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Our September Newsletter is out!

This month we’re talking about lifelong learning.

  • New Event: What is Local Area Coordination?
  • Innovations in community-centered support
  • The Lookout – Exploring young people’s experience of the pandemic
  • and more…

Read all about it

A note from Nick

Building Blocks of Better: Lifelong learning

Hello and thank you so much for stopping to take a read of this month’s Local Area Coordination Newsletter.

Loads of good stuff is going on and I hope you continue find it a useful resource.  My thanks, as always, to our wonderful Network Coordinator Rachel Tait for putting this together so beautifully.

This month we have been continuing our reflections on the principles of Local Area Coordination by looking at “Lifelong Learning” where we say “all people have a life-long capacity for learning, development and contribution.”

Serena Jones, a long-standing supporter of Local Area Coordination from Coastal Housing in South Wales kindly shared her reflections on this at our conference last December.  She did so through the lens of her own personal journey reflecting on her learning and experiences along the way. Serena’s reflections were both moving and poignant, but moreover a wonderful and timely reminder of the power of embracing lifelong learning. I was particularly struck by this bit of Serena’s reflections where she outlined what learning really meant to her.

“Learning is connecting. With people, ideas and opportunities. It can be in the micro exchanges between neighbours discovering shared interests and passions, or in the macro exchanges of whole organisations shifting direction because of what’s been learned.”

“Learning is an exchange. Often an exchange of time or trust. An investment in a relationship, or a community, or an institution to bring about personal development or advancement. But rarely do we see learning in such an expansive way. We’re constrained and conditioned into equating learning with qualifications, passing exams, and tests and while there is no doubt those have value, the principle of learning is much vaster and how can it not be lifelong?”


How indeed?!

So often we sadly carry lifelong scars from our formal educational experiences that have led us to equate learning in narrow terms. We might feel we have failed ourselves, others and not realised our potential. This is probably because that’s what we’ve been told by people who in some perverse way thought it would be motivating to hear such nonsense. Sadly, this can leave us with a debilitating lack of confidence in certain areas of our lives that hang heavy over us affecting our opportunities and outlook ahead. It is for that reason it is so important that we are able to understand and celebrate learning in all its forms. This means being alongside each other as we take steps to discover or re-discover who we are, what matters to us, and what gifts we have to contribute.

As Serena points out, of course formal qualifications have value, they can be important boosts to our confidence and open up doors. For me though, the true value in learning comes when I have people alongside me who are willing to listen, take interest, challenge and cheer me on at different intervals along my own lifelong learning journey. This is very much what Local Area Coordinators set out to do with the people they are alongside. However, I routinely hear from Coordinators how those rich relationships and experience have taken them to places they never expected on their own lifelong learning journeys too. This is one of the many reasons why the role is such a privileged one and something we must never overlook or take for granted.

Thank you,
Nick Sinclair