Just so you know this piece will end with an ask, a call to action. It won’t be hard, complicated, or academic. It’s an ordinary ask… but just make sure you don’t miss it!
Logical, simple answers to problems and obvious observations are always worth making. You see, it is really easy to make sophisticated criticisms—we can all sit back, rub our chins, and point out the problems with any system or idea—see the Teddy Roosevelt quote below. But it takes a certain amount of courage to make a positive suggestion, especially if it is a simple idea. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “Surely, everyone has considered this idea already?”
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
However, that is the point. We all kick ourselves, not for failing to come up with the complicated solution, but for missing the simple fix. Online estate agent Purple Bricks uses their commercials to draw upon this phenomenon of missing out on a simple fix. They demonstrate how ignoring what seems the obvious answer can often lead to a much more complicated outcome.
Missing a solution that was right in front of our noses all along can be so frustrating that sometimes we may even want to discredit it, simply to justify why we did not come up with it ourselves.
This ‘right in front of your nose’ solution can be very much applied to faith-based projects. When looking at various issues within society, faith communities can offer a route to and for people who are often termed ‘hard to reach’. This may, for example, involve getting services to those who need them desperately but who are often the most unable to access them. With issues such as social isolation, integration and loneliness, faith often provides local solutions. We previously explored this in our Right Up Your Street report on the way faith communities tackle loneliness.
Social prescribing is another great opportunity for wider society to benefit from the faith communities in their midst. Between 40-60% of GP appointments are occupied by issues that are non-medical, with a large proportion of these being seemingly simple things, such as a desire for socialisation. This highlights a need for opportunities to socialise—the kind of activities offered by faith groups are an obvious solution. The problem is that the faith groups and those who can give out a social prescription don’t know each other, and need to both think of each other and know how to connect!
This is where you, our members, come in. The ‘common sense’ idea is that faith groups offer a broad range of activities that the wider community can access. Whenever there is mention of a need like those above, consider piping up and saying, “Have you thought about connecting with a local faith group?”
That’s the first step—simply encouraging people to think of the solutions within faith groups—right up their streets, just under their noses!
If you want to think more about increasing accessibility to your faith community, why not sign the Friendly Places Pledge? You could also consider taking on one of our Creative English licences. Alternatively, make contact with the FaithAction team for a free FOAG conversation (Faith Organisations Advice and Guidance). Call 0800 804 8829 or email [email protected] to arrange an appointment.