Citizen of the Year
November 13, 2020

These are the stories of Wellbeing Listeners in our community

“We are stronger than we think we are”

Ivybridge Bloomers outside the library

Shirley Weeks is a much loved part of Ivybridge community. She’s one of those quiet leaders that doesn’t make a song and dance about things, but when she sees a need she takes action. It was no surprise to me when Shirley was announced as the Ivybridge Citizen of the Year.

Here are some of things Shirley has been involved in.

  • CAB: She’s the Citizens Advice Healthwatch champion, so she used to engaging with people when they are going through tricky life circumstances.
  • So Social Ivybridge: Shirley is also drawn to be of service to the lonely and socially isolated in Ivybridge. She started an informal coffee morning at the Watermark Library on a Saturday morning. It was a chance for people to get together and have a chat. “So Social Ivybridge’ has become so popular it is now about to become a charity.
  • Ivybridge Bloomers: Shirley was also aware that getting out and doing things together would be a wonderful way of bringing people together. This was when the idea of Ivybridge bloomers took shape. A small army of volunteers has started to tidy up Ivybridge and plant up flowers thanks to her making it happen (see photo above).

Shirley intuitively knows how to bring people together and she loves seeing the friendships and companionship that grows when people connect.

What did Shirley get from the Wellbeing Listener Foundation course?

With Shirley’s extensive background in bringing people together and supporting others you might wonder what more she had to learn. Over the course of the one-month training she found it incredibly helpful both for herself and for those she supports. Here are three areas that Shirley found useful.

1. Finding that core of balance and peace in the midst of a busy mind.
Shirley saw that we all see the world according to our state-of-mind and we all have times when we feel we can’t cope. When we realise that our moods will change the way we experience the world, then we look inside and see the resilience that is already there. Watch the 1 min video here

Shirley Weeks

2. There’s no need to always be positive
Shirley saw that sometimes you feel rubbish and it’s OK because it’ll pass. She doesn’t need to be positive all the time – she realises that trying to always be positive exhausting. You can watch the 1 min video from Shirley here:

Shirley Weeks

 

3. We’re all stronger and more resilient than we think we are
COVID is proving challenging for many people – if we all look inward for our resilience and wellbeing we’ll realise that we are stronger than we originally thought. Shirley believes this is a message that will bring resilience to communities. Watch the 1.5min video here

Shirley Weeks

How does Shirley’s story align with the Inner Compass Guide CIC vision of unlocking community resilience through listening?

Here at the Inner Compass Guide CIC we see that community leaders (like Shirley) are central to supporting the wider community to uncover in-built resilience.

Through the Wellbeing Listener programme Shirley started to see how her busy mind was distracting her from her natural and in-built wellbeing. As she started to experience her inner core of resilience she began to see that other people have access to the same resilience.

When we start to look out for the resilience in others (rather than losing ourselves in the story, insecurity and fear) then we help people remember that they are stronger than they ever thought they were.

This is the message we want at the heart of communities.

Poem Inspired by Wellbeing Listeners

Shirley is on a creative writing course. This poem was inspired by the Wellbeing Listener Programme. She has written a commentary below the poem for context.

An Unsuitable Friend
Drip, drip on my ears and tapping me pokily to trip me
Full against the curtains of my reluctant eyes
The day a timid intruder against
the somnambulant, silent still.

The tap will not yield to my fixing and
its dropsical disposition leaves tears like rust
Upon the crusty, crackled ceramic among
the forgotten toothpaste and scrubby dust.
Some finer hand than mine will wield
a hammer, wrench, and spanner.

Upright, I turn and catch too soon
the face caught in the speckled glass, fugitive and moony
My friend has come and has furnished me with her
drilling, dripping sliding words that
slip between the cracks from her to me,
from her to me, from me to her.

My friend, she says the tap must drip
and keep its corrosion and rust.
She says, she says we are safer without
the clump of boots, the clamour of voices
and she drips and she drips and her words
seep like gangrene, from her to me.

My friend she stays my hand and stops my mouth
and trips my step, should I venture out.
She knows the world, she knows the danger
of the casual glance, the looming stranger.
Best shut them without and keep me within.
My friend, she says, she says.

She is gone and I am cradled
Safe in my chair, cocooned by tea
I am shelved in my walls and returned to calm
We are safe, we are stored, we are sinking
My unsuitable friend and me.

Commentary

The idea for this poem came from two sources primarily. I have been attending a course on Wellbeing and one of the sessions dealt with inner voices and the effect they can have on our behaviour. I also wanted to write about Social Anxiety and its crippling effect on a person’s ability to function day to day. The unsuitable friend in the poem is the inner voice reinforcing fear and anxiety about the outside world, and especially the intrusion of that world in the form of a plumber possibly coming to fix the leaking tap. I wanted to create a sense of conflict, without resolution being present at the end of the poem. I have spoken to several people with Social Anxiety and have got a sense of endless conflict within themselves and I have tried to convey this in the poem. For example, I have repeated the phrase ‘from her to me’ in different stanzas to reflect this sense of inner turmoil within oneself. As Greenwell suggests, there is interest in conflict and gives the reader the opportunity to make a decision about the character. (Greenwell 2009, pg. 17).

Having written my first draft, I looked again at the language I had used to try and convey a sense of the character’s state of mind. I revised the description of the tap dripping to include ‘rust’, ‘cracked’ and ‘crusty’ to reinforce a sense of inertia and decay. When the unsuitable friend arrives, via the reflection in the mirror, I used forceful and emphatic language to demonstrate how much the character is dominated by their inner voice, for example, ‘the tap must drip’ and the repeating phrase ‘ she says, she says’ ( Greenwell, 2009). The dripping tap is echoed in the dripping of the negative thoughts and feelings. I have recently watched Alan Bennet’s monologues on the BBC and was impressed by the way he manages to create a real sense of the character’s interaction with the outside world, despite the action taking place

1 Comment

  1. Mike Billinghay

    Great bite size testimonials for what is a very useful course, or rather opportunity to explore listening and the power it has to calm and open up the resilience conversation. Shirley is right. People are stronger than they think. I’ve been reminding people recently how their resilience has got them this far in a very difficult year, and will help them through the rest of the year and next. It’s useful to reflect on where we have come from and what we have achieved in spite of the things which appear to be in our way. We should encourage people to be kind to themselves (and be kind to ourselves) and take pride and celebrate the progress we’ve all made this year. It’ll be a different story for everyone, but the underlying sentiment will be as articulated by Shirley – resilience is with us and evidenced everyday if we stop and reflect on it, we don’t need to find it or try too hard. Just let it take it’s natural course

    Reply

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About Inner Compass

Liz Scott & Stu Newberry are trainers, coaches and speakers. They work with individuals and groups across the UK. They also help develop coaching cultures (founded on wellbeing) within schools and organisations.

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