Bank of I.D.E.A.S - Peter Kenyon

The Bank of I.D.E.A.S. have just recently had the privilege of hosting Cormac Russell from Nurture Development across Australia for a series of workshops and consultations. Cormac generously shared the wealth of knowledge and stories he has accumulated during his many years as a leading global practitioner in the field of Asset-Based Community Development.

Cormac’s understanding of, and ability to demystify the core concepts of ABCD is unparalleled. Cormac’s unique ability to clearly and succinctly convey his thoughts and ideas has left no one who attended his sessions in doubt of what ABCD is really about. Thanks Cormac for your amazing contribution to community development in Australia.

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport - Paul Melia

As a member of Canada’s True Sport Movement, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport invited Cormac Russell of Nurture Development to provide a two day ABCD training session followed by a one day master class for some of our key stakeholders.

By the end of the first day Cormac had exceeded our expectations and had set the stage for what would be three wonderful days of exploration, collaboration and learning. Cormac’s knowledge of the topic area, his adaptable nature and his ability to bring the presentation to life through storytelling provided each participant with the opportunity to identify with the ABCD concept and envision how it might influence their work.

From start to finish the team at Nurture Development were professional and a pleasure to work with and most importantly Cormac provided our sector with information that we hope to use to make a difference in the lives of Canadians through sport.

Church Urban Fund - Bethany Eckley

It has been a real pleasure to work with Nurture Development. Cormac has spoken at several of our events and has always been a big hit. He combines humour with a real depth of insight into the problems of our day, whilst also casting a compelling vision of how things can be different. Always an inspiration!

Engage Visually - Debbie Roberts

My experience of working with Cormac Russell on a 2 day workshop on Assets Based Community Development ABCD.

As a graphic facilitator I attend many events on all sorts of topics but attending a two day workshop on Assets Based Community Development ABCD with Cormac was one of the most significant that I have been part of. The West London Collaborative had brought together service users, patients, carers, commissioners and providers (voluntary and public sector). Cormac  guided the two day workshop and did a genius of a job of sharing with the audience the potential in each of us and in each community to be leading our own solutions. 

Through a mix of stories, evidence from studies and interactive exercises the 100 strong attendees explored the ideas within ABCD. The thrust was that whilst ABCD never suggests replacing services it does suggest that the role of services is not to replace community. The role and place of community and services have been blurred and confused in recent decades and the disempowerment of community’s has led to ever increasing dependence on services that can never truly fill the needs they identify. The workshop carried the audience to the knowledge that communities are sitting on their own untapped resources and capabilities to thrive. Commissioners have roles to play in supporting, reigniting and tapping these potentials but in a way that ensures the community is leading the way. To get the recipe right empowered communities need to be liberated to use their own assets to regain their health and vitality and that within each community lies great skills, abilities, capacity and assets. Cormacs approach was enabling and illuminating and over the two days the many people began important conversations about how they would begin this revitalizing of their communities. Cormac’s style whilst challenging also achieved a strong sense of cohesion within the hall, of solving these issues together and of an excitement to start now.

To a large degree the content I have heard before but it had not reached me and had not appeared to reach people in the room in the same way as this. Cormac’s straight talking and very clear grounded knowledge alongside his ability in the wise use of stories gave great depth to the days. Cormac’s skill to deliver vital transformation recipes and creation of action by the end of the workshops brought a sense of completion alongside a sense of beginning.

Gloucestershire County Council - Jane Everiss

Society of Chief Librarians

Cormac kindly agreed to attend our annual Seminar in June 2017 to talk about libraries being the animator for community building. His session took place after lunch on the final day of the seminar, however he kept the whole room enthralled when recounting his experiences and in particular how the community of Kulin came together to revitalise their own community. Attendees found his session “powerful, positive and uplifting” and he taught us to start with what’s strong rather than what’s wrong. His ability to explain the concept of Asset Based Community Development in a way that showed us how libraries can become great curators of a civic conversation was “brilliant and well presented”. I am sure that this concept will be taken back to libraries throughout the Country.

