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KJSA logoCommunity assets: People helping people


More indicators and information also available in the Community Cohesion section


In previous JSNAs we have focussed largely on understanding the needs of the Kirklees population. Whilst it is important that we continue to understand needs and health inequalities, as part of our new approach to Kirklees Joint Strategic Assessment (KJSA) we also want to understand the assets (strengths) that people, communities and groups have and use to support and improve their health and wellbeing.

Assets exist in individuals, communities and organisations, and include things like skills, capacity, knowledge, networks, social connections, and physical and economic resources such as green spaces and local businesses. Assets become stronger when they are shared between people, and the connections made in communities by sharing helps build resilience. Each person’s assets are different, and assets are likely to change across each person’s lifetime.

Individuals and communities are vital to improving health and wellbeing – ‘people helping people’. In Kirklees, there is a commitment to focus on the assets that individuals and communities have – what’s strong rather than what’s wrong. Kirklees partners consider social capital and social value in local commissioning decisions and support a range of asset-based approaches including volunteering, social action, self-care and social prescribing.

This section describes some of the asset-based approaches and examples of community assets and people helping people in Kirklees. To find out more about assets relating to specific groups or issues please have a look in the relevant KJSA sections. If you have other examples to share we would love to hear from you! Please email or leave a comment on our KJSA blog. For more information and examples from elsewhere please see the References and the Additional Resources at the end of this section.

Why is this important?

National evidence shows that people’s wellbeing is better if they are well-connected to other people and involved in their communities. A key source has been the Personal Wellbeing findings from the Annual Population Survey.

Local evidence on adult wellbeing is gathered every four years via the Current Living in Kirklees (CLiK) survey (1). Top line findings and a key summary for CLiK 2016 are available. The wellbeing of children is measured via our Children’s Survey(2) . Top-line findings for the CYP Survey 2014 are available here.

Community assets, action and people helping people is important because there are crucial links between people, communities, health and wellbeing:

  • People with strong social connections are healthier and happier (3)
  • Health and care systems built around people and communities are stronger and more effective. This ‘new relationship with patients and communities’ is at the heart of the NHS Five Year Forward View
  • Strong connections between people and their communities bring about a number of benefits sometimes referred to as ‘social capital’(3–6)
  • This is created by personal and family networks (having people you feel close to, to love and be loved by); community activity (which depends on and creates “trust and reciprocity”); and influencing decisions.

The diagram below shows the key elements of social capital and connectedness and how they relate.

Social capital can be attributed to individuals, groups and communities. Strong social capital in communities is linked to higher educational achievement, better employment outcomes, lower crime rates and reduced disease and death. Social capital provides a source of resilience and a buffer against particular risks of poor health, through the social support and connections, which are critical to physical and mental wellbeing, to help for people to find work or get through economic and other difficulties. Some ‘measures’ of social capital in Kirklees are included in the KJSA indicator tables here [add link when available].

Social isolation is the flip side of this – those who lack social capital and support can become isolated and as a result, more likely to experience poor physical and mental health, and overall increased mortality.

What do we know about community assets and action in Kirklees?


Kirklees is rich in assets that support people’s health and wellbeing, including:

  • Thousands of community-run groups and activities
  • A self-care programme for people with long-term conditions
  • Volunteering and social action
  • Social prescribing
  • Sharing of community resources
  • Asset-based community development approaches
  • Public participation/community involvement
  • Commissioning for social value
  • Schools as community hubs
  • Lifelong community learning
  • Food, exercise and sport
  • Arts and cultural activities and assets
  • Places and spaces (outdoors and indoors) to visit, use and share
  • Information about Kirklees, particularly the Community Directory and Kirklees Observatory

Further information about all these assets is provided below:


Thousands of local voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations run activities and services that support people’s health and wellbeing. Many of these can be found in the Kirklees Community Directory. You can search the community directory for individual groups and organisations, or search by theme, local district or by user group. There is also a new on-line ‘Community Contacts’ guide to services about money, work, learning & housing. This includes several VCS organisations and can be saved to the home screen on a mobile phone to be used like an ‘app’.

