Learning the Art of Writing

Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Just the beginning..

Psychic Healing

The black door opened  a small wiry women looked nervously at me and she stood aside and asked me in,  I stood on the threshold of this small empty house and the smell of neglect sept through the walls straight into my nostrils

We moved into a small hallway littered with cigarette ends and discarded hair and as she led me to the sitting room the smell was distracting.  She offer me a seat and we sat for a second, I looked deeply into her eyes,  the pain was there naked and raw. I told her a little of what I do and what to expect and asked her name ” Oh I’m Sheila” her hands were trembling and she seemed cold and exhausted

“The love you have shared is eternal regardless of the situation”,

I said in reassurance and a tear ran freely down her cheek. I held her hand for a second, a watery smile surfaced into view has the sun struggled through the dirt stained window into the room.

I wanted to tell her about what I had for her in the future but somehow it didn’t seem right to take her feelings  and dismiss them by moving too quickly over them. I was curious  to know her story, and happy to feel the elders come around me and hear their voices guiding me to help in which ever way I could.

A girl of about 10 appeared at the side of her, She had her mothers eyes and I could  hear he sayings “Tell her I love her and that I am happy and at peace ” she smiled and then said her name “Jessie without me having to ask.

I look directly at Sheila and repeated what her daughter had said  and a stream of information came through, all evidence that that this mother needed  and I began giving her the messages her deceased child was telling me.  Her shocked face changed and lit up as the words could only have come from the child and she knew then she was with her. The child said she  had no recollection of her death just that at first she missed her Mum so much. She told her that she was not happy  that the house looked so neglected and she wanted her to know that she cared that her Mum was not happy.

Soon the little girl had given her message and left and now it was time to shuffle the Tarot cards

Slowly has we proceeded she began to relax and seemed in a better place than when I had first arrived and so the hour passed quickly. With the tarot cards spread out in front of her she looked unsure, I spoke gently to her and I had asked her to shuffle the cards and pull out  three cards. We lay the cards on the table and looked at them

She laid her hands on the first card and said “What does that mean” It was the 9 of Swords it meant the pain she had suffered at the loss of her only daughter and the other losses she had suffer soon surfaced. Her story began to unfold and slowly and quietly she spoke of  her husband who left shortly after the child’s death and how ill her own Mother was then, also how a friend had let her down and how difficult it had been for her to face life in isolation. Tears now ran freely down her face.

The Moon was the second card in the trilogy and this card  for her in this place in the reading  shows the result of all the pain and loss she felt and had turned into a deepening depression she had endured and not been able to escape or even understand.

The third card was the 10 of Wands and this signified  the burdens she had carried and how she had made herself  responsible for all the ills that had besieged her and how she then made it very difficult to heal.

As we passed through the cards her appearance changed, she became more animated and moved closer to the tabel. She told her tale well and at the end the very last three cards were place on the tabel and she suddenly smiled as if she knew what I was going to say.. The Ace of Wands is bright with expectation, growth and new beginnings and it  appearance made it impossible for me to think in a negative way about this women’s life.  With a lighter heart  I had  decided to try to move her forward,  after all it was part of the deal: just not too quickly.

I asked her where she thought she might start in piecing her life back together, because it was very obvious that she had a great future in front of her and I needed her to mark it herself. She took a deep breath in and said ” I have no idea,I feel stuck I full of grief  for so long, I had not believed that I could have a future at all”

The Justice card lay at the side of the first card and I asked her if she felt like she was doing herself justice, ” Of course not “she shook her head and said she couldn’t  eat properly, or anything else at that moment. A large sigh escaped and she twisted the handkerchief in her hand, and she looked at me as if a penny had just dropped and she stared off into a space which gave ups it secrets and gave her a vision of what she would need to do to get her life back.

The third card  felt warm in my hand and I became excited, I sometime sense what is coming before I turn a card over and this was the opening  I needed to explain what she could expect in the near future. As I spoke I could see disbelief in her eyes I carried on knowing I needed  to bring her back to herself some how.

The Ace of Cups represents the birth of self love and the new seed of loving feelings being born. It is a card of  expanding  emotions  and because it appeared in the third slot  as her future card it was ideal to open up the conversation about how she would experience this in her new future. It was there to let  her know that she needed to bring in the love that was sadly missing, the love for herself began with forgiveness I reminded her. How could she been totally reponsible for other peoples actions and that being so isolated had created her mind set. I wanted her to know that she was loved no matter what she thought and even though I knew and said she was loved for just for being alive . She looked at me with a disbelief and getting her to acknowledge she need help with this turn around was perhaps one of the largest mountains I have had to climb for sometime..

