Community | Meaning & Purpose | Shaping Us

Mar 22, 2023 | 0 comments

I can hardly believe we are now well into March with Easter already on the horizon. Following that rather unwelcome last bite of winter, we have finally had some sunshine and warmth here on the Island. It is so lovely to see daffodils in abundance and blossoms starting to bud and bloom. I always feel comforted by these sights, with the promise of Spring just around the corner! I hope the sun is shining for you too. 

March continues to be busy here at Isorropia Foundation. We look forward to welcoming Tasha and the Wellbeing Fayre team for the very first time here at Medina Valley Centre and, as always, it promises to be a wonderful day for our members. Later this month our Community Engagement Volunteer Tasha is attending the Vectis Radio Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony where she is nominated for an award. We wish her so much luck and are delighted that her hard work and dedication to Isorropia Foundation’s Community is being recognised in this way. It is very much deserved.

Purpose and Potential

You may recall that my last post focused on belonging and community, and today’s post is a continuation of that theme. Community is such a big piece in the Isorropia puzzle and is what sets us apart from other mental health services, so it felt only right to shed more light on it. To recap, it is widely known and accepted that a sense of belonging, being part of a community, and giving something back, are all good for our mental health and wellbeing. The latter is something that we at Isorropia Foundation focus on in Key 5 – ‘Connect to Meaning and Purpose in Life’ (See our ‘Keys to Wellbeing’)

Image: Brian Solis Quote

When our CEOs Charlie and Vicki first came to look around MVC they instantly fell in love with it. They met John and Rick, two of the current trustees, and felt a strong sense of connection and shared values of what they felt Medina Valley represented.  For more than twelve months they had been researching and exploring potential sites for us to move to and they spent huge amounts of time and energy considering many different options. When a joint visit with the Youth Trust was suggested, they felt hesitant as they thought it would never be able to become a reality. Happily, the outcome of this visit was positive, with Charlie and Vicki feeling an instant sense of peace and calm and knowing it was the most perfect space for people to heal, find connection, and focus on their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. As a result, not one, but two Island organisations now benefit from all this wonderful site has to offer.

Sigmund Freud once described religion as ‘a form of wish fulfilment’ and, although Isorropia Foundation is a whole world away from religion in what we are as an organisation, wish fulfilment is a description that I feel fits well with what we do. One example would be our ‘Overcoming Low Mood’ workshop where we ask our members to think of the person they used to be before they became unwell, or to picture the kind of person they would love to be. Throughout the Wellbeing Programme, we work with members, empowering them with a wealth of tools and techniques to implement in their own lives to “Transform their Wellbeing – Discover their Purpose – Reach their Potential”. In essence, we do all that we can to aid our members in becoming that version of themselves that they so wish to be.

Ikigai

The School of Life London (www.theschooloflife.com) has recently highlighted the importance of pursuing a career that will be personally fulfilling (The Career Workbook). They point out how upbringing and our past can influence later career choices, highlighting that the right job can give our lives, purpose, and meaning. This is nothing new to us at Isorropia Foundation, but many of the people who come to us have absolutely no idea what their meaning or purpose in life actually is. The School of Life claim that:

“Many of the answers we need to better direct our futures are inside us, but we need help in getting them out, in making sense of them and in assembling them into a plan.”

This is why we are so proud of The Gift Foundation Course here at Isorropia Foundation because it provides that opportunity for our members to gain some focus and guidance in identifying what their passions are, what they want to do with their lives, and how they might go about pursuing those ambitions. Essentially, they are discovering their Ikigai; their meaning and purpose. And that is no small thing!

Ikigai – /ik-ee-guy/  noun

“A reason for being. A combination of values, passions and vocation that give meaning to your life. The reason you get out of bed in the morning”

Empowerment

Prior to The Gift Foundation Course, most of our members will have attended a number of workshops on the Wellbeing Programme. In our ‘Confidence and Self-Esteem’ workshops, we encourage members to consider what ‘Community’ means to them, what they could bring to a community, and what communities outside of Isorropia Foundation they would like to be part of. The aim is to highlight the huge boost that can be felt from identifying a role for yourself within a community, embracing that opportunity, and making it a reality. This, and other exercises on the programme, pave the way towards The Gift Foundation Course, meaning that members are better prepared when they arrive, with some idea already as to what they might want to achieve in their future.

Image: “What brings you joy?”

We also empower our Graduate members, who have completed The Gift Foundation Course, to continue exploring these passions, talents, and interests, with a view to creating additional social groups for our community members to access. We believe that the opportunity to create and lead a social group of their own design is pretty motivational and inspiring. Admittedly, there are still some hurdles to negotiate as we continue to find our feet here at MVC, but rest assured…there are plans taking shape and dreams yet to be pursued as we take a collective stride towards realising Isorropia Foundation’s full potential, as well as that of our members.

Are you feeling inspired yet? What group would you launch if you were given the chance?

Role Models

We pride ourselves on being role models to our members here at Isorropia Foundation and, as such, recently took part in a Team Gift Day. We were asked to consider what brings us joy. Two things stood out to me during our session. One was that despite many of us being lucky enough to have regular ‘me-time’, we didn’t always use this time wisely. All of us could name the things that brought us joy, but few were actually prioritising ‘me-time’ as a time for doing those things. The second point was that many of our ‘joyful’ activities were things that our team had enjoyed way back in childhood, as teenagers, or (for those of us with children) prior to becoming parents. Why is this I wonder?

The Shaping Us Campaign

In my last post, I invited you to dig out a photo of yourselves from your early childhood. This related to the Shaping Us campaign recently launched by the Princess of Wales. This campaign highlights the importance of the first 5 years of a child’s life. In a conversation with Roman Kemp, Catherine described the reasons behind this, stating that it is: “…a critical time to lay the foundations for our future selves”. This is very similar to the way we introduce our first Key to Wellbeing – ‘Create the Foundations of Stability’. It is a simple concept to grasp; if we don’t get the basics right for ourselves (food, water, shelter) then we are going to be hard pushed to achieve any real sense of wellness. This relates back to Maslow’s Hierarchy (see previous post), with Basic Human Needs being essential, ahead of anything else.

Prior to the Shaping Us campaign, Catherine once quoted the African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ It’s an interesting idea that the communities we grow up in play an integral part in who we later become. It’s also surprising how many communities one family can be part of at one time! This certainly struck me when I joined in with the campaign initiative encouraging people to share photos of themselves aged under 5 years. You’ll see here a photo of myself skipping. I would have been around age 4/5 years. It was taken in the garden of the house I was born in; we lived in a rural village in Hampshire. My dad was a member of the Southsea Rowing Club and the Territorial Army. My mum was a prominent figure in the village, having founded the local Playgroup and was part of the Babysitting Circle. My brother was a Cub Scout, later becoming an Army Cadet. I was a gymnast at the local gymnastics club, before joining the Brownies. Perhaps the most important community for us came several years later when we joined Gingerbread (for single-parent families) after my parents divorced, and where joy was found following sadness.

Image: Childhood photo of Wellbeing Coach, Lucy.

If you managed to find a photo, are you able to identify any communities that you and your families were part of at that time? Do you think they ‘shaped’ you at all and if so, in what ways?  

Ripple Effect

In ‘Shaping Us’ we, as a society, are encouraged to support families and parents in our local communities to enable them the best chance of raising happier children with brighter futures. This is a big part of our work at Isorropia Foundation. As a society, this campaign encourages us to create a supportive, nurturing world around the child and the carer and although not all our members are parents, many are. We also have members who have nieces and nephews or are old enough to have grandchildren. Some of our members are young enough to have younger siblings at home of school age. So we are aware of the families our members return home to after our workshops. We are also very aware of the ripple effect that can result from the work we do. As such, we have an upcoming opportunity for the general public to attend a fully-funded Community Wellbeing Event, ‘The Gift Foundation Course’, and in advertising this we encourage people to sign up, if not for their own mental health and wellbeing, then for the benefits they could pass on to others at home or in their wider social circles.

We are not yet working directly with young children but this is something that we, as an organisation, are passionate about and actively working towards. This month has seen the exciting development of a new role for our Senior Wellbeing Coach, Lisa Fennessey, who is now working collaboratively with the IOW Youth Trust as our Children and Young Persons Transitions Co-ordinator. Lisa will be taking Isorropia Foundation’s message out to a new audience, including 16–18-year-olds. This is in addition to the work Lisa has already undertaken with IOWYT and John Cattle Skate Club for the Skateboarding Project, which combined the benefits of engaging in a sport and discussions around wellbeing.

Image: deck design session, The Skating Project

These are very exciting times and we look forward to seeing where this new direction takes us – hopefully we will soon be empowering members from an even younger age. For the time being, we take comfort from the fact that we are doing the best we can for children in our local community by empowering their parents and other family members to learn as much as they can about wellness and wellbeing maintenance, trusting that the message will filter through.  

Appreciation

I thought it would be lovely to sign off this month with a little insight into what our wonderful volunteers have been getting up to. It is so rewarding to see our members thriving under Isorropia’s community umbrella and out in their own communities, following graduation.

We have recently benefitted from the talents of Graduate members who have volunteered to:

  • cut hair for free (Di Schwulst) and paint nails (Tasha West) at our Wellbeing Fayres supporting members with self-care and pampering
  • provide fun karaoke opportunities both inside Isorropia Foundation and out in the wider Island community at Aspire Ryde’s Creative Hub (John Fisher) providing social connection with the joy of singing
  • create homemade draft excluders and heat packs throughout the winter months to help keep our members warm and cosy (Stitching with Nay – Sewing Group members)
Image: Graduate member cutting hair at our Wellbeing Fayre

Our Chronic Pain group leader, Julie, continues to explore her lifelong passion for all things Viking/Dark Ages through her participation in the Re-enactment group ‘Wolfguard’. Julie is a highly valued member of this active community, having joined over 30 years ago! (see ‘Wolfguard‘ on Facebook for events). We have previously benefited from their wisdom and knowledge through Living History talks at our Wellbeing Fayres.

We have also welcomed a new cohort of Mentors who will be attending workshops alongside new members who feel they need a little more reassurance when first embarking on their wellness journey.

Keep up the great work everyone; you are so valued and your efforts are appreciated beyond measure. We are so very proud of you all.

I shall bid you farewell for now, until next time, as I’m eager to get into the kitchen…a little birdie told me there’s a baking competition planned for our next Wellbeing Fayre! So, if baking is your thing, why not whip something up and let me know how it goes in the comments. I’m always up for trying new ideas (must be that core value – Adopt an Open and Positive Mindset coming through!) Happy Baking everyone…

Catch up again soon,

Lucy xx

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