All posts by Sarah Wincewicz

How asset-based commissioning can support social action at scale

Currently there is growing interest in social action of various types, including volunteering, peer support, befriending, cooperatively owned services and coproducing outcomes with organisations. New, free downloads of guidance developed by the New Economics Foundation on behalf of the Office for Civil Society[1]  describe social action, make the case for public sector investment to mainstream this as a way of achieving outcomes and describe how commissioning must change to do so.

Social action is not new and increasingly conventional commissioning incorporates this, by for example, recruiting volunteers to augment existing services. Sadly, this often occurs without proper engagement of those that will benefit from social action or indeed those that will make it happen. The service as it is, continues for the foreseeable future without its relevance, effectiveness or efficiency being challenged. We refer to this as asset-aware commissioning.

We see the potential for social action being much greater, forming part of a wider transition away from paternalistic, top-down, organisationally designed, controlled and provided, one-size-fits-all, services. Done well, this transition leads to increased interest in asset-based services, supports or actions that are designed with people and communities and centred on their lives. For this wider transition to be successful social action must be accompanied by a parallel shift to asset-based commissioning which we define as;

Enabling people and communities, together with organisations, to become equal co-commissioners and coproducers, and also via self-help, make best complementary use of all assets to improve whole life and community outcomes.’[2]

Asset based commissioning differs from conventional commissioning in a number of ways, including that it:

  • Treats people and communities as active providers of assets and equals in designing services and coproducing outcomes.
  • Replaces rigid, inflexible contracts with adaptive processes that enable services and supports to be tailored flexibly to differing community and individual circumstances.
  • Requires significant collaboration between providers
  • Recognises a provider is ‘anyone, group or organisation that in any way contributes to an outcome irrespective of financial reward’. Volunteers, both formal or informal, are therefore providers, along with individuals themselves, through self-help.

Asset-based commissioning ensures that the people that matter, discover and articulate outcomes that matter. The result is the best possible mix of individual, community and state assets and emergence of new social action opportunities that replace, fill gaps left by, or complement existing services. We believe asset based commissioning creates excellent conditions for social action, leading to a virtuous circle with social action strengthening the asset base, in turn leading to more social action, further strengthening and yet more action, etc.

Communities should be encouraged to draw on their own assets, where possible flourishing without input from, or control by, the public sector. However, we recognise that access to organisational assets such as buildings, transport, financial advice etc. may be needed to establish social action or enable this to happen at scale.

Asset based commissioning can enable often-excluded individuals and groups to both drive and benefit from existing and new social action, examples including social prescribing that links people into community activities; websites that help people with shared concerns to get in touch and organise; community organising and capacity building support for voluntary sector and community organisations.

Social action can make a valuable contribution to individuals and communities achieving outcomes and thriving, without being part of a commissioning process.  However, we believe sucessful embedding and scaling is more likely when this is an integral part of asset based commissioning.

When reflecting on the above ask yourself the following questions.

  1. To what extent does our organisation encourage social action?
  2. What forms of social action do we pursue?
  3. To what extent is our approach to social action successful?
  4. Is social action an integral part of a wider process of asset based commissioning?
  5. What more could be done to realise the full potential of social action for our community and organisation?


1. Office for Civil Society (

[2]     Field, R. and Miller, C. (2017) Asset-based commissioning; Better Outcomes, Better Value. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University Available at:     

Asset-Based Commissioning

Across the land there is an ever-growing gap between demand for conventional practice based, publicly-funded services and allocated state resource. Traditional ways of bridging this gap are no longer the answer, and increasingly commissioners are exploring the potential for drawing assets that are outside their control, into outcome production. Often this involves simply substituting paid employees with volunteers, something we refer to as asset-aware commissioning. While this approach is beneficial, more significant benefits flow when complementary use is made of all assets through personal and community self-help and coproduction; something we refer to as asset-based commissioning.

This text introduces asset-based practice and commissioning, explains why the language and practice of commissioning is changing and identifies two emerging variations: asset-aware commissioning and asset-based commissioning. The case is then made for adopting the later, which involves a paradigm shift. The main implications for stakeholders, systems, behaviours and relationships are outlined, as are ways of approaching this change.

