What does ‘community’ really mean? by Dorothy Jarvis-Lee
When most of us are asked to say what ‘community’ means we will probably find ourselves describing the neighbourhood we call home and the group of people who live there or those with whom we identify because of our background or common interests.
I think that ‘community’ has a much deeper and more significant meaning. It’s not simply something each of us fits into. Being a member of a community is evolving into a way of living that means each of us is making a more active choice about what we do. As we make our personal journey, discovering more about ourselves as individuals and those around us, it creates the opportunity to recognise and understand the potential we each own and how we can and could contribute to our society and make a real difference.
‘Community’ for us is therefore defined more by the actions of those within it, and not simply by words. Believing that being a member of a community should be a positive and vibrant part of our lives and that we should let go of the passive acceptance that we cannot make a difference. The very essence of the word ‘community’ evokes a liberating sense of participation, of respectful and dignified togetherness, and belonging.
Our philosophy at ubu is simple and clear; we believe that everyone, whatever their ability or background should have the opportunity to find their rightful place in our communities so that they can achieve what they want to. We strive to ensure that the individuals we enable are supported to develop in every aspect of their lives. We are led in this work by their personal ambitions, goals and dreams for a better and happier future; whether this is by finding fulfilling work, living with greater independence, building relationships, seeking new friends and by learning skills to develop as active and respected citizens.
Community is at the heart of everything we do in ubu and in the way we nurture each of the people we serve and our dedicated Enabling team members. We treat everyone as an individual, as a valuable member of their local and wider community, rather than as another anonymous person in a crowd of nameless faces. Our enabling support is a bespoke service, led by, and tailored to, each person’s unique and individual needs. The support we provide is always personally relevant, beneficial and enriching to the quality of life of every person we serve ensuring they have the chance to be fully part of their communities, instead of being isolated from them.
Another way of talking and acting on what it means to be a part of a ‘community’ is to recognise it as a process, and a two way process at that. At ubu, we do our best to work with each of the people we serve to achieve the respect, fairness and kindness they have a right to as citizens, especially when individuals find fitting into and being in a community a daunting and difficult task. We work towards making cooperative and productive links within the local communities themselves that can be sustained and grown over time. We believe there is always scope for and opportunities for communities to do more to welcome people and ensure that they do not place barriers in their way.
The challenge we face in the future is to continue to develop our community discovering innovative, cost-effective and truly effective ways to deliver the services. We are passionate about the right to equality for everyone as life is too short not to allow people to live their lives to the full right now.