Today I met Sheila for coffee, she always brings me flowers. She looked so different from the first time I met her. At peace and now in love.


Facilitators must be

Your Life, Your Work, Your Future



Facilitators’ Guide




People who use this self development pack are involved in learning as they are developing insights into themselves, their needs, their hopes and their ambitions.


Adults learn in complex ways, but one of the best and most supportive methods involves using past experience to provide the basis for reflection, coming to decisions and planning further experiences – that is further development.  This pack aims to use this learning style whilst allowing for delivery of appropriate new information.


This means that facilitators supporting users must remind themselves of some of the characteristics of effective facilitation.


Facilitators are enablers they must :






Give clear instructions

Be ready to clarify and explain


Be flexible

Be adaptive

Be able to listen


Be able to modify and change in response to the group’s needs


Be supportive

Give praise and encouragement

Guide, but not direct

Suggest but not tell


Support individual development

Signpost new routes and avenues for the learners.


Facilitators, in short, must serve the learners by providing the right conditions to support effective learning.  They must have a positive attitude towards learners and their needs; knowledge of the learners, of method and of content; resources using self, learners, the environment and appropriate material and, lastly, the imagination to use the material in as exciting and interesting a way as possible.

The pack is designed to benefit people in work who want to think about their current position, their skills and previous learning and their future.  It should allow them to assess where they are, what their skills and abilities potentially fit them for and start them on the process of planning their progression.


It is useable by persons of different backgrounds and attainments and has, as a part of it, an introductory module for those who need some additional support in getting started.


There is a benefit to be gained by employers as well, in that a motivated and forward looking workforce will be more productive than one which is depressed, introverted and convinced that there is little or no progress for individuals.  Developing and bringing forwards staff from within, rather than depending on outside recruitment is a cost effective way of creating a skilled workforce!


Using the pack


The main pack is laid out in 7 sections with an introduction and asks the user to carry out a series of exercises leading to the production of a learning action plan. 


The introductory module is shorter, looks at fewer variables and leads to development of a short term plan.  It is designed to help those who have little experience of this type of learning and should allow them to move on to the main pack, if they wish.


The exercises are accompanied by text explaining how to use the pack and, in some cases, offering suggestions for responses.  Much of the guide for facilitators, therefore, is included in the pack.


Group Size :


Learners doing this kind of work will benefit from a supportive atmosphere so small groups (no more than 6-8?) are probably best.  Individual learners are likely to need advice and support but also a listener, so set aside time for this.


Room layout


Each participant needs their own space, but also needs to be able to interact with the group, so an arrangement that allows writing space for individual exercises whilst letting the group interact would be best – a horse-shoe of tables, perhaps?


Delivery mechanism


This is group work so discussion followed by reflection will be the key.  As facilitator, you will need to act as a resource and stimulant, not as a director and be willing to offer individual support, as needed.


Timing :


This will vary with circumstances.  Responses are individual, so some may need more time than others.  With support, the introductory module should take 2-3 hours or less and the main pack can be finished in a day.


It may be that the main pack will work best for some people over a series of sessions on different days.


You will know the group or individuals.  You must decide, as part of your planning, how to handle this.


Teaching aids needed :


With a group some form of recording group responses, such as a flip-chart or board will be needed, together with whatever supporting material you chose to use and appropriate display technology


It would be wise to have some ice-breaking exercises on hand, for any new group.


The facilitator will need information resources on training, learning and guidance opportunities, systems and agencies any on any other matters which the exercises might raise.


The exercises :


It is important to emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers to any exercises.  This is stated in the pack (under “Using this pack”).


Each exercise needs to be worked through in the most appropriate way.


In the following pages, you will find some suggestions to help you and the users.


Main Pack


Section 1


This section deals with the participants present position, how they reached it  and what skills they have.


As such, it is as fairly individual exercise, but group discussion around skills and how to define them will be useful, particularly if the group already know each other.


To help in identification of skills, pairs work, particularly in defining skills at work, could be helpful.


In the text, there is a list of skills.  This is not an exhaustive list but can, and should, be added to in relation to the group being worked with.  There does not seem to be any benefit to be gained from adding to the suggestions here, as a definitive list would be very long.


It is worth remembering, however, that we are asking individuals to define their skills, in their terms so, make allowances for this.


Section 2


This section covers learning and the text offers a fair degree of guidance.