This text is available as a full version (215 pages) and as a summary (11 pages). Please click below to download.

CLICK HERE to download the full version

CLICK HERE to download the summary


NCPQSWPP awarded institutional hero award at CTSI conference

Bournemouth University (BU) was awarded an institutional hero award at CTSI conference for its work protecting vulnerable people from scamming. BU’s Professor Keith Brown, who was collecting the award, has also launched a new textbook on scamming at The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) conference in Harrogate. At the conference, more than 500 attendees from the consumer protection community engaged in a range of talks, workshops and sessions from 27-29 June.

The conference began with an introductory talk by guest speaker Professor Keith Brown, Director of the Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work (NCPQSW) at BU, who launched his team’s book about financial scamming, “Safeguarding Adults, Scamming and Mental Capacity”, co-authored by BU’s Sally Lee and Dr Lee-Ann Fenge at the event. Professor Brown spoke about the ways in which his centre’s research had been developed by working with the police and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

BU was awarded with the CTSI’s institutional hero award, given to candidates who have made outstanding contributions to the field of consumer protection, with particular mention given to Professor Brown and the NCPQSW.

Leon Livermore, CEO of the CTSI said: “By making this award we seek to highlight the contribution that the university has made to bring the issues surrounding scams to the attention of policy makers. As organisations we are often comfortable talking about our own issues, especially at a time when any government service linked to local government is experiencing once-in-a-generation challenges.

“However, the university has highlighted a commitment to reaching out to organisations across the consumer protection landscape to better understand the shared challenges that scams cause to our vulnerable population – especially as elderly, isolated and vulnerable individuals are a growing part of our communities.”

He added: “The University has contributed its research expertise – delivering a detailed snapshot of the current thinking on protecting vulnerable adults from scamming and making recommendations to local and central government on how preventative measures can help to improve the outcomes for consumers. It has also committed to working in the future on more detailed work to understand challenges caused by scammers to vulnerable individuals.”

Of the research, Professor Brown said: “What we are finding is really quite fascinating but also quite scary. Scamming is different for different people and comes about in lots of different ways. Some people realise they are being scammed, some don’t, and some people are frankly too embarrassed to even admit it to themselves.

“Scamming can be “door-step” crime, these are the sort of people who come to your house and want to paint your shed or fence for £1,000, and then repair your roof for £10,000.  We’ve also got mail scamming, false lotteries, telephone scamming, and internet scamming, which is on the rise, and is not as prevalent in the elderly.”

The NCPQSW was founded by Professor Brown in 2000, and is based at BU’s Lansdowne campus. The centre works in partnership with over one third of local authorities in England, and has seen more than 10,000 students study in social work fields at BU.

We are off to Glastonbury!!

We are very excited about taking our financial scams research to the Glastonbury Festival, 2017. This offers an amazing opportunity to engage with a very different, and potentially huge, audience.

But this offers a challenge – we are well practiced in presenting our research at conferences, public engagement events and more formally at policy forums – but how to do it in a tent, in a field, with a moving audience, at probably the best-known music festival in the country???

The first response I get from people when I tell them about taking our scamming research to Glastonbury is: ‘are you going to scam people?’, and the answer is of course, yes (though we promise to return their personal information). Using an exercise that demonstrates how humans tend to want to please and are generally reciprocal by nature, we will demonstrate the characteristics scammers use to their advantage (Langenderfer, and Shimp, 2001).

To make our research attractive, and draw in an audience, we have turned to games which offer information in bite size chunks and reward players who use their scam ‘antennae’.

With such a diverse audience as Glastonbury we have a range of activities to appeal to children (and the sleep deprived) and older participants. So, we have designed a colourful ‘scams and ladders’ game where getting caught by scamming snakes means sliding down the board, while beating the scammers is rewarded by racing up the ladders.

Others may try a card sorting game where different scams are depicted with colourful illustrations. Players must sort into scam type and the correct sequence of events. For the detectives, we have hidden clues to be found within letters and emails (including clues only revealed with the use of a UV torch).

