Our simple choice, one big problem

Hungry child

Photo credit: jrmiller482

“C’mon Jess, you’re going to be late for school if you don’t have your breakfast soon! What’s it going to be today? We’ve got:

Hoops

Rice Crispies

Weetabix

Porridge

Toast.”

This is a typical weekday morning for us in the Johnson household. Stress levels can go through the roof trying to get our little one ready for the day ahead, but when I step back and really think about it, it’s not that big a deal, is it?!

If Jess decides she really doesn’t want her breakfast that day she’ll be OK. There’ll be some warm buttered toast waiting for her when she gets into class, then there’s school dinners to look forward to, and not forgetting the selection of scrummy puddings on offer; jelly and ice-cream, cake and custard, fresh fruit and pancakes, chocolate crispy cake – the list goes on!

For too many people, they will not have this luxury or choice.

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank, says it handed out 1.2 million food packs in 2016/17. Compare that to the 41,000 food packs in 2009/10, that’s a 2927% increase!

Some people will use services like this more than once. It’s said that the average person will use a food bank twice a year, this means around 590,000 different people relied on the services of the Trussell Trust in 2016/17.

These figures are heart-breaking.

So, on 14 June 2017 I’ll be joining an army of UK Housing professionals like Amy Nettleton and Neil Goodrich (who convinced me to sign up), to take part in #UKHousingFast. We’ll be giving up our meals, putting together food packs and raising funds, all in support of, and to raise awareness for, the amazing Trussell Trust.

Plate pledge

My #PlatePledge for #UKHousingFast 2017

If you’d like to know more, or fancy getting involved yourself, visit the #UKHousingFast blog.

Thank you.

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No matter what the barriers are, invest in people

Mashpi Lodge

Photo credit: latour.com

In 2001, former mayor of the Ecuador capital city of Quito embarked on an ambitious journey to transform the Andean forests, which had suffered from deforestation for many years, into a global tourist attraction.

As a lover of nature, I recently watched a BBC TV programme with my jaw anchored to the floor. Roque Sevilla, former mayor turned businessman turned environmentalist, shared his personal multi-million dollar project with us; the incredible Mashpi Lodge and Reserve. It’s a striking structure which provides a holiday home for just 42 guests, placing them in the middle of the tropical forest just outside of Quito. It’s constructed almost entirely out of huge glass panes in an attempt to place its visitor’s, as-one, with nature in a way they’re unlikely to have ever experienced before. I was in awe.

As you’d expect, delivering such an ambitious project would never be plain sailing. Roque had several obstacles to overcome, including a machete-wielding local!

Jose was a farmer who lived in the nearby village and farmed in the Mashpi Reserve. He worked for a logging company that had moved into the area in the 1990’s for a lumber concession so spent his days hacking through the dense woodland.

So, how did Roque deal with this? How would you deal with this?!

Roque offered him a job.

Upon meeting Jose for the first time, Roque brought along an orchid expert. It was a brave move. As they talked and walked through the forest, the idea was to re-channel Jose’s thinking; to remove any negative thinking, to re-imagine his surroundings; to really open his eyes and look at the positive things which lay before him – to not only see what good the forest can do for him but what he can do for it.

Jose admitted to never noticing the colourful and fragrant blooms before. He was blinkered, channelling his anger and frustrations at the innocent trees. However, through this intervention, Jose quickly built a trusting relationship with Roque, and now, thanks to this new found knowledge, he quickly took up his offer of employment as Village Chief (that’s a resident tour guide to you and me).

Thriving in his new role, Jose not only welcomes and chaperones guests to the Lodge, he’s now a botanist; cultivating and blooming a personal collection of orchids in the newly developed tourist village.

Mashpi Lodge has firmly inked itself a place in my bucket list, but in reflection I was thinking how much Roque had achieved with Jose and Quito’s wider community.

