Helen Capiter is our Community Building Co-ordinator, responsible for our work on the ground out and about in our communities of Greater Manchester, as well as the training and management of our fab Community Builders.

“You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it.“ Jamie Varon

What gets you out of bed every day? Your alarm clock? Screaming kids? If you’re me it’s the gentle but relentless tapping of my cat’s paw on my face telling me it’s time to get up and fill his bowl – at least I’ve trained him to wait until my alarm actually sounds! Needless to say I am NOT a morning person at the best of times, but even less when getting out of bed means I’m facing something that I know is going to make me unhappy.

I think it’s fair to say we’ve all been in a job we don’t like, even hate, and according to the Telegraph we’re not alone! Recent studies show that a staggering 60% of us in the UK really do spend the majority of our waking week trudging our way unhappily through our 9-5pms, dreadfully miserable and unsatisfied in our places of work. So why do we stay there if doing so means waking up each day struggling to face what’s ahead, and pressing the snooze button or in my case the paws (or ‘pause’) button for as long as we possibly can? I’ve been there, I’ve quite literally done that and indeed I even got the T-shirt as a result. So can ABCD make a difference?

Helen 3

Firstly, as I’m sure you can guess, I’m not foolish enough to write a blog for my place of work bemoaning my employment situation and asking for advice on suitable escape strategies. Quite the contrary. In fact, I’m very lucky to say that I’m in the minority here. I am one of the lucky few who can honestly hold their hand up and say that yup, going to work isn’t the bind it once was, that I rarely get the Sunday night dread anymore (always seemed to start right after ‘Songs of Praise’ and before ‘The Antiques Roadshow) and that going to work is a definite contributor to the overall satisfaction I feel with my life. Why you might ask? What has made me so happy? Aside from truly dreadful blips on my employment history such as ‘pot washer’ and ‘pub cleaner’ (trust me, gents toilets are probably as bad as you can imagine after a Saturday night booze up), the worst I can really say about the jobs I’ve struggled with in the past is that they were a bit…’meh’. They didn’t inspire me, were at times highly stressful and as such left me feeling very unmotivated, and at worst deeply deeply unhappy. So I got out. I found Forever Manchester (or as I like to think of it the lucky devils found me) and above all I found ABCD.

And in answer to the question posed above, ABCD does make me happy. Spending my working life trying to find new ways to encourage the good people of Greater Manchester to think more positively about themselves and where they live, makes me happy. Telling people that they are enough, that they have the skills, talents, passions and assets within themselves to build stronger more resilient communities and ultimately to be happy, makes me happy too. It taps into my core belief that everyone has something to offer, that within each of us we have gifts that transcend our circumstance and that, ultimately, the key to our happiness, health and wellbeing is in identifying what they are, unlocking them and putting them into action by sharing them with each other. Working in this way, where we focus on ‘what’s strong and not what’s wrong’, has made a huge difference to the lives of countless people across Greater Manchester and continues to do so on a daily basis, as the stories and case studies elsewhere on our website attest. I’ve seen with my own eyes how working in this way as opposed to the way I’ve worked in communities previously, with a presumption that I as the professional have all the answers, that I’m there to ‘fix’ those in need, that the people in need, need me, instead offers our communities something different. It gives us an opportunity to build stronger more resilient communities from within, removing complete reliance on anyone fixing anyone else, and instead encourages and enables our communities to work together and create more abundant, stronger and ultimately happier communities, together.

Helen 2

And for once I seem to be in the majority here! A 2015 study ‘Head, hands and heart: asset-based approaches in health care: A review of the conceptual evidence and case studies of asset-based approaches in health, care and wellbeing’ by Simon Rippon and Trevor Hopkins, states that the importance that those working in this field feel about what they do is something of a theme: –

“Practitioners acknowledge that knowledge theory is helpful because it supports and justifies their perspective and approach. However, they also state that it is not as important as their personal values/principles, or those of their organisation. The gut feeling that they are ‘doing the right thing’ is very strong for many.”

So yeah, I’ve found the answer. As Albert Schweitzer once said “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” I can honestly say I’ve never been this happy, and apart from my recent marriage (I told you I’d get it in there somewhere!) I have to admit that joy, satisfaction and the feeling that I’m making a difference in my job that is a huge contributing factor in this happiness, and I’ve never been more grateful.

Just don’t ask me to get up too early…!


If you work for an organisation and would like to learn more about Asset-Based Community Development, get in touch about our range of courses and bespoke training. Email: james@forevermanchester.com.