These will be fun activities, but our attendance at Glastonbury is also a serious research endeavour. Not only will we be collecting data about the general public’s awareness of scams, it is an opportunity for us to trial alternative ways of presenting research which break through the barriers between ‘research’ and ‘real life’. We will be evaluating our project and building on our findings to develop improved resources.

Scamming is an extremely serious issue affecting more that 3.25 million annually in the UK (Age UK, 2015), and can result in significant harm to victims’ health and well-being. This means finding diverse ways of communicating knowledge which empowers people and increases prevention through raising awareness is essential – including games.

Listen to Dr Sally Lee’s email to Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo being read on the BBC’s flagship film programme CLICK HERE1:55:20


Age UK (2015) Only the Tip of the Iceberg: Fraud Against Older People, Age UK, London

Langenderfer, J. and Shimp, T. (2001) Consumer vulnerability to scams, swindles and fraud: A new theory of visceral influences on persuasion, Journal of Psychology and Marketing, 18:7, 763-783

What does Brexit mean for Social Care?

Date: Wednesday 3rd May 10 – 4pm
Location: Executive Business Centre, Bournemouth University, Holdenhurst Road
To participate, please register here

Social care in the UK is already facing unprecedented challenges in terms of the recruitment and retention of staff across the sector. There is already an estimated vacancy rate of 5.4 per cent, rising to 7.7 per cent in domiciliary care services. Another challenge for this sector is the retention of a suitably qualified workforce, and high staff turnover is an on-going problem with an overall turnover rate of 25.4 per cent (equating to around 300,000 workers leaving their role each year) (Skills for Care 2015).

The impact of Brexit on workforce development may intensify existing challenges of ensuring the quality and sustainability of the UK social care workforce, a significant proportion of which are EU/EEA citizens (6% nationally, 7.5% in the south-west). This represents 80,000 of the 1.3 million workers in the adult social care sector (Health and Social Care Information Centre 2015; Skills for Care 2016).

These workers currently face uncertainty over their rights to continue living and working in the UK as it exits the EU. The impact of Brexit may exacerbate the difficulties of recruiting and retaining workers within social care, a relatively low pay sector.

This workshop aims to open a dialogue on this issue between academic researchers, social care professionals and practitioners or organisations that support EU (and non-EU) workers. This dialogue will identify core challenges and consider how research can best be used to address the issue. Participants will be invited to shape the design and scope of future research projects, which bring positive impacts for the social care sector and its workforce.

Confirmed speakers:

Professor Rebecca Kay, University of Glasgow, lead of ‘Social Support and Migration in Scotland’ action research project.

Workshop organisers: Dr Rosie Read:

Dr Lee-Ann Fenge:

To participate, please register here


Health and Social Care Information Centre (2015). ‘NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS): All staff by nationality and main staff group in England as at 30 September 2015’. HSCIC website. Available at:—full-time-equivalents-and-headcount—Sep-2015/xls/Staff_groups_by_nationality_and_HEE_region_FTE_and_HC_-_Sep_2015_-_Final.xlsx.

Skills for Care (2015). The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England. Skills for Care website. Available at:

Scamming Definitions

Financial Scamming is a growing problem that is now being recognised as a crime. The negative impact it has on individuals and society as a whole is gradually becoming clear as further research probes into the consequences and damage caused by financial scamming. It has already emerged that these criminals purposely target some of the most vulnerable people in our society, who sadly, are not always able to protect themselves.

The National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice have been working in partnership with key national organisations and politicians to develop further research and raise awareness of financial scamming to develop a better understanding of this crime. We are working together to not only reduce the risk of financial scamming but to raise awareness to organisations and the public so that they too can join the fight against scamming.

This document provides clear and concise definitions to some of the language used within Financial Scamming and highlights the warning signs of scams which can be used to identify potential victims. It is vital that we are up-to-date and explicit with types of scams and their definitions to ensure that we can effectively support professionals, carers and anyone in contact with potential or actual scam victims. This document can be used in conjunction with our Financial Scamming: Our Campaign and research to date and Next of Kin leaflets (available to download from to offer further insight and advice.

