It seems they always had been, and would always be, friends. Time could change much but not that – Winnie the Pooh
It was a bright sunny Monday morning and everyone was in good spirits after the weekend. There was a sense of anticipation and excitement as it was the first day of the new ‘rota’. I found myself quietly observing two people we support, sat together in companionable silence and simply enjoying being in each others company.
This moment stopped me in my tracks and led me to reflect on our role in facilitating friendships. I was struck by how the changes we make as a staff team have a real impact on friendships, both old and new.
The two ladies, Jackie and Sara, have been friends since before I first met them which was when I joined MacIntyre 25 years ago (May 11th 1992). I was struck by how strong their bond was and how they were with each other.
Periodically we review our day opportunities, enabling people a chance to try something new, continue with what they are currently enjoying or return to something that they may not have done for a while perhaps. This is achieved through observation, listening and responding to individuals’ comments and wishes and being creative in the way we put together a diverse range of activities and opportunities.
The staff supporting the craft group have worked with both Jackie and Sara individually and have a good understanding of their support needs, but this was the first occasion the two staff had supported the ladies in one session. We had chatted about group dynamics and the proposed activities the week before and I had mentioned that Sara and Jackie were good friends but hadn’t really expanded on this.
Whilst observing Jackie and Sara together, I also noticed the staff were getting the balance right in stepping in, stepping back and enabling the ladies to settle into their own routines.
I watched as Sara threaded a needle for Jackie and in response, Jackie gently touched Sara’s face as her way of saying thank you. I gently put my hand on one of the staff’s arm and she smiled to confirm she had also seen the interaction.
And yet, without the ‘rota’ bringing the two ladies together in a session once more, that moment of friendship would have been completely lost. Friends are important as they support each other emotionally and help each other enjoy new things. Relationships between people are not formed by simply grouping people together, so as a team we have a responsibility to facilitate existing friendships and promote opportunities for people to make new friends.
Front Line Manager
Milton Keynes Lifelong Learning & Fletchers Mews Activity Centre