About the Community Asset Network – addressing Disparities in Outcomes


We know that whilst there is much good work happening, health disparities in Devon, including Plymouth and Torbay, continue to widen. This is a problem for those living in our communities and for those seeking to address such disparities.  
The Devon Community Assets Research Collaborative is a new project that brings together people providing community assets, health and social care providers, people with lived experience, commissioners, academics and public health experts to explore how community assets can be valued, mapped and linked as important parts of our integrated care system, to address and reduce health disparities.
Over the next nine months we will focus on three things: 

Creating a research-in-practice consortium 

Asking how, through co-learning, we can contribute to understanding, researching and addressing the drivers of health disparities. 
We will co-design learning events and create three small research teams to work in distinct localities across Devon (Paignton, South Brent and Plymouth). 

Scoping community assets 

Spending time in the three localities and asking what the enablers and barriers are to developing and sustaining community assets; how residents define, understand and value community assets; how agencies currently utilise and understand asset mapping and its purpose. 
We will hold place based workshops and offer locally designed training/citizen research opportunities. We will scope an economic framework that recognises the value of community assets.
Amplifying youth voices
As part of our scoping work we engaged with Sound Communities, a CIC, who work with marginalised young people through radio, music and creative media production to develop creativity, improve mental health, inspire confidence, raise aspirations, increase skills and foster agency. We commissioned them to develop a short creative piece, giving an opportunity for young people to express what it is like to live where they live; to describe the places, people and activities they reach out to for support, guidance and help; and to express what’s missing in the place where they live. This short film absolutely blew us away and speaks to the need to always find a way to bring youth voices into research through methods that provide a platform for their strengths and talent. 

Developing models 

To understand how health disparities can be addressed through community assets. 
We will look to the literature and to local, national and international experts to help us understand the mechanisms that lead to improved health and wellbeing and reduced health disparities. 
Our approach is about creating research capacity to support and value our community assets, learning together about how community assets can best contribute to addressing health inequalities and recognising the unique value and insight that all partners bring. We will actively contribute to the evidence base about how inequalities can be mitigated or addressed with a strong focus on real world impact. 


This project is funded primarily by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the second phase of the £26 million, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Mobilising Community Assets to Tackle Health Inequalities investment. This funding scheme investigates the role of community assets in improving health outcomes and aims to use existing local resources to create a fairer and healthier society.
This phase of the funding scheme has funded 16 projects to facilitate cross-partner collaboration, incorporating relevant non-academic partners, including community groups and health system organisations. Researchers will work closely with a range of community partners to ensure people’s lived experiences are at the heart of the programme.
These consortia will conduct new research and develop community asset hubs with the aim of coordinating large-scale projects for their communities as part of the final phase of the programme to be launched in 2023.