Watch your language!
Blog posted by: Collaborate CIC, 10 April 2019.
In our new report, Exploring the New World, we identify how funders, commissioners and organisations working in complex environments are fundamentally rethinking the design and delivery of support. Not only does this require new mindsets, skills, relationships and processes, but also a new language that supports human, collaborative, strengths-based practice.
Lynn Mumford, Development Director at the Mayday Trust, explains how language has been central to forging a new relationship with the people they work with.
In 2011, prompted by austerity, but driven by mission, we took a long, hard and honest look at who we were as a regional housing-related support organisation. When we really listened to what people said (not just what we wanted to hear) we heard that the process once someone became homeless was humiliating, dehumanising and at worst, institutionalising. People were becoming trapped in homeless services. People were also staying homeless too long — the results just weren’t good enough. We captured what we heard in a blog series called Wisdom from the Street.
We couldn’t ignore this and decided to see if we could do something really different. Not just a new project or programme, but a fundamental shift in how we worked with people and how we behaved as an organisation. A way in which people could genuinely take back control, build on their strengths to find a new self-identity, find good networks and a purpose, by-pass the sausage machine of services and get on with their lives in the real world.
Over a period of 7 years, we scrapped our old deficit way of working and prototyped a radically new personalised and strength-based approach to homelessness and tough times, the Personal Transitions Service (PTS). What we didn’t realise at the start was that it would demand the complete organisational transformation to our systems, processes, people, culture… and language.
Language can have an enormous impact, not only on the culture of an organisation and the people that work there, but also on individuals working with us and how they feel about themselves.
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