I was sitting with a small number of staff and volunteers a few weeks ago who work alongside people who are experiencing social isolation, which has been exacerbated by COVID. We were reflecting on the challenge of gathering face to face and if we had to find a different way, what was important in our continuing work with people.
It became very clear that authentic relationship with others in our communities is imperative and a cornerstone of everything that we do. This was described as ‘a lot of listening’, genuine interest in each person’s story, meeting people in their everyday experiences, and building of trust. This is not only for our work in the community but with each other as workers, volunteers, and stakeholders.
For me, this also means that we collectively value the spirit of each individual and the spirit of this emerging organisation. We have more than a passing interest in people’s relationship to the world and how their own story fits with our combined story. We value building relationships, and reflecting on them, as part of our ‘productivity.’ This includes time to deeply listen to each other and the world so that we can bring our gifts to our work, invite others to bring theirs, and affect positive change.
We could say it is ‘part of our DNA’ and a legacy that we bring with us from the Christian Brothers, whose values of presence and compassion have nurtured us and provided guidance as we develop our own identity as ERCS.
As you read through the stories in this newsletter, I invite you to listen to the authenticity of relationship, as we tell the stories of engagement across our communities in recent months, despite the continuing disruption of COVID. The resilience demonstrated indicates that we are well-positioned to listen, respond and plan for the future.
- Andrée Brown, ERCS CEO