Earlier this year BAB commissioned some asset-based training for BAB delivery partners. Staff and volunteers at BAB-funded projects were invited to attend, with a view to offering them some unique training opportunities.
Magda Kowalik-Malcolm, a Community Development Coordinator employed by LinkAge Network, shared her thoughts about putting the training together, and the success of the first sessions:
“Being involved in developing the training and also participating as a regular attendee is tricky. I know what I wanted the training to achieve and my expectations were high.
"The idea was to combine equality training with strength-based community development work principles. How can we build together a welcoming and friendly community that includes everyone? What do people from the groups BAB idenitifed as ‘at risk’ of social isolation think about their communities? How do they do or want to contribute to the wider good? How can we, as workers or local activists, make sure that in whatever we do everyone feels invited and has a voice?
"There are many new community-based projects that aim to help older people who are or might be lonely. Not an easy task, and there is a challenge to make them sustainable. However, if every such project was involved in building local connections between residents, neighbours and groups, these relationships may be able to last for a very long time and bring people together when they most need and want it.
"So, how can the training sessions support us in our community work? The three sessions that have taken place so far have been very different; some have more involvement of ‘service users’ in design and delivery than others. All have shared people’s stories directly or indirectly. Some encouraged conversations, others concentrated more on providing information.
"The two workshops I have attended so far gave me two very different, but positive experiences. What touched me was the honesty of people who shared their stories and passions with us. The message that stays with me is about learning through our personal and professional lives how to build social relationships and how this knowledge can help build a better future for us and our communities."
One participant said, “I had done some substance misuse training in a previous role but this session was really different. We focused much more on people affected by the issue and their individual stories, rather than hard facts and information. I found it a really refreshing change of pace.”
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