Self Reliant Groups - Dream Big
Self Reliant Groups - Dream Big
'Would you like an alternative future compared to the life that you have now?
A future where you feel more empowered, in more control of your life and more connected to your community?
An SRG could be the next step for you.
A chance to create your own small community within a community.
A community that has the power to empower you to change your life, and others to change theirs.
It involves starting and running a group which will meet each week - you decide the rules and the content in collaboration with the other members, and the rest is yet to be written. It is part of a future that is yet to be written.
A future that is in the hands of you and your group, your community within your community'.
When asked to spend five minutes preparing, then to deliver a 90 second 'elevator' style pitch at the end of a workshop this week facilitated by WEvolution (@WEvolutionUK), a Glasgow based charity, on Self Reliant Groups - this was what I came up with. Considering I had only begun to learn about SRGs in any detail the previous day, it speaks volumes for the impact that the workshop had on me. I was already dreaming big.
As someone who passionately believes in empowering people to take effective control of their lives through positive action, spending time learning about the current impact and future potential of this growing grass roots movement - which started in India and is led by WEvolution in the UK - was right up my street.
A feature of all of my training work with groups, teams and organisations and work with people individually as a counsellor, coach or mentor (see other sections of this website for details and to make a booking) is the mantra:
All we can ever control is our own action - right now.
And furthermore, my work is grounded in the belief that the answer to the all of the questions that we face in life - no matter how unanswerable they may feel to us at the time - are within us. I believe that we all have the ability to take some control over our future and to choose to live the life that we really want to live.
That is not to say that we have unlimited choices, nor that things out with our control can not make things much more difficult that we would ideally like them to be. Some things in life happen to us which we have no control over, and challenges caused by poverty have a huge impact on the everyday lives of millions of people in Scotland and the rest of the UK alone.
However, regardless of the things that fall in front of us in our path forwards in life, including the most difficult of obstacles to negotiate, we always have some control over the step we choose to take next.
Perhaps, as you read this, you are feeling lonely after losing someone important or feeling increasingly worried about the future due to the impact on you and those around you of the increasing levels of poverty we are facing in society (which naturally impacts upon some far more severely than it does on others)? Maybe you are struggling with your mental health or finding yourself disconnected from people around you in your community, perhaps rarely going outside? If you answer 'yes' to one or more of those questions, or face another difficulty that I have not mentioned, then it follows that you are searching for an answer to the question; what do I do next?
Although rarely easy to find, the answers to many of the most complicated and challenging questions in life can be remarkably simple. Choosing to ask for some help and connecting with others by starting an SRG could be the step forward that you are looking for.
To get started, you simply need a minimum of four people from your local community. However, even if you are the only person currently looking to start a group, there is still a way forward - your first challenge is to look for others to join you and gradually build towards your target starting number. And if the number reaches beyond ten then that is not a problem, far from it. It means that there would be enough for another group as the maximum number for each is 10. Once you have your group in place - that are committed to meeting regularly - you are ready to go.
Other characteristics of an SRG are rotating and collective leadership and the desire to be self sufficient by not depending on grants, and crucially to save regularly. Even one pound per person per week soon mounts up and provides a resource for the group to use. It is important that the group develops a focus, which can also ideally benefit the local community, and is geared towards trying to use the skills and qualities of the members to generate some income. However, it is the process of meeting regularly and working together that is most important - the detail will evolve.
During the workshop this week I had the chance to meet with two SRG members whose journeys are powerful evidence of this evolution in practice. I spoke with Trishy, who now has her own craft shop in Gourock called number 26 (look it up on facebook or if you are in the area why not make a visit?), and she describes the start of her journey which kick started when she joined a group called 'Rainbow Creations in 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpuT8HUGLME
I also met Allan, from Paisley, who also has his own business (check out http://craftbuddies-srg.co.uk/ and maybe you will place an order, just as I have for some items for upcoming NowCounselling training courses) that stemmed from his membership of an SRG, a group that he still meets with regularly. He taught all of us at the workshop how to make badges, as he does as part of his business, using the equipment that he bought for himself using the resources that he had saved with his group. You can read more of his story here: http://www.whatsonrenfrewshire.co.uk/event/064812-craft-buddies-pop-up-shop-&-fibromyalgia-awareness-event/
I certainly enjoyed being taught how to make badges, and indeed it is the teaching and learning of skills that forms another important element of the process. Whatever your group choose as the focus for activity, you will have the opportunity to teach some of your skills to others and to learn skills from them. Other benefits (from information provided in questionnaires completed by SRG members) include the opportunity to socialise, to act as a role model for those around you including younger people and family members, and the possibility of 'dreaming big'.
The possibility of dreaming about that alternative future, and all of the time gaining confidence that it is more achievable than you previously thought. Gaining confidence as a result of your positive action, and developing the motivation to keep it going, regardless of the things that fall in front of you in your path forwards in life. The details of what could evolve are not certain, but what is certain is that you have the opportunity to develop resilience. Resilience that is born out of the mindset that you could create.
A mindset that is full of hope and the positivity that drives your actions. Actions that can help you to develop the resilience to challenge the status quo, to be the change that you want to see in society. Whenever you feel overwhelmed when you contemplate the challenges ahead for yourself, for your community and for society, why not remember the mantra; 'all we can ever control is our own action - right now'? You can choose to focus not on the past nor on the future, but on the next step that is ahead of you. A step that could involve joining or starting an SRG. A community within your community, a community that has the power to write its own future, a community that dreams big.
For more information on this movement, one that includes 100 million members in India alone, see http://www.wevolution.org.uk/
The workshop was hosted by the fantastic and committed staff team at The Ripple Project (@RippleRestalrig) in Edinburgh. I will be back there next week on Wenesday at 4pm for 'Men in May' as one of the hosts for the event which is aimed at exploring what self care to improve mental health and wellbeing looks like for men in the area and to consider what the next steps could look like. Maybe that will including people starting an SRG?
Perhaps I will see you there?
Best wishes for now, Sean