Scamming Booklet Scamming Definitions Booklet 
Financial Scamming Page  Press Release Financial Scamming Blogs Financial Scamming Facts

Promoting sexual well-being in professional practice

Date: Wednesday 1st March 10 – 4pm
Location: 2nd Floor, Executive Business Centre, Bournemouth University, Holdenhurst Road

The National Centre for Post-qualifying Social Work hosted a FREE event on Promoting sexual well-being in professional practice.

Sexual well-being is one of the most significant aspects in life (Taylor, 2011), profoundly connected to human well-being where pleasure, person to person connection and communication enhances self-worth and confidence (Nusbaum and Rosenfield, 2004; Myers and Milner, 2007; Dunk, 2007; Owens, 2015).

With the concept of well-being becoming embedded within social care following the implementation of the Care Act 2014, practitioners must be prepared, and able, to support people in identifying what impacts on their own well-being. This exploratory, collaborative, approach to well-being has the potential to uncover diverse issues which present practitioners opportunities to directly apply their interpersonal skills.

Sexual well-being is a sensitive topic but social workers’ preparedness to discuss difficult and sensitive subjects is a professional strength (Bywaters and Ungar, 2010). Engagement with sexual well-being is an aspect of practice which faces multi-layered barriers, ranging from social taboos around sex and disability, to personal values, culture and experience. Fear of risk, uncertainty about the law, and lack of policy or guidance create an environment where enabling people’s sexual expression is problematic, yet the Human Rights Act, 1998, makes explicit that agencies must not inhibit citizens’ rights to a private life and relationships of their choice (Article 8) – risk averse practice may seek to protect, yet might be breaking human rights law.

With all this complexity in mind the National Centre of Post-Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice held an extremely well-received day exploring the importance of promoting sexual well-being in social care and health practice. The event emerged from doctoral research focusing on the meaning of sexual well-being for physically disabled people. The programme covered the topic from different perspectives.


Dr Sally Lee (NCPQSWPP), began the day by exploring the relevance of sexual well-being to person centred, well-being focused social work practice.
Download Presentation >> 

Helen Stevens, Service Manager of Dorset Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) presented the work the work of DRCC, informing delegates of the range of supportive services offered to victims, families and professionals. Helen also disclosed the pride DRCC has in being involved as advisors to the current series of Broadchurch. This fictional story presents a realistic and accurate account of the nature of DRCC’s work.
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Rachelle Rowe and Beverly Downton from the Mental Capacity Act advisory team at Dorset County Council guided the audience through the complexities of the act in relation to sexual well-being, using a case study to see the act in application.
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Claire de Than, Co-Director of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University, London, and Law Commissioner (Jersey) led an informative session on the law, debunking myths and promoting practice which meets the requirements of human rights legislation.
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The day was completed by Dr Lee-Ann Fenge (NCPQSWPP) who presented on, and led a discussion around, sexuality in older age, especially in respect of people living in residential care. Lee-Ann’s session challenged assumptions and provoked debate.
Download Presentation >> 

The event was a success with new working partnerships and shared projects (including a potential book) emerging. The day was part of the work to take this research forward, further aims include the development of a practitioner learning tool designed collaboratively with stakeholders, further presentations at academic, professional and disability group events and more publications.

If you are interested in this topic or would like to find out more, please contact me at

Social Work World Café event at Bournemouth University

Social Work World Café event at Bournemouth University

Academics from the social work department at Bournemouth University hosted a World Café event yesterday for practitioners and students to consider mental health practice. This builds on previous successful Social Work World Café events held at the university. These events are held as part of the wider work of the Pan Dorset Academy, which is a community of health and social care agencies and learning providers.

Our World Café events create a collaborative dialogue between practitioners, students and academics around questions that matter in social work. The event yesterday considers mental health which is a key issue for many professional across health and social care. It is a complex issue which impacts not only on individuals but on families and communities. The events are underpinned by a collaborative approach to learning, and this provides an important place for practitioner knowledge to be shared with both students and academics.

