“Having a go – that’s my superpower!”
“My son says speaking English is my superpower! Now I can make everything ok!”
This child viewed his mum’s newfound ability to speak English as her breakthrough talent, but in talking to her it was the willingness to ‘have a go’ that had made the biggest difference. “I would never have tried to speak before” she explained. “I would have said, ‘You wait for Dad, yeah? Dad works away, so sometimes we wait a long time”.
In Creative English, we know the difference that increased confidence makes and so we focus on that as our primary goal. But the willingness to ‘have a go’ and work with what we have has a much broader benefit.
In society as a whole at the moment, a lot of people are feeling hopeless and disempowered. We’ve lost confidence in our politicians; we’re often unhappy with things going on in our nation and neighbourhoods, and I’ve lost count of the conversations I’ve had in recent months with people expressing an overwhelming sense powerlessness and impending doom.
But we need to recognise we are part of the solution and the little bit we can do makes a difference; we need a culture of looking at what we can offer rather the barriers. We need to avoid being paralysed by a loss of hope or a need for professionalism and perfection.
In an example from another Creative English group, a learner who had arrived in the UK with no English a few months previously was frustrated by the lack of more language learning opportunities for another isolated speaker when she joined the group.
His wife challenged him: ‘Why don’t you teach her?’
‘But I can’t. My English isn’t good enough.’
‘But it’s better than hers,’ his wife replied.
So he did it. And the lady he had taught grew in confidence and communication skills. She positively glowed with joy, as she was able to access community events independently and an English-speaking church, supported by some interpretation from the man’s wife. Her loneliness, as well as her language ability, was completely transformed.
This is the impact of the willingness to ‘have a go’, the power of saying ‘I can help’, rather than bemoaning the failures of state and society. It’s important to value professional skill, but how often are we trapped by the belief that ‘Well, I couldn’t’ and therefore nothing happens at all?
As acts of kindness get replicated, we change the world from the bottom up. Everyone has something to offer. At an organisational level, there is a responsibility to invest in people to support them in navigating systems and equipping them with the skills that they need. However, when we focus on what we have to offer rather than what we lack, we are all a powerful force for change.
It’s this power that we are celebrating with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society at our event ‘Right Up Your Street: Faith’s Response to Loneliness’. Taking place on Tuesday 2 July in Westminster, the evening will highlight how the everyday work of faith groups is tackling this important social issue. Find out more here www.faithaction.net/