Mrs Jane Everiss
Head of Library Services
Gloucestershire County Council

Highlands and Islands Enterprise - Sandra Holmes

Thank you so much for such an inspiring and thought provoking presentation at our Strengthening Communities National Conference 2017. The content was totally ‘on message’ with the theme of our conference and your delivery was first class; no, it was more than this – it was faultless. Your contribution resonated strongly with delegates and was very well received. Your input contributed in no small measure to a very successful event.

Our sincere thanks, Sandra Holmes, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, September 2017

HSC Voices - Scott Bell

We found Cormac a very insightful leader who left a positive impression on all involved with HSCVoices. I like to be challenged to look at things differently and I found that Cormac has the ability to do that.

When facilitating our event he showed a good understanding of the audience and made me feel more confident when it came to compering the event. One regular attendee of our network and learning events said it was the best event they had attended by far.

As a healthcare professional I found Cormac’s perspective valuable and has shone a different light on how I will be looking at care from now on.

JUST Lincolnshire - Wesley Shelbourne

JUST Lincolnshire’s relationship with Nurture Development has closely informed the values of the organization and how we seek to engage with others. Nurture Development has opened up the horizons for JUST Lincolnshire, in terms of new approaches to our work.

Not only has Nurture Development impacted on us as an organization but has begun to develop how other groups in Lincolnshire are approaching their engagement with communities.

The openness and integrity of Nurture Development is an example for many of us seeking to serve the communities of which we are a part.

Leeds City Council - Emma Carter

Nurture Development have both inspired and challenged us in our attempts to take a more asset-based approach in Leeds. Their support has been invaluable in helping us to reflect on our practice and encouraging us when we have hit a stumbling block.

Being part of a Learning Site has taught me not to underestimate the time that is needed to make connections. The big difference has definitely been triggered by Community Builders and Connectors having conversations.

It takes time.

You can’t use a conventional project management approach. There is not a way to anticipate what is going to come out of this.

Public Health NHS Ayrshire & Arran - Anne Clarke

Working with Nurture Development over the last few years has been valuable to our project. Their knowledge and expertise in relation to asset-based approaches is second to none and mentoring of staff and facilitation at workshops always generates creative and enthusiastic thinking opportunities.

Cormac and the team are very flexible, adaptable and nothing is ever a problem. A professional organisation that will support you in any way to meet your aims and objectives. Thank you for taking us on this journey.

Social Work Scotland

Cormac’s presentation resonated with everyone and articulated perfectly where Social Work professionals want to be with their practice and approach to supporting people.

We have already booked Cormac for our next event.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust - Dominic Lodge

Southern Health is a large NHS Foundation Trust. We have more than 8,000 members of staff who have strengths and assets as citizens, as individuals. Collectively that is a powerful force for good.

In our work with Nurture Development we have explored ways to ‘let go’, see life beyond services and to encourage the health giving connections and associational life that people in our care have.

It has been an illuminating experience. Nurture Development has shone a light and it is a light I would highly and heartily recommend to others.

The Centre for Social Justice - DR Jeffrey W. Bailey (Previous Managing Director)

Having observed firsthand the remarkable and ground-breaking work of Jim Diers in Seattle, and Cormac Russell in Ireland, we are convinced that they are are demonstrating the kind of tangible models for citizen-led, neighbourhood-based social change that many of us have been looking for.

The work of Nurture Development offers genuinely transformative ways forward for communities and local authorities across the country.

The Isle of Wight Public Health Team in Southampton - Chad Oatley

The conversations and relationship building with Nurture Development has enabled Public Health to connect and engage with a range of diverse people in communities that are now applying ABCD principles in practice to build, strengthen and create inclusive and well-resourced communities on the Isle of Wight as part of an approach to improving health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities.

This experience has added-value to our Public Health practice in working alongside colleagues and communities, and we are committed to growing this relationship with Nurture Development to better enable Public Health to empower citizen-led community development practice.

Thornton Heath Resident

ABCD is great. For someone who hasn’t been in the area for a year yet I have met many people and know much more about what is available and how to access it especially as the mother of young children.

On a wider level I feel that the connections I have made offered something much needed to others in the area and was done in a way that is open to them. There are many things to share.