By learning from each other participants will explore:

  • Working with families to improve mental health outcomes
  • Interventions and ways of working at seem to be successful
  • The impact of mental health on family functioning
  • Identifying key mental health issues

At the World Café Event today 85 professionals from NHS, Children’s Social Care, Adult Social Care and voluntary sector have joined us to discuss the complexity of Mental Health in Families. Professor Colin Pritchard delivered the keynote on the new concept of a “Mental Health Syndrome” – an innovative model that emphasises the importance of the overlap between substance misuse, domestic abuse, neglect and mental health. Participants have considered questions such as ‘What would be the benefit of the model?’ and ‘how as a practitioner might this apply to my practice?’ The feedback so far – via questionnaire after Professor Pritchard’s presentation– indicates that 93% of participants confirm the relevance of the model to their practice.

During the rest of the day participants worked together, sharing their expertise to deepen their understanding of mental health on practice.

For more information about World café events please contact Stefan Kleipoedszus

For further information about the Pan Dorset Academy, click here to visit the website

ESRC event Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults from Financial Scamming


Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults from Financial Scamming

Date: Wednesday 9th November 2016 10 – 3pm
Location: EB306, Executive Business Centre, Bournemouth University, Holdenhurst Road

laf-imageThe National Centre for Post-qualifying Social Work hosted a FREE event on safeguarding vulnerable adults from financial scamming as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

Financial scamming are growing aspects of financial crime, and those working to protect vulnerable adults needs to develop increased awareness and understanding of the challenges it poses. The Office of Fair Trading estimates that UK consumers lose about £3.5 billion to scams each year. These threats take on many forms, including doorstep scams, phone scams, postal scams and increasingly scams via the internet.

This ESRC Festival of Social Science event showcased recent research and best practice responses dealing with the threat posed by financial scams, bring together staff from key agencies and the public to explore research and best practice to tackle this issue.


Dr Lee-Ann Fenge – Deputy Director and Dr Sally Lee – National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice: Protecting yourself from Financial Scams
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BU Cyber Security Unit – Ransomware: a presentation from the Cyber Security Unit

Trading Standards
fighting back against scams
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Jackie White – Social Worker Dorset County Council: A social worker’s perspective

Dr Sally Lee – The new landscape of safeguarding adults and financial scamming
Download Presentation >>

After lunch there was an opportunity to work with others to explore new ways of working together to tackle financial scams and to explore and the ways in which agencies can develop strategies to support vulnerable adults who are at risk or are victims of financial scams.

Staff from the National Centre for Post-qualifying Social Work also showcased the recently updated National Safeguarding Framework for Adults

For further information please contact

Dr Lee-Ann Fenge – Deputy Director NCPQSW


Office of Fair Trading (2009) The psychology of Scams, Office of Fair Trading: London 

NCPQSWPP raising the profile of Financial Scamming

Financial scamming and its impact have been receiving a high profile in the past few days, scam-mail-in-housewith accusations of Royal Mail ‘turning a blind eye’ to scams targeting the elderly. Scammers frequently contact people through the post with some victims, particularly older people, receiving hundreds of scam letters a week.

The National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice (NCPQSWPP) at Bournemouth University have been working with key national organisations in the UK to develop a better understanding of this issue, seeking ways and solutions to reduce the risk of financial scamming.

Professor Keith Brown, the Director of NCPQSWPP, has been speaking at various events to highlight the impact and costs of Financial Scamming to society and individuals.

Yesterday, he was speaking at the SOLLA conference 2016 in Central Hall, Westminster about Financial Scamming – How can L.P.A’s help and the role of the Mental Capacity Act.

Upcoming dates:
14th October 2016 – CTSI SE Branch Autumn meeting – Brighton City Airport
14th October 2016 – Elderly client care conference – The Law Society, London
18th October 2016 – Friends Against Scams – Cardiff




Please visit our website for more information on our Financial Scamming campaign and research to date.

This work is far from complete and we are continuing to research and develop our ideas and understanding. If you would like to contribute your thoughts or ideas please contact us. It is only via our collective efforts that we will be able to tackle this growing issue and we positively welcome your input and support.