It has an impact on the organisation's social mission

Stories of change

Friday, August 18, 2017

I have a perspective from a partner organisation. But I am also a befriend member. I have been to a lot of events. I went to the choir, the quiz, the barn dance… I’ve been to a few quizzes, they were cool.
[Our organisation] is a support provider, so we support people with a disability, with serious mental health, who are older… and with the best of intentions we arguably support some of the most socially isolated people in our community.

My first contact with befriend was at our AGM, where Nick came and did a talk about what Befriend did. And I suppose at that point ..the relationship was purely financial. [The organisation] had some reserves… for a social investment fund.

[Since then] Befriend has come and done some training with our staff. I think Befriend has taken a slightly different track this time, saying that actually if we invest in the staff, help them to connect people, teach them skills. Overwhelmingly people have said it was the best training they have ever been on. It’s brilliant. They learnt lots of stuff about how to connect people. People have loved it.

[There are also] two projects that we have done [with Befriend]. They were not easy projects. There were some people who were part of that, who are really tricky, who are in and out of Graylands every other week, whose behaviour is pretty interesting at the best of times. But Befriend almost unequivocally were going to make it work. They were never going to say “it’s not for that person”. So that whole approach has an impact upon our staff. Inclusion means everybody, not just the easy people.

I suspect the training will have had a big impact. I think probably the whole experience really talks to an issue that if you don't keep highlighting it, you can just gloss over it. Our staff go and support people who live in their own homes. So you might go and support, say my Nanna, who doesn't see a soul other than you, and you see them once a week, and you do their shopping. I suppose you can quite quickly get used to it – that I’m here to support you to do your shopping once a week – but that's not good enough. It’s not good enough that woman is sitting there week-in-week-out waiting for one of our staff to get there. Without the projects around Befriend, it can easily just go away – even though we all know it is what kills people, it's the stuff that life is about. Yeah, it’s important that Nanna gets her shopping, but surely it’s more important that someone gives a s**t that she is alone. 

I think [the most significant change is] probably the people things. For individuals, but I also think for our staff. The issue I was talking about before, that we don't always get paid to think about social’s people connections, but we know it has such a big impact on people’s health, their wellbeing, their quality of life, that we to keep finding ways to support people with it. And the government are not always brilliant at funding that. As long as people have food and shelter. 

I think it has an impact on [the organisations] social mission; around we don't just exist to get people out of bed. What is the point of getting out of bed if you nothing to do or nothing to look forward to? So I think it’s another strategy of how we focus on that stuff, albeit that often it is not paid.

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