Right! Some more reflections from me! I have no doubt a recurring theme for this site will be measurement and impact – how do we assess how resilient we are, or how do we know if by funding/taking a course of action, it has improved resilience? Well I thought I’d have a go at measuring my own against the categories set out on this blog under “Where do we draw our strengths?”. For each category I’m going to make a judgement on how present those characteristics are to judge the depth of my strengths. Here goes!
The people I know (social)
I live with my partner, so immediately i’m not isolated. I’m close with maybe 2 or 3 of my family members, but I don’t live anywhere near to them unfortunately and if i’m honest i don’t speak with them that often. I don’t have a huge number of friends, but those I do have are from a variety of backgrounds and we have good relationships. However like my family, i wouldn’t say I was in regular contact with my friends. Oddly, I know a lot of people either at work or through work, my twitter account (work-based) is pretty active, and I feel i have pretty strong and varied work links. I also have pretty decent and varied relationships across the borough of Camden through my work.
Judgement: My social resilience is much stronger at work than it is in my home life, even though the relationships I have out of work are deeper. Weak to Average, depending on circumstance.
The things that I own and/or have access to (economic)
My income is above the national average and am on a permanent contract, though my job is highly vulnerable to reviews and budget cuts and is my sole income, however with my partner we are able to share bills. This covers all my essential outgoings and allows me a decent amount of discrectionary spend. Although my bills are high, I could downsize comfortably at any time. I have a small amount of student debt still to pay off and should be debt free in 2 years with a small amount of savings. I am not an active saver though. I own very little, and what I do own does not have great value. I’m an avid user of FreeCycle if I need any significant assets for the home, and my local Freecycle is pretty good for this sort of thing. I rarely if ever am unable to access something I need and am comfortable sharing/giving away anything I own that I do not need.
Judgement: While not amazingly strong, I have the capacity to endure a drop in income, and I have good access to a diversity of resources that doesn’t necessarily rely on money. Average to strong.
Body and mind (health and wellbeing)
I have no physical illness or disability, and my sickness rates are about the national average (if not below). I do have a history of stress-related/mental illness since school, and I have had an extremely close bereavement in the last nine months. I rarely if ever go to the doctor (or any other health professional) and much prefer to deal with any physical or mental health issues on my own. Some history of hereditary heart conditions on my dad’s side of the family. I do excercise regularly and have run two half marathons in the last 12 months, the most physical activity I have done in my life. I am very very slightly overweight for my height and age.
Judgement: while not suffering particularly at the moment (physically or mentally), general vulnerability in this area. Even judgement can’t really be trusted and more likely to be less resilient than declared given patterns of aggresive self care.
My surroundings (environment)
I live in a village on the edge of a town. It takes me 10 minutes to walk to the town centre, and I have a park, two pubs and local shop on my doorstep. I can also access a local museum, restaurants and a countryside walk within 2 minutes of my house. I have a good train service in to London which gives me an easy commute and access to everything that London has to offer. I also have a bus service outside of my house that takes me directly to local leisure activities such as the cinema. I own a bike which I use regularly to go to the local supermarket and my local gym as well as general transportation. I do not have a car, nor would i have easy access to one, however this rarely if ever arises as an issue. I live in a small terraced cottage with my partner which provides ample space and has a large garden. I rent my home, and the rent in my area is comparable to London prices, however the amount of space and quality of accommodation is higher.
Judgement: Pretty strong. My surroundings provide all the things I need and are easily accessible, and I have good access to alternative provision in both town and London. Good diversity in both what I can access and where I can access it.
What I know (skills and experience)
I have only 6 GCSEs (all A or A*), three A-levels (A, B, B) but no degree or any other post school qualification. I spent 3 years at university in Paris, where I lived independently, but I did not graduate. I have been in work constantly since I left university and have had a range of different jobs that have tested different skills and behaviours with a lot of interaction with people (even though I am a naturally introverted person). I can speak French to a strong degree, have a driver’s licence (though I haven’t driven in years) and while i haven’t spent a long period travelling, I have visited a decent variety of countries. I am 32 years old. I’m pretty adaptable and can turn my hand to most things, however I would not say i am an expert of particularly skilled in any one thing. Both friends at home and at work regularly seek my advice (even if they don’t take it!). I’ve been working for Camden for over 6 years and have had five different roles during this period.
Judgement: Pretty strong. Although academically limited, generally good track record of applying skills and experience and developing this with each chapter of my life. Slight vulnerability given time since last change of employer, but diversity of role at Camden could compensate.
So what does this mean overall? Trying to look objectively I’d say that from a day to day point of view everything looks fairly strong. While my job might be under threat, I could take a hit and my track record suggests i’d gain employment fairly quickly even in the current climate. I’m pretty mobile, and can get to whatever I need. However, my health and wellbeing is extremely vulnerable, with poor diversity in my personal social circle and a practically isolationist approach to my health and wellbeing that has proven to be brittle in the past. And without your health, you have nothing as they say…. maybe I should start looking in to that…
Interesting as this is, of course it is only a cursory review of one person’s strengths, however I did find it a fascinating exercise to put myself through, and I do wonder if this could work for others and at a community/organisational/systems level. At first glance I don’t see why not, though it might require some more structured criteria/questions.
What do you think?