In Local Area Coordination we often talk about the importance of stepping back, providing space and allowing people to find their own possibilities. We also emphasise that a Local Area Coordinator should be alongside, and if you have seen Safe Waiting, the importance of not stepping in and trying to ‘fix’.
We know that stepping back is difficult in practice; how can you be helping someone by doing less? How can silence be a way to support others?
But what if we look at the systems already in place, the systems we know often don’t work. If we try to force someone into processes and pathways that aren’t right for them, it seems obvious that this will more often than not, lead to more problems.
By creating space through conversation, listening, support and yes, silence, we are allowing people to explore and decide what is right for them, and what their possibilities might be. Allowing them to realise what opportunities exist within their network of people and places.
By shifting the focus from ‘which service does this person need?’ to ‘what strengths does this person have, and how can this help them achieve their vision of a good life?’ the possibilities start to become clear.
We recently spoke to some of our Local Area Coordination Network about how they felt looking through the lens of Local Area Coordination has impacted their perception.
The responses we received showed that by allowing themselves space and time to see people, places and possibilities it becomes easier to build relationships with empathy, and to become less judgmental of others, instead listening and understanding. As a result, the question shifts from ‘what problems are stopping this person?’ to ‘how can I empower people, families and communities to use their strengths?’.
All agreed that there is a freedom to being a Local Area Coordinator that other services do not allow. There is freedom in bringing their strengths as an individual into the role, allowing Local Area Coordinators to be authentic as they build relationships with those they are alongside.
Working as a Local Area Coordinator can take on many forms, but it is always centered around the 10 principles – and always looking through a different lens.