Twice last week that quote came to me – once written and then it came to mind in a meeting. I’m not usually one for quotes- song lyrics yes, I remember those for years, but quotes I sometimes forget or don’t quite recall correctly.
This week during our national conference I was sitting at a table in the amazing building The Foundry and while thinking on something I looked up. On the wall in front of me was this quote. It anchored me in the moment and made me think about what was happening at that very moment in all of the fully booked workshops at our conference. People were working together, investing their own and their organisation’s time in collaboration and learning so that they might better serve those who need them and what they do so they can live full and fulfilling lives.
I often meet people who when I answer that question “what do you do for a living?” say “oh you must be a really good person” or “oh I couldn’t do something like that you must be very selfless”, or other phrases that conjure up images of saintliness and goodness and acting out of kindness.
Now I’m not saying I’m not kind or good, self-praise is no praise I’m told, but that’s not what it’s about for me. I’m basically intolerant and unable to accept injustice to the point that I deliberately chose a career in social change because otherwise I’d probably never feel like I was doing anything useful and I’d be an absolute nightmare to be around for my friends and family!
The second time I was reminded of this quote was during a meeting of the steering group of MEAM – Making Every Adult Matter in which Clinks works with Homeless Link, Mind and formerly Drugscope. During a really interesting session with everyone engaged on what we do and how we’ll work into the future this quote kept coming into my mind. It’s what MEAM’s about – being the change we want to see in the world.
By working differently together the organisations are encouraging different ways of working so that we can break the cycle of poor outcomes for people with complex and multiple needs who don’t fit traditional service models. We work in this way because we recognise that by compartmentalising “issues” and “needs” into categories and types of service we often miss out the cause of those needs and how interlinked and interrelated they are. We want to be the change we want to see- person centred approaches that respond to a person’s needs as well as their aspirations.
Change is sometimes hard - both facilitating it and dealing with it when it happens around us. We are in “the business” of change. And we’re in a constant cycle of change- the needs of those we work for change, the policies and services affecting them change, the money we have to support them and the levels of help and of hindrance we experience in doing so change.
But those you work for need that change so “keep on keeping on” – Curtis Mayfield