Angie Wright, Chief Officer of b inspired, write a bit about their journey of Asset Based Community Development. 
I have long been a believer in looking at what you have got – rather than what you haven’t! 
A belief that I like to think I weave through both my personal and professional life. And so, working with an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach feels natural to me and I think served me well (and I hope the community around me!) for the past 25 years. Working in so called deprived or disadvantaged neighbourhoods, may not seem like the natural place to call on assets but assets come in many guises! 
I give an example here of how with local knowledge, local connections, local interest and local pride – local people can use their skills and entrepreneurship to secure assets and improve them for their community. 
About 5 years ago I was contacted by a Senior Manager at the local Council to ask if we (b inspired), would be interested in taking over the Grove Youth Centre building on our estate. A down-at-heel building, prey to vandalism with barely any services running from it, it was not a very enticing prospect. 
Moreover, we didn’t know what the local community wanted from the building anymore and what interest there was in bringing it back to life. But the seed was sown and over the next year we sort to find out what aspirations local people had for the Grove; how they wanted to part of bringing it back to life and how we might use our assets locally – along with seeking other investment, to create a vision. 
We found a funding partner in Power to Change (a Lottery funded Trust), who wanted to target investment into deprived areas to use Community Business as a way to improve the local economy and tackle local social issues. This investment in our time and resources helped us to engage and consult with 600 residents over a 6 months period. We really got down to the nub of what people thought about the building – it’s possibilities and prospects and most importantly how they wanted to use their skills, knowledge, experience, time and energy to make something happen! 
“It was clear there was much interest and enthusiasm for something to happen.” 
There was no shortage of ideas and offers. People wanted more for young people, more for children, a bar, a café, a place to meet and socialise and lots more. People came with ideas, offers of volunteering and setting-up new small businesses. It was clear there was much interest and enthusiasm for something to happen. 
So, with all this evidence of local interest and ideas, we could get stuck in with working together to raise the funds and apply for the asset transfer of the building. None of this was easy of course! Delays in agreeing a long-lease, writing tenders, funding bids, keeping everyone in touch, keeping momentum, keeping interest – all takes a lot of time and energy. 
But by mid-2019 we had signed a 25 years lease with the Council and secured enough money from grants and a small Crowdfunder campaign, to have the building refurbished and create the Café, bar, Dance Studio, new Football facilities and meeting space. Although our timing couldn’t have been worse…we launched and opened on 8th February (800 people came on the day!) and had to close on 24 March, 2020 due to a global pandemic! 
That didn’t stop us because the local people we were engaged with wanted to keep pushing forward and during the subsequent 18 months of lockdowns and closures, we continued to meet online and the groups of volunteers undertook lots of training to start-up their community businesses. We re-opened in summer 2021 and 4 new community business were registered and up and trading by Autumn that year (and still are!). 
For me, community power is about people having access to land and buildings, because that’s where the control is. We’re fed up of landlords taking profits out of the community. If people had control of these places and spaces then great things would happen. And we know that there’s the skills and people in the community that can make these things happen. We don’t want to hand-me-downs, everybody can actually do something to contribute. For Coalville it’s about taking over some buildings, and some of these buildings have been shut for years. And you just think why? Why are these buildings shut up and nobody can get hold of them or it takes absolutely years? We need proper control over land and buildings, and then amazing things will happen. 
We’re basically not going to give up now, we’ve come too far. And this year, there will definitely be at least one building in the hands of the community. There are two or three that are out there. And if we fail in getting them it will still be a great story. 
To politicians, I would say find out what a Community Benefits Society is – it’s proper legal vehicle that can handle these funds. There potentially could be a super CBS that could hold some of these funds, instead of giving it to developers who were just going to extract the profits from communities. I would say to any politician: help create a Community Benefit Society in your patch and find out what’s already happening and get the money going into them. 
I’m just sure that this year we will do it. We’ve been doing this for so long – something’s got to happen. We’ll get the whole country behind us. 
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