Think Small, Act Small: The Value of all things Local

Thanks to Harry Venning

Guest Blog by social workers Charlotte and Ryan

I think everyone would agree that lockdown has made us re-evaluate whats really important in our lives – whether that is our freedom, our families and friends or just being able to get a delivery from the supermarket! But one thing that’s really come out of it for me is the value of all things local; local businesses stepping up and delivering our favourite restaurant meals to our doors and neighbours checking up on one another. Our Easter and Eid projects have also shown me how people in our communities want to and take pride in going that extra mile for each other. This has really made me realise how much I appreciate my local community and how I’m pretty content in supporting and being involved in the things around me.

This has also really made me reflect on the lives of those that we support, and how we’ve maybe been guilty of making assumptions about what they want or the old chestnut ‘what’s best for them’. All of our lives are really going to change – possibly even forever, in the way that we live and mix with others. What’s becoming clear to me is the importance of keeping things local, small and personal and why don’t we encourage that when we support the people we work with?? We are often driven by big organisations (many that we really need! The NHS being one of those!) But when our young people are leaving school and college and embarking on the next step we seem to sometimes lose sight of the fact that small could be better. Where do they live? Who are their friends and neighbours? Many of which are local due to school catchment areas! I know flying the nest and moving out are often high on the agenda of teenagers but it’s not always that way! There is often something comforting about staying local, having close friends and family nearby and knowing the name and backstory of the person who runs the local shop!

I think we all starting to realise that things are going to be very different, our workplaces, how we socialise etc. But one of the huge positives with this is that we can cherish and support our local communities. I struggle with the fact that eventually when restrictions lift completely that all the people we support might go back to big services which to me sometimes feel on the outside of our communities, when we have great people and places just on our doorstep. After all if we take the time to put away the paper work, talk to the person and stop, look and ask – it’s amazing what you can find 🙂

Small is beautiful

‘When are the day services reopening’ I was asked this week. It made me stop and think…it started with an email to the team and has ended with this writing now. As person I am undecided whether I want to send my daughter back to nursery; a small nursery where I am told the risk of her catching this terrible virus is minimal. The daily briefings continue to talk of returning work, albeit not in the same way, it increasingly seems this might not mean returning to the big offices, hot desking or car sharing, but a “new normal” needs to found. Schools are being told of maximum limits and we can go out in small ‘bubbles’ but only within restrictions. And yet, I can already hear the calls to open the ‘big services’ coming.

Honest conversations with people are needed. Do they want to go the big building service with a lot of others; where it will be very difficult to maintain physical distancing? Within that discussion we need to be able to offer alternatives. Alternatives that are safer; in line with the advice provided.

Avoid public transport were possible. The best way to avoid public transport is not to have to travel far to the place you want to go. Local support embedded within the community had many positive benefits before the epidemic and a clear need for local support is evident now more than ever.

Only go out with 1 person outside of your home (possibly bubbles of up to 10 in the future). The call here is for small supports. 1 person with 1 family member/friend/paid PA. Which may in the future increase to a small group. This is not a day service catering for 30/40/50 people…particularly when the people there may not understand the concept of physical distancing; people who may need close support.

The trouble is we are so caught up in making things bigger or more complex than they need to be. Of course it reaffirms our own status as the ‘professional’. Yet human being are not big or complex…we all really want the same thing….it certainly isn’t attending a day service 5 days a week. The evidence our local Big Conversation has provided us that answer already…of course we already knew it!

So the call now is something much more difficult, to come up with a different option. But let’s not make it big and complex; we have been there already. Humans are small and small is beautiful. So the challenge is to create co-produced, small, local supports embedded with and run by the people we serve.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex-it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction…

3 replies on “Think Small, Act Small: The Value of all things Local”

Captivating and well written blog. There is always a risk that small human will become lost in the “big organizations”, where there views and voice may be lost as well; with things done to them rather than for them. There are little things within the community which means more to the person.

Liked by 1 person

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