As part of working at Pennine Lancashire Community Farm I so often have the pleasure of seeing individuals that have had previous lives denominated by chaos, due to mental health difficulties, substance misuse, long term unemployment, social situation etc. get to a greater point of security. One such individual often says “Without Pennine Lancashire Community Farm I would be dead”, which seems an extremely dramatic statement to make about a project which, amongst other things, helps people plant a few fruits and vegetables. But in fairness, in this case, the gentleman has gone from a life dominated by alcoholism, which resulted in him being homeless, then in hospital, to secure a home, full time employment and a day to day control of his alcoholism.
When talking to friends, funding agencies or public sector officials, one of the most common questions I get asked is “How do you do this”? “How do you effect positive change”? Now while I accept the question is essential people are often surprised by the three point answer:
- First, I and nobody else can do anything, only the individuals travelling the life journey can address their own challenges with just honest support and guidance.
- Second, as an individual or organisation we do not operate as an island, it is a whole package of support that helps them move forward in life.
- Third, as much as progressive governments or authority bodies would love a simple solution, there is no “single golden bullet” or short term fixed course of operation that will solve all the problems.
All I would ask, at this time of an election, is no matter which party takes power and control, is for all to remember, we each face a range of challenges in our lives at different times, sometimes created by ourselves, sometimes by situations outside our control, or as in most cases a mixture of both. It is vital that spaces like those provided by organisations such as Pennine Lancashire Community Farm are maintained if we are not to see greater problems and challenges down the line.