camelon, coach, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill, training

Why not?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 22 July 2021

Last week in this blog, I asked the question “why bother“. Many of you read it and some took the time to comment positively about it which is nice, but now I want to encourage a bit more action. So, in direct answer to last week’s question, I give you answer “why not“!

Okay, I accept that’s a question not an answer but I think it’s acceptable in this case.

The communities within Camelon and Tamfourhill need more people who will stand up and say “why not”. People who are not willing to look for excuses not to get involved. People who, when they see something that needs doing or where helpers are needed, say “yeah okay, why not. I’ll do that.”

We do have many people like this who have stepped up, said “why not” and used their time, talent and resources to make a difference. Some have been doing it for many (many) years and others are new to it. Here at Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill, we want to celebrate those people, many of whom don’t even want thanks, praise or recognition for doing what they do. The unsung heroes. Obviously there are the big things like running Community Centres or Sports Clubs where we find many amazing “why not” people at the helm. But then there’s the smaller things which are arguably, just as (or maybe more) important. The person who picks up the litter in their street. The person who regularly does their elderly neighbours shopping. The person who checks in on someone to make sure they’re okay. The person who helps out with a club or activity. The person who checks the accounts for a small community group. The person who reports issues to the relevant authorities so they can be dealt with. The person who organises a get together of people in their close. I could go on…..

The thing is, many of these people have done these things for a long time and could do with some help. Many local organising committees are short on numbers. Many things need to get started but it needs local people to step up to make it happen. As I said last week, times have changed from when you could rely on statutory bodies to provide every service or activity you need. So do we sit back and moan? Do we rant on social media? Do we complain? Or do we say, yeah, why not, I’ll help out, tell me what I can do.

Now that’s all very well if you have the relevant skills to do something. But I know some of you will be concerned that you won’t know what to do or have the necessary skills or qualifications for it. Guess what – we can sort that. If you are not confident in your own abilities then we can sort that too. Here are just some options for sorting these and other things:

  • I can provide 1 to 1 development coaching for you to understand what you might need, what you could do, and to help you find the ways to move towards your potential.
  • We have partnered with NHS Forth Valley to bring the THRIVE to Keep Well programme to the area for the first time, as a pilot for women but hopefully for the whole community if this works – click that link for all information and contact details as there is still time to sign up for the August start of this programme.
  • We are partnering with the Employment and Training Unit and a new charity called 4 The Benefit of All, to bring various personal and skills based training to the community for free – watch this space for more on that soon.
  • I have access and links to various information, support, guidance etc to give you all you need to get involved in whatever it might be. All you have to do is ask.

So what will you say “why not” to? What do you see in the area that you think you could do something about or get involved in. What don’t you see happening that you think should be?

I am currently working with a couple of groups of local residents who have an idea, have seen a need, and have said “why not”. My job here is to support exactly that kind of thing. Whether its setting the group up and getting funding, or just making connections, finding premises and volunteers, and dealing with authorities, I’m here and at your service.

So why not bite the bullet and voice that idea that’s been hanging around your head for a while? Why not speak to someone you know who might be a good help with whatever it is you’re doing? Why not take that step towards finding your potential by finding out what training you could do or how you could get back into work?

If you’re in any doubt, just say “why not”!

Until next time

Dan Rous,
Community Coach
07444 873151
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, coach, community, leadership, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill

Why bother?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 15 July 2021

For someone who is usually pretty positive, that may sound like a strange title for a blog. But this isn’t a rant or a whinge – it’s a rallying call to get involved.

Be honest though. How many times have you said something along the lines of “why bother” or “why should I do that ‘insert nice thing’ when it’s just going to become undone” or “why should I help them”. Maybe you’ve even said of others “why are they bothering doing that” or “what’s the point in them helping those ‘insert description here‘ people.” Or even “how is that getting sorted over there but not here”.

Doing good can by tiring when faced with constant negativity. Doing good can really grate when you see your good work undone or put down by others.

So why bother? Why? Because it’s the right thing to do and because it may well be the only way to bring positive change to our local area. So when John and I or any other group in this area gives an opportunity to get involved in something in the local area that will work towards that positive change, let’s jump forward together and not just leave it to the usual people. If we don’t, we will continue to hear, as has been said many times, that this is the land that time forgot.

I completely understand that getting involved in community enhancing activities is hard work and can be extremely draining both mentally and physically. There is an expectation that others (especially the council) should be doing things but times have changed (maybe not for the better but we are where we are). I completely understand that it’s very easy to get drawn into a discussion on social media about problems in the area and it is right that those problems are highlighted. But while a discussion on social media may feel good and give a good platform to rant, it is not the way to get things sorted. I completely understand though that when you stand up to try to make a positive change, you are also putting yourself up on the firing line and sometimes that can feel a lonely place.

So why bother? Andy March said “If you’re kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you’re successful, you’ll win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway”. What a great message that essentially says forget what anyone else will say or think. If you think this is the right way forward and will bring positive change to the community then go for it.

Why shouldn’t we bother? Why shouldn’t we do kind things because it’s the right thing to do? Why shouldn’t we become successful in our area? And if we’re not physically able to get involved, why shouldn’t we cheer on those who are having a go?

This is a good point in this blog to actually say thank you to those who are bothering. Those who see an opportunity and grasp it, rather than sitting back and waiting for someone else to get involved. Those who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Those who are willing to take on extra training to be able to be involved in something. Those who will ask questions to get positive action. Those who truly believe that the only way to make a difference is to actually make a difference.

Carl Beech said “It seems to me that far too often, rather than cheer each other on we seem to provoke each other more to angst and stimulate rows rather than love and good stuff. … I think it’s more than what we say but what we do as well. On one of the marathons I ran (plodded around) I put my name on the front of my tee. All the way round total strangers were yelling out “Come on Beechy!!! Go on son!!!” It was amazing. I’m sure they put an extra 5 miles in the tank just by cheering me on. Similarly, when I see people being gracious, generous in words and actions – it provokes me to want to do the same and lifts my head and heart up to something higher. When people are sarcastic, mocking or argumentative – in the same way it can lower your head and drag you down.”

So what can we do about it? Beechy asks the following questions which I think are good for all of us, including me, to consider: “What do I/you provoke more? The good or the bad? When did I/you last cheer someone on? Do I/we bump my/our gums moaning all the time or does what comes out of my/our mouth encourage people with generous words? Does my/your actions provoke people to good stuff or not?

Challenging questions there but they are well worth considering if we’re serious about making this community an even better place. I am well known for banging on about the good things happening in the area. I am well known for championing our area for the people, organisations and activities that are going on – often under the radar. People from other areas are beginning to sit up and take note. People from outwith our community are beginning to see what can happen when people come together for positive change. Have we sorted all the issues out yet? No, far from it. There is a lot of work to do. But if we keep looking to the problems as problems, that will be all we see. Maybe if you are looking only at the problems, how about considering how you could get involved to try to help turn things around for those involved in those issues. Maybe they just need a chance to be involved themselves?

To use Beechy’s analogy from earlier on, “Let’s keep running the marathon and cheer each other on along the way.” I’m going to bother – what about you?

Until next time…

Dan Rous, Community Coach

07444 873151 communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, community, funding, tamfourhill

Vote Vote Vote (part two)

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 24 June 2021

Over the last few weeks, voting has been going on for the Small Grants part of Falkirk Council’s Community Choices fund – results from this are due very soon.

Well, now its the time for the big ones – the larger Capital Programme applications. And there are some exciting projects hoping to get the cash in our area.

Before I get into the projects, here are the Ts & Cs. Voting is registered by local authority ward (so Camelon is in Ward 6/Falkirk North and Tamfourhill is in Ward 7/Falkirk South). You can only vote for projects in the ward that you live in and this will be verified by your postcode when the final checks are done. You can vote for up to 3 projects in the ward you live in and, with an allocation of money per area, the project(s) with the most votes will get the cash or a portion of it depending on how the results end up. Your vote is not in order of preference – each of your 3 votes is counted equally. The weblink you need is further down the page. Voting is open until 16 July for residents of high school age or over. Results will be announced shortly after the closing date.

Unfortunately the whole process is still being done online, but if anyone doesn’t have access to a device, they can contact us and we can help them to either get access to vote online, or we can organise to get a paper ballot to them.

So, as we did with the small grants, here is the information on the projects seeking your vote right here in our area (in alphabetical order). There are others listed in each ward as the boundaries extend beyond our area, but I have just highlighted the ones either in Camelon or Tamfourhill for obvious reasons.


Falkirk North / Ward 6 (Camelon projects) Total Ward Allocation £192,828

Camelon Juniors Football ClubFull Sized Artificial Pitch at Carmuirs Park – £190,000
Funding will enable the purchase and installation of a full size 4G pitch so the club can offer activities all year round in fit for purpose training facilities for local clubs, teams and people, including Walking Football, Rugby, and Woman/Girls Football teams.

Falkirk Rugby Football and Sports ClubTransformation of the Sunnyside Pavilion – £65,000
Funding will enable the club to transform the currently council owned pavilion into an attractive, modern hub for local clubs and organisations, providing them with access to a new physio suite, flexible teaching area, expanded gym and fit-for-purpose changing / showering facilities.

Love Falkirk (Falkirk Vineyard Church)Love Falkirk Support Centre – £25,000
Funding will allow the organisation to move to larger premises, increase the number of days they open the Community Pantry each week plus have a space where people can come inside for Coffee and Chat whilst they get support through Digital Drop-In Sessions, Homework Clubs, Financial Advice, Community Coaching and Counselling.


Falkirk South / Ward 7 (Tamfourhill projects) Total Ward Allocation £94,062

Barnardo’sBarnardo’s @ Watling Lodge – £14,376
Funding would enable the installation of an outdoor toilet and kitchen to allow the organisation to safely extend their face-to-face support and connect Children, Families and Communities with Nature.

Friends of Dollar ParkRenovation of Dovecote – £80,000
Funding would enable the organisation together with other stakeholders, to restore the iconic building to its former glory and to landscape the surrounding area plus add new seating.

Tamfourhill Tenants and Residents Organisationoutdoor gym and free form exercise area – £52,500
Funding would enable the organisation to provide everyone with the chance to be active in their community with outdoor gym equipment that is accessible for all in the area, allowing people to be active and have fun whilst boosting their mental health.


To vote, go to www.falkirk.gov.uk/ccvote and follow the links and instructions there. Again, if you have any difficulties or know someone without digital access, please get in touch so we can make sure everyone’s vote can still be registered.

camelon, community, Mental Health, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Don’t suffer in silence

Last weekend, another young life was ended too soon. What makes it worse, is that this local young person chose to end their life. No-one should feel so much without hope that they feel this is their only option. So what can we do about it for ourselves and for our community?

Firstly, let me remind you that it is okay not to feel okay. And as Vasundhara Sawhney, quoting Dr Jaime Zuckerman, says, “Not only is it okay to not feel ‘okay,’ it is essential. An abnormal emotional response to an abnormal situation IS normal. We cannot simply pick the emotions we want to have. It just does not work that way,” Dr. Zuckerman said. So feeling sad and scared about my parents after they contracted Covid was normal. Crying after you get into a fight with your partner is also normal, as is feeling anxious and scared about an uncertain future. When we think we might lose something we care about, that’s sad. When we don’t know what to expect next, that’s scary. We should let ourselves, and other people in our lives, feel these things as they come up — which may be more than usual right now.”

Secondly, (and I know this is easy for me to type here but not so easy in reality), there is no need to suffer in silence or alone. Whatever you are feeling – whatever has happened – no one will think so badly of you that they would leave you on your own to deal with suicidal feelings. Find a trusted friend to talk to. This would be better in person but if a text/messenger exchange would help you get started then go for that. But do something. If you’d prefer to talk with someone you don’t know who maybe won’t be connected with your situation, then link up with a local organisation or national service that is there for you no matter what. Contact details for some of these are further down this blog.

Thirdly, we all need to better understand who we are and help our minds focus on that. Now I know that’s a big statement to make, but I want to emphasise that speaking with others is an essential part of that. Not pretending to be someone we’re not. Not trying to be like someone else. But being our awesome potential-filled selves.

Matt Meher says “we live in a day and age where we are very distracted. There’s a million places to be in our minds and our hearts – anywhere except here, now, in the present moment. And usually when we’re in the present moment, a lot of us avoid it because what’s waiting there is sometimes grief, fear, anxiety, or suffering. In fact we kind of live in a day and age where we’re more and more tempted to escape suffering instead of embracing it. We need to be willing to embrace the reality of the human condition, and the reality of this life, even to the point that it moves us to tears, because you can cry from grief and you can also cry from laughter – both require a heart that is so present to the moment that it is willing to be moved to that place. If you’re not present and you’re not free, you can’t get moved. Not only that but fear and anxiety can actually choke off our emotions and so crying is actually a natural involuntary response of our body, our subconscious. We’re getting stuff off our mind, off our chest in a way. And if we’re willing to do that, it creates an environment where we’re more in touch with who we are, and more in touch with the reality our circumstances. When we do that we tend to be more likely to find and experience peace.”

You may have heard about the swan syndrome. This is where everyone looking at you will think you’re all calm, sorted, and just gliding gracefully through life! And yet, just like the swan who’s wee legs will be flapping away to keep it going, under the surface of your outer appearance, things are going absolutely crazy. Your mind is a blur of different things and really you’re just going through the motions. You might be involved in so many things but never really settling. You might be so busy that you’re not sleeping because you’re not having time to wind down. You might be drinking so many energy drinks that you just can’t switch off. This list could go on and on. Things need to change and you need to take time to assess what is most important in your life. Now that might mean some tough choices. I’ve had to make some choices over the last year and have given up some things that I really enjoyed. It was tough. I miss the things I was doing and the people involved in them. But to be honest, I don’t know how I had the time to do them before. Not because I’ve replaced with them other stuff, but because I’ve spent time for me and with my family and friends. Yes, I was happy doing the things I’ve given up, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy now I’m not doing them!

Dan Gilbert says “Happiness is not a final destination – it is just somewhere you visit on the path of life.”

What that quote is saying is that sometimes you’ll be happy and sometimes you won’t. And as we started this blog, THAT’S OKAY! It’s sad to say that happiness may not last forever in your current setting, but it needs to be acknowledged. That doesn’t mean you should be expecting things to go pear shaped at any minute and so you stop enjoying where you’re at. Please enjoy the moment for what it is. What it does mean is that if that joyous situation does come to an end, you’re ready for it and can pick yourself up with the help of trusted friends, and move forwards.

What I want to do just now is give some key contacts for local and national organisations, but first, here are some key statements from two local organisations that we would recommend:

Falkirk’s Mental Health Association (FDAMH) say “You may feel that there is no hope, but our experience shows us there is. All lives are precious. Don’t feel alone with your thoughts or feel ashamed of struggling, we can all struggle at different times. We are here to listen, without judgement, and to help find a positive solution to what might seem an impossible situation. We offer a range of services that can and do help.”

Quiet Waters Listening and Counselling say: “Do you feel anxious, depressed, angry, sad, hurt, or any of the many difficult emotions that are part of the human experience? Emotions are not good or bad, but they are trying to tell us something. Do you have difficult thoughts whirling around in your head? Is life a struggle? Do you want an opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings in confidence? We are here if you want to talk through your situation.”

Here are some recommended contact details for you to have for yourself or to pass on to someone who you know that is struggling right now.

FDAMH: 01324 671 600 (Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm, Friday 10am to 3pm)
Quiet Waters: 01324 630643
The Spark Counselling Falkirk: 0808 802 2088 (Monday to Thursday 9am to 9pm, Friday 9am to 4pm)
Wellbeing Matters: 01324 630 100
Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87
Samaritans: 116 123
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (support for men): 0800 58 58 58
Childline 0800 1111
Young Minds: text YM to 85258
NHS 24: 111
Emergency Ambulance 999

There is lots of help out there and they are ready and waiting to support you and those you love. Please, let’s ensure no one suffers in silence to the point of complete despair. As our friends at Camerados say, “The answer to our problems is each other”. We have an amazing community spirit across Camelon and Tamfourhill. Let’s continue to build on that and be there for each other.

To finish this week, I encourage you to watch the video below from the World Health Organisation. It’s well worth the 4 minutes it lasts. This was shown to me when I undertook Mental Health First Aid Training a couple of years ago, and I have used it many times since. If you’re struggling with your mental health just now, this may help you understand what is going on in your head. I’ll leave you with the best 5 words I could ever say or have said to me: “I’m here if you need”.

Dan Rous, Community Coach, 07444 873151 communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

THRIVE to Keep Well

Community Coach blog, Dan Rous, 3 June 2021

I am so pleased to be able to introduce an exciting programme that is new to Falkirk. We’re excited that NHS Forth Valley have come to us with the opportunity to pilot this programme that has run elsewhere but never before in Falkirk. So Camelon and Tamfourhill are ground breakers!

So “what is this programme” I hear you cry! Well, specifically this is for the ladies of Camelon and Tamfourhill. I realise that means I’ll lose half of the readers of this blog today and I’m sorry about that, but I’ll balance that back up at a later date. Guys, feel free to read on though as you may have a female in your life to whom this might be relevant so you can let them know.

So ladies, here’s a couple of questions for you, to see if you would be eligible for this programme.

  • Do you live in Camelon and Tamfourhill area?
  • Are you aged 16 upwards?
  • Do you find it difficult at times to deal with day to day stresses?
  • Are you looking for help to improve your confidence, motivation and/or self esteem?

If you can answer YES to those questions then this programme is potentially for you. If any of those do not apply to you then I’m sorry that the rest of this blog won’t be relevant for you. However, as for the guys, feel free to keep reading as you may know someone who would benefit and you could encourage them to get involved.

The programme is called THRIVE to Keep Well and each letter of the word THRIVE stands for another word. Each participant will have the opportunity to be Transformational in their journey to making positive Health and wellbeing changes, by being a Responsive Individual, to feeling Valued and Empowered by improving knowledge, skills and opportunities in a variety of ways to move towards a positive destination.

The programme is delivered over 16 weeks through one 4.5 hour session per week in a local Centre. The sessions run during the day in school hours. We have space for up to 12 participants so it will also be a great way of meeting some new friends.

The THRIVE to Keep Well programme will help you to:

  • Increase your knowledge and ability to manage day to day stress and anxiety.
  • Improve your self-esteem and confidence through self-development and reflection techniques.
  • Improve your knowledge and skills around motivational goal setting to enable a change in your health behaviour.
  • Increase your knowledge of your current health. (As part of the programme you can have a NHS Forth Valley Keep Well health assessment)
  • Increase your confidence and motivation to improve on your life skills, especially when looking towards further learning, volunteering and employment.
  • Increase your knowledge and develop skills and confidence that will improve family relationships, support your children’s learning, behaviour and attainment (if you are a parent), and enhance the wider wellbeing of you and your family.

Through the programme, participants will learn about stress, anxiety and how to make positive changes through a variety of group and self-reflection activities. Participants also take part in relaxation, creative, health, safety, and community awareness sessions. There will also be a chance to meet with training and employability support providers.

It’s a bit of fun but is also a seriously helpful programme that has benefited so many people to better understand themselves and to progress in life, including moving on to training, volunteering or even a paid job. What’s more, it’s all FREE, plus all resources, drinks, snacks and lunch are included.

So here’s the detail:

  • The programme starts at the end of August (Preliminary session Friday 20, then Wednesdays from 26 August)
  • Sessions happen once a week for 16 weeks (breaking for the October school holiday).
  • Sessions commence at 9:30/10am and finish at 2:30pm, so if you have children at school there’s time to drop them off and pick them up and still benefit from the programme.
  • This pilot is just for females in the local area aged 16+
  • Most sessions will be at Tamfourhill Community Hub but some will be at Camelon Community Centre.

If you would like further information, you can get in touch with me (Dan Rous, Community Coach) on 07444 873151 or communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk or better still, you can contact Jackie Turnbull, who is the NHS Keep Well Forth Valley coordinator and is also local! Jackie is on 07909 002795 or jackie.turnbull@nhs.scot. If you’re linked with a support worker, they may speak to you about referring you to this programme as we have also contacted local agencies and schools about this.

If you would like to support the development of this programme in the local area so we can run it for more groups, male and female, in the future, or if you want to get involved in any way with any of the craft, food, pamper or other elements, then please get in touch with me as well.

So, over to you. Have a think if you would benefit from this, or if you know someone close to you who would. We’re really looking forward to bringing this programme to you this Autumn.

Until next time…..

camelon, community, funding, tamfourhill

Vote Vote Vote (part one)

You may remember promotion a few months back regarding some new funding available through Falkirk Council called Community Choices. This is where the council have taken a percentage of their budget and opened it up to communities to apply for things in their area, and then to vote on what gets the money.

Well, some local groups have been busy, we’ve been supporting them as needed, and now the first opportunity to vote has now arrived! This is for the small grants section of the fund which is for projects or activities up to a maximum of £1,500. Voting is per local authority ward (so Camelon is in Ward 6 and Tamfourhill is in Ward 7) and your vote will only count if you live in the specific area (this will be verified by your postcode). Everything is being done online, but if anyone doesn’t have access to a device, they can contact us to be referred to get a paper ballot or record their vote via telephone.  Voting is open until 18 June and then it will be the turn of the larger capital fund projects, but I’ll be back with info on those at the appropriate time.

For now, here’s information on the projects seeking your vote right here in our area (in alphabetical order). There are others listed in each ward as the boundaries extend beyond our area, but I have just highlighted the ones either in Camelon or Tamfourhill for obvious reasons. You can vote for up to 3 projects and, with an allocation of money per area, the projects with the most votes will get the cash or a portion of it depending on how the results end up. The link you need is further down the page.

Ward 6 (Camelon)

Camelon Community Centre – Exercise for all – £1,500
Funding will enable local people to access exercise or sports activity in the Centre without worrying about not being able to afford to attend.

Keep Camelon and Tamfourhill Tidy Clean and Green – Pop up Parks – £1,500
Funding will enable local volunteers to turn as many unloved rough grassy patches as possible into super-green, clean, safe and colourful mini-parks with plants and seating, for a fortnight or more at a time.

Let’s talk Table Tennis – Bringing back Table Tennis – £832
Funding will allow for the safe return of Table Tennis for the over 50s at Camelon Community Centre.

Ward 7 (Tamfourhill)

Stirlingshire & Midland Counties Table Tennis Association – New Community Table Tennis Sessions – £1,370
Funding would enable the launch of new Table Tennis sessions based at Tamfourhill Community Hub.

Other Options

As I said, there are some other options in each area that might attract your vote and would still benefit this area. Here’s some info on a couple of them:

  • Ward 6 – Falkirk Fury Basketball Club – £1,500 – Funding would support their ongoing program in delivering basketball to primary schools.
  • Ward 7 – Cyrenians – £1,400 – Funding would support a project called “Growing Plants, Growing People” at Dollar Park.

To vote, go to www.falkirk.gov.uk/ccvote and follow the links and instructions there. Again, if you have any difficulties or know someone without digital access, please get in touch so we can make sure everyone’s vote can still be registered. There’s also more information on this flyer

camelon, community, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill

Be more human

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 20 May 2021

Allow me to introduce you to the movement that is … Camerados. Being a Camerado basically means to look out for each other and, as the title of this blog suggests, to be more human.

So why am I telling you about this movement? Well, basically because here at OPCT HQ we have joined up with them (for free) on your behalf, to gain ideas, resources and support that will help us grow even more as a strong united community. (Have a look at their website for yourself if you want!)

Already we do pretty well at this strong community stuff across Camelon and Tamfourhill but there are always opportunities to do more, to grow more, to be more, well, human! You see, so often, as we live stressed and struggling lifestyles, relying on overstretched and underfunded services, the answer to our problems could lie right here in our community – with each other.

