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 firstname.lastname@example.org 07444 873151