I recently spoke to a volunteer who was leaving their role with one BAB partner to focus on other voluntary roles.
I was sad to see them go - they had made a great contribution to their team and were always so proactive. When I thanked this volunteer for their help with BAB, they were surprised that their contribution was seen as positive because they had always pointed out problems and suggested changes to the way of working.
This kind of critical friend is hugely useful when the intention is to find a solution and improve the lives of the people we're working to support.
I've thought about this conversation quite a bit over the last few weeks and it struck me that we are all so passionate about our work that sometimes challenge feels like criticism. But that isn't the case.
The whole of the BAB programme is about learning and improving from it. We had five years to develop and deliver a series of projects that would test different approaches to preventing and reducing isolation and loneliness.
Over the last three years we have funded 25 pilots, each of which provided different learning across a range of subjects. It was this learning that informed our recent commissioning - the “Building Blocks for Wellbeing” projects.
The BAB funding has given us the space to trial different ways of working and to be honest about what works and what doesn't. As we consider the sustainability of these projects, it's going to be more important to consider learning so far to ensure we get the best service for isolated and lonely older people as well as finding future funding.
Working in this sector, we are often so busy that we forget to thank those people around us for their contribution - especially when it is less tangible. As one person passionate about their job to another, thank you all for all of your contributions to the work of Bristol Ageing Better.
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