Jim's blog: It Takes 2


Jim Lord, Community Development Worker, updates us on It Takes 2, a project that is building community connections.

As we move slightly further down the road on our journey with ‘It Takes 2’ I am starting to experience some of the emotions of being involved in a project like this. I thought I would share some of the feelings and experiences that I have had over the last couple of months.

Joy – After a few weeks encouraging James to go along to the Bromley Green Gym it was hugely rewarding to see him proudly wearing his ‘Bromley Green Gym’ tee shirt and being fully involved with the group. He is starting to make small conversations with other members of the group and volunteers to take on tasks. He has invited his key worker to come and meet his friends at the Green Gym.

Disappointment – With the support of Bromley Youth Music Trust we managed to get Claire and Jane to try the ‘Sing Bromley’ Choir. Despite trying to prepare the individuals, their support and the choir in advance in the end they both decided that they did not want to go again. This was no ones ‘fault’, but I couldn’t help feeling that I should have approached this differently and that if I had it might have had a better chance of success. Of course I will never know but the key thing is to learn from this experience and keep trying to find other ways of making connections together with Avenues staff.

Excitement - Two people, Liam and Sam who share a love of sport have met up once and are hopefully going to continue to meet up on Sundays to take part in sporting activities together. They immediately connected through their love of football and their support of different football teams. I am excited to see how this relationship develops.

Frustration – Amy and Jess share a passion for arts and crafts together every Thursday evening. It sometimes feels like the established systems and procedures in Jess’s support get in the way of listening to what Jess really wants and trying to promote a connection between two people. Again this is no ones ‘fault’ but we all need to listen to what Jess wants and try and find ways to make that happen.

Satisfaction – After introducing Lucy to ‘Walking For Health’ at High Elms Country Park, an activity that Lucy really enjoys and where she has started to make real contacts and friendships a problem arose in getting Lucy to this activity in the form of a busy road that Lucy did not feel confident crossing on her own. Together we raised this with Lucy’s support staff and we worked in partnership to make sure good support was put in place so that Lucy felt confident in getting to Walking For Health. Lucy now attends regularly and continues to enjoy herself and has increased her circle of friends. Lucy has people that she regularly chats with that she counts as her friends. 

Depressed - Although not part of the project I recently attended a series of cardio rehab classes after having had an angiogram. I was taken by surprise by how depressed and isolated I felt at being put in this group that although set up with the best of intentions of making me ‘better’ was a group I didn’t really want to be in or labelled as part of. It made me think about what people might feel when we send them to groups and activities that we think they should get involved in albeit with the best of intentions – can they do more harm than good sometimes?

Pride– Is it ok to be proud? – Well I was when Iain spoke about ‘It Takes 2’ to a Churches Together in West Wickham Meeting in front of about 20 people from different churches. We discussed what we were going to say beforehand and despite being nervous Iain was up for the challenge. Iain was articulate and spoke clearly and much more concisely than I did. Afterwards Iain was rightly pleased with himself and it was great to do something in genuine partnership and where we were both equal contributors. Iain is looking forward to similar opportunities in the future.

I am sure as we continue along the way with ‘It Takes 2’ we will experience many more emotions - positive and not so positive! Carly and I have talked about the fact that one of the key skills when working on a project like this is resilience. I believe it must be the same for the people we are trying to connect and for the people they are connecting with. They must surely have been encountering barriers to making meaningful connections all their lives. The key is identifying those individual barriers and supporting them to overcome them.

12th December 2016