OPINION: Discovering the treasures of Your Local Community

Liz Baldwin works at St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich

Dr Joe Sawyer sets out compassionate communities in his column for St Elizabeth Hospice. - Credit: St Elizabeth Hospice

Compassionate Communities are all about the people living in local places taking some responsibility for each other and the local resource. Rather than being a new model of care, they are a description of how local residents live together in a way that helps to inspire and grow local resource.

We may need such resources during times of difficulty and stress. However, these are also the times when we often have little energy to reach out for support. This is where Compassionate Communities are so vital and where they are different to the professional support services we have grown used to.

Where we are held in connection with the skills and expertise of local residents, the parks and natural spaces and the economic resources of a local community, we might discover what we have before thinking what we need.

Dr Joe Saywer speaks about compassionate communities in his column for St Elizabeth Hospice.

Dr Joe Saywer speaks about compassionate communities in his column for St Elizabeth Hospice. - Credit: St Elizabeth Hospice

Coming alongside the natural rhythm of a community in this way ultimately means that we become part of it. At the times in our life where we lose our footing, or when we feel lost or alone, we are then never too far away from a network of resource that can help us navigate through the darker times of life. Whether it’s a walk in Christchurch Park, a trip to the seashore or a friendly ‘hello, how are you?’ from your neighbour, being better connected might unlock some of the helping, healing resources our community offers.

Setting aside preconceived ideas of what communities need to make them better and coming alongside them to understand what they already have requires a change in approach. It is the opposite of diagnosing, fixing and prescribing change, it is realising that which makes us strong and strengthening it.


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St Elizabeth Hospice are currently helping to compose a treasure map of your very own Compassionate Community which shows us and connects us to a range of wonderful resources that already exist. If you would like to be on the map, or to take part in designing it please visit keep your eyes on the Compassionate Communities website www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/compassion

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