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Tough and Gritty Community

June 11 2015

Livability returns to Greenbelt this year to talk all things community. Corin Pilling, from the Community Engagement team writes about what’s inspiring him about community and Greenbelt. 

The often tough and gritty business of building community needs moments of epiphany, of light breaking in. It’s so important to look for them and name them. That’s why this year’s Greenbelt theme; RS Thomas’ “The Bright Field” is so inspirational to our work.

There are all sorts of ways people can impact their community, but as a disability and community charity a large part of Livability’s work is about supporting churches to strengthen their approaches to wellbeing and inclusion.

Referencing Anne Lamott, (who spoke at Greenbelt last year), the idea that if you want to know where God is, just go to the people who have had their budget cut. This is particularly true for disabled people, who are twice as likely to live in poverty as other citizens. Cuts are increasingly affecting those living with disabilities and their carers the most at present.

But it doesn’t stop there. Livability’s work as a disability charity has made us alert to all sorts of other needs in community life. Whether its homelessness, unemployment, or an increasing number of food banks, the issues in our society are clear. All sorts of people are feeling shut out and excluded from their community a careful response to this is needed.

The role of the local church as an agent of care and change is vital in community life. Livability’s all about providing churches with tools to engage with their community, through training, events and resources. These have developed in response to what we see as key needs in community life and presently focus on wellbeing, dementia and mental health.

But it is so much more than just being default welfare providers. The Livability way always seeks to build an approach through community work that models ‘Not for, but with’ in response to need. This can be complicated to work out, but for Livability, encouraging participation rather than dependence is so important. In community work Livability must pay close attention to dynamics of power in our exchanges. It’s a key element of change that’s truly sustainable.

In any community space, any group where’s there’s an intention to create something, there’s a question of whether you’re telling a story that’s real, convincing and transformative. Part of our being at Greenbelt is for conversations – it’s in the quality of these partnerships that we can continue to develop responses.

Corin Pilling
Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Livability

Greenbelt is an arts, faith and justice festival. As a festival associate, Livability will host 3 major programme slots at Greenbelt this year, on wellbeing, dementia and mental health. Get more information on our Events page, including how to book your tickets now.

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