The Wellspring Foundation - Richard Taylor

Cormac Russell and Nurture Development have been instrumental in helping The Wellspring Foundation and its partners learn how to apply an Asset-Based approach (ABCD) in Rwandan schools. Their investment into Wellspring and our partners in local government and the Education Coordination Platform (RENCP) will make a significant difference in the Rwandan education system.

As an organization seeking to truly empower educators in post-conflict Rwanda, we have found the greatest barrier to building vibrant schools in is the scarcity mentality created by years of dependency on foreign agencies and aid organizations.

Cormac Russell and Nurture Development have been instrumental in helping The Wellspring Foundation and its partners learn how to apply an asset-based approach (ABCD) in Rwandan schools.

Cormac and his colleague Brian Nugent have a wealth of experience in successfully applying ABCD principles with communities, governments, and organizations in North America, Europe, and Africa. Their investment into Wellspring and our partners in local government and the Education Coordination Platform (RENCP) will make a significant difference in the Rwandan education system.

As Rwandan schools embrace ABCD, they will be able to increasingly harness the power within their own community to accomplish things they never before thought possible.

Thurrock Council - Les Billingham

Council has been working in collaboration with Nurture Development over the last two years implementing Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) within the local authority area. Nurture, as an organisation has shown through that period that they are remarkably supportive, innovative and passionate about their role in stimulating community development, and totally committed to the vision that informs ABCD.

In Cormac Russell, Nurture has a very charismatic, strong 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.

ABCD advocates community development that is bottom up and sustainable. The role of professionals within this context is clearly one of initial leadership and stimuli, however there is also a robust expectation that the community take control of the process and embed the practice to ensure ongoing resilience.

It is impossible to see how ABCD could be delivered in a credible way without the support, knowledge skill and experience that Nurture and Cormac bring to bear on the issue.

If you believe, as we do in Thurrock, in the principles of ABCD, that is strength rather than need, gift giving and reciprocity, active citizens not passive recipients and power vested in those that can do the most good; then it is difficult to see how this vision for cultural change and innovation could be made real and sustainable without the support of Nurture Development.

Literacy Guiding Team in New Bruswick

Cormac, you guided and assisted us in having rich, engaging and meaningful discussions about our purpose and our renewed approach to people, community and literacy.  We thought you might be curious about the comments our group shared after our conversations with you.  It was mentioned by all of us that you are a gifted facilitator that inspired all of us via ZOOM!  We all felt like you were present with us despite it being facilitated virtually – which is a unique skill and talent.   We think what made it so personal is your wonderful appreciative inquiry, and calling us all by name.  When you expressed so much interest and curiosity about our work and ideas it made our time with you a very personalized experience.  We checked with our colleagues that were online, and  some reported to us that it was like they were in the room.  One person actually said, “it was one of the most engaging meetings that I have  ever attended in person or online.”  Here are some other comments from the group:

  • It was thought provoking and very informative.
  • it was invigorating and inspiring.
  • Reminded us that literacy isn’t cut and dry.
  • It (working with community) is about being curious and how we word and view things.
  • Cormac is a good listener with great language, leading into a questioning mindset.
  • Very good. I learned a lot.
  • Amazing facilitator!
  • Fascinating metaphor – Humpty Dumpty and the Wall.


There is no doubt that the guiding team has lots to think about in mapping out our future, but now we all feel a bit better equipped with some strong principles of asset based community development and some good questions to ask ourselves and each other that will surely guide us in our next steps. We have you to thank for that! We hope to reach out to you again and we will keep you up-to-date on literacy in New Brunswick.

Leeds City Council - Tom Riordan CBE, Chief Executive

“Nurture Development’s advice and practical support have played an important role in our asset-based journey across Leeds and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with them in the future.”

Essex County Council - Maria Farres, Director of Organisational Development and Talent Management

Cormac’s session provided a really good challenge to traditional approaches around “service delivery” for institutions like Local Government. Through compelling and engaging storytelling he shared ideas and concepts that helped to question the most common way of thinking around what individuals and communities “need” from us, he enabled us to engage with the idea of what we would need to change/do differently to create the right conditions for individuals and communities to be the real drivers of social change.