The intervenor’s motto…”do with, not for”>

I had thought in our modern, participative and engaged culture, the intervenor’s motto would be both common knowledge and common practice. All it means is that you get better outcomes/more change/ better understanding, if you work with your subject, rather than do things for them.

This has not always been the case and a lot of help and therapy based in the last century is based on the discredited notion of “tell them, show them, make them”. Perhaps I should say, I hope it’s discredited; it’s certainly wrong and doesn’t work well where it’s most at home, in teaching. Counsellors get it, with their commitment to an “unconditional positive regard” for their clients, but do the rest of us?

It cropped up in a my Blog about the founding of the Welfare State where the engagement bit was certainly missed and the mission to serve was certainly dominant, as exemplified in a paternalistic health and welfare profession who not only know what’s best but are constantly trying to find new ways to improve “patient compliance”. Everyone knows (don’t they?) that the best way to improve this is to get the patient to understand what you are up to, engage them in understanding what’s making them ill and seek their help in curing it. It’s not that complicated but it takes longer than signing a prescription with the words “two times a day and finish the bottle”. So many of our modern ills are self-inflicted own-goals (obesity, type 2 diabetes, lung cancer, alcoholism, addiction to prescription drugs) that the role of the patient in any “cure“ is pretty obvious… or it certainly should be.

But in spite of my suppositions, I keep coming across areas where either no-one appears to have heard of the motto or if they have they certainly aren’t practicing it and are about to make things go wrong, badly wrong.

Just two will do…no names. A large and very caring national organisation is involved in setting up services for refugees, where refugees have only incidentally been involved in the creation of the programme. The question of how to ensure this service will be done “with, not for” has just been raised…… just before the service goes live!

And, at a meeting of committed organisations in a town keen to up-their-game in the provision of services to refugees and asylum seekers who have systematically reviewed what they do and reached a conclusion on what they should do to achieve better outcomes for their clients/customers. Hardly believably, the list does not include education or employment they very issue Growing Points gets asked about by most of our customers; but again the services were self-reviewed; no refugees were involved.

One of the reasons we are so keen at Growing Points on our new pilot anti-poverty programme Flourishing Families is because not only do we not help but we insist that the families work out what they need to do to get out of poverty and to stay there. The findings of the programme in the States that inspired us, is that poor families make good decisions give the space and support to do so.

And they will get plenty of “with” from us!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *