Wednesday, 9 April 2014

empowerment, emancipation and lifelong learning (in the real world)

That's what being a community worker was all about in the Scotland that I worked in and was involved with from 1980 up to 2008.  Land of the free where anything seemed possible if you had the will to do it and persisted in it.

I remember in one of my last paid jobs, in Adam Smith/Fife College 2006/8, where I set up and managed a student mentoring project, also found work placements for students with disabilities and others who were long-term unemployed, that a manager said to me I'd never be able to find placements because the last person wasn't able to.

Well, I thought, what a daft thing to say and didn't believe it.  I found many placements for students, some of whom got jobs out of it.  Others had a life affirming experience being treated with dignity in a workplace, learning to be part of a team.  Here are a couple of newspaper article about a placement at KingdomFM, for which I wrote the strapline, and another one about a workshop I organised in the Leven campus:

see me front right!

I had a great time working at the college where I also achieved another postgraduate qualification, in care lecturing.  I went from this emancipatory setting, which had hierarchical stuff going on, into Scotland's mental health world as a recovery trainer, promoting the peer support model.  

And came face-to-face with a bullying, discriminating environment where I was excluded from many meetings and events for being myself.  Much of this badmouthing and backstabbing came from the user movement and the hangers-on.  I soon learnt to watch my back and practise my skills as a resistance fighter.

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