A discussion around learning and the terms used in the text will greatly aid the individual work in this section, so you should consider starting with this.


It might also help if the completion of the first table in this section was done as a group exercise, so allowing for discussion of each learning skill in turn.


The second table has several examples in the text, but you may need to think up other, more locally appropriate ones.  Again, some support may be needed in completing “What I learnt”.


The third table may need some explanations of the terms, but should be straightforward and the final questions could be dealt with individually or could form the basis for a group discussion.


Section 3


This deals with changing skills and, as such, is particular to the individual, at least in the first part.  If the earlier sections have been completed successfully, then the first table in this section should not offer any problems. 


The second table will need a little time for participants to reflect before completing it and a chance to talk it through with another group member will help.


The rest of this section deals with changes at work.  If the group all come from the same employer, then a group discussion will develop material to help answer the questions.  If this is not the case, then a more general discussion, followed by one to one work might be more appropriate.


Section 4


This is a very individual section so, apart from the introduction, group work may not be appropriate here.  If the group do want, however, to discuss the results of their individual consideration, and all are happy to do so, then fine, but approach this, and this whole section, with care.


There are some suggestions for factors in the tables written in the text.  To suggest more, without knowing about the groups involved, would not be appropriate in this guide.  The facilitator will need to have some ideas based upon his/her knowledge of the group.


Section 5


This section starts the process of planning.  The text is self explanatory, and a preliminary discussion with the group will enable completion of the next stage, as individuals complete the exercises.


The list of formal chances is fairly complete, but there may be some that are not included, so feel free to add them.


The informal chance lists have been left empty deliberately.  The participants need to realise that almost anything can be a chance to learn, so try to guide a discussion along this line.  It is worth pointing out that several of the chances cited as formal may, in some circumstances, be informal chances.


As an aid, here are a few other possible chances of informal learning :


Making mistakes; going to conferences, dealing with people, domestic tasks, meeting people, interviewing, coping with change, project work, planning, being appraised, making decisions ……. The list could be endless!


The columns headed “I will do this by” can only be filled out with local knowledge of systems, opportunities and, perhaps, individuals so the facilitators will have to come up with suggestions.


The table “Who can help me learn” is a generalised list.  Facilitators should add local organisations, as appropriate.


Section 6 :


Is individual, so facilitators will need to plan group by group and person by person.


Section 7


Section 7 rounds up the work done previously.  The individual learners need space to make their plans and to come to decisions.  It is not likely that group discussion will help much here, so be prepared to advise individuals.  Mind you, it may be that participants want to talk to each other and so support each other in this so, if this is the case, then encourage it.


As with other sections, the facilitator will need to have resources providing the information needed to answer questions about learning opportunities, sources of advice, providers of services, accreditation systems and so on.


The outcome, for each learner, should be an individually designed learning action plan which has been derived from the individuals past experience, present situation and needs and reflects their realistic ambitions.



Introductory Module


In a way, this is a simplified version of the main pack, dealing with some, but not all of the areas covered in it.


The facilitative methods, therefore, are the same as for the main pack, and all of the comments in the earlier part of this guide hold.


Because the people using the introductory pack may be a little less experienced, more support may be needed and it will be particularly important to create a supportive group environment


The introductory module does reflect some of the sections of the main pack.  You will find the information you need to help you deliver this module in the corresponding sections.




This material is not intended to be directive.  The pack must be used as an enabling agent for individuals.  Because of this, it is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules for delivery.  This guide tries to offer some suggestions which might help but, in the end, it will be local facilitators, who know about local needs and local opportunities and systems who, together with the learners, decide how this work should be delivered and developed. 





What I do best


Supporting Statement




s a qualified and experienced Facilitator, Community Development Worker and Volunteer Manager, with a background in community centre management, workshop design, and people skills I have developed and supported groups, volunteers and individuals.


Having worked in a variety of settings and roles for a wide sector of community organisations, and with an extensive understanding of  working structures  have developed both organisational and administrative systems which have promoted a high level of learning from both practice and experience.


     Through experiencing volunteering and paid work as an activist and reflective practitioner, I have developed both skill and knowledge to

     know that I can confidentially undertake the role of Community Development Officer in this community to a high level.


    The various roles undertaken in my last post has equipped me with the ability to build relationships within these  communities  so that I could be effective as a group member and a lone worker promoting social inclusion and being aware of the results of social exclusion.


My practice as a Community Development Worker starts from the base line of empowerment, building self-esteem, confidence and skills in those individuals who have a need to be active in their communities.


