Advantaged Thinking

7 Tests
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Test 4
Test 5
Test 6
Test 7

We believe that all individuals have abilities in the form of talents, gifts and strengths; and that by identifying and investing in them we can  promote personal growth and development and lever their potential for individual and societal good.

We commit to making a positive investment in people to develop their strengths and assets and to invest in creating opportunities in the areas of personal development, lifelong learning, employment, health and  wellbeing, family and community.

In January 2022, The Foyer Federation made their Adventures in Advantaged Thinking Publications available, which you can down through this link.

Advantaged Thinking (AT) is a practice approach which was first developed by Colin Falconer in 2011, when part of the UK youth charity, The Foyer Federation.

It draws upon a number of ideas and frameworks that have informed the development of the approach including:

  • Inclusive growth
  • Asset-based Community Development
  • The Capabilities Approach
  • Social Capital

The Research and Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence, in collaboration with Melbourne University, has invested heavily in this approach. Research teams have documented the theoretical background and continue to evaluate a number of employment, education and  accommodation programs that utilise Advantaged Thinking in service delivery and development. The Advantaged Thinking approach is widely adopted across Youth Foyers (sites of accommodation and learning) across the UK and Australia and throughout a number of employment focused programmes.

Advantaged Thinking (AT) is a practice approach which was first  developed by Colin Falconer, in 2011, when part of the UK youth charity, The Foyer Federation. It represents a shift in the way we think about and respond to people experiencing disadvantage. It challenges us to move away from a deficit, disadvantaged or problem-focused lens and recognise that all people have a vital contribution to make to the social, cultural and economic life of our communities and society.

Advantaged Thinking offers an alternative approach, one where we seek to invest in people’s abilities and strengths as a focus for growth and  development and not simply the problems which are often used to define them. It is not just a strengths-based approach; it also recognises  structural inequalities and works at both an individual and societal level to promote change.

As a primary goal, Advantaged Thinking seeks to reframe how the government and community sectors invest in people, and how employers  and the community see people and their capacity to contribute. It calls upon us to re-direct investment into building the  abilities of individuals and communities, thus enabling them for both  personal and societal good.

The 7 Tests of Advantaged Thinking are:

  1. How we TALK about people
  2. How we UNDERSTAND people
  3. How we WORK with people
  4. How we INVEST in people
  5. How we BELIEVE in people
  6. How we INVOLVE people
  7. How we CHALLENGE people

 The Northside Partnership began the journey to becoming an “Advantaged Thinking” organisation in 2019. In keeping with the principle of developing more integrated services, the Advantaged  Thinking approach has consolidated our existing work and provided us with a common practice framework that builds on the skills, values,  ethos, practice approaches and assets within the organisation.

Committing to becoming an Advantaged Thinking organisation has  involved all areas of Northside Partnership from Human Resource  Management, Finance, Operations, Quality Assurance, Communications and Governance and has nurtured a positive and integrated team culture and work practices. It has helped us align our mission and values into a  practice approach that informs all policies, procedures, processes, communications material and interactions with participants. It also shapes the design and development of new programmes and how we arrange our offices to ensure participants feel welcome and supported.

Core to Advantaged Thinking is the coaching and mentoring of staff and participants. The coaching approach is an innovative model of working  with people. Relational, solution focused and goal oriented in design, it aims to support people to become independent yet connected adults. In particular, the coaching approach aims to build people’s personal and social capabilities, as well as those that foster agency through the use of  evidence-informed tools and techniques. By adopting coaching rather  than a case management approach to our work with people, we are making a direct investment in their individual talents and skills.

The Northside Partnership Strategy Statement: 2019- 2023 named Advantaged Thinking as the practice approach across Northside Partnership – an important marker. Since this time a number of actions have been carried out including:

  • The development and use of a number of tools such as participants’ plans across the organisation that are AT informed
  • Development of  AT-informed Programme Logic models
  • AT-informed HR policies and procedure and a Staff Handbook
  • Development of a staff competency framework through an AT lens
  • Advantaged Thinking referenced in all funding applications
  • Advantaged Thinking is integrated in Northside Partnership communications and collateral
  • The Challenger Framework was written through an AT lens in collaboration with the education team and led by Colin Falconer
  • Colin Falconer has trained 13 Advantaged Thinking Champions across NSP
  • Workshop completed with reception teams to design the reception spaces from an Advantaged Thinking lens:
    • Advantaged Thinking 7 Tests posters across all NSP sites
    • Undertaking design of places to inspire participants
  • NSP delivered a presentation at the international celebration of 10 years of Advantaged Thinking, hosted by the Foyer Federation and lead by Colin Falconer
  • Advantaged Thinking workshops delivered to local community groups
  • We are working towards integrating Advantaged Thinking into our quality systems and process in consultation with organisations in Australia and the UK