It’s been a while since I have written a blog in which I voice a personal view but I felt the need to with reading a lot of articles about strength or asset based community development of late.
I have a few thoughts on this I wanted to share to see what other people think?
I have personally worked in the business of creating a society where everyone can be themselves and have the best quality of life possible – this through many guises such as community development, charitable work, coaching and as a diversity and inclusion lead. Through these roles I have been lucky enough to work with some of the most incredible people; mainly within my time in social housing. I have met Halina, the Polish paratrooper who took homeless people back to her home (where she lived alone) and she put them back together before delivering them to us as a social landlord to house (amongst other things!) I have met Dave, the man who turned his own personal challenges into a positive through creating Europe’s biggest disability charity (WDP) which supports people to build and rebuild their lives – this guy is unbelievable.
I have met *Bill, who has dementia and other personal challenges but gives up his time daily to improve the lives of others through volunteering his time – he even messages to apologise if he can’t make a meeting due to being in hospital because he puts others needs before his own…always.
I met an 86 year old man who was a medic in the British Army who had lived with alcoholism due to PTSD and now due to understanding this illness – supports others to climb the steps back to their own version of normality. Then there is me…
…I was a straight A student in school with an amazing mum and fantastic dad. We lived a normal life on a low income but ridiculously happy because my parents invested more than money into me – they invested their time. Whether I was cooking with mum or doing forward rolls on a crash mat with Dad (he was a budding martial arts guru… for me, not so much!) … I was happy.
Then mum got cancer, ten times over ten years to be precise. This was our new normal. She lost the fight when I was just about to turn 17 and this impacted the straight A student version of me and rocked my whole family, and my whole world – reverberations which we still feel today because we miss the beautiful kind soul who knitted our family together perfectly. People saw I was faltering and stepped in to put me back together. Some were family, some were professionals in the educational setting and some complete strangers. I now have a great career, great outlook on life and have the drive to support others, because I know how someone understanding me at my lowest point actually helped me to become me again.
What I am trying to say, is that I have met the most incredible people within my career who inspire me to be the best version of myself but one thing which they all have in common… someone supported them to first jump the hurdles life had put in the way. This by showing them that they had an understanding of where they were in life; and also were they could be in their future.
For me, this shows me that the best type of community development, one which creates real change in people that carries on for decades…is both asset (or strength) based and at the same time supporting the person to jump those hurdles (I don’t like using the words deficit based!)
Plugging gaps which exist ensures people have the support they may need which could be missing at certain points. Focus on the strengths and making these stronger.. but also focus on areas which need improving to ensure those who need the most support are not left behind.
So to finish – I believe there needs to be a layered approach to community evolution but lets start with understanding a communities needs and working with people 121 to really give them the time and space to be the best version of themselves.
“Fix things and make them work…when they are working, support an evolution to match the aspiration!”
Also – a big thanks to those who have invested in me – you will never know how grateful I am for being glued back together. For you in seeing both areas to strengthen and also improve.
Bye for now,