Thursday, 20 September 2007

Gold Braid and Jerk Chicken

Nothing for ages then several at once...!

Last night was the official presentation of Carisma's Queen's Award for, um, hang on (checks photo) Voluntary Service. The Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff beamed down in their gold braided uniforms and we also had the Lord Mayor and some senior Police people. I had to dig out the wedding suit again - that's twice in a week - and give the acceptance speech. Another new experience in this eventful few weeks. Actually, despite my implication that these guys are from another planet - I mean you don't actually see them every week in Asda - I had a good chat with them beforehand. One was a bit Home Counties, using words like 'churlish', but they were both nice blokes with a track record in community stuff, albeit (now who's Home Counties?) on a different level. And I now know what the difference is between the two (todays quiz question folks).

So, to the accompaniment of reggae music and followed by a superb meal of Jerk Chicken, rice and curried mutton, and with loads of friends, helpers, supporters and other activists and a TV crew in attendance, we got presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service by HRH's gold-braided rep in Greater Manchester. It was a bizarre but very British mix of old and new culture which actually worked well together to make a very successful event!

The award is a nice recognition of what Carisma has achieved so far, though the experience of another community group we work closely with who got one of these a couple of years back but still mostly fund themselves makes me a bit wary of such pats on the back. I said as much (nicely I hope) in my speech, and that we'd barely started on the problem and needed more resources - money, skills, (local) people - to take it to the next stage... whatever that is. We're still a fairly chaotic, make-it-up-as-you-go-along outfit, but totally grass-roots and local with a good grasp of the issues and what needs to be done.

It's one of the things I've done a lot of thinking about during my sabbatical - all the talk of the community having the answers and empowering local people needs to get way beyond where it currently is in practice (i.e. well controlled on a fairly short leash - short-term, safe, bureaucratic, distant and subject to the whims of the latest bit of think-tank, vote-catching must-be-seen-to-be-doing-something policy. Cynical? Moi?). A culture-change is needed so provision is community-led. Or... Trust the Community. Easier said than done. Maybe this award will give us a bit more leverage and credibility to build that trust and relationship. Maybe the local churches could be the first to show that trust of community by being more willing to work WITH rather than for... and being in control of what they do. "True incarnation is when I go out and get involved in a local project where I don't run the show and I don't pull all the strings" Steve Chalke. Selah.

P.S. I was very aware that as we arrived for the presentation yesterday my mum was going into surgery in Belfast. News so far is good - the op went well and as of about 4pm today she was up and walking round the ward! Thanks for the prayers.

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1 comment:

Reza said...

People should read this.