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

The Power of Community

I finished last week’s blog with these five words about community: Connection, Participation, Nature, Fairness, and Dignity. These are core elements in a positive, united community. When those five things work in perfect harmony, you have a community that has a strong sense of wellbeing which counts for a huge amount.

During the recent lockdown, communities the length and breadth of the country stepped up to support each other. Its what communities do in a crisis – they rally round to support each other often because it is seen as the only way that things will happen. In reality, communities will support each other through good or bad, but still for that same underlying basis of necessity. Communities will always be looking out for each other no matter what is going on. So, whilst I will never get political in these blogs, it was disappointing to say the least to hear a UK Government official say they were ‘amazed’ at the way communities had responded to the recent pandemic. Amazed? Supporting one another is the bread and butter of every community no matter what policies or choices are thrown at them. Simply, it is what we do.

People who like to put a label on things have begun to refer to this as a Wellbeing Economy. I’m not really one for labels but this kind of works. Looking after each others wellbeing is the ‘currency’ of community but often gets lost or disrupted due to policy and practice. It is unfortunate that so often, people get in the way of people helping people. Lets pause and have a look at this short video:

The Covid-19 pandemic and wealth of community support that followed, are testament to the strength of community. We know our communities are really strong and you just have to read local social media pages to see how people will look out for others and how one act of kindness can lead to so much more. What the response to the pandemic did was fast track a lot of support and bring out this community led action – this wellbeing economy. To be honest though, it simply accelerated a change that was already occurring. And the reason it works is because communities understand their own needs and that understanding makes us better equipped to meet those needs. So what works in Camelon and Tamfourhill will be different to what works on the other side of town. The way support happens may change but the desire never does – we want the best for our community.

A revolutionary moment in the worlds history is a time for revolutions not for patching.

William Beveridge, Social Reformer, 1942

So as some kind of new normality begins to emerge, this is a perfect chance to look at our community, ourselves, and those around us. It’s a perfect chance for organisations to show what they’re made of and maybe even for some new organisations formed by local people to rise up. This is the foundation for my work. It is not ‘business as usual’ as some might think because they’ll simply default to what they previously knew or who they previously were. There is a school of thought that perhaps normal was the problem in the first place! Countless alternatives exist and it is totally within our power to design things differently. Our new community economy should be wholly based on human and environmental wellbeing. And that means giving you the opportunity to develop new skills and opportunities to better yourself and those around you. It is crucial to remember that you or the organisation you represent are always evolving and developing and that you totally have the right and the ability to improve your life.

Beware of going back to what you once were, when [you can] be something that you have never been.

Oswald Chambers

Not everyone needs to do everything, but everyone needs to do something

Mark Crosby

So what skills and opportunities are you craving? What has caught your attention over these last 5 months? Why not get in touch with me for a chat and we can see how those dreams can become a reality.

Dan Rous, Community Coach, 07444 873151

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, lottery, Our Place, resilience, safety, Support, tamfourhill

Busting the Myths

Since John and I started in post, we have tried to make clear why we’re hear and what our role is. But there are still some people who don’t know about us, don’t quite get what we’re doing, or think we are something that we’re not! Some of this is understandable with the current restrictions and our limitation to mostly online communication, but there is still some misinterpretation or misinformation around. So today, let me try to put right some myths that are out there about our roles, and try to get us all on the same page. To save you just scrolling through, here’s a list of the questions or comments made. Click any one to get my take on it:

Are you from Falkirk Council?
Are you just going to gather information and do little or nothing with it?
You’re part of Tamfourhill TRA so you’re not there for all of us.
Our Place hasn’t done anything for us yet, what’s different now?
This place will never change!
The problems are just too big
Why should I get involved?
How do I get involved?

Are you from Falkirk Council?
With all due respect to the Council, NO WE ARE NOT!! We are locally employed and will work only for the interests of local people. We will liaise with Falkirk Council and local councillors as needed, and we are doing that already, but we are completely independent of them, sitting within the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill project hosted by Tamfourhill Tenants and Residents Organisation.

Are you just going to gather information and do little or nothing with it?
Absolutely NOT! Yes we will need to gather fresh information, as John has already done with the Community Safety Survey, but this is because it’s been a little while since relevant information was gathered and we want to be working with as up to date knowledge as possible. We will then use any information to inform positive action or developments and can promise you that it will not just sit in a file and gather dust. We are not researchers. We are people of action (where’s my cape!)

You’re part of Tamfourhill TRA so you’re not there for all of us.
Yes, the funding for the Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill Project is hosted by Tamfourhill Tenants and Residents Association. That is true and was done that way as they were deemed by The National Lottery Community Fund to be best placed to host two employees and oversee the project. BUT…… that DOES NOT mean that we are only here for their benefit. We are here to work for the whole of Camelon and Tamfourhill – for all groups and individuals – for all positive and negative things. There are people needing coaching support across the whole area. There are organisations needing a bit of advice or guidance as they work across the whole area. There are community safety issues everywhere. Sometimes we will work with a specific group or location and other times we will work for the benefit of the whole area. It’s project dependant but ultimately and quite simply, we are HERE FOR EVERYONE.

Our Place hasn’t done anything for us yet, what’s different now?
There’s something a bit Monty Python about this question/comment (what have the Romans ever done for us…. look it up in YouTube!!) The Our Place programme first ran from 2014 to 2019. During that time, support was officially here for a couple of days a month and enabled a direct link to The National Lottery Community Fund (Big Lottery as it was then) through the support staff. This brought in £1.5m of funding directly to projects in the area – find out more here – and supported additional applications, particularly to Awards for All, in the region of £150,000. That wasn’t shouted about much so you’ll be forgiven for thinking there was no local benefit, but there WAS and STILL IS! The previous programme also identified key areas of concern and so it earmarked further funding for longer term direct support in the form of the jobs that John and I are privileged to be in for the next 3 years, along with a small pot of operational funding around that. What that means is that we are both here 35 hours a week until at least April 2023 to work with local people and organisations and bring genuine help and development. We will not just float in and out again, creating something that might or might not last. We are in this for the long haul and for me especially, I’m here to ensure people have the skills, support and connections necessary to be able to do things themselves so that they don’t need external help – to encourage, motivate and develop you as needed, walking with you every step of the way. John is determined to enable positive change to the variety of Community Safety issues with your engagement. Hopefully in April 2023 (or ideally before) you’ll be able to say with confidence exactly what Our Place has done for you.

This place will never change!
With all due respect, if we think like that then no it won’t. But if we take some time to work together and plan properly, then YES IT CAN! It is true that statistically we have various levels of deprivation in the area. But we have a shed load of assets – THE PEOPLE! Deprivation stats are only good for getting funding. The skills and passions of local people are perfect for effecting positive change. A couple of years ago a resident described this as the land that time forgot. Lack of development, investment, support etc. Carry on like that and yes it will change, but for the worse. John and I, together with many others (including hopefully you), are determined to reverse this trend, build on the £1.5m invested in the last 5 years, and bring more funding, development, support and positive COMMUNITY LED change.

The problems are just too big
True. There are big issues to tackle. But THEY CAN BE TACKLED. As a whole it can look too huge. But, broken down into individual issues, we can work out some themes, trends and causes. That will enable us to develop ways to tackle the issue and engage with local people and support bodies. John and I can’t do this on our own and even with your involvement this still might be difficult. But ignoring the issues, or just accepting them, is not the answer. Nor is invoking mob rule! So, include us. Inform us. Allow us to work with you. It will take time but we can bring an end to many of these problems that we face today.

So, how can we do this? Two more questions to consider…

Why should I get involved?
Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill is here for people living in, or organisations working for the benefit of, LOCAL PEOPLE. This is all about helping you to be a part of creating a positive change for this area and for yourselves. This is not about doing things for you or to you any more. This is about either doing things with you, or putting you in a position so you can do it yourselves. So if you want to make and be a part of a positive future for Camelon and Tamfourhill – you should get involved. If you want to make a better future for yourself and your friends/family – you should get involved. We can’t and won’t force you – what would be the point in that? You are free to carry on as you are and enjoy whatever development happens around you. But where’s the fun in that? Getting involved, at whatever level works for you – behind the scenes or upfront – will really help to bring communities closer together and truly show people what Camelon and Tamfourhill are made of. TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER.

How do I get involved?
Ah – this is a joy to our hearts when someone asks this question. There are MANY WAYS to get involved and at VARIOUS LEVELS. One group is the Kemlin Kin group that is made up of local residents and organisations working in the area who are passionate about bringing positive development to Camelon and Tamfourhill and improving local Community Safety. This is a great way in to finding out what is going on and meeting other people. It will also introduce you to other groups that might be good for you to get more involved with. But don’t worry, I know that not everyone wants to be on a committee but they would be more than happy to get their hands dirty with practical work. So if a group of this nature isn’t for you then there are plenty of other more practical ways you can get involved too. Really, the best thing to do is to stick your head above the parapet and get in touch with us. We can then discuss the options with you and also see what support you might need to get involved.

Hopefully this has helped. But if you have any further concerns, questions or comments, please give me a shout and I’ll happily discuss this further with you.

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

Why, How, What

Over the years that I’ve had the pleasure of working with community based activities, projects, organisations or enterprises, one thing always stands out for me. Those who know why they are doing whatever it is they are doing, survive longer and better than those who just focus on what they are doing.

This is not just something to put in a funding application form, but something that defines you as an organisation. It will help local people understand why they should get involved. If you’re trading, it could make the difference between someone choosing to buy from your socially benefiting enterprise, or a standard company up the road. If you’re fundraising, it could make the difference between a donors money coming to you or something else.

I’m sure you all know what you do: you hire rooms out; you run a sports activity; you coordinate events; you run a music group; etc etc.

You also probably know how its done: you have a price list and people book in; you have coaches, equipment, and training sessions; you book entertainment and advertise; you have instruments, rehearsals, tutors; etc etc

But the key to success is why you do it: to provide facilities and activities for the betterment of the local community; to improve health, fitness and wellbeing; to celebrate local identity and success; to encourage the development of talent; etc etc

So what is your starting point? Why, how, or what? Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek writes in his book “Start with Why” about what he calls the “Golden Circle”.

This is one of the most simplistic but powerful ways of looking at what it is that you do – or wish to do. We can so easily get bogged down in ideas, processes, procedures etc that we can forget what is at the heart of our mission. Sinek explains further:

“When most organisations or people think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason — they go from clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.”
“When communicating from the inside out, however, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHATs serve as the tangible proof of that belief.”

Simon Sinek: “Start with Why”

This change of thinking could really make the difference for you and your activity / organisation. Before I say more, let’s hear from the Simon Sinek himself in this short TED talk:

In my last development role, I produced a marketing booklet entitled What we do and Why we do it. It was pretty evident what the place did, but not everyone fully understood why. Producing that booklet helped secure a major collaboration that will now be bringing increased support for people in that area. All because we highlighted the ‘why’.

It’s crucial to focus on why your organisations exists and emphasise this. Anything you do (what) and the process to make it happen (how) will fall into place if the why is solid. This is true for any activity, organisation or business but especially so when it is for community benefit. It will give your followers, service users or customers a way to identify with you on a personal level. If your ‘why’ matches their ‘why’, they will be willing to stand with you through thick and thin. Without a clear ‘why’, people default to the ‘what’. Then you are caught in the struggle to stand out in the ever growing sea of ‘what’ and are forced to differentiate yourself with features, or worse, with price. The end result is your reason for being – your ‘why’ – is lost.

Let’s take a hall or meeting space as an example – its easy for me as I’ve run one! You know how big it is, how many people it can hold and the kind of activities you’d be happy to see within it. You know how much it costs to run the hall (light, heat etc) and any staffing costs, so you can work out a rental price. If you stop there, you are just the same as any hall or meeting space and people will choose on location, availability or price – the ‘what’ and ‘how’. However, if you decide to run some activities yourself, or support a group to use the space for less than advertised rates, in order to provide something of direct benefit to the community, you can use this as a reason for other groups or companies renting your space – the ‘why’. “Use our space and we’ll use surplus funds to run this other activity for community benefit” or “have your meeting here and we’ll be able to allow a community benefit activity to use the space at a reduced price or for free”. See the difference? Suddenly there’s a reason for people to use your service – the ‘why’ has come to the fore and in this scenario, your ‘how’ (processes) and ‘what’ (activities) have become consistent with your ‘why’ (beliefs). And that’s the key as all three work together in harmony. To do that, you need to ensure the clarity of why, the discipline of how, and the consistency of what.

Remember that “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.” The most effective leaders always win the heart first, and then the mind. And the only chance you have to win the heart is if you start with WHY.

Simon Sinek: “Start with Why”

I’ll leave you with a terribly misquoted song lyric that might help you remember this Golden Circle that we’ve looked at today: “It ain’t what you do its WHY YOU DO IT”. Until next week…….