That was the theme of my weekend. Living Differently: Create. Grow. Inspire. I felt humbled and blessed to be able to participate in the annual fellowship weekend designed for members of the Initiatives of Change UK (IofC) network. I have not been directly involved in any of the projects or programmes for about two years but the global IofC family is an ongoing huge part of my life.
Initiatives of Change is a worldwide movement of people of many cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own. It works to inspire, equip and connect people to address urgent issues, ranging from the personal to the global. There is particular focus on relationship-healing; developing trust-worthy leadership; and building sustainable communities. It is faith-based and believes that anyone can find a part to play if they seek their true calling, whether or not they are believers.
Since 2011 I have been involved with IofC and made numerous strong friendships of which many are very close friends and mentors now, dotted all over the globe that I met whist working with IofC in Melbourne, London, Oxford and Switzerland. Whilst studying for an MSc in Gender and International Relations I worked on international conferences about Just Governance and Human Security as well as a women’s empowerment programme called Creators of Peace with the charity.
During the weekend we learn about the organisation’s key projects and programmes, catch up on the work we have doing recently and how life is going for us all, and share good practice whilst exploring current challenges we face in our communities and in the world. The weekend begins with a story shared by Maxine Cockett from Nottingham of her childhood. She tells us about some of the challenges she faced as a young Jamaican girl growing up in the 1970s in England dealing with racism, poverty and homelessness. Maxine now supports young people in need and is an excellent role model that demonstrates how self belief, perseverance and faith can lift us from the darkness into the light. She has traveled to many continents spreading her message of love and faith, and how to strengthen young people and communities.
This sets the scene for team work, sharing and goal setting with our purpose in mind. I facilitate a workshop with a group of people themed ‘Building Better Communities’. We come up with some great practical ideas on how we can reduce pressure on the NHS by encouraging heather lifestyles, including solutions to family conflicts and healing, as well as discussing the rise of self interest and the increasing use of social media.
During the scheduled quiet time and opportunity for self reflection I have the opportunity to look back on the past two years since I last attended a fellowship weekend. What did I achieve? How did I move forward? Who did I meet that helped me forward or pulled me back? What is my current vision and is it my true calling and making the best of my talents and strengths? Why am I chasing this dream? A lot of things to think about and I am determined to make some excellent progress in time for the next fellowship weekend.