Friday, 6 May 2011

When you help others you can't help helping yourself

The Old Boys - 2011
I've just finished my first week at a new client which has actