Working For a Charity course ends

Yesterday I attended the final day of my Working For a Charity Course in London. I recommend it! (My placement with Send a Cow will continue through the Summer.)

 My purpose in doing the course was to gain, or regain, an overview of how the charity sector works, and the course has exceeded my expectations. This has happened not just through the content of the course, and enjoying the many different presenters, but also through enjoying the company of the other fellow travellers (the other eleven course members) and Elaine and Catherine who organised it so well.

It has been great to watch course members grow in understanding, skill, and confidence during the course; and I hope that we shall keep in touch.

As well as learning new facts about the charity sector, it has been good to realise how skills gained in previous voluntary and paid work will transfer into work in the wider charity sector. It has also reminded me of skills that I have that I tend to take for granted – for example in marketing, communications, presenting, and coaching.

I believe in children

and also, it's official, father's are a good thing! (Thanks, Dad!)

Barnardo's, for whom I have much respect, have started a new campaign encouraging us to believe in children and not to write them off. I support this.

According to the report on the BBC news website, this seems to stem from one of those strange examples in British Society where people's perceptions are different to what the statistics say. People perceive that young people are becoming more criminal, while the British Crime Survey indicates that youth crime dropped by 39% between 1995 and 2005.

According to the results of the Barnado's survey, the main threats to a happy childhood are: growing up without a father, being in care, teenage motherhood, and being expelled from school. So the work that they are seeking funding for will, for example, give care to children such that the cycle of expulsion from schools is broken.

While I rejoice at Barnardo's campaign, I find myself disappointed that we are a society that needs to be reminded to nurture children, and hope that the government also will do all that it can to encourage stable family units.

Send a Cow

Today I started work for Send a Cow in Bath. They are an interesting charity developing sustainable farming in Africa, and originally started by farmers from this area. I shall be doing some consultancy work for them, to look at the effectiveness of their fundraising to churches, and it got off to a good start today.

This is a voluntary placement for about 20 days or so spread over the next few months, tied to the Working For a Charity Course.

Take a look also at their fun Cowforce web site, with games and downloads, aimed at schools and children! The jokes are entertaining too.

The charity has diversified from its original work of (literally) sending cows to Africa to work more widely in sustainable agriculture and community development. Livestock, and initiatives such as keyhole gardens and economical clay stoves, help to support and build communites – whether extended families or those orphaned by HIV/AIDS. I like a quote in the Summer 2007 issue of Send a Cow's “Lifeline” newsletter, from an African Farmer: Without peace and love in the home, even meat is bitter!

Grief in organisational change

Just been reading through friends' blogs. I have long understood that much of the way that we respond to any change comes back to the grief process (shock, numbness, guilt, blame, anger, depression (and so on, not in order) through to some kind of “integration” – that is a new understanding of what is going on). This often takes several years. This understanding was developed by Dr Colin Murray Parkes in the 1970's.

So this entry by Mark Berry, about the application of all of this to change in organisations – and “chaos in religious life” in particular – is fascinating.

Gerald Arbuckles “From Chaos to Mission – Refounding Religious Life Formation” (1996)

Trust needed, not clarity

One of the things that I don't like about job-hunting is uncertainty, so I felt chastened by a conversation between John and Mother Teresa.

John has been on a three month pilgrimage to Calcutta to meet MT and to get clarity. He asks her to pray for this.

MT: “No! I will not do that. Clarity is the last thing that you are clinging to and you must let go of it.”

John replies that she always seems so clear about what she should do.

MT: “Oh, I have never had any clarity whatsoever. What I have is trust. So I will pray that you trust Jesus.”

This conversation, between “renowned ethicist” John Cavanagh and Mother Teresa was referred to in a talk by Peter Grieg of 24/7 Prayer delivered at an Alpha event at Holy Trinity Brompton Church. It was printed in Focus, an enclosure in the latest issue of the Church of England Newspaper.