At east to west we are constantly striving to improve. Whether it be a school project, through Emerge or office based, we recognise that developing and building our knowledge, understanding and skill-sets, ultimately makes us more effective in our roles.
One of the ways we do this is through the process of reflective practice. Taking time out of the busyness of working to stop, think and reflect on a theme or issue with the anticipated goal of improving. Our Relational Support Workers (RSWs), Family Link Workers (FLWs) and Counsellors do this in school when working with students. The Emerge team, talk through their experiences of each shift at the end of the night utilising a designated support network, whilst our leads do this by reading and sharing as a small cohort. Organisationally, Ant shares a Bible-based reflection each month, enabling us to connect what we do with Gospel truth and teaching.
One resource we’ve found particularly helpful as leads are Dan Rockwell’s ‘7 Universal Competencies for Success’, which we wanted to share over the coming months. We are sharing them as a way of encouraging you to pray, but also hoping that you also find it helpful…
7 Universal Competencies for Success: 1 – Build Relationships:
I’ve enjoyed a few weeks holiday over the Summer and it’s been great to spend time with the family doing things and just hanging out. When the kids are (eventually) asleep, my wife and I settle down to watch something on TV. One thing I noticed whilst flicking through TV fodder such as Dinner Date, Love Island and TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex), is that we seem to be living in an age where relationships are becoming increasingly transient. These shows view relationships as a form of entertainment, for the TV watching voyeur, where there is always another, better, sexier option! The result is that those taking part are never fully committed and the relationship is more than often doomed to fail. Sadly, this can then lead to issues around self-esteem, mental health and wellbeing and struggles to maintain and retain identity, as well as the potential for online abuse and criticism.
The reason I’ve highlighted this type of relationship is because for many young people they appear to be a barometer for happiness and contentment. Shows like the ones highlighted above are being used as the guide to how relationships should be conducted and how others are meant to be treated. Sadly, in many cases, the reality is that these televised relationships fall well short of what it means to treat others with care and love.
The truth is, relationships cover more than just romance. In an east to west context, relationships are about valuing others, building them up, helping and supporting and ultimately helping someone to move forward with their lives. Dan Rockwell’s ‘7 Universal Competencies for Success’ highlights 3 key areas which define what it means to build a successful relationship – again these aren’t specific to romantic relationships, but some of the lessons are applicable. These 3 are:
Within east to west, when we meet with a child, young person or family for the first time, our key focus is on creating a partnership (relationship). These partnerships are the foundation on which everything else is built and need to be constantly worked on, developed and underpinned. Rockwell makes the point that strong relationships sustain teams, especially when things get difficult – which they will.
When we’re working face to face with an individual or group trust is vital. One of east to west’s ethos words is integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles – which is something we bring to all the relationships we build. Part of this is trust. Can our team be trusted to ‘hold’ whatever a child, young person or family is sharing and do the right thing with it, e.g. just listen, share a safeguarding concern or help them understand and resolve what’s happened/ing.
Trust is an interesting thing as it takes a long time to build and can be broken quickly. This is why it has to be built on the solid ground of partnership where the relationship is underpinned and can be sustained, even in difficult situations.
Rockwell’s final point is about sharing ideas. As highlighted above, this is about building on what’s gone before. You can only share ideas that are effective and lifechanging if there is a foundation and trust. Sharing ideas is also about ownership – who owns the idea and who is responsible for its outworking. I’m reminded of a situation one of our team had in school (referenced in the last newsletter), where the young person was struggling with her maths teacher. A small change, which she owned, was around her attitude and smiling at the staff member when she entered their classroom. This change transformed her experience of this particular lesson and ultimately had a positive impact on the rest of her schooling.
As we come, back to where we started and how young people are witnessing relationships, we know that those who come into contact with east to west are treated differently to those they see on TV – not romantically, but rather they witness and experience how relationships should be conducted and how people are meant to be valued and treated.
This month, we’d ask you to pray for our team as they head back into school.
Please pray in particular for Naomi (Hinchley Wood), Rajvinder (Iver Infant/Junior), Clare (Sunbury Manor) and Irum (Bishop Wand) as they start with east to west. Please also remember Eliz as she moves from Iver to focus purely on Emerge and Adele as she starts a new project at Jubilee High School, in Addlestone.
We’d also ask you to pray for the family of Malcolm Bateman. Some of you may know Malcolm, who has been part of the east to west family for a long time, volunteering his skills and talents to help grow and develop east to west financial side. Malcolm passed away over the summer holidays after a short illness. Please pray for his friends and family as they come to terms with what’s happened and look to the future.