| Helen Sharp
Published by – You’re Welcome
Author – Philip Booth
Date of publication – April 2016
“Become the change you want to be.” – Mahatma Ghandi
I recently had the pleasure of training a group of community development workers in the approach of Asset Based Community-driven Development (ABCD). I wanted to shift their thinking away from ‘doing for and with’ to stepping back and letting the community drive and, rather than use traditional methods, I decided to let the group work it out for themselves by putting them in the shoes of the community they were supporting.
Fortunately for them, this did not involve sessions of painful and embarrassing role play – instead, I simply asked them to shed their professional personae and be the citizen, family member, neighbour, friend that they already were. In this mode, they spent the first morning sharing stories and experiences together and waking up to the benefits of a community-driven approach.
Phillip Booth from the Barnwood Trust recently wrote a blog on the You’re Welcome website which looks at how they took this idea a whole lot further. His team of community builders challenged themselves with the notion: how could they properly know and understand their work and expect others to engage with it without practicing it for themselves?
So, the team were challenged to go out and connect with people in their own neighbourhoods, getting to know them through whichever means they chose and after several months they were to report back on their experiences at a team and trustees event.
The team’s experiences were varied and a few certainly felt daunted by it. Some people organised events, while others knocked on doors and shared cups of tea. In our work, we are constantly reminded of professional boundaries – so blurring these distinctions felt quite uncomfortable. But the overall impact of the experiment has deepened the team’s knowledge and awareness and, in turn, their practice, and this continues to resonate even now.