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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Thursday 22 March 2012

The little things in life

Today I was at Swindon Foyer to run an Inspire session with some foyers in the south west region.

I have fond memories of Swindon for a number of reasons. It was the first Foyer I visited on my own when I joined the Federation over 10 years ago. I attended a regional meeting, which kicked off with an hour onslaught against the Federation’s then early proposals to work with the LSC. I remember walking out to lunch slightly dazed by the language, only to be quickly reassured by the genuine warmth and friendliness of everyone over sandwiches. ‘We needed to let off some steam,’ someone remarked. It was a valuable lesson.
Swindon was also one of the first pilots of our Working Assets programme to really embed the approach into their practice, producing some excellent work that has sustained in the Foyer’s ethos. It was lovely to hear one of their staff compare Open Talent with Working Assets – after all, the asset-based approach was an early seed in our own onslaught against ‘disadvantaged thinking’. We’ve learnt to turn up the volume more and  dance with greater freedom.
The highlight of the Inspire day was when two members of staff, completing an exercise in the sunshine, were joined unexpectedly by a group of young people. They quickly pitched in and were soon bouncing off their ideas to develop the Foyer’s talents, the staff cleverly facilitating the exchange around the young people taking responsibility for the actions and not just the suggestions. 

This is what makes good Foyers great: the ability to work informally with young people, engaging them in the moment, with a structure in the ongoing development/ support plan to reflect on the learning. It reminded me of being a teenager in the summer holidays, getting involved with my mum in the kitchen or garden, discussing random observations that all built up my understanding of myself and the world. The little things we take for granted in our family lives, the experiences we learn from, often get forgotten about in other institutions.   Such daily opportunities and experiences to ‘do’ things are vital for Foyers to keep on engaging and enabling young people.
It’s a strange world, when we have to fight for the right to work with young people in such ways, counter to the endless systems and structures that work against what, in our hearts, we know best. This is the truth of advantaged thinking: it's all common sense, we've just lost our way to see more clearly and fight for what we believe in.

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