Place, Strengths and Assets: A Case Study of how Local Area Coordination is Supporting Individuals and Families Under Conditions of Austerity

Laura Bainbridge, Neil Lunt

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We report findings of a mixed-method evaluation of Local Area Coordination (LAC) in one English Local Authority – an approach that draws on principles of earlier intervention, and place-, asset- and strengths-based activity. We drew on documentary materials, unstructured observation and qualitative interviews. In total, fifty-five qualitative interviews were conducted, with professional stakeholders, including Coordinators, statutory agencies and community organisations, and a purposive sample of individuals supported by LAC.

Positively, LAC is operating as intended. It is a flexible and agile approach, and one that is less constrained by the expectations and methods associated with traditional service delivery. Reported impacts include: tackling isolation and loneliness; building a positive vision of the future; identifying non-service solutions; and being heard.

We discuss ongoing conceptual and methodological challenges to building the LAC evidence base, fostering professional support and understanding, and managing expectations of individuals and communities in furthering development. Resolving these would allow LAC to move beyond being a promising, local and small-scale transformative development for individuals and families. Its future trajectory is enmeshed in the implications of Covid-19 for individuals, families and communities: rising poverty and widening inequality, a fragile Third Sector, and concerns about community fatigue and erosion of trust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1373
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021

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