can’t but we know someone who can”; “We can’t and don’t know who can”; “Who else? What else? can we invite to create a more hospital community?” It was a great game! The room was buzzing with people chatting and telling stories. There was nothing we couldn’t do ourselves or didn’t know someone else who could. We also wrote a list of things We Can Also Do that weren’t on the cards. We learnt that we were a talented bunch of people!

we played we can

After lunch we went out into Attleborough armed with tourist maps and we talked to people and looked out for anything that could help could us connected and keep us well. We came back and put the information on a giant map of the town. It was amazing how many things we discovered.

attlebrough mapping

We talked about our project and asked who would like to try ABCD in their communities. Six people from different areas said they would like to give it a go: Poringland, Swardeston, Wicklewood & Wymondham, Attleborough, Mulbarton, Dereham.

The second day in Cringleford was about thinking about all the practical things we need to do to get ABCD started where we live. Deborah explained the first four steps:

1. Start with people you know. Find out who are the “connectors” in your community – the people who know everyone; the people you turn to if you want to get something done.

2. Find out about all the local clubs and associations and draw them on a map.

3. Ask people “what are you passionate about?” Find out what drives people – the things they love and care about.

4. Make contact with people in the street, find out what people want to see happen in your community.

4 steps to ABCD

We talked about our concerns…

What about safe-guarding vulnerable adults? Deborah said keeping people safe is really important but we shouldn’t always professionalise relationships. ABCD is about building relationships of trust with neighbours and friends, ending isolation so people lead healthier, more connected lives.

How can we reach people with severe and enduring mental health issues? We’ll be creative, we’ll work hard. We ‘ll accept that this project isn’t the only source of support for people and sometimes people won’t want to engage with us until they’re ready. We’ll do our best to ensure this project feels as safe as possible for everyone.

start small

What about insurance and constitutions? We’ll start small and grow steadily. We’ll start with where people are at – their passions, their skills. Some communities might eventually want to have formal structures like committees – we can do that when we’re ready. Deborah said:

“Why have a meeting when you can have a party?”

Is ABCD just an excuse not to fund services? No! It is not there to replace services. There are lots of things only statutory services can do but there are also a huge amount of things we can do together in our communities to  care for and look out for one another.

Is ABCD just about asset mapping? No! mapping the assets is just part of the process. If we want to make sustainable change we have to mobilise those assets too – get people connected and working together to make their community more caring, welcoming places.

How do we get this started? Find people in your communities who would like to get involved and then invite Shell to come in and support and inspire you all. She is here til January 2016 to do her best to help you sew the seeds for ABCD to grow. Shell’s role isn’t about doing all the work so you cant manage without her; she’s here to help you take control.

Shell with Brian and Mike from Poringland Men's Shed

Shell with Brian and Mike from Poringland Men’s Shed