Jose

Photo credit: mashpilodge.wordpress.com

In some ways, Bromford has its similarities. Our coaching approach allows us to get closer to our communities in ways we’ve never been able to do before. Much like in the case of Jose, if you truly want to make a difference to peoples’ lives you’ve got to get to know the person first; what are their hopes, their dreams, their hurdles and their barriers.

When we recruit we’re looking for the right person, with the right skills – not just for today, but for tomorrow too. We offer a job with a good salary that has an excellent benefits package. We offer excellent in-house training with opportunities to grow and develop. It’s a two way thing; we’ll show what we can offer them – but equally we want to know what they can do for us.

Mashpi Village didn’t just happen overnight. The money helped, of course, but it took time to develop – and by that I don’t just mean physically. The natural habitat and the local community had to be considered and respected. By simply ousting Jose, for example, could’ve had catastrophic consequences. Instead, time was invested into him as a person and because of this both parties reaped the rewards.

So, whether you’re recruiting for a vacancy, coaching someone through life, or building a luxury holiday lodge in the middle of a mountain forest – make sure you take the time to invest in people.

Why, Daniel Blake?

 

why-daniel-blake-header-v3

Finally, I watched I, Daniel Blake last night.

I missed all the hysteria and controversy that surrounded Cathy Come Home 50 years ago, so I made a point of watching Ken Loach’s latest offering at my first opportunity.

I’m not going to lie to you, I sobbed. The tears rolled down as the end credits made their way up.

I reflected on the story thinking:

Why is UK housing in such a mess?

Why is our benefits system so baffling?

Why are parents having to skip food for themselves just so that they can feed their children?

Why do we see technology as the answer when being human is the human being connection?

Why, just why?

As I woke the following morning, the central heating kicked in, I flicked on the landing light and made my way down the stairs to boil the kettle and prepare breakfast. I couldn’t wait to see my daughter; to tell her that I love her and to cuddle her into next week!

Sadly, these things I sometimes take for granted are an everyday struggle for many families up and down the country.

I, Daniel Blake awakens your senses to this.

It’s a sobering realisation of the failing benefits system and the struggles within social housing.

Ken Loach, I salute you.

Please, watch this film and share its message.

It’s great to learn, socially

Funny Monkeys - courtesy of Afranko.com

Funny Monkeys – courtesy of Afranko.com

I mentioned in my previous post how my new role has seen me move into a new team and help with the build of our brand new learning platform. Being part of the colleague development team we need to have our fingers firmly on the pulse and actively seek new ways to engage our colleagues and pull together the next great piece of content.

In this new team I have the pleasure of working alongside a wonderful colleague by the name of Jo Mason (please do me a favour and say hello to her next time your online). Jo is something of a learning and development guru here at Bromford (she’ll be pretty embarrassed when she finds out I wrote that). That said Jo is so humble and honest in her ways that she’d quickly tell you that she is always learning and striving to hear more of what others have to say.

So, a few weekends back we put that to the test. Jo and I hitched a little plan and decided to reach out to our twitter audience in the hope that the people we know could help shape some of our learning content for us.

We’d hoped that posting a few tweets would be enough to get a few responses and help shape how we pull this together, what happened next was phenomenal.

More than 30 people got involved with over 70 responses in just 1 day! We had people sharing personal thoughts, ideas, suggestions, web links and pictures. We’d really struck a chord. What’s great is that people gave up their personal time to help us out. Some replied early morning, some during lunchtime and others into the evening – oh and did I mention this was on a Sunday too?!

The point is that people are willing to share and learn from one another at whatever time suits them, at whatever pace and in a style that they feel most comfortable in using – whether that’s through type, file sharing or imagery. This is social learning working at its best – for you!

Thanks again to everyone who got involved in #stresslesstips – click on the link below to see what we produced with all of your wonderful creations.

Andy and Jo

http://www.haikudeck.com/-stress-less-top-tips-how-to-presentation-YBYSgrHBKF

If you’ve any #stresslesstips of your own, or have an idea for a piece of learning we could work on in the future, please let me know in the spaces below.