Many community groups and activities are ‘user-led’, meaning that older people run activities for other older people, disabled people offer support to other disabled people, and so on – i.e. people helping people like themselves. Storyboards on Flickr show some of these community-run groups and activities, and describe the difference that they can make to people’s lives. You can also find health and social care factsheets on the council website, including ones about community activities and self-care. (Note that these are updated less often than the Community Directory).


‘People helping people’ starts with individuals. Self-care is about looking after yourself, living a healthy lifestyle and looking at what you can do and want to do, rather than what you can’t do. It is particularly important for people with long-term conditions (LTCs). Around 160,000 adults in Kirklees have a LTC: This is almost half (46.4%) of all adults and two in three (65%) of those aged 65 and over. One in 33 of all adults and one in 24 of adults aged 65 and over have three or more long-term conditions [ref 1].  There is a wide range of existing resources to support self-care in Kirklees. People who become experts in self-care can go on to become peer supporters, helping others to help themselves.

Volunteering and Social Action

Volunteering and social action play an important part in improving health, wellbeing and independence. People who volunteer generally have higher wellbeing scores than people who do not (1).

In 2016-17, Kirklees Community Partnerships invested in 99 community-led projects run by 2,047 volunteers and 47 paid staff, supporting 16,125 individuals to be more active, healthy or independent. Evidence from Kirklees Community Partnerships investment (7) shows that social action has a significant, positive impact on people’s self-reported health, wellbeing, physical activity, isolation and social involvement. These findings are significant because they focus on people who are already vulnerable or isolated, and who initially report lower wellbeing than the general population, and show that their wellbeing improves when they take part in community activity.

Locally we have evidence of the positive impacts of volunteering at Kirklees Museums and Galleries (KMAG) on health and wellbeing. You can find the year 1 evaluation report here. There is a link to volunteer stories film here.

One year into a two year evaluation the KMAG project has shown positive impacts on volunteers  across all five of the Five Ways to Wellbeing pathways (connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, give) and identified some unique attributes of volunteering in a cultural setting. Of particular benefit to volunteers were opportunities to help to preserve important cultural assets; to interact with other volunteers, employees and members of the public; and to meet people from different backgrounds who they would not otherwise encounter. These meaningful connections offered through volunteering in a cultural setting can combat social isolation and loneliness as well as supporting community cohesion.

The latest Third Sector Trends Survey shows that there are 1,098 registered voluntary and community sector organisations in Kirklees and an estimated 1,128 unregistered ones. The third sector economy is worth £218 million and employs 5,149 people. Almost 25,000 people volunteer in the registered organisations alone – at least a quarter of the Kirklees population giving unpaid help to others at least once a month.

Kirklees has a Third Sector Leaders organisation and a volunteer bureau, Volunteering Kirklees, which connects people to volunteering opportunities. Other information about volunteering is available from the Kirklees Council website.

Social Prescribing

Social Prescribing is a way of linking people with support in communities, as an alternative or addition to medical prescriptions and other formal health/care services. Better in Kirklees (BiK) is our local social prescribing service, commissioned by Kirklees Council and Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees CCGs. BiK is integrated across health and care systems and takes referrals from GPs, social workers, mental health teams, community health providers and others. 750 individuals were referred via BiK from health and care ‘front door’ services to community activities in 2016-17; 1000 more are due to be referred in 2017-18. Two thirds of these people have Care Act eligible needs and evidence suggests significant service savings because social prescribing diverts people from more expensive mainstream services. Social prescribing depends on a robust network of community support: community-led activities must be in place to support the people who are referred, and peer volunteers offer help to get involved.

Sharing Community Resources

Comoodle is an online platform to help people, groups and organisations to share stuff, space and skills, usually short-term:

Kirklees Shares is designed to help local organisations of all kinds to share resources, build connections and get things done:

Asset-Based Community Development

Kirklees Council is committed to asset-based approaches to working in and with communities. Community workers have been trained in asset-based community development (ABCD) and social workers have also been trained in asset-based approaches. Evidence about the value of ABCD is currently being considered by the Kirklees Democracy Commission.  More information about ABCD can be found in the additional resources section.

