Henk Cornelissen is currently Director of LSA, a national association of community organizations based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The LSA is primarily involved in supporting local community organizations to make the most of government funding by participating in urban policies and making them more community led.
Henk began his career in youth work, cultural work and community development work in Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands. He was involved in various projects including one of the first projects in the Netherlands to promote self-management of social housing after substantial renovation.
In the nineties Henk built up experience outside the Netherlands in his position as International Secretary and Coordinator of the Quartiers en Crise project, which managed a European Network of 25 cities promoting an integrated approach to urban deprivation and social exclusion. The Network was based in Brussels and was responsible for international exchanges between community leaders, professionals and local politicians in 25 European cities. This resulted in the organization of four large international conferences in Barcelona, Turin, Glasgow and Brussels, and the publication of a final scientific report about social exclusion. In those days it was, and to a large extent still is, common policy in most European countries that the only way forward is State financed intervention, based on problems and needs analysis.
In recent years, LSA has been responsible for the introduction and promotion of Asset Based Community Development in the Netherlands as an alternative to the old needs driven policies, which were never very successful. Over the years and after many experiments it has become clear that although ABCD principles can be applied anywhere, copying strategies which work in America is no guarantee to success in the European context. The implementation of community led neighborhood development is much more a struggle for independence and control than it is for funding or attention. If professional intervention is not an asset but part of a State controlled policy then different strategies are needed. The Kan Wel (Can Do) projects initiated by LSA which now run nationwide in The Netherlands have shown on a limited scale that given the opportunity, local people are capable of improving their neighborhoods in many ways. One of the latest developments is that national government has recognized this and adopted a voucher scheme developed by LSA. The voucher scheme gives people from deprived neighborhoods in 31 cities control over substantial amounts of money and encourages groups and individuals to come forward with initiatives and implement them with minimal restrictions.
LSA, Oud Kerkhof 13b 3512 GH Utrecht, The Netherlands
++ 31 30 2317511