I hate being told what to do. Even though I am old enough to know better, teenage rebellion rises in me if I’m advised to increase my pension contributions, or drink less coffee – and I am sure I’m not alone. Conversely, I am extremely comfortable in the position of telling other people what to do…

This week sees the annual Pilgrimage to Canterbury. Roger Shaljean, the founder of the event, speaks about it as an opportunity for beneficiaries of The Connection to ‘give something back’. This is an insightful inspiration for this popular and very successful fundraising event. The Connection is moving from
working ‘for’ people to overcome their homelessness to working ‘with’. The homelessness sector jargon for this is ‘co-production’. It means that rather than focusing just on what has gone wrong, we acknowledge and make use of the strengths, skills and attributes our clients bring.

Roger’s idea for the Pilgrimage is a fantastic example of co-production. For this reason, we celebrate it not just as a fundraising event, but also as an opportunity for everyone who participates to do something they enjoy and are good at – regardless of their status as ‘helper’ or ‘helped’. If you have noticed the planters in the church courtyard, that’s another example. They were built, planted out and tended by Connection clients and volunteers.

Funnily enough, I am not the only person who doesn’t like being told what to do. My role, and that of The Connection, is to enable and empower people to make decisions about their own lives, not to tell them what is best for them. I hope you will all join me in a huge thank you for everyone who is participating in the pilgrimage this year and to wish them good weather and a fantastic journey.

Pam Orchard
CEO, The Connection at St Martin’s