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.

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

Don’t just speak – say something

Community Coach blog, Dan Rous, 17 June 2021

I was relaxing the other evening watching “Later… with Jools Holland” when he introduced a song from UK jazz musician Emma-Jean Thackray. She’s quite a talent, being listed as a composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, bandleader and DJ! The style of music hooked me in and I was really taken by the use of a sousaphone by one of the musicians – not something you see every day! But it was the title that really got me thinking and became the seed for this week’s blog (not what you really want at 1030 on a Friday evening but that’s my commitment to you!).

Just think about the song title for a second – Don’t just speak … say something.

I wonder what thoughts that has brought to your mind. Feel free to share either in the comments or by messaging me directly. But for me, its about making sure that whatever comes out of my mouth is worthwhile, helpful, and not just said for the sake of it – that the language I use is to build up not to knock down. I could also apply that to this blog, where I try to put out useful material that will be of interest to you. I’m really grateful for the positive feedback I’ve received from readers which is helpful in knowing this blog is not just reaching people but is having the desired results. I accept that the subject each week will not be for everyone, and the same can be said for some of the things we generally want to say in life. Is this really something that everyone around you needs to hear or is this us just voicing a thought in our head that we really just need to work through ourselves or in a specific conversation directly with someone?

So, let’s look at this in relation to our daily lives. What are we speaking or saying generally? As we’re chatting to people at the school gate, in the shops, on the bus? What about when we’re ‘chatting’ to people on line or making a social media status update? Are we just speaking for the sake of it or are we actually saying something?

While we ponder all that, here’s the lyrics from Emma-Jean Thackray’s song:

Open your eyes before you open your mouth.
Stick out your tongue and let me look inside.
I want to find what’s down your throat.
Open your heart to open up your mind.

Those pearly whites do they really shine?
Are they even real? They look too bright.
I want to find what’s deep inside.
If you must speak, show us your mind.

Don’t just speak…
Say something.

Blogger Reno Omokri says “Don’t speak because you want to say something. Speak because you have something to say. The more you talk just to say something, the more your listeners lose respect for you. The more you talk because you have something to say, the more they gain respect for you. And when listening to people, don’t focus only on their words, or you may miss out on what they‘re really communicating. Pay attention to their demeanour, their eye contact, or lack of it, etc. People lie with their spoken language, but hardly with their body language.”

I’d say that really sums it up, so you’ll be pleased to know I don’t have a lot more to add!! But I think the timing of this is really important as we’re beginning to move back to higher levels of activity and therefore more interaction with people. For those who haven’t necessarily had much direct human interaction over the last year, conversations may have been extremely limited, so this is a good time to remember even how to interact with others.

And the other side of this is actually looking at the person you’re talking to. As Emma-Jean says in the opening line of her song “open your eyes before you open your mouth”. What can you tell about the other person before you speak? Are they actually in the right frame of mind to hear what you feel you want to say?

It’s also important to understand that this doesn’t just refer to the general statements you say, but also the questions you ask. By that I mean asking the right kind of questions that will help you get the answers you need – and bear in mind they might not be the answers you’d like! Business advisor Belinda Lui says “The problem is, most of us ask terrible questions. We talk too much and accept bad answers (or worse, no answers). We’re too embarrassed to be direct, or we’re afraid of revealing our ignorance, so we throw softballs and miss out on opportunities to grow.”

This is a key part of our impaCT coaching programme during which our coaches will actually help you to ask the right questions of yourself and then to work towards finding and understanding the answers for yourself. It will help you to move towards your potential which includes how to interact better with others. There’s more information on all of this on our coaching page.

So as I close for this week, let’s all just think more about what we say, how we say it, and why we are saying it – both in person and online. And let’s give as much value to listening as we do to speaking. These are huge parts of community life that will further build on our community spirit as we regain the art of truly meaningful conversation.

Until next time, if you want, here’s Emma-Jean’s song for you to listen to!

