A Good Life
Chris Thomason, Chaplain
A quick recap of our exploration of A Good Life.
In part 1 I described my idea of a good life. In part 2 we looked at what a good life looked like for those who responded to my request and delved into some of the theories behind a good life, which pointed to the importance of relationships and community, our interaction with family, friends and others.
At Anglicare WA we ask how can we use this information to help those that are struggling to cope in a system that often sees a case number before the person? This gets much harder if you are trying to access numerous services, sometimes with multiple case numbers?
Anglicare WA in partnership with Ruah Community Services are trialling a self-funded action research project to see how participants can grow a good life through building relationships and community.
Known as the Sunshine Project, the project is working with a small group of families in the Rockingham and Kwinana area to learn from their experiences of hardship and to test ways for them to develop a good life.
At the start of 2021, the project brought together several local community groups, services, community members and local government to imagine what the good life could look like in Kwinana. Ideas generated that day have been refined into prototypes which are being tested out with new partners.
The Sunshine Project is 18 months into a 2-year trial and has been testing an idea with families around developing a plan with the whole family about how they want to progress to a good life which they hold and can take it to other services who can help them with aspects of their plan.
This is part of an effort for families to feel in control of their own plan and to reduce the duplication of having many plans with many service providers. The plans are already proving useful, with some families putting them up on their lounge room wall or taking them along to multi-agency meetings.
Through the Sunshine Project, families told us that their number one motivator is to give their kids a good life.
But when all their income goes on essentials, they never get the chance to take their kids away for a weekend holiday to make memories together.
Similarly, many couples are working on their relationship, but can’t justify the expense of a date night to recharge their batteries. Families running on empty emotionally aren’t well placed to function well, which affects all areas of their lives. We also understand that funds are often limited, and prioritised for critical expenses such as food, rent or bills.
The team are testing two experiences for families who have been through tough times, to understand the impact of having a break:
- The Camping experience includes a voucher for 2 nights at a powered campsite, the loan of a fully stocked camping kit (complete with marshmallows) and if needed, a fuel voucher towards transport.
- Date Night experience includes a voucher for an evening's babysitting through babysitting agency Sittr, and a movie voucher for two.
The weather hasn’t been the best for camping, but families are showing a keen interest to try it out once we get some fine weather. The date night experiences are very popular.
The project has also been testing out approaches that combine time and money in different ways to add momentum and encouragement to families' efforts to move forwards.
Access to food is a huge priority right now, and there was also an aspiration for a community good life in which there was a sense of plenty and sharing around food (rather than scarcity and fighting over scraps) - Kwinana Early Years Services (KEYS) offered their Medina site to test out some ideas which include:
- Growing food - installing wicking beds so parents can help their kids learn about growing food.
- Cooking together - Batch cooking meals in bulk to freeze, food preserving, and options for parents to co-facilitate sessions and decide what they want to learn.
- Partnership with a local farm Glavocich Produce to create a value veggie box for families on low incomes.
- Connecting food sources - mapping the local community gardens and fruiting trees on public land.
Several of the Sunshine participants have been attending a series of workshops with the Centre for Stories to learn skills in effective storytelling to be able to share selected stories from their lives. This is part of their recovery journey and thinking about how they might use their lived experiences to advocate for change or to help others going through similar experiences.