Public and Community Involvement

Kirklees has a strong commitment to involving the public, patients, service users and carers in planning and decision-making and well-established arrangements to make this happen. People are involved in developing health and care strategies and plans, through five Partnership Commissioning Boards/Strategy Groups and linked networks, focused on services for carers, learning disabilities, mental health, older people and physical disabilities and sensory impairments. Kirklees Healthwatch acts as a local voice and watchdog for patients and care service users. The Kirklees Democracy Commission is working to improve participation in local democracy generally.

Commissioning for Social Value

Kirklees Council is committed to commissioning for social value. This prompts us to ask the question “If £1 is spent on delivery of services, can that same £1 be used to also produce a wider benefit to the community?” Research by the New Economics Foundation shows that, in Kirklees, we already ‘grow social capital’ and get a social return on our investment in community-led activities. We have developed clear guidelines for commissioners, to help us develop commissioning for social value and do it well.

Schools as Community Hubs

Schools engage with families and children every day and they have a valuable position within our communities. It is critical that the council, schools and their partners work more closely together to shape future services.

In all parts of Kirklees there are schools developing multiagency partnership arrangements and resource catalogues have been designed to make visible the resources and assets available which can support improved education and health outcomes for children and their families. Each partnership is committed to working to a collective vision of: Strong partnerships of schools (hubs) as the vehicle for delivering a range of services for children, families and the wider community.

Virtually every school in Kirklees has now organised themselves into a School hub area. Kirklees is the first district in the UK that we know of where nearly every school in the area have teamed together, supporting each other and sharing the very best ideas to help make Kirklees a place where children have a great childhood and the best education possible. Each school hub fits within eight joint health and education children and family team areas, established to support equitable resource allocation, with the schools hubs being the vehicle for direct delivery, as close to the front line as possible. School Hubs are exploring using a variety of community building assets where space is needed.

Hubs are beginning to work within a community-led outcome based accountability framework and communities are describing what outcomes they want and value.  For example, in one hub people strongly described the outcomes they wanted as:

‘All interactions between communities and agencies to be experienced as respectful  

All interactions between communities and agencies to be experienced as kind.

To be able to access a rich variety of affordable, local activities’

This insight has enabled the Hub to confidently prioritise running holiday trips taking full to the brim coachloads of children and families to the seaside this summer; some have found space to house local library collections. Another is busy planning its Christmas lunch orders for its older residents in the local villages. One grandma who has sole care of her five grandchildren said “Being with the School Hub has been my lifeline, it’s given me so much confidence”

Emerging outcomes for the partnerships include improving education, health and social care outcomes for children and families, making the most of local insight and intelligence to respond to local need and statutory responsibilities, making the most of resources and assets (including their school), supporting locally delivered services and community based solutions where relationships with children and families are key, wrap around family care and universal, prevention interventions. Some School Hubs believe they are starting to slow down the referral rates of children and families needing more intensive support and they are exploring working with the Centre for Equity in Education to fully evaluate this work.

Examples of school hub activities can be found in the four District Committee summaries in the KJSA and school hubs are also referred to in several KJSA sections relating to children and families.

There is a School and Community hub in every area! Consider this a call to action; ask not what your hub can do for you – but what you can do for your hub.

Lifelong Community Learning

Kirklees Council Adult and Community Learning and partners are committed to supporting lifelong learning in all communities. High quality adult learning contributes to jobs and growth as well as improving health and wellbeing, tackling poverty and building strong and sustainable communities. Community learning provides opportunities for local people, families and communities to build the skills and confidence to be successful in learning. Some examples are outlined below:

  • Kirklees has a thriving and vibrant Community Learning Trust (KCLT), a group of public and third sector community organisations working together to bring a wide range of community learning opportunities to the district. The Kirklees approach is to work with local organisations who work at a neighbourhood level and have strong relationships with residents experiencing disadvantage to increase local capacity to promote, deliver and support learning. A number of community organisations such as Paddock Learning Trust, Crosland Moor Community Learning Centre and Ravensthorpe Community Centre deliver a diverse range of courses and learning activities.
  • The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is the largest voluntary sector provider of adult education courses in the UK and offers a range of courses in Kirklees (further information can be found here). Subjects provide positive learning opportunities for adults with little or disappointing previous educational experience. Courses are run in some of the most disadvantaged urban and rural communities, in local venues such as community centres, schools and health centres, bringing added value to existing physical assets.
  • U3A (University of the Third Age) is a voluntary organisation offering many recreational learning and leisure activities. The U3A is open to those aged over fifty years and those registered disabled. It is not an academic institution, but a society of people who want to maintain and improve their quality of life by keeping fulfilled and active in later life. For local information visit the Dewsbury and Huddersfield U3A websites.
  • Kirklees College offers easy access to learning in convenient, welcoming community locations, including the recently launched “College in the Community” centres. These have over 80 courses, some aim to help people find a new job or progress in in a current role and others focus on personal development or wellbeing.
  • Community and lifelong learning are fundamental components of the Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH) community development work undertaken on KNH estates where many residents experience high levels of deprivation.
  • Community Learning Works is a partnership project between the Council, the third sector and other mainstream learning providers which supports people who face the most significant challenges and are furthest away from the job market to progress towards and into employment. For more information email

Food, exercise and sports

There are many community-run activities and asset-based resources to enable people to eat well and be more active. You find out more on the food and sport pages of the council’s website, including information about sports clubs, allotments and various activity programmes.

Arts and cultural assets and activities

Kirklees has a strong reputation as a creative place.  We have a wealth of talented individuals, groups and creative companies in the area. We know that the arts and creative sectors help raise aspirations and confidence, improve wellbeing, enable us to explore ideas, realise our full potential and build healthy, cohesive communities. You can find out more on the Creative Kirklees website.

Kirklees’ cultural assets also contribute to a vibrant local economy. For Museums & Galleries alone AIM (Association of Independent Museums) Economic Value Impact Assessment demonstrates that visitors result in an impact of £4.6 million on the local and regional economy. The wide range of cultural assets which Kirklees offers and the healthy arts and creative economy sector are a key influencer for attracting developer and business investment, and strengthens the pull of an area considerably to workforces and communities wishing to benefit from regular stimulating cultural experiences. The act of coming together to experience cultural activity also strengthens community cohesion, pride and personal commitment to a locality.

Cultural assets such as Kirklees Museums and Galleries also provide safe, neutral and welcoming spaces for people to improve their health and wellbeing. These non-clinical and inspiring environments can support a whole person-centred approach to wellbeing, whether that be mindfulness at Huddersfield Art Gallery, a reminiscence Session at Tolson Museum or gardening in Oakwell Hall’s Tudor herb garden.

Places and spaces to visit, use and share

Kirklees has a rich diversity of spaces and places to visit and experience both urban and rural. Some of the ‘places’ are described or signposted elsewhere in this section. To find local green spaces, routes, walks, parks, sports facilities, playing fields, parks, places to visit and community activities please visit

Place-based approaches

Place-based approaches are a great way to bring people together and focus on ‘what’s strong not what’s wrong’ and agree shared outcomes, strategies and actions. Some place-based information has already been incorporated into four KJSA District Committee summaries: Batley and Spen | Dewsbury and Mirfield | Huddersfield | Kirklees Rural. Additional information about place-based approaches will be included in the relevant KJSA sections.

Information about our local community

Information is an important asset. Local people as well as commissioners need access to information about our local strengths (assets), needs and inequalities, activities and services to be able to be effectively involved in planning and decision-making. There is a lot of information about the Kirklees population available at and a good starting point for health and wellbeing information (other than the KJSA itself) is here.

The Involve database and associated guidance enables people to share and find out about consultation and engagement activities across Kirklees, what insights these have given us and, most importantly, what has happened as a result.

What could communities, commissioners and service planners consider? 