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

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

Friday Feature – Let’s Celebrate

This is a reminder that on Monday next week (26th) we will be gathering on zoom at 6:30pm to celebrate the First Anniversary of Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill.

Despite not being the first year any of us would have planned, our team have still managed to achieve great things with you in the community and are well set for so much more in year 2 and beyond.

We’re just sorry that restrictions don’t allow us to do this in person – hopefully next year! So for now, head over to Eventbrite (link below) to register your free place so you get the link, then on Monday evening, bring your own cake and join in the celebrations.

As well as reviewing what has happened so far, John will be speaking about the Community Safety Strategy and Dan will be speaking about our Development Coaching programme. Plus we’ll hear from local author Kev McPhee and others about some great opportunities for you in Camelon and Tamfourhill including how you can get involved and shape the way forward.

So please join us if you can. The link to register is https://opctgathering2021.eventbrite.co.uk

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

What does ‘success’ mean to you?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 25 March 2021

I saw this image on social media and thought it deserved a feature in this blog. Have a look at all of it and then we’ll discuss a bit further

So what does success look like for you? Or maybe I should ask what you’ve been told that success should be for you.

If this last year has taught us anything, it’s that there is more to life than just work. Many people have realised that they’ve neglected the most important things in life so that they can climb the career ladder and have suffered as a result. Now let me stress here that there is nothing wrong with climbing that career ladder. If that’s for you then you go for it (please remember us when you’re successful!) But even when doing that, it is important – I’d even say crucial – to make sure you look after yourself on that journey. And by “yourself”, as the chart above shows, I mean your physical AND mental health.

Before I carry on, have a watch of the short video below in which some people are asked how they would define success:

Surprised by some of the comments there? What was the standout? I can’t help be reminded of the guy who wanted the most likes on Instagram and wonder what kind of success that is! But really, the person who stood out was the man who said coming home from work to see the smiles on his families faces was his measure of success. I love love love that! He felt good about his work and even more happy when he was with his family. I’d say that’s a perfect balance – wouldn’t you?

So how do we get this for ourselves? Let’s go back to the image we started with, and to help, I’ve guestimated the percentages for each section:

  • 10% Job Title
  • 10% Salary
  • 15% Free Time
  • 20% Liking what you do
  • 20% Physical Health
  • 25% Mental Health

So whether you learn better from a picture or from numbers and words, this seems to make it clear doesn’t it? First and foremost, focus on your mental health. The salary and job title are the least important things. Within that mental health section will be having good support networks around you whether that be family or friends. Surround yourself – online as well as offline – with people who can bring genuine support and positivity. Keep yourself as active as possible within your own capabilities and obviously just now, within allowed limits. And notice this – liking what you do is as important as the job title and salary put together. Also, having free time is not far behind liking what you do. Down time. Switching off. These are so important to help both your mental and physical health.

Now let me say something here before those who know me well start having a go. This blog falls very much into the territory of ‘do as I say not as I do’! I’m really good at talking about the theory of things like this but not always so good at putting them into practice. If I’m honest, right now I’m doing well with the ‘liking what you do’ bit and I certainly don’t care too much about the salary. My mental health is mostly okay, and physically – well let’s move on!

So, shall we work on this together? As community, can we agree to help each other with this quest to redefine success. It’s not dumbing down success. It’s making it more real, more sustainable, more enjoyable, more successful!

As always, if you want to make any suggestions, or just chat anything through, give me a shout. communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk or 07444 873151.

Finally, remember to keep Monday 26 April, 6:30-8pm, free in your diaries. All will be revealed soon!

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

What’s your story?

We all have a story to tell don’t we? The difference is what kind of story it is. Does it tell of a life where everything has gone fine for you with no issues? Does it tell of a battle against everything that life has thrown at you over the years? Or is it somewhere in the middle?

