Let the conversation flow!

Hi, my name is Chris and I am the Social Inclusion Team Manager at Community
Network. The role’s name may simply imply that at Community Network I plan all
the parties… however I’m more the sort of fellow who likes the occasional after work
drink and sees what happens than one who arranges a social calendar! My role with
Community Network is very different from that.

At Community Network there is a small team of conscientious staff and volunteers
who are responsible for the delivery of our charitable services. I manage this team
as well as my own projects such as the London service which supports older adults
to stay socially connected.

I have to say that when I initially applied for the job at Community Network I thought
to myself “a teleconferencing charity – that doesn’t sound too exciting!” To my
surprise though, I find this job rewarding, creative and interesting! I love talking to the
people who get involved, be they people from partner organisations, volunteers or
beneficiaries. Everyone has a story to tell and something that can spark interest in
others.

A common question I get when talking about telephone groups is “how can people
talk to others they don’t know for an hour a week on the telephone?” The answer
is simple. I have facilitated many calls and after everyone gives a little introduction
about themselves participants pick up on a little fact and a whole conversation
develops.

This conversation lasts for weeks on end and soon develops into social relationships
that really do improve an individual’s well-being. It’s just like sitting in a coffee shop
with your mates but instead it’s over the telephone in the comfort of your own home
with a drink of your choice! If our team were bigger I’d have a party on the phone…
but then I’d have to arrange it!

So next time you’re out having a drink with mates think about those that find it
difficult to get out, whether or not they are old or disabled, whether or not they’re in
your circle of friends or others. A group call can make all the difference!

Chris, Social Inclusion Team Manager