SALT (Support & stimulate, Appreciate, Learn, Transfer & Team)

SALT Methodology Training (This training took place in March 2009)

SALT is an acronym used to describe an appreciative mindset and a team approach in entering local communities. It stands for Support & stimulate, Appreciate, Learn, Transfer & team. It can also be thought of as a Support And Learning Team. A SALT visit is done by a small group of three or four people to a neighbourhood and homes.(also called the dynamic interaction of 3 environments - home ,neighbourhood, centre) Questions are explored by the team about the community concerns, hopes and ways of responding. (also called "strategic questioning") SALT places the visitors into the stance of respect and learning which will allow a relationship of reciprocity to form.

When a team enters community as SALT, the human strengths of community will be seen and reflected back. Some of these strengths include capacity to care, to change behaviour and attitude, to build community belonging, and to hope. (also called "transferable concepts") If the team is consistent in looking for human strengths and speaking those strengths back to the community, the community reaction will change. Where communities have previously waited for programmes or handouts to resolve their problems, they will now begin to reflect on their own resources including relationship, culture, faith and experience. When they begin to recognise the ways they act for themselves, they can become more intentional to use their strengths. The process of accompanying a community through this process is called local facilitation, and is most effective when done in a SALT team which mirrors the principle of relationship as the primary strength of community.

SALT can help a community to become self-aware and active. When a community is aware of their potential, or capacity for response, any member of that community can transfer their vision, and ways of working , and interest to another community, through natural links and ties, or through planned interactions. If a community in a geographic area "wakes up" and becomes active on any issue, the idea of transfer can be stimulated and encouraged, and the experience of transfer can be mapped (also called "transfer mapping"). Transfer occurs in a spectrum from spontaneous, even unnoticed "word of mouth", to learning events supported by organisations.

Transfer itself is a human strength, and together with care, change, community belonging, and hope, these are called "transferable concepts" which can be seen and stimulated to develop in any context.

Deep mutual respect can develop through a relatively short visit if the hosts are briefed that the purpose is for the visitors to learn about local response, and if there is a "bridging" person in the team who is known to the hosts.

Each team needs to prepare itself by practising the strategic questioning approach , and each team needs to debrief after the visit, often with then local community people who have been visited . Some core questions for the team include: "What strengths for response did we find?" and "How did we function as a team?" Application to the work place for each team member follows

SALT is a way of thinking and relating ourselves to a situation.

Foundation Principles

S is for Support, Stimulate, Share

A is for Appreciate, Analyse

L is for Listen, Learn, and Link

T is for Transfer and team


A SALT visit contains:

1. Invitation or opportunity to visit, in teams of 3-5 people, each with a "bridge" person, who will link the team to the situation. The bridge person is someone who is known in the situation.

2. Preparation to visit, by hearing something of the context, and reviewing the approach

3. A visit, in which the team introduces itself as people who are there to learn, and each member introduces themselves as a person, not by title.

4. Reflection as a team after the visit, about what was learned, what might be next steps, and how the team could improve its practice of SALT.

Appreciate The foundational attitude is APPRECIATION of what people in a community are already doing, and their lives. So as a team enters a community, the first attitude is not one of looking for all the problems and weaknesses, but rather one of appreciating what is working.
Learn The second foundational attitude is LEARNING. The visiting team is in the community to learn, to understand, and again to appreciate, the strengths of people to manage their own lives.
Support The third foundation is SUPPORT, not by bringing material or technical things, but by encouraging people. As the visiting team appreciates and learns more about the strengths, it is possible to encourage people by mentioning the strengths to them. Often people are not aware of their own strength, and this is true for all of us!
  A team develops these foundations by observation and conversation in the community. Conversation will focus on the hopes and concerns of people, and the way they already work together on those hopes and concerns. The team works to identify and name strengths.
The other attitudes and practices of SALT will come next.
Stimulate Specific themes emerge through the concerns, and the team is able to STIMULATE reflection by community members, on the connections between their concerns and the major issues affecting the community. The team listens carefully in order to ANALYSE what is heard, and asks questions to encourage community members to ANALYSE as well. For example, if a concern is expressed about young people being "careless", it is possible to ask questions to explore how that is connected to risk issues of HIV, or other specific issues.
Probing Here it is important for the TEAM to LEARN, and SUPPORT each other, to ask questions about the connections, rather than point them out or attempt to "enlighten" the community about the connections as the team sees them. This phase of the process is very important, to keep the responses in the hands of the community and not take over as ‘knowledgeable’ persons.
Analyse The team will continually ANALYSE and STIMULATE analysis as the community gradually opens up discussion on significant issues, and acknowledges the underlying roots, such as HIV. It will become natural to reflect on what the community itself can do in response.
  SALT should normally happen as a series of visits, not only one.
Link The LINK function will be expressed when the team begins to ask themselves the question, "who is not in this discussion?" For example, if discussion happens mainly with elders in a first visit, the team will find a way to meet youth. If discussion happens with the "upright" citizens of a place, the team can seek a way to talk to "troublemakers". If men are the first to discuss, then the team will want to discuss with women. This does not happen by criticising those who are already active, but by always including others. And as discussion opens with different people in a community, the team will help to create opportunities to LINK the different conversations together.
Transfer TRANSFER is a function of the team members, to take something back to their own communities and organisations, and apply the approach there. TRANSFER also happens when community members link to others outside their own community, and influence change in other places. For example, as stigma is reduced in one neighbourhood, the idea that it is possible to live well with HIV will be shared to other places, through extended family links, and sometimes more systematically as well. The SALT team can encourage TRANSFER from one community to another.
  SALT team visits are a method which is learned by doing it. Once people have the general idea, it is possible to go and try. However, it is important to do this within an ACTION-REFLECTION cycle.
Action & Reflection

Action-reflection means that the team should prepare by remembering what SALT means, and the main topics of discussion, which are:




Ways of working: how do the family and community now respond to the concerns and hopes mentioned? How could they respond? During a SALT visit, the team should help each other to follow the SALT approach. After a SALT visit, it is very important that the team immediately (before going home) discuss what they have learned from the experience, and how they could do better as a SALT team.

Examples of the power of SALT (shared by Bobby Zach)