We’ve been thinking about changing the way that we describe some of our work. We have a name for our organisation, but we generally also try to find something that defines each part of what we do.
Our supported accommodation is very much about young people who are willing to challenge themselves a bit and build better lives before they move on from us.
‘Hostel’ seems such an old-fashioned word. And it’s really no longer just about giving someone a bed. It’s also about – as the Emmaus people say – helping people to find a reason to get out of it too.
So we did what we do when there’s something meaty to grapple with and got some of the young people together to talk with us and each other about it.
I crossed out Project on the list of possibilities. In my head, I’d been half-using ‘Supported Accommodation Project’ for a couple of weeks. I felt a bit deflated, but then on the other hand there’s a kind of buzz in the air when we can get people talking about things that they feel really passionate about.
I’m never keen on consultation for the sake of it. I like to ask for views when I know that we’re going to use them in some way. And sometimes I ask for them because I’m totally stumped myself and need some better minds than mine to give me something different.
I like that they don’t have any of the gentle protocols that our Board have.
There’s no speaking in turn or holding back out of politeness. There’s no saying something just to offer a contribution and move the meeting on. We have to work harder, be prepared to let the meeting flow in its own way. Help them to explore things fully and pull some conclusions together.
They speak with authority because they can do. All of it’s from genuine knowledge of living with us and with each other and having a real clear understanding of how that works for them. Sometimes that authority spills into some very assertive arguments. It gets heated, and it sometimes becomes personal, but it’s all part of the process of learning to debate.
We covered a few of the usual bits; why unlimited visitor numbers weren’t a good idea, why it’s not good form to come to the office in pyjamas, why having a Hostel dog would lead to all sorts of problems (although that’s the one that I’m always very secretly tempted by).
And then we had to finish so that those who would admit to it (and probably a few more besides) could leave in time to dash off and catch up with Glee.
Leaving me wondering whether, if the word ‘Project’ really is so bad, there’s anything better.
Photo by Stinging Eyes