coach, collaboration, community, development, employment, resilience, Support, training

The power of Collaboration

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 25 November 2021

Yesterday morning, as part of my work with the NHS THRIVE to Keep Well programme that we’re piloting in this area, we were thrilled to bring together a number of training and employability partners to advise the participants of the many opportunities that were available to them at whatever level they wanted to be. We set up a Covid safe exhibition area at Camelon Community Centre and the participants were free to chat with the staff from these organisations. We also had some craft activities to help them relax and have something else to do while they either plucked up the courage to go and speak, or reflected on the information they’d been given.

There were many highlights for me in this event. Firstly, I’d forgotten how great it is to actually be in a room with various partners. Covid has taken so much from us over recent times and while I admit that this is one of the more frivolous matters, it was still really good to experience again. Even the partners really valued being able to share and network with each other face to face (behind masks and appropriately distanced of course). And even with the safety measures in place, glancing around the room and hearing the chatter brought feelings of some kind of normality coming back again.

My second highlight was seeing the participants engaging with the partner agencies and getting meaningful, personal advice for their next steps. They were initially nervous but once one of them stepped forward, the others soon followed and the conversations began to flow. Considering the various journeys the participants have been on over the last 13 weeks, this was so heart-warming to see. This is one of the key things that drives me in this job – supporting local people to get the right information, advice and direction to move towards whatever a positive destination looks like for them individually. This is not a one size fits all support. I really do want to get it right for every person.

My final highlight, was the feedback from the partner agencies. All of them spoke of how they quickly got a sense of the progression that the participants had made while being on this programme. They also commented on the genuine desire from the participants to continue this forward movement in the best way possible for them, whether that be more training courses, volunteering, or moving into work. While my fellow facilitators and I can see this for ourselves, it was so good to hear from others – it makes this so worthwhile.

So my thanks to 4 The Benefit of All, Cyrenians (Arnotdale House), Employment and Training Unit, Workers Educational Association, and CVS/Volunteer Falkirk for giving up their morning to come along and support our amazing participants. My hope is that early in the New Year, restrictions will allow us to do a larger event with these partners so more of you can benefit. As they say, watch this space! In the meantime, if you need any support with accessing training or employability support, or are looking to get into volunteering or even a job, then do get in touch and I’ll help and signpost you as appropriate for you. Contact details are below.

Until next time….

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

community

A Two Way Street

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 11 November 2021

In the last few weeks we have passed the half way point in the 3 year funding package that we’re working within. Yes, that’s 18 months that we’ve been doing this stuff here at OPCT. And what a weird 18 months it has been!

Who knew that we would have had to work so long in lockdown and not be able to reach many of you.

Who knew the way the world would go and the restrictions that we’re still under.

But also, who knew that so much good activity would still manage to develop through you lovely people in Camelon and Tamfourhill!

I know there’s still lots to sort out and lots of opportunities to tap into, but I am thrilled to have been able to support individual people and existing organisations, plus support the development of new groups too:

  • I’ve been able to help people put their CV’s together, to access training, volunteering and work.
  • I’ve been able to develop a 1to1 coaching programme and begin to support local people through that.
  • I’ve been able to develop new training opportunities, and bring existing programmes to the area with partner organisations to benefit local people.
  • I’ve worked with existing local groups on developing their skills, strengthening their set up, and accessing funding.
  • I’ve been able to work with aspiring groups, and to bring likeminded people together, to form new exciting organisations who are plugging gaps and creating new opportunities right here in the community.
  • I’ve been able to link us with organisations that can bring benefit to the area including being part of collaborative funding applications and project development.
  • And I’ve been able to raise the profile of Camelon and Tamfourhill locally and nationally, making people in perceived positions of authority (you, the local residents really have the authority) sit up and take notice while I remind them to stop doing things to the community, and actually involve people.

In short, working alongside you has been an absolute joy and privilege – even on the difficult, dark, frustrating days.

