Common Weal successfully received funding to send some members of our local groups and staff on a week long activist training course with the fantastic Ulex Project. Bernie Hathor French from South Ayr shares her experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed this powerful course, the gorgeous setting it was conducted in and the totally delicious food!
Working with a variety of tools and approaches, from experiential to practical approaches, we focussed on several levels: from self care/self-awareness, through to collaborative approaches in group work and increased awareness of wider issues, e.g. social, cultural and environmental. Self-reflection tools like meditation and journaling were facilitated and we had a variety of opportunities to share our experiences, one to one, in small groups and with the whole group. Group work included the use of role play, team building exercises, study and discussions on issues around power dynamics and introduction to a variety of participatory models of working. We also reflected, had
discussions and participated in exercises on how we might apply our learning within our own social and organisational settings.
I felt that the course and content were excellent, providing a full range of exercises, experiences and working practices which culminated in a very rich experience for me. I have been on many similar courses in the past, particularly during my training as a counsellor/psychotherapist and thereafter and had a fair idea of what I was committing to. However, this training far exceeded my expectations! The levels of tutoring and diversity of content and experiential activities were excellent.
While also feeling challenged at times, I learned so much more about myself on a personal, relational and social level. I found the group of mostly young participants who had come from several parts of the world, highly inspiring too. I learned so much from the diversity of this group and from their different social, cultural and working practices.
I feel I have improved my skills on so many levels and my awareness of power dynamics (and their effects) within our hierarchical societies, has increased exponentially. As a result, I feel much more able to maintain a sense of empowerment regardless of the power dynamics of a given setting, rather than allowing myself to feel dis-empowered by it as I have often done previously. I now feel confident that I can apply what I have learned, to facilitate events and workshops that also fit with the visions of Common Weal.
I would highly recommend this training for anyone who is prepared to look deeper into their lives, focus on their self care and to enhance their social interactions, especially within the role of activism.