Charities must do more than survive, we must change too

I’ve been immersed in my new role at Mayday Trust for over a month now, getting to know the team and understanding Mayday’s unique approach to strengths-based working. We offer a carefully co-designed model of strengths-based ‘PTS’ coaching to individuals, and support other organisations to adopt and embed that model, which enables workers and the people they work with to co-design a support relationship which works for that person, builds on their strengths and in which they feel in control, not labelled, risk-assessed, pathway-ed or pipelined. And we work with partners to design more human, empowering and connecting support organisations and systems, to replace public service models which work for organisations, rather than for people.

I’ve had some of my long-held assumptions and beliefs challenged, which is a big part of what Mayday exists for! As a team we are starting to shape a rejuvenated work programme that we will be relaunching soon. With our New System Alliance partners in Wales (Platfform) and Homeless Network Scotland, we are also holding a free seminar on March 3rd on learning from the PTS response, based on an independent evaluation by new economics foundation (nef), which will have lots of practical lessons and suggested actions for charities interested in going on their own transformation journey.

In the meantime, our colleagues at NCVO have published a blog I wrote with help from Cat Harwood-Smith following a session I facilitated for British Red Cross about how charities can get really ambitious about strengths- and assets-based working, based on a report for NCVO and RSA called Meeting as Equals.

Core business for BRC is disaster response, which presents some challenges for asset-based working. Crisis response usually needs to be rapid, pre-planned and highly structured. A crisis can be a very appropriate time for top-down, command and control leadership. If your living room is under three feet of dirty water, you want essentials to arrive now, rather than to embark on a lengthy discussion first. Perhaps as a result, the disaster response sector has not always been the first to embrace ideas like co-production. Throughout the pandemic, the huge surge in people coming forward through mutual aid and other informal groups has shown us that ordinary people will self-organise and step up, often without the input of an organisation or charity. So what does asset-based disaster-response work look like? British Red Cross are on a really interesting journey to find the answer to that question. The full blog is here:

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