The Theory Behind KeyRing
KeyRingness – A Life Changing Approach
KeyRing began in 1990 as a response to a number of people labelled as having a Learning Disability saying they wanted homes of their own and being told that they couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to. The founders of KeyRing believed this it was fundamentally wrong to focus on what people couldn’t do and make assumptions of what people could or could not achieve. This ‘deficit-based’ approach, still present today, is self-fulfilling:
Since then, with whomever we have worked, on whatever aspects of their lives, we have always used an asset-based approach:
This, too, is self-fulfilling - in a really good way! It, naturally, means that Members themselves, volunteers and people in the community can use their skills and experience to help others, as well as themselves. Through doggedly sticking to this philosophy, KeyRing has helped thousands of people achieve great things, often to the surprise and delight of themselves, family, friends, professionals and us! We have helped people become more independent and less reliant on costly, inflexible and often inappropriate forms of support.
The theory is, really, simple; we need practical and pragmatic actions to make it work:
• Keep going – things don’t always work or work first time and people have barriers that they have to overcome; we’re tenacious and will only stop when Members want to stop
• Empathy – it is Members’ wishes and aspirations we are helping them achieve and that should be our measure of success
• You do it – doing with, using Members’ skills and experience, not doing for is the only way to empower people and make change sustainable
• Respect – It is people’s lives and aspirations, so they are the experts and decide what happens
• Imagination – we help people think of ingenious solutions to achieve their aims, working with other, like-minded people and organisations to help Members achieve the best they can
• No fibs – we are honest about what we are doing and what the world is really like. We will do what we say we will or explain why we can’t
• Global – the approach is universal, how it pans out is individual; we listen to people to make sure we are doing what is right for them
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)
The approach we use with individuals also supports the wider application of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) principles as developed by Cormac Russell. Here, influenced by working with John McKnight back in 2000, we identify the assets within a wider community, which can then be shared, for the whole community’s benefit. Similarly Local Area Co-ordination (LAC), is an approach that fits well with KeyRing, for example a couple of KeyRing Chain Reaction Pioneers in Newcastle work in an LAC way to enable 100 older people, who need support and are not eligible for social care, to get involved in all sorts of community activity.