In my role as Volunteer Manager I have been capable of developing services, activities and events that have reflected the groups, volunteers and individuals need to come together around a common aim and be proactive in dealing with problems, learning to network, learning to use their voice and train to a good standard. I have had experience of developing the Quality Standards for both Volunteering and Information Guidance and Advice.


As a Centre Manager I able to access funding from a variety of funding streams and developed groups that created some sustainability for the centre, by bring in revenue through bookings and use of resources.



Eight groups were developed which met all the floor targets for the Government’s Renewal Process, and it was the reason that the centre was opened by the local neighbourhood management team which helped to meet the need within the community for access to Information Advice and Guidance, Services and Activities that “help build better communities.”


 The groups developed in the focus point included:


Point Training: A training group that developed the policies and procedures for the centre and the volunteers many of whom had disabilities and were vulnerable adults.  Theses policies needed to reflect their needs and protect them whilst working in the public domain. A volunteer hand book was developed for the weekly training sessions which included Life skills, Equal Opportunities, Dealing with Conflict, Transferable skills, Problem Solving, Health and Safety, Disability Awareness and Undertaking Risk Assessments.

 £56,000.00 was accessed to train these volunteers.

Get Active for Recycled Teenagers: A older volunteer who had felt excluded within her community , wanted something that would meet the needs of older people in the area.  It served to bring older people together to go walking and visiting different venues and developed into a friendship group. This lady was 78 when she began this group having never volunteered before; she formed a group and on a monthly basis over the two years took over 300 people out. She accessed £25,000.00 from the Community Chest and other funding streams.


Women Unite (making a difference):

Began in April 2004 and worked with their right and responsibilities in the community and developed a 12 week workshop to build self esteem, assertiveness skills safety and equal opportunities training. This was very successfully as there was no other group of this type in Mansfield.  Women’s Groups from both Nottingham and Derby came to support the open day. This group accessed and fund raised over £14,000.00 to develop these workshops and had over 30 full time members.

Zone One Youth Group:  

Working with the Youth Service the centre opened a cyber café in the evenings for young people.  The outcome was that a range of service providers, councillors and volunteers  came together to work on how to engage young people in the area and how to provide services for these young people. This proved to be at success with a new building being developed to provide these services.  £28,000.00 was accessed to develop the Youth Centre.




Neighbourhood Management Team:

Developing Action Plans and writing minutes, and reports, gaining charitable status, developing sustainability, business planning and training in Committee skills, were the areas I worked mostly with this group. The sub group from this team had line management responsibility for the centre and they met quarterly.


Turning Point:

 A Focus Point or One Stop Shop used extensively with over 16,000 visitors in the first two years of opening. We developed the Quality mark for Information Advice and Guidance, and training sessions for volunteers and members of the public on a Friday.  A friendly open atmosphere and a great deal of friendships and alliances were created because of this initiative. £69,000.00 of funding was accessed in order to equip the centre with the resources needed to develop skills.


The Newsletter group:

This was a changing and dynamic group of people who produced three newsletters and the publicity for the centre.  £9,000.00 was accessed from various sources to develop communication skills.   A website was supplies by MASP (Mansfield Area Strategic Partnership).

Over sixty volunteers who had little or no experience of volunteering worked together to create partnerships and networks with a wide variety of people these included PCT, Police, Colleges, Welfare Rights Groups, Mansfield CVS,

Enable, Help the Aged and many more. Match funding of some £50.000.00 would have been needed to create what the volunteers created by giving their time free.

I also represented the Management Team at the Mansfield Community Empowerment Network, the West Area Assembly and the Community Development Workers Forum.

In April we had an open day for The Year of the Volunteer with the theme of what volunteering had done for them and all those involved presented power point presentations.

It was a celebration of the work they had all done, over 60 people attended.

 In May of this year I finished the first year of a Foundation Degree in Regeneration and Community at Derby University and through West Notts College, Nottingham Learning and Skills Council and MASP,

I was nominated as Learner of the Year overall for Mansfield 2005.

I feel that I have the right attitude, motivation and skills to develop the post of Community Development Officer and would welcome the opportunity to do so.



This year I have undertake a project in a deprived area of Nottingham City, the Best Companions Befriending and Visiting Service is a service for elderly and isolated people of two local housing estates, Leen Valley and Bestwood Estate, which is a large area with some 900 houses, high unemployment and low educational attainment.

Some 12 volunteers have bee recruited since Feb. 2006, trained vetted and become a group working toward providing a good service.

Funding is the next big issue so hope to up date soon.