Asset Coach, Penny Garner, looks at the importance of the relationships we have with the people we work with and why it’s essential to stamp out the ‘us and them’ culture.

Coming to Mayday from other grass roots positions has been a different way of working for me. I have always had the best intentions for people and genuinely want to see people succeed, but whereas before I represented the organisation I worked for, at Mayday I am myself.

The reality of being part of a person lead organisation

How I act reflects on Mayday and it goes without saying that I treat people with respect and share the values that run deep through the organisation; but I am a person, I build genuine relationships. I have no agenda, no remit within which I can only work. Most importantly no predetermined outcomes to achieve under the charade of doing what’s best for the person I work with.

It’s all in a meeting place

I’ve been amazed how much can be resolved during a walk in the park, over coffee, even a round of crazy golf! I shouldn’t be, I don’t arrange to meet a friend in a bland environment to thrash out a situation when I need support. I meet with friends and maybe we’ll discuss what’s going on, sometimes it helps to have my mind taken off things.

Wanting more

We should want more for people accessing services than to be categorised, ‘enabled’ to get on in life by the services and procedures put in place for ‘people like them’. We all want to be our own people having genuine choices in life. To support people to do this we can be the face of an organisation that can go so far, as long as it’s within the given timeframe and follows protocol.

Or we can be people too. An ally. A genuine relationship that isn’t confined by a predetermined set of policy, procedures and outcomes with the inability to flex to the myriad of personalities that we will work with.

Be Human

For most of us we get on in life with the help and support of others, positive relationships that boost our sense of self and encourage us to try even if we may not succeed. Loneliness can be as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day [1], so let us not tackle this with forms and procedures that try to fit people into boxes to identify the best approach to ‘fix’ someone. Let us meet people, get to know people, one person to another.

1 – Campaign to End Loneliness (no date) The facts on loneliness. Available at: www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/the-facts-on-loneliness/