Framework sections highlighted: Listening

Sami’s Story – Learning to Listen

As a Community Organising Officer at Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust it is Sami's role to reach out to the community and before she could do this, she had to ask herself many questions. How could she get to know her community? How and where could she meet people? And how could she start these conversations?

The Award in community organising has given her the answers to those questions and the framework in which to do it. She has even trialled door knocking, which she was worried about, as thought it might be invasive. 

It was amazing how people did talk, and even those that closed their doors, I bumped into later at a community event, and they recognised me and began talking to me. It has given me real insight and I have started to build up a picture of the community. There are a lot of lonely people out there and door knocking enabled me to reach out to those people. 

She has met many people who didn’t feel connected to their area and one lady hadn’t been out of her house for 2 years. She would not have met her had she not knocked on her door. She is also going to trial other approaches and plans to set up public living room outside of the local Tesco and invite people in for a cup of tea and chat. Sami felt that it was the same people that take part in Wildlife Trust activities so this will enable her to reach out beyond the usual people and give others the chance to tell their stories. 

The Award has shown her how pivotal listening is and to trust the process. It takes time to build trust and relationships, but it she feels it is important to trust local people to make the changes they want to see and for them to have ownership over any activities in their community. 

Personally, the Award has had a massive impact on me. It has given me a real appreciation of human beings and has brought me out of my comfort zone, pushing my boundaries to go out and knock-on doors. The sessions with my peers really pick me up, as we encourage each other and learn what works from each other’s experiences. Above all it has shown me how important community is to people and how essential it is that people feel connected to each other and the place they live.

Since this story, Sami successfully carried out a public living room outside a local Tesco, in partnership with RSPB Lake Vyrnwy Efyrnwy and listened to many Welshpool residents.

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