Monday, 31 January 2011

It's an ill wind...

Thank goodness for the snow. I didn’t expect to find myself saying that – with our yurt still not ready, because of the weather (mostly), two months after it arrived. But how odd it is the way things conspire to change the perspective.

Today, David (our greencare man) was told, when he turned up at the nursery, that the whole place was being sold off for development. Shutting in April with maybe a bit more access for us until June. A consequence, of course, of the heavily squeezed local authority budgets.

Our first thoughts were for the staff there, who have been so kind and helpful with our rather unusual requirements – and some who have been working in a shrinking island of public-spirited tranquillity for several decades: helping very disadvantaged and socially excluded groups to find self-respect and compassionate employment by working there, and clearly running an efficient organisation for filling the parks, verges and roundabouts of Slough with and ever-changing floral display. But it seems that that is not enough to guarantee sustainability in these globalised days.

I think with sadness how some of their staff, often with profound learning disabilities, have helped us with much appreciated wheelbarrowing and digging for our yurt project on Saturday afternoons – and became temporary members of our ‘community community’. And they – as the rest of the staff - will probably be rather bewildered and disorientated at the pace of ‘modernisation’.

The managers usually call it ‘change management’, but I do wonder just how much it takes account of basic human needs for things like dependability, trust and continuity – especially in those who are most vulnerable.

And what about our own project? Very small, indeed, by comparison – but, being somebody who is remorselessly optimistic, I immediately count up the benefits:
·         We won’t need to do that cob floor, which would have been so lovely, but is now only a project for the future.
·         Learning to put up and take down the yurt is just what the Mongolians would do. And now, we will learn how to do it faster.
·         The next place we find will be more secure and permanent, so we can really build things up with a ‘several years view’ of what we need.
·         We did not spend lots of effort, which would have been wasted, making it warm, welcoming and comfortable.
·         At least we didn’t get settled in, only to lose it. ‘Enjoy the struggle’, as a colleague implored me many years ago.

I just hope that the others working with us - particularly the members of our programmes - can see it without despairing that this is ‘yet another kick in the teeth’. But no doubt we will discuss that in our group therapy sessions. 

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