The official blurb says that “Being a Camerado is about recognising we’re all going through stuff and that it’s ok to be a bit rubbish sometimes… but that tough times get easier when you’re alongside, not being fixed or fixing, but having a laugh, mucking in, putting the kettle on and looking out for each other. Why? Because when we look out for each other we get the two essentials that make life worth living: friends and purpose.”

Regular readers who pay attention to this blog will recognise a word in there that I use a lot – alongside. That’s the key in my eyes. To stop doing things for or to people because we think it’s right, and to start coming alongside people and doing things with them. And do you know what? The other person might even be able to help you!

Camerados operate through 6 principles as shown in the image below but I’ll explain them too:

  1. It’s ok to fail. And thank goodness for that! We don’t have to get things right all the time – just as long as we learn and try not to make the same mistake again. It’s okay to try something out and for it not to work – at least you tried when many might not even have bothered starting.
  2. We don’t try to fix other people. Just be alongside them. There it is again – alongside! But the fixing thing is important to flag up. I love to help people reach their inner potential. To help them achieve what they were designed to achieve. But in my heart, I am a fixer. Show me a problem and I’ll find a solution. That’s fine in a lot of settings and has served me well in project development work over the years. But here, the biggest challenge for me in this job is to help people to develop – not to develop the people. That’s where our impaCT coaching programme comes in too. Helping people to ask the right questions and come up with the answers they need to move forwards. And training for this has helped me as well! So I’m here to help people – yes, you – to find their own fixes in life – and, as the graphic above says, to have lots of tea too (am I allowed to add cake or at least a biscuit onto that as well?)
  3. We mix with people who don’t look like us. This is not just about race or religion but even people who have a different outlook on life – a different career path – different tastes. As an Englishman who supports Spurs, I’m used to being different! But I live in Camelon and have mixed with many people over the last nearly 5 years, who you wouldn’t normally think would mix with the likes of me. Yes there’s a light hearted element to those last 2 sentences but this is equally a serious point. We are a strong community but a community that has changed a lot over the years and is now proudly multi-cultural. Let’s embrace difference more and really celebrate community.
  4. Remember – have fun! I often get accused of being a bit frivolous in life. I like a laugh and a joke even if my kids despair at most of my jokes (don’t they realise that just makes me tell them more!) But that is not to say that I don’t put in a hard slog, get stressed out, lose the plot and other things like that. But at the heart of everything we do, we need to keep returning to this principle – a lot.
  5. If we disagree, level with other respectfully. Similar to principle 3, we’re all different – but that’s ok. We will have different opinions and views on things – but that’s ok. The trick is to disagree respectfully. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong – nor does it mean you’re wrong and they’re right. But speaking with people – attempting to see the other side of the story – not necessarily agreeing but accepting – these are such important things to take on board. Having a rant on social media is so easy – probably too easy. You can even do it behind a veil of anonymity if you choose. And then it’s very easy to respond and how many posts have we seen with dozens of comments ranting and raving at each other. Stop. Take a breath. Try to engage respectfully. And if that’s not an option because the other person is just looking for an argument – well it’s also okay to say nothing sometimes.
  6. If someone is struggling try asking them to help you…it gives them purpose. I love this so much. It goes back to the not-fixing principle. This is so rarely thought of as an option but the thing you ask that person to help you with could be the one thing that stops them from going down a really bad path that day. You’re not fixing them. You’re giving them a task to do which in turn, will help them think differently about themselves.

How good are those principles? None of this is rocket science as they say. But how often do we miss out on these simple truths in life – and what a difference it would make if we all tried to live by these.

Yesterday, I posted this picture on twitter, saying I was excited to see what was inside. I added #publiclivingroom, #beacamerado and #watchthisspace to the tweet.

So, this is the space you’ve been watching! Why was I excited? Well partly because I’m a bit sad, but mainly because this was our free Public Living Room kit. “What’s a Public Living Room, Dan” I hear you shout. I’m glad you asked! (Is anyone actually still reading this?!) Well, to return to the official Camerados blurb, “What if there was a place you could go on tough days to weather the storm? We call these Public Living Rooms, comfortable places where people look out for each other, human to human. Where it’s okay to be a bit rubbish and folks will be alongside you, listening, chatting and with no expectations.” How amazing does that sound?

So what’s inside the box I hear you ask (that’s good – you are still there!) Have a look at the images below (they’ll go bigger if you click on them) then I’ll explain a bit more:

Games, decorations, flyers, cards, badges, stickers, cushion covers, throws, mugs. A fantastic mix of resources to help us (I mean you!) to set up a Public Living Room. And here’s a few images of what a room could look like:

But what is so special about these public living rooms? Aren’t they just another café? Well basically yes apart from these are usually free. They’re a place to gather, chat, drink tea and eat biscuits. But more than that, they’re a place to be more human. If you’re in any doubt, have a read of this account from a Public Living Room down south that even explains why there’s a Connect 4 game in the box:

Right beside our Public Living Room was a mental health drop-in centre. We met lots of people who were visiting it. If your life consists of short appointments what do you do the rest of the time? One half hour appointment about deeply challenging issues then leaves you 23 and a half hours of that day to walk around with nothing to do but worry before or after that appointment. There was a little fella who looked like McKenzie Crook of The Detectorists, dressed in a cagoule and jogging pants with a strangely expressionless face and he said to us: “I was wandering up this street looking for somewhere to kill myself today, but then I came in here and played Connect 4 with people, had a cuppa and a few custard creams. It was nice. Don’t think I’m gonna go through with it today.” Connect 4 made a difference that day.

