What does building on strengths mean?

People and Communities is our flagship programme that will support you to work with local people to make positive changes in communities across Northern Ireland. We plan to open it in late January.


In this blog Cheryl Rainey, Policy and Learning Advisor, explains a bit more about the strength-based approach.

As a funder, up until now, we have expected groups applying to us to tell us what is ‘missing’ or ‘wrong’ in their community.  Many groups have done this using statistics highlighting levels of deprivation, health needs, unemployment and educational attainment in their area.


Our new strategic framework, People in the Lead, explains that we are now taking a strengths-based approach, focusing instead on the skills, assets and energy that people can draw upon, rather than asking them to focus on what they don’t have.

The strengths-based approach will be at the core of our People and Communities programme. Through this approach we will be encouraging communities, and the people in them, to think about the strengths they have, and how they can use them to tackle the challenges they face.

Every person in a community matters, and every person has something to contribute. We all have something to offer including talents, abilities, relationships, skills, knowledge and even enthusiasm.

So instead of groups using money from us to try to ‘put right’ what is ‘wrong’, we want you to use it to build on the potential in communities.

This approach is about a community exploring what they care enough about to work together on to change, develop or sustain.  Given the right tools and opportunity, small groups of local people can change the things they believe need changing in their community better than anyone else.

Want to know what this means in practice?  Take Cloughmills Community Action Team in Co Antrim as an example. Read how they built on their strengths to increase community spirit and made the village a better place to live and work here.

Read our other blogs on the people led and the connected approaches.

Keep up to date with our Plans for People and Communities on the website.

You can also talk to us on Twitter and Facebook or leave a comment below.


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