  • Working with communities, networks and organisations across Kirklees to understand more about the assets and strengths of individuals and communities
  • Re-orientating our health and care systems from needs and weaknesses to strengths and assets, to improve self-care, prevention and community-led services
  • Connecting the different parts of our health and care systems so that people know what other people are doing and find it easier to get information
  • Reallocating resources to asset-based approaches in the short-to-medium term, while carefully evaluating impact
  • Developing staff and managers’ understanding and skills relating to asset-based approaches
  • Supporting and enabling individuals and communities to develop and maintain stronger social networks, particularly amongst those most likely to be isolated, e.g. those with disabilities, poor health or not in employment
  • Increasing the levels of volunteering by creating opportunities for people to engage in voluntary activity that is appropriate and meaningful
  • Developing clearer and more consistent messages about people helping people, what asset-based approaches already exist, and the benefits of participating in community activity
  • Improving the measurement of the impact of people helping people and asset-based approaches.
  • Enabling people, particularly in more disadvantaged communities, to actively participate in decisions about their own lives and their own community.
  • Providing strong leadership across all our Kirklees systems that genuinely promotes and supports asset-based approaches.


  1. Kirklees Council, NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG, NHS North Kirklees CCG. Current Living in Kirklees Survey. 2016.
  2. Kirklees Council. Children and Young People’s Survey. 2014.
  3. Wilton C. Building Community Capacity Evidence, efficiency and cost-effectiveness [Internet]. 2012. Available from:
  4. Marmot M. Fair Society , Healthy Lives Fair Society , Healthy Lives. 2010.
  5. Department of Health. Our Health and Wellbeing Today. 2010.
  6. Rocco L, Suhrcke M. Is social capital good for health? A European perspective. Available from:
  7. Bhuta N, F W, Bhuta S. Measuring the outcomes from Kirklees Community Partnerships investments Data and performance report. 2017.

Additional resources and further reading

Asset-based checklist for JSNA: Based Checklist for JSNA v2.pdf

Kirklees “Strong v Wrong” template (available for download in PowerPoint or PDF), to help groups share and identify local knowledge about community assets alongside what gaps exist in terms of unmet needs/issues in particular places or amongst specific population groups.

The Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute. Asset-Based Community Development [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2017 Mar 31]. Available from: Basic Presentation Short verion 2016.pdf

Bewsher H. Half-full or half-hearted? How can asset-based approaches to Joint Strategic Needs Assessment be implemented more effectively? [Internet]. The University of Manchester; 2016 [cited 2017 Mar 31]. Available from:

Briefing note: The Asset Based Area. Think Local Act Personal. 2017. Available from

Collective Brilliance©:-

Using, finding, strengthening and co-designing local solutions

Dee Haigh-Elmore/Lisa Akester

This behaviour change guide was born out of work in Kirklees to understand health behaviours among some groups of women showing poor health outcomes, particularly those who had new babies or were pregnant. Based on the Social marketing Behaviour change model, Collective Brilliance incorporates asset based approaches, positive outcome planning and co-production, and can be used to support service re-design or new developments. For more information and guide mentoring, contact

Foot J. What makes us healthy? [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2017 Mar 31]. Available from:

Health Foundation. Head, hands and heart: asset-based approaches in health care [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2017 Mar 31]. Available from:

Institute for Health Equity. Voluntary Sector Action on the Social Determinants of Health – evidence review [internet]. 2017 [cited 2018 May 18]. Available from:

Mittelmark MB, Bull T. The salutogenic model of health in health promotion research. Glob Health Promot [Internet]. 2013 Jun [cited 2017 Mar 31];20(2):30–8. Available from:

Nesta. People Powered Health Programme

Nesta. The Future of People Powered Health [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2017 May 30]. Available from: 

New Local Government Network. Get well soon, re-imagining place-based health: The place-based health commission report [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2017 Mar 31]. Available from:

‘Understanding Community Assets’ group – an online community on the Knowledge Hub. Log in or sign up to the Knowledge Hub and the join the group here:

Weir F. Evidencing the impact of social action on independence and wellbeing in health and social care. NEF Social Action Conference presentation, 16th February 2017 [cited 2017 May 30]. Available at

Useful websites

Date this section was last reviewed

August 2017