Wow. Just wow. Never underestimate the power of the simple things. Tea. Custard Creams. Connect 4. A friendly face. These things that cost next to nothing, actually saved someone’s life.

So let’s work on this together shall we? Alongside each other? Where would you like to see a public living room set up in this community? Indoors or outdoors? Where can we best be of help to you to make that happen? Why not message us today so we can resource you as needed.

Dan Rous, 07444 873151 communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

Until next time….

camelon, community, gardening, growing, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill

Community Growing Update

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 13 May 2021

For this week’s blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to bring you an update on our Community Growing group with some of the activity that has been happening, and what’s ahead – including (as you would expect) how you can get involved.

Community Tool Sheds
Earlier this year, we were successful in securing funding from the Community Climate Action Fund to purchase and equip 2 community tool sheds. We have now put one of these into place at Tamfourhill Community Hub, and the other will be going into a location in the Camelon area shortly. A couple of volunteers helped build the first shed – complete with around 200 tiny screws and washers, and although there’s a bit of internal work to do and a few tools on back order, this is now operational. Here’s some pictures of the shed and if you need access for anything, please get in touch for the padlock code. Also, if anyone has some chipboard or equivalent that would cover the floor area (900mm x 2100mm), I would love to hear from you. Contact details are below.

Tamfourhill Community Hub
Some growing activity has begun in raised beds outside Tamfourhill Community Hub, and they’ve also got a potting shed and greenhouse in place now. Donations of veg plants have been received and planted, plus various plans are being made. There are a few volunteers involved already but there is always room for more. They are having a growing session for adults on Wednesday 19 May from 10am to 12pm. They have various thoughts and will be looking at many different options. Obviously restrictions apply, so if you would like to go along then please email Thillcentre@live.co.uk

Forth Valley Sensory Centre Kitchen Garden
One of the Community Growing Group volunteers – Nicholla – has been putting in a power of work sorting out the various raised beds in the Kitchen Garden at this fantastic local resource. She has worked with groups from Windsor Park and Carmuirs Primary and they, together with the team at the Sensory Centre, are immensely grateful for the support from Nicholla and the wider OPCT team. This is the beginning of a fantastic partnership.  We’ve been able to supply compost, plus thanks to the generous help of the a local Garden Centre (who have waived any publicity), we also supplied some seed potatoes.  We look forward to tasting the fruits of their labours in the Centre’s café in due course!

Brown Street Park
Following suggestions from some residents, we conducted a consultation of 175 properties in the area surrounding Brown Street Park to see what the feelings where about developing this long abandoned space into a community growing space. We’ve had some really positive feedback (87% of responses) but also a few negative comments, so we will be making further investigations about what could be done here. To help with this, on Friday 21 May there will be a bit of activity in the Park. We will be hosting the first of 4 “Veg Your Ledge” workshops with Forth Environment Link at 11am – spaces are limited so get in quick! While that’s happening, there will be a litter pick to tidy up the park and myself and my colleague John Hosie (Community Safety) will be on hand to chat to people about their concerns and suggestions for the park and the surrounding area, plus we’ll have some specific information and resources for dog owners. All being well, our Community Police officers will be with us as well. Come along – we might even have biscuits!

Veg Your Ledge Workshops
As mentioned in the previous section, we’re hosting some Veg Your Ledge workshops with Forth Environment Link. Spaces are filling up but there’s still some available, so head to the booking page to get yourself checked in.

Joining the Group
If you’d like to get involved with Community Growing in Camelon and Tamfourhill, why not join our group. We plan to make this a formal group very soon so will need to form a small management committee that will then be able to go after funding for growing projects. However, don’t let that put you off joining as I’ll be providing full support and if all you want to do is grow stuff, then that is absolutely fine! If you’re interested, please complete this survey to log your details onto the group system and I’ll be in touch.

All of this is a key part of the new Community Safety Strategy that John has pulled together with your input, and forms an important part of the #tidycleangreen campaign as well. We have big ideas for what could happen including some more links with other local organisations, and would love as many people to be involved in this as possible – at whatever level you wish to be. Who knows – Camelon and Tamfourhill in Bloom could be a thing again!

Until next time…

Dan Rous,
Community Coach,
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk
07444 873151

camelon, coach, community, Our Place, tamfourhill

What is your motivation?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 6 May 2021

Earlier this week, I saw this tweet from a force for good in Community Development – Cormac Russell, MD of Nuture Development:

Truth is, *the needed* need *the needy* more than *the needy* need *the needed*

Cormac Russell

Take a moment to read that again, just to really take in what he is saying here. He also went on to say that “Society perpetuates the opposite story; because there’s an entire segment of the economy tied up in commodifying human needs”.

Okay, let’s break this down a bit. What this basically boils down to is looking at why people help others or provide services to meet local needs. There are those who believe the help has to come from ‘outside’ the community whether that is from the local authority or some other support agency. There is a real danger here that a support system solely running on this basis can lead to (and arguably has already) the long term damage of individuals and communities, who lose the belief that they can make a difference themselves. They become so reliant on external help that they cannot see any other options. So often they become seen as those who just look for the next handout and sadly, there are those who will turn on them for being like that. However, if it’s all you’ve known then it’s difficult to break free from that without someone genuinely walking with you to help you.

On the other side of things, those providing the support from external organisations believe they are genuinely making a difference by providing what is usually just short term sticking plaster support, and also get some kind of goodwill power trip from doing so. Okay, I’m generalising a bit here and there are some amazing people who genuinely do make a difference within these external groups. They are appreciated but are often in the minority as the others just do what they’re told to do, clock off at the end of the day and switch off.

Essentially, we’re talking here about the difference between sympathy (I’m sorry you’re in this position but here’s some help) and empathy (I know what you’re going through – I’ve been there – I understand – what do you need – how can I walk with you).

If we’ve learned nothing else over the last 12 months of living through Covid-19, so often the help we need is right under our noses and exists in amazing levels within our own community. We have seen fantastic support services grow up within communities that are led by people in our communities based on the real local need. Okay, some have jumped on the bandwagon for different reasons but the ones that have really stood the test of time are the ones who truly understand the needs of the people around them and truly engage with and involve those people. They will meet the immediate need but then look to really understand where each person is at and what they really need to move forwards.

This also comes back to something I bang on about a lot – stop doing stuff to people and start working with them. The word ‘alongsider’ has come to the fore so much lately. This is about really listening to local people and working with them to achieve whatever needs achieving. I’ve even heard Council staff saying they’ve had to learn how to listen to local people over the last year. That may sound like a sad statement to hear and in a way it is, as it took a worldwide pandemic to make them do this. But I’m going to take the positive from it and hope that we will begin to see a real change in how support and community benefit is enacted. Here at OPCT we will continue to work to ensure that any transfer of activities or even transfer of power is meaningful for you the local people and not just something that seems to be the right thing to do but is essentially a way of saving budgets elsewhere.

So, back to where I started with this blog: what is your motivation for doing what you do? What is your driving force? Are you in a position right now that you’re happy with? Are you doing what you really enjoy? What, if anything, needs to change for you? What support do you need? Our impaCT 1 to 1 Coaching Programme can help you to truly understand yourself and your motivation. It will help you to take time to look at where you’re at, what obstacles might be in your way, and how you can move forward in a supported way. If this would be of help to you, check out the information on our coaching page then give me a shout. I’d love to walk with you in this and before you ask, I can genuinely say that I’m doing this because I have seen the benefits of it and have always wanted to help people reach the potential that is within them. I don’t have to do this – I want to.

Until next time……

Dan Rous communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk 07444 873151

camelon, community, Our Place, tamfourhill

Friday Feature – One Year of OPCT

On Monday evening we celebrated (as best we could on Zoom) the first anniversary of Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill. It’s been a strange year to say the least but there was plenty to celebrate and look ahead to as well. So today, we wanted to just share some of the highlights from the evening which began with a recap from Lynne Boslem of Tamfourhill Community Hub on how OPCT came to be. Then Dan and John took over to give a review of their highlights from the year. You can watch their presentation here:

John then went on to launch his Community Safety Strategy. You can watch his presentation and read the strategy for yourself at www.opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/safetystrategy.

Dan then launched our impaCT 1 to 1 Coaching Programme. Again, you can watch his presentation and learn more about how coaching can help you or someone in your group/organisation/circle of friends at www.opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/coaching1to1.

We then heard from local author Kev McPhee about how his writing has helped him through lockdown and how he wants to encourage people especially facing a life caught in addiction that there is hope and a better way to live with the right support. Watch this space for more on how OPCT will be assisting with this.

Our next speaker was Kevin Harrison of Artlink Scotland (Camelon Arts host) who spoke about the Our Connected Neighbourhoods local pilot to make Camelon and Tamfourhill a dementia friendly neighbourhood. Message us for more information on that.

Finally, we had some questions and comments from the gathered crowd including a word of thanks from Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn.

It was great to celebrate but next year will be even better as, all being well, we can be in a room together with actual cake! Thank you to all who have supported, engaged, encouraged etc over the last year. Here’s to so much more in the next 12 months.

Dan Rous and John Hosie
Community Coach and Community Safety Engager
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk and communitysafetyengager@tamfourhilltro.co.uk