Go For It

Why Do We Do This?

Volunteer GroupLast week, my colleague Mary asked me a blunt question:

“Why do we do this”?

Mary is the Coordinator for our befriending service. We had been discussing how our jobs can present us with to-do-lists that seem as long as Mr Tickle’s arms!

My immediate answer was simple. The need, to continue to do what we do, is apparent every day, when we see the people and groups who come to our Neighbourhood Centre for the various activities and services. As someone whose job entails filling in Grant applications and monitoring and evaluation forms, the benefits and outcomes of the activities we report on, provides something tangible that shows we are making a difference.

God guides your footsteps where you’re meant to be. Elaine, Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre

Afterwards, I reflected that Mary’s question was rhetorical. What we were really asking, was why we specifically choose Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre as our place of work. 2015 marks the Centre’s twentieth year of operation. We currently have 22 paid members of staff. I reckon 13 started working here between 10 and 15 years ago. I know for definite that three of my colleagues have been in post since the day the Centre opened in 1995. I couldn’t begin to count the volunteers, whose contributions over the years are almost immeasurable.

Orbiston SignThat morning, I managed to grab a handful of people, rephrasing the question to ask: “Why do we come to work here“? Admittedly, this was a loaded question. The ethos and origins of Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre are rooted in the community and Christian principles. I anticipated that responses would cite job satisfaction, but what really struck me, was the depth of feeling expressed by staff and Board Members.

It is not just a job, more of a vocation. Marion, Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre

Sheena, our Chair Person, said her involvement as a Board Member follows naturally from her active role in the congregation, and continues the legacy of her late husband, who was integral in the development of the Centre. Tom, our Vice Chair, said the longevity of the staff team and volunteers encourages him to carry on. He feeds off the energy around us.

Irene Gibson, Operations Manager, said it was important to be part of something with a vision. Our mission ‘to bring people together to combat poverty, isolation and intolerance’ is literally written on our wall, to remind us of our purpose.

MarionOur Befriending Team felt the spiritual aspect of our work is tied to building capacity; helping individuals to fulfil their potential. Mary felt that everybody is on a journey: “While we’re on that journey, we should help others with theirs”. Elaine chose to paraphrase a proverb: “God guides your footsteps where you’re meant to be”.

Marion is one of our staff members who started working here in 1995. She told me that the Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre is part of her life. “It is not just a job, more of a vocation”. I think this could be true for any person working in this type of environment.

What do you think?

Robert Piper
Development Officer
Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre, Bellshill, North Lanarkshire

Robert thanks Dorothy, Elaine, Irene, Laura, Marion, Mary, Nunu, Sheena and Tom for their comments.

Mr Tickle (mentioned in the first paragraph) is a character with extraordinarily long arms in a children’s book written and illustrated by Roger Hargreaves.

About Orbiston Neighbourhood Centre

Seaside resizeOrbiston Neighbourhood Centre has used Go For It funding for their project Utheo Ltd (BeFriend In Bellshill). Utheo Ltd helps provide a befriending service; training Befrienders to enable isolated elderly and disabled people to access services, develop increased social networks and live more independent lives.

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