Building on our experience so far and seeing there are so many avenues we can follow with this piece of work, we’ve decided to start small and tangible. Our time for this specific piece of work is limited and while we have mighty aims we are still a small organisation ( - a blog about our last AGM and ways of working going ahead offers a bit more of a picture).
Golcar and Longwood are the areas where more of our user members, as well as some staff and volunteers live and so we will focus our efforts mostly on working with our members in these areas.
So that’s a start. It means we will be able to explore our members’ organic connections and consider if our approach will work in the wider valley too. We know each individual is different, each area or community is - at the same time, curious, open and supportive ways of working will take us forward.
What we’d like to do
Put simply, we’d like to meet with our members and talk about membership, explore community and neighbourhood connections and consider how to take what we learn forward, together.
This will be through sessions, workshops, meetings. Sometimes with a specific group of members, sometimes altogether.
Along the way, we will be in touch with Torbay Community Development Trust to explore how their successful model of community engagement/enablement would fit in Colne Valley and what would need to happen to make our version a reality.
Torbay Community Development Trust has been working in an asset based way for over 8 years now, really embedding in the community and building trusting relationships. That’s why we are interested to learn from and with them, to develop our approach and form and shape our aspirations in connection to engaging our members and our community.
Here is a link to the report Community Building on the Ageing Well legacy page which describes the community building approach and includes case studies.
We’ll also stay in touch with our care & co-operative partners that have been part of our learning so far.
We believe all this will also support us in getting readier for replication and advice/support giving to other emerging care co-ops and also for further development.
Co-operative ways of working
We want to do this really well.
We want to make sure that we are aware of power dynamics.
We don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver.
We want all of the members who will support this work to have space to offer and share what they can and want - each of us has different skills to offer and a different role to play. We will work transparently so that it is clear what the limits are within the project - from time to resources - and everyone will understand where we’re heading and why.
That way we can play and work on a common ground of exploring and sharing and caring for each other.
One practical step we have started with is the project budget which has been drafted with consideration of Fair Care ways of working. We have lowered the hourly rate of the coordinator so that the budget allows us to compensate all the members for their time, energy and wisdom in an equitable way and as part of working towards balancing power and recognition of varied lived experiences.
We also want to remember that this is not an exercise that is about us as an organisation.
Our user members are at the core of our work and that of course includes learning and exploring. While we have planned for some milestones to be achieved within these 6 months we also want for less tangible things to happen - that our staff get to know each other better and get to learn together more; maybe some of our user members will get space and time to share their skills and connect us to their family and friends; maybe some people will become friends…we hope that by the time summer 2022 arrives we will be closer to understanding what our membership offer can look like. That we will be closer to connecting to more of our members, that we’ll think about where the resources for further work will come from…That maybe there will be at least a small part of our community that will be more connected and more neighbourly than before.
Read on to hear what learning and insight Simon from Torbay Community Development Trust has been able to share + about our staff consultation sessions.