Social Movement

29Jun11

I have come back from an interesting day in Bristol. It was run by something called the HIEC, (that being an Health Innovation Education Cluster) and was titled “Further, Faster, Together”.

Let me qualify interesting. At one point in one of the workshops* I was in, a person claimed, that:

“if you went out and asked 100 people if they wanted help, support (even from a family member) at a time of need, they would all say no. People just want to be left alone and want to do things themselves”

I was a little taken aback, in fact it seemed the antithesis to most of the framing concepts I hold dear. I gently challenged this view with my experience and retold a story I had heard the day before.

There was a person, who, through what was thought to be a set of complex issues ended up with regular admissions to an acute inpatient psychiatric ward. The ‘intervention’ that has helped them to move on from this was a phone call. This person had disclosed that they could not get through the fear of going to sleep, they just didn’t feel safe, they felt alone, scared and that the darkness would be overwhelming. Now the phone call was an offer by a local voluntary organisation’s CEO to phone them in the evening and say good night. This *simple* act has been transformational and has since progressed into a community responsibility.

I have retold this story a couple of times today, and each time the person I conversed with has immediately identified with the need for human contact (whether face to face or via text or whatever) when they have been at their most vulnerable.

Anyway, the workshop moved on without a proper response to this, but then we had important money-saving work to do.

By now you might be wondering why this post is called social movement…

In the afternoon I was captivated by Helen Bevan who spoke on the subject of organisation change, with a content and style close to an evangelical charismatic preacher! Let me tell you more…

She focused on the concept of organising and mobilising rather than traditional change management. She said, quoting someone whose name I forgot to write down

You can’t coerce, you have to unleash. You can’t impose anything on anyone and expect them to commit

It’s not about trying to get someone to meet the minimum standards (I couldn’t help but think about expecting people to sign up to a statement of faith) but it is about understanding collective goals that we can all aspire to; having shared values with a sense of purpose, acknowledging that we are in commitment and relationship with each other.

Helen also spoke about values. Having values is one thing, but through our emotions we are able to turn values into action. This can lead to a renewal, and can create a higher purpose based on the values.

What are the values that we hold?

What binds us together?

What makes us better?

We watch an amazing video which I will try to find, and each then wrote, on our hand, a value we think is important. I chose “hope”.

I then listened to something that was music to my ears – we have to tell stories

Telling stories is the most powerful way to make a value an action

A story can give us a shared understanding and this leads us to action

If we want to affect some kind of change, we need to tell stories, well, we need to tell a story, we need to make it personal, we need to be authentic. This will create a sense of ‘us’ and this can build a call to urgent action.

She closed with an awesome George Bernard Shaw quote

This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can.

Yes, my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can.

Amen to the NHS preacher-lady

*the workshop itself was interesting – we had to think of something to do, for a population we had not identified, without a vision for change… a tough call.

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2 Responses to “Social Movement”

  1. The oral culture of humanity is one of our oldest traditions and through stories or parables we learn to emotionally accept truths. That transformational phone call highlights the need for organisations to be human and not systems where the individual gets lost.
    Truly user-led organisations are the way forward. Thought provoking blog, thanks!

    • 2 tobit

      thanks for your comment Gemma, and your kind words about my blog!
      I think that being part of, or facilitating a user led organisation is at the same time both the hardest and easiest thing to do! but I think that must be another blog post i have to write.



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