One thing stands out to me though, and that relates to where the most successes have come in what we’ve achieved together. The biggest successes have come when people or groups have come to me in the first instance. Now let me clarify that I’m not just sitting back with my feet up waiting for people to come to me! I am proactive in many things and am always looking for opportunities that will benefit the local area. But seriously, the biggest growth has come from the people or organisations who have recognised their needs or had an idea about something, and come to me for help, support or signposting.

Why is this important or special? Because it was their idea – their instigation – they had control.

I’ve regularly talked about being alongside people in this role but also about where the real authority lies in this community. It’s not about me, the council or any other support organisation. The real power lies with you the amazing people of Camelon and Tamfourhill. And when you take hold of an idea and run with it – bringing help in alongside you as needed – then the real magic happens. I’m not saying all the other stuff is a waste of time – far from it – but the biggest leaps have come from those who have taken control of their situation. They’ve not sat and waited for people to come and help them or do things for them. They have taken the bull by the horns and pressed forwards, calling in whatever help they needed to make their ideas a reality.

Now let me be clear – I am always available for anyone and everyone in the area. Whether your group has existed since the dawn of time or is a more recent thing. Whether you have grown up in the area or are new to this patch. Whether you need a lot of help and support or just a bit of directioning. All of you can access my support and many of you are. If anything, this is maybe a bit of a reminder to existing groups that you can call on me to help you. I will check in every now and then but if you need something then ask me! Don’t wait for me to come to you! If I don’t know the answer or can’t personally help, I’m pretty sure I’ll know where to signpost you onwards. You have to act because otherwise, those who can help might not even know you need that help.

So please – ask the questions. Push your agenda. Be bold. In short – you have the permission to take control. This is a two way street so make the most of it. And I look forward to continuing to work alongside you with whatever you need.

Until next time.

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

camelon, community, funding, Our Place, tamfourhill

Community Choices is back!

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 4 November 2021

It is great news that the Falkirk Council Community Choices funding programme is back for Pilot Phase 2. This is where groups can submit applications for funding that the local public vote on to get the cash.

Here’s the summary info, then I’ll give you a bit more info below: Community Choices aims to help clubs, organisations, community groups, and individuals make their local area fairer, healthier, more connected and more inclusive. It gives you the chance to secure public funding to improve your local area and vote to decide how public money is spent. You can apply for up to £5,000 for smaller projects and over £5,000 to get larger projects off the ground.

Small Grants programme (up to £5,000)
This is open for applications now until 19 November. This is a very quick turnaround for this programme but it’s a much easier process than before. It can fund “revenue” items which is things like activity costs, equipment and supplies. This might include but is not limited to:

  • The purchase of small items of furniture or equipment, for example a shelving unit or disabled toilet seat or fridge
  • Signs and display boards
  • Equipment for a sport activity
  • Supplies and materials to deliver an activity
  • Food and supplies as part of an activity
  • Transport costs to enable people to attend

If you received a grant in phase one and would like to apply again for the same project, you can apply for £5,000 LESS what you got first time round.  However, if it is a new project then you can go for the full amount. It’s important to note a key change from last time round is that if you’re a new group, you must have your constitution and bank account in place before applying.

The public vote for the Small Grants Programme will launch online on 26 November and close on 17 December. Once the votes have been checked and verified, successful bids will be notified on 14 January with the funds being paid out shortly after that date.

Place-Based Capital Programme
This is also open for applications now but has a closing date of 7 January. The close proximity of this date to the festive break has been pointed out so this date may be changed. This is a key factor as quotes for work and information from council departments may be required for your application and of course, many places and staff will not be available over the break. I’ll update you on this as I know more.

The programme can be applied to for projects costing a minimum of £5,000. Proposals should outline a clear vision and ambition for a positive future, and should align to the programme’s aims to make your area fairer, healthier, more connected and more inclusive.

There is a budget allocation for each ward as before, but a key change is that a cap has been put in place for applications to avoid projects taking up the whole ward allocation meaning smaller projects miss out. Here are the numbers:

Ward6 (Camelon)7 (Tamfourhill)
Full Budget£347,090£169,312
Maximum application level (60%) £208,254£101,587

With reference to the 60% maximum application, it has been said that just because you can apply for up to 60%, it does not mean you should as the Council are keen to be able to fund as many projects as possible.  Of course, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the public vote.   

There was a bit of an issue in Phase 1 where projects or organisations that had an impact wider than just one ward could only be voted on by people from an individual ward. Many votes were removed as a result. So this time, a new Falkirk wide category has been added.  There is a total of £200,000 in this pot so the maximum grant for any one project would be £120,000.

The Capital funds programme can be used to invest in resources and facilities for the benefit of the community and must be able to continue to offer public benefit throughout their lifetime. This means that the funds cannot be spent where only an organisation or individual would gain a personal benefit. Capital spend is expected to create something new (an asset) or improve an existing asset such as a structural improvement to a building, for example.

There are 3 main types of capital expenditure:

Building something new – a house, or an office for example. Not all the costs of a new build can be treated as capital but the majority can. The costs of looking after the building after it has been built (revenue costs) are not covered.

Improving an asset – money spent on an existing building, for example, can be called capital if it substantially increases:

  • the useful life of the asset or
  • the market value of the asset or
  • the extent to which the asset can or will be used.

Normal day-to-day running costs – for example, painting rooms, changing carpets, fixing windows – are not capital costs, and are not covered. Money spent on improving other assets, for example a road or a park, may be capital depending on what the money is spent on. For example, re-turfing and planting in an existing park will not be capital spending. However, turning a piece of waste land into a children’s playpark may be capital spending.

Purchasing equipment – money spent on buying, for example, a minibus. The equipment, which should cost more than £5k, should reasonably be expected to last for more than a year. As an example, undertaking repairs in a broken playpark will not be capital spending but buying new equipment may be. However, looking after that equipment in the future will not be capital spending.

Whatever you choose, the deadline as I said is currently 7 January. The vote opens on 24 January and closes on 11 February. Once votes have been checked and verified, successful projects will be notified on 28 February, with funds being paid out shortly after.

No doubt you will have questions about all this so please give me a shout and I’ll guide you through things. You can also request a support session from council staff for the capital programme. If you would benefit from one of these sessions, or if you want to get an application form, you need to email the team on community.choices@falkirk.gov.uk and they’ll be in touch.

This is a great opportunity to get some much needed funding into your organisation and have it endorsed by the local public through their voting. So don’t miss out!

Until next time

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

camelon, community, Our Place

Fun in the Park – the review!

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 28 October 2021

Last Sunday we held the long awaited Fun in the Park event in Easter Carmuirs Park. Apart from a 10 minute downpour at the start, we had a dry afternoon which helped such a great crowd to come out and enjoy everything that was available for them.

Thanks to everyone who came out to enjoy the fun, eat the food, and join the chat with myself, John and others. We had some really great conversations including with people who were willing to step up and get involved. Many were asking good and relevant questions and it was good to talk face to face about these matters. Overall, it was heartening to see people coming out to an event in the park that was part of the hope (amongst many other things) after the path network was installed in 2019.

At the event, we also launched Friends of Easter Carmuirs Park. This will be a group to take forward developments in the park and coordinate future events and activities. We had some people sign up for this group and others express an interest in finding out more. So as soon as we can safely do so, we’ll pull a meeting together to talk about how this can work, tell you what support is available for you, and start moving things forward. If you would like to be added to the list for this group then do get in touch with me. My contact details are at the end of this blog.

The Active Travel Parade went down really well and it was good to hear of positive conversations between Camelon Arts and Forth Environment Link about possible future activities of this nature. The bicycle raffle with Scott Walker was also well received and as I’ve been contacting the winners and delivering the bikes this week, it has been so heartening to read their responses and see the joy on their faces. We wish the 4 winners many happy and safe cycling outings (probably not this week though with this weather!)

For now, as we still recover from a long but really good day, I want to offer special thanks to the following people who helped out:

  • Lesley and her team from Easter Carmuirs P.S. Parent Council who provided the Popcorn Machine (and thankfully some freshly cooked popcorn!) and also offered Halloween Costumes for free loan to local families. They also provided a couple of tables.
  • Chris, Nicholla and Julie from Tidy Clean Green who looked after the bulb planting activity.
  • Babs from Port Downie Community Action who let people know about what this new organisation is all about, plus garnered support for a possible Community Council next year.
  • Ian from Camelon Mens Shed who promoted this exciting and much needed new group.
  • Scott Walker Bicycle Mechanic who not only donated 4 refurbished bikes to be raffled off, but spent the whole day with us including assisting with set up and tidying up at the end. He was glad to also receive donations of unwanted bikes and will be working with us on something very special for Christmas – watch this space!
  • Georgi and Emily from Forth Environment Link, plus Ray who returned to his former job to help set up the Bike Ramps that they brought with them. They also allowed us to use their Smoothie Bike that went down very well and brought along some fun giveaways.
  • Aniela, Monica and Kevin from Camelon Arts who organised the Active Travel Parade that went down really well. It was wonderful to see the parade featuring people of all ages on bikes, scooters, roller blades and even a powered wheelchair.
  • My family who dropped seamlessly into the “unhired help” roles that they’ve been used to over the years of events I’ve been involved in. Special thanks to Hannah who served up the free Hot Dogs all afternoon.

We are also especially grateful to all those who helped fund and support the event including:

  • Mandy and Danny from Falkirk Council Environment Services who worked with Torwood Garden Centre Ltd to provided bulbs, pots and compost for the planting activity.
  • Nailer Park Tenants Association who leant us a gazebo.
  • Dave from Port Downie Community Action who leant us a generator so we could run the popcorn machine.
  • Ruth and Jules from Cyrenians Dollar Park Walled Garden team who leant us a couple of tables.
  • Leanne and the community team at Tesco Camelon who provided a voucher so we could buy the fruit smoothie ingredients
  • Charlotte and the community team at Morrisons Falkirk who provided some planters.

To finish my blog this week, here are some photos from the day that showcase the event (including the Active Travel Parade) but also the amazing resource that this park is. Until next time….

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

coach, community, development, resilience, Support

Empowered?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 7 October 2021

What does it mean to be empowered?

Is it something that is done to you? Something you can learn to do? Or something you grow within yourself, for yourself?

Your view on those questions could determine whether or not you’re going to like this blog!

Empowerment has become a real buzz word of late. It’s the new big thing in so many circles of life but especially in community work. But have we all understood it properly or are some of us using it as a way around things? Will it make your project look better if you talk about empowerment. If you give this opportunity/activity/programme/facility/building to the community you’ll be empowering them. It’s time to think again.

I promised myself that this blog would not become a rant and I will stick to that, but you’ll maybe pick up the sentiment in that last paragraph as a sense of my feelings. So let me be very clear. Just passing something on to a community or individual is not empowering them. It is passing the buck and potentially, setting them up to fail.

So what really is this empowerment thing. Quite simply, it can only be done to you, by you. No one else can empower you and while we’re on it, no else has the right to dis-empower you. You, as an individual have to feel empowered. And that comes by increasing the control you have over your own life. People can help you to do that, but ultimately you are the only person who can empower you. So, if you’re sitting there waiting to be empowered – STOP! Start working at feeling empowered.

It has been said that this empowerment thing is about what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. Can you hear the difference there? This is about your desires, not your issues. Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development and the oracle on Asset Based Community Development that I’ve spoken of many times before, says it is about “what you have, rather than what you don’t have – what you can contribute rather than what you can receive.” He says this is about individuals using their head, hearts, hands etc – their talents, skills and passions. So in other words, rather than sitting back and waiting for others to do things around you, what can you do to contribute? It may not be huge and it doesn’t have to be, but as a place you probably know well says regularly: “Every little helps”.

One crucial point I need to make here. We often see government – both local council and national government – doing what communities can do. Cormac Russell simply says “get out of the way and let [the community] do it, but resource them where necessary – don’t just pull out without checking they can actually do it sustainably.” So this brings me back to my point earlier. Those who think they are in positions of authority (Maff Potts of Camerados reminds me that we are all in authority) should not just think they can walk away and leave communities to get on with stuff. They need to check that the skills exist in the community. That the desire, longevity and sustainability can be found in the community. Where support is needed – provide it, whether that be in person or financially. Where guidance is needed – supply it either directly or through signposting and partnership. Where things are needed to be brought up to a workable standard before they can be passed on – do whatever is needed.

This all centres around stuff I’ve been banging on about for ages. Work with communities. Work alongside individuals. Involve people.

So how can you begin to feel this empowerment for yourself? Well that’s a very good question and one that I would love to help you answer because the process and destination will be very different for each one of you. Would you let me have the honour of sitting with you to help you find answers to the questions you are posing, and help you to begin to feel empowered within yourself and move further towards your potential? How do we do this? I’m glad you asked! Contact me about 1 to 1 coaching sessions and I will tell you all you need to know. For now, there’s some info through that link and on the flyer below. I look forward to working alongside you in this.

Until next time…..

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

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

ABCD, easy as 1234

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 19 August 2021

Okay, that title doesn’t scan as well as the Jackson 5 hit “ABC” but there’s a reason for the strange title to the blog this week.

Back in February I introduced you to a thing called Asset Based Community Development – ABCD for short. It’s a fancy title for working with who and what you have in your community and recognising them not as random statistics, but as people. People who have skills, talents, passions, needs, desires. People who can be the change in their community. People who, with the right encouragement, can be even more amazing. People who can make a positive difference in their lives, in their families lives, in the organisation their part of, and in the whole community. In short, what my job is here to do.

So why am I returning to this now?

Well, apart from the fact that I live by this every day, specifically, in a couple of weeks time I am part of a team hosting the second UK ABCD Jamboree that this time has a Scottish theme. Basically, this is an online get together for people delivering some kind of Community Development but also crucially, for those who are actually in communities – those who are being the change already. Practitioners at all levels. This is the first of a series of ‘regional’ gatherings where projects can be showcased from Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. It’s been one of the positives of using online platforms to meet, as there is the chance to hear and learn from others across a wider field than we would ever have met with before. We’re so pleased to be involved in the first one of these and give the chance for people to see the opportunities that are being grabbed here in Camelon and Tamfourhill amongst other areas.

So this is an open invitation to you. Whether you’re reading this as someone in a position of authority, someone who is getting their hands dirty by doing the every day community stuff, or anyone in between those extremes, this is the gathering for you. It’s not a dry, policy led set of PowerPoint presentations. This is going to be full of living, breathing stories of communities making a difference. We want to flood this online gathering with people who are actively involved in community activity at all levels.

As well as hearing from some great projects from across Scotland (including a 5 minute piece from Lynne at Tamfourhill Community Hub in the quick fire talks section), there will be lots of chances to chat with people from other communities who are there to share and learn in equal measure. This is a place for ideas to be shared, connections to be made, and communities to be celebrated. And it’s all free!

So why not book in. It would be great to see you there and to truly celebrate our area on this UK platform. It’s being held on Zoom on Tuesday 7 September from 10am to 1230pm. More details are on the image below but you can book at celebratingcommunities.eventbrite.co.uk. I look forward to celebrating with you at that event.

Until next time…

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

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, 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…..