Wherever your story lands in that range, it is equally important because it’s about who you are, where you’ve been and hopefully what you’ve learned along the way. All of that can help you understand more about yourself and help you move forwards, but it’s also important to capture these stories as part of the ongoing history of our area. When people hear or read them, they may not be surprised at some parts but the joy is when you can surprise them with tales of positivity in spite of everything that has been thrown at you.

The image below was shared on twitter recently. It is an image of notes captured from a talk given at a conference a few years back by Cormac Russell, who is a leading force in the world of Community Development especially when it is focussed on building upon the assets (the people etc) within those communities. I am learning loads from his writings as he speaks so much sense about not over complicating our work with communities. (You can follow him on Twitter here). The key word in that last sentence – as I’ve emphasised from the start of my work here – is ‘with’. We at OPCT are not here to do things to you or without you as has happened in many cases in the past. We are here to work alongside you and with you and as part of that, we love hearing and learning from your stories. Have a look at the image and see what jumps out for you:

So what did you spot in there? Feel free to message me with any key points especially if you want more information or even to push a particular line for something we should be doing better. For me, the following stood out.

  • Studies or Stories. This was the headline from the talk and is worth highlighting and clarifying. In one sense, both are important. I’ve already said how much we love stories and there is so much to be learned from them. However, each story is one person’s viewpoint and it is highly likely that there will be another story that will give a completely different view of a similar situation. So with that in mind, studies also have an importance because that gives us an overview of all points of view in a coordinated way. This is why we have already carried out a few surveys – not just to gather more data for the sake of it, but to help us understand what people want, what can be done to move things forward and to use it to make changes and access funding. We are determined to not let any of the consultations sit idly on a shelf with no action. Neither are we going to use them simply to point out what is wrong in the area. All findings from the studies will be used to ensure the stories we tell in the future will be ones of action and positive steps forward. How great would it be for someone in years to come to tell a story of how they made a comment in a study that led to a positive change right here? That’s our wish so please stick with us when we do a survey and feel free to remind us that there needs to be action in the end.
  • Focus on what’s strong not on what’s wrong. This is so important. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs and have been accused by some people of ignoring the problems around us by only looking at the good stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes there are issues and yes they need sorting. No one is denying that. But we are not going to be weighed down by them or avoid any opportunity to grow because they exist. We solve them best by building up what is good – what is strong – what is positive – so that in part, we can tackle what is wrong head on because we have the chance to show people a better way.
  • No hierarchies but networks. This is about bringing everyone along on the journey (forgive my use of that word!). It’s not about building up committees but communities. Yes, there will be people that need to step up to lead and coordinate things, but the clue in the meaning of the word ‘lead’ is that they bring others along with them – networks of people with a good mix of skills relevant to each project or activity. This is not about raising up just a few people, but everyone who wants to come along for the ride. And within that, we will work with everyone at their individual level to help them gain the skills they need to strengthen their part in the network.
  • Power of communities to solve problems. You might have missed this one as it’s quite small on the image but I don’t think this represents the strength of the statement. Camelon and Tamfourhill is an amazing community made up of smaller communities that are full of people who have a passion to grow the community they live in. That combined positive passion is where the power comes from. And it’s a power that should never be underestimated by others as it is built on real experiences and real understanding of what makes this community really tick. And as I mentioned earlier on in this blog, that power can and will solve the problems that we face.

I could go on but I won’t bore you any further – for now! Just know that this is really important to me as your Community Coach – as a local resident – and even just as a fellow human being! I believe that everyone has the right to achieve their potential and want to do all I can to help in that goal.

We will no doubt return to this matter again but I want to just focus on the aspect of story telling as I finish off for this week. You have a unique opportunity to tell your story in a written format, and if you want, to have that shared as part of a book that will celebrate this area. That comes via our Creative Writing Introduction Course with the help of Kev McPhee, Susan Marshall and Camelon Arts. We’ve had a great response to this so far but there is still room for a few more to sign up. Join us and be part of something special. All information at www.opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/creativewriting.

Until next week, keep making and sharing stories and building local power.