Six months ago my partner and I moved to Torquay in Devon. One of the driving forces behind our move was a strong desire to feel part of a local community where we could live and work according to our own values. We also felt a real urge to use our range of skills to help our new community to thrive.
We arrived full of hope, but without knowing what would materialise. Then, quite by chance I came across an advert which stopped me in my tracks. The advert was so open and so full of detail and with the title of Community Circles Connector I felt drawn towards it so I hurried to apply. A few days later, I was invited to have a telephone conversation with Harriet and shortly afterwards came the good news that I had been selected to attend a day long recruitment workshop. I jumped at the opportunity.
The date of the recruitment workshop was set and not surprisingly nerves set in – a whole day workshop, just what would this entail? Half of me was intrigued, the other half wanted to bolt for the door – an all too familiar feeling for me when I am about to embark on a new challenge. Yet when I look back on the whole experience, the overriding feeling I have is one of warmth. How many interviews can you say that about? The mix of activities, shared lunch, time spent chatting with my fellow interviewees; it was a shared experience which has had a lasting effect.
Within 24 hours I had received a call to say that I been successful and three weeks later, I found myself back at the venue where our workshop had been held to embark upon our 4 day induction. On arrival, I felt the warmth of old friends being reunited as conversations flowed between us all and we moved effortlessly into next stage of working together.
I can honestly say I’ve never experienced an induction quite like this before; some of the highlights include receiving personalised letters and appreciation books from the Company Directors, developing insightful one page profiles to help colleagues to understand you better as well as learning and practising non-violent communication strategies. As individuals and as a group we were equally challenged and supported as we started to work as self-managed teams – a process which requires as much unlearning of old habits as learning new habits and ways of being.
If you want to discover more about the induction process itself then you can click on the links below and here from my colleagues as well as the Director of Love2Care Maddy Bird.
What is particularly exciting is that this is a new venture for Torquay and Paignton and I am involved right at the very beginning. I am very proud to working as a Community Circles Connector alongside a revolutionary healthcare company called Love2Care formed by Maddy Bird and David Harcombe with support from Helen Sanderson Associates to bring a new type of healthcare service to Torquay and Paignton. Love2Care help and support people to live independent lives and do more of what matters to them, they provide personal care, help in the home, support and a lot of joy to the lives of those they support.
So what does life as a Community Circles Connector look like?
Each week I meet with my Wellbeing Team colleagues and they share news about the people they are supporting and together, we discuss ways we can fully support them in their lives.
I work alongside the team, as a community circles connector and I come in to provide an extra service to help people to do more of what matters to them. So, perhaps someone wants to start bringing more music into their lives so to do that we create an community circle of family, friends, neighbours who want to help that person to bring more music into their lives in a fun and engaging ways. It’s basically a way we can all help each other to get more out of life.
Along with weekly team meetings with Wellbeing Teams, I have online calls with fellow Community Circles Connectors to discuss our progress, share strategies and help and support each other. We are also supported with a range of e-learning tools and resources for us to learn about the practicalities.
It’s been a whirlwind of activities since induction – this is a flavour of what’s been happening in the first five weeks.
Week 1: Getting out into the community, spreading the word about Love2Care to people who we can support
Week 2: Meeting with community organisations who support those in need and discussing ways to collaborate
Week 3: Presenting to the business community at networking events and meeting with local press to include a feature on Community Circles
Week 4: First Presentation to a support group to discuss the benefits of Community Circles
Week 5: Meeting with fellow volunteer groups to discuss ways to effectively recruit volunteers
I’ll keep you posted as more news comes in and I get more settled into my role.
To find out more about Community Circles, please feel free to get in touch with Debbie at Debbie@community-circles.co.uk (I’m the one on the back row 2nd from the right) and keep an eye out for our upcoming feature in Torbay Times which will soon be hitting the shelves across the Bay!