People and Places: Building on your community’s strengths

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Derek Preston-Hughes, funding manager.

In July 2017 the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales relaunched our People and Places grant programme which is open to applications of between £10,001 and £500,000 for community projects lasting up to five years. You can read about the changes here. One of the key changes is that we’re asking all applicants to show us how their project fits into three themes:

  • people-led,
  • strength based and
  • connect

To help explain these in more detail, we’re publishing a series of blogs to help outline what we mean by each theme. Read about people-led here. For this post we asked funding manager Derek Preston-Hughes to tell us a little more about strength based projects.

In a snapshot, what does ‘strength based’ mean?

We want to fund projects that support people and communities to build on the knowledge, skills and experience they already have to make the changes they want in their lives and their community. We’re looking for projects to concentrate on what is already strong rather than ‘put right what is wrong’ within a community. A community could be a geographical community or a community with a shared interest.

Essentially, it is about a community exploring what they care about to work together to change, develop or sustain. Given the appropriate tools and opportunity, we believe small groups of people within communities can change the things they believe needs changing better than anyone else.

What are the key features of a strength-based approach?

  • Identifying, building on and mobilising personal, local strengths and resources – people, time, skills, experience, knowledge – and mapping the capacities and skills of individuals, associations and organisations.
  • Building supportive groups and networks, developing opportunities for meaningful engagement.
  • Building and using local knowledge and experience to influence change, engaging people in decision making and building a community vision and plan to help define local priorities.
  • Focusing on facilitating, enabling and empowering rather than only delivering projects.
  • Connecting activities, investments and resources from outside the community to the existing strengths identified.

How do I implement this approach when thinking about a project?

Think about what strengths your community has, and how you can use and develop them to make positive changes for individuals and the wider community. Focus on the skills, assets and energy that people can draw upon rather than focusing on what people don’t have.

Remember that every person in your community matters and adds value. Everyone has something to offer including talents, abilities, relationships, skills, knowledge and even enthusiasm. By bringing people together and talking to your community, you’ll be able to identify what strengths people have.

In practise, what might this look like for my project?

  • The fact that you are thinking of contacting us about a project idea is building on a strength in itself – a desire and enthusiasm for something to change.
  • Experts by experience! People may have previously experienced challenges that your project idea intends to address (for example; debt, isolation, alcohol misuse). Having those with experience directly involved in the project is an example of building on strengths.
  • You could complete a community survey in order to identify individual strengths/experience that already exist. This could include be people with business skills, those with experience of organising activities, those with knowledge of working with specific groups of people.
  • It could involve completing a community map to identify the organisations that already operate in the area, and how best to link and network with them


If you would like to find out more about People and Places – visit for medium grants (£10,001 to £100,000) or for large grants (£100,001 to £500,000), call 0300 123 0735 or email

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