‘Local people, looking out for local people’

We were contacted this afternoon by someone from the Borough Council, with a referral for us as part of the Warm Homes, Healthy People initiative. Suffolk Circle is providing manpower to fit energy saving equipment, such as draught excluders and radiator covers. The lady we spoke to lives in a very rural part of Suffolk, is quite elderly with no family (at least no family living nearby). We were asked to go and fit draught excluders, and were also asked to replace a cracked window. On discussion with this lady, it turns out she lives in a rented property and can’t get hold of the landlord about the window. She has been given a grant to buy some heating oil, but didn’t understand how it all worked and was very concerned that she was going to be landed with a bill for £400 that she simply couldn’t afford. We could have made an appointment to go and fit the draught excluders and gone home again. But this isn’t what we do. We phoned the chap who organised the heating oil grant, found out how it was all going to work and relayed this information back to her (it turns out the Borough Council will inform the oil company, who will credit her account on her behalf). We are trying to get hold of the landlord on behalf of this lady, and will work with him to get the window replaced. And while we are on our way out to fit the equipment, we can pick up some shopping and just check that the lady has everything she needs. Local people looking out for local people, and being there when we are needed with the ability to flex and respond to peoples needs, wants and desires.

Damien Ribbans
General Manager, Suffolk Circle

Relationships between teachers and pupils, are a necessary foundation for successful education

During my time working at Dawlish Community College I managed to discover talents, help students to get the grades they needed to succeed and show how stimulating learning can be. This isn’t because of my ability to teach, but through building relationships. I was only able to create these much needed relationships because I was a Teaching Assistant, and did not have endless responsibilities using up my time and energy, the anxiety of school inspections, or a mountain of paperwork, planning and marking at the back of my mind. Continue reading Relationships between teachers and pupils, are a necessary foundation for successful education

Wisdom of the 60s

Winicott one of the father’s of English psychoanalysis first taught us that it is the relationship between the practitioner and the family, which is key to change.

It has been our experience at Participle that this relationship is pivotal, hard to get right and hard to sustain.

I’ve been thinking about this because one thing that puzzled me about the Cowans last week is that they did not talk about the quality of the relationship between the worker and the families.

When we start our family work http://www.alifewewant.com we find breakdown between the families and workers on the front line – there is exhaustion and hopelessness on both sides.  “This family will never change” we are told by exasperated police officers, housing workers and social workers who have tried everything.  “They just criticise and undermine me”, respond the families who often have a mobile specifically to manage and avoid transactions with key workers.

No change can happen without a relationship and no relationship can be built without a conversation – listening and understanding on both sides.  Deep work with families requires empathy and imagination.  Life teams are recruited from those already working on the front line and these are the qualities we look for – the place the work must start.

Life teams see families respond and open to change – often families that they have known for a long time – it is a rewarding experience and as the open relationship grows the real work starts.

But the work is also extremely challenging.  Families can go backwards as well as forwards on the journey to build their capabilities.  The deep engagement that facilitates change takes a personal toll on the team even when expert supervision is in place – in our case provided by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.

The crisis a team sometimes feels can be seen as a reflection of the family’s own experience of living in a world without safety or security.  Under such conditions it is no wonder that the family struggle to hold onto help, support and rational thinking.  It is also why our teams experience days when they feel they live a tentative existence on the verge of collapse.

This phenomena whereby a team’s experience can bear an uncanny similarity with that of the family is not talked about very much but its been known for decades.    Understanding the dynamics of this relationship better and being more honest about the challenges might help move us towards the developmental services we need.