Adam is an Asset Coach Lead in our North East homelessness services. Together with Mayday Trust, we are introducing a new, strengths-based approach to our services to empower people to change their lives. Here, Adam talks about 'Advantaged Thinking', which is a core principle of the Strengths-Based Approach.

“When you look at a field of dandelions you can either see a hundred weeds, or a thousand wishes”

Author Unknown

Meet Max:

Max is a 21 year old male who has been in out of prison since he was 13 years old. He has no qualifications or employment history. He has no family support and has been dealing cannabis since he was 13 years old. Max now wants to get a job.

Max is a fictional character made up for a case study, however in one way or another he represents a large proportion of the people we support at Changing Lives. Conventional thinking would lead us to believe that this person has little prospects or hope for the future and that his only obvious asset is that he has motivation to get a job.

During the training of the Asset Team we were tasked with writing a CV for Max using advantaged thinking with the aim being to draw out his strengths and assets.

Advantaged Thinking is a philosophy about using the advantages we possess as humans – our assets, talents, resources and abilities – to create the conditions for a society in which everyone can thrive. Rather than getting lost in the safety net for supporting people’s disadvantages, Advantaged Thinking looks for the springboard of positive action that will bring about sustainable change.

– The Foyer Federation

Advantaged Thinking is a core principle of the Strengths Based Approach and is a philosophy which challenges us to see strengths where one might see only deficits or problems. It is the belief that everyone has the ability to be someone positive in life and encourages us to recognise, promote and progress talents.

Max possesses far too many assets to list them all here but these are some examples which were identified by our team in our training task:

  • Time Management skills
  • Knowledge of the Criminal Justice system
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Independent
  • Motivated
  • Customer Service experience

This exercise shows us that there is always hope for ourselves and for the people we work with and that we can identify assets in what may appear to be a sea of failings and disadvantages. This way of thinking underpins the Asset Team in our approach and in the PEOPLE values of Changing Lives.

When writing this I was reminded of a scene from Star Wars. When Luke Skywalker tries to lift his X-Wing out of a swamp on Dagobah by using The Force he feels he cannot as it is too big. Yoda replies, “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you?” This teaches us that beyond our initial judgments and perceived weaknesses great strength lies within.