Changing the conversation about health

Nurture Development

CoM Tags:

Asset Based Community Development, College of Medicine, innovations,

Using the principles and practices of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) we support communities to identify, connect and mobilise their personal, associational, physical, economic and institutional assets.

We also work with institutions (for profit, non-profit, governmental and non-governmental) to support them to use their supportive functions to partner with communities in their community building efforts. The combined aim is to promote total place health producing communities. As Managing Director of Nurture Development my ambition in the UK is to see one ABCD Community Builder is every neighbourhood by 2025.

Year established
Number of staff
Paid Staff FT equivalent 3. Volunteers: 1000s of local residents are engaged across the UK
Number of users
Is there a charge to users?
We charge our commissioners: NHS Trusts, Local authorities, charitable trusts and philanthropic organisations.
What makes your project sustainable?
We pride ourselves in creating local legacy; not building unhealthy dependency on our services. With that in mind we pay particular attention to locating local delivery partners who in turn are prepared to work ethically to enable communities.To ensure our approach is sensitive to the local context we create learning sites where we take care to research the best means of community building with the people and the ecology of the place to ensure enduring change.
We use a total place approach; hence we work with all demographics. Our learning sites are predominantly in low-income communities, but we are also working in cash rich communities, where nevertheless isolation and loneliness are significant.
Our thinking on ABCD has been published in academic journals and publications in the UK and abroad. Cormac continues to work with Professor John McKnight and other members of the ABCD Institute faculty on the ongoing development of the approach. We have combined a conceptual and on-the-ground understanding of ABCD that ensures we can advise and train at both policy and practice levels.In 2013 we delivered over 70 workshops and keynotes to 5,000+ people, on a diverse range of subject matters, including public safety, public health, inclusion, children and young people, older people, social care, community housing, prison reform, recovery and many others besides. We have 18 years of practical knowledge and experience in the implementation of ABCD and other strengths based approaches in Europe, Africa and North America. We have had successes and failures and believe in sharing our learning from both. There is no one ‘right’ way to do ABCD and we have learned, through experience, how to navigate the different socio-political environments.In 2014 we have been commissioned, to work side by side, with 7 learning sites throughout the UK, where many community builders are changing neighbourhoods for the better, by focusing on what is strong, not what is wrong. We bring real examples and stories of how ABCD is working in a wide variety of communities to our training.

Our workshops are dynamic and interactive. We believe that people change their lives by doing, not by passively listening and our workshops reflect that belief. During our workshops, we introduce and use the tools, activities and exercises that we have developed to bring ABCD alive in communities and neighbourhoods.

We also support Learning sites across the UK: in Thurrock, Gloucestershire, Kirkless, Derby, Torbay, Leeds and Croydon we have created exemplar sites to deepen practice but also to support others to model the approach. We will continue to grow these learning sites throughout the nine regions of the UK, and by open sourcing our learning and resource tools we hope to achieve our ambition of an ABCD Community Builder in every neighbourhood.


Quotes from users
“In Cormac Russell, Nurture has a very charismatic, energised and empathetic leader, an individual who is able to inspire and inform across a very broad audience, comfortable talking to professionals who are leaders in their field but also able to reach people who are at the margins, in an intimate community.” setting. Les Billingham, Head of Adult Services, Thurrock CouncilNurture Development blog: www.nurturedevelopment.wordpress.comNurture Development’s publications:


Patient-Centred, whole person preventative approach
Our Approach is fundamentally a person-centred; preventative one. We focus on the strengths and capacities of the individual using the ABCD approach.ABCD stands for Asset Based Community Development, an approach developed by Professors John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann in Chicago. After decades of research, they set up the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute in 1995 at Northwestern University and ever since, have supported the growth of ABCD across the world.ABCD considers local assets (people, physical assets etc.) as the primary building blocks of sustainable community development. It offers a robust evidence-based framework for social change, challenging us to consider the following questions:

  • What is it that communities can do best?
  • What do communities require help with?
  • What do communities need outside agencies to do for them? 

The ABCD approach helps us to find answers to each of these questions. It can also show us how to make better use of the resources that we all have or have access to and how to support one another to use them to the benefit of whole communities. ABCD is the way by which we can build healthier, safer, prosperous and more inclusive communities.


Evidence informed practice/audit and evaluation
We are strategic partners of the ABCD Institute at Northwestern University, Illinois and in the first instance draw our evidence base from the work of the Institute. Cormac Russell our MD is a faculty member of the Institute. In the UK context, each learning site uses a developmental evaluation framework. The publication report on our work in Croydon is scheduled for April 2014.Our work in Gloucestershire is being evaluated by a fulltime evaluator emplo
yed independently of Nurture Development, while our work in Leeds, is been independently evaluated by a commissioned research house, but also being review by the University of Brussels. 

Our work in Gloucestershire is being evaluated by a fulltime evaluation employed independently of Nurture Development; our work in Leeds is been independently evaluated by a commissioned research house, but also being review by the University of Brussels.


Multi-disciplinary collaboration, and professional communication
Our work is predicated on supported agencies to work collaboratively, working beyond administrative boundaries is critical to the success of a total place approach to citizen-led health production. Hence, Nurture Development supports the establishment of Communities of Practice in each of its Learning Sites, where practitioners, policy makers and local residents can begin work together to address a wide range of issues and possibilities.
Contact details
The Heavens,
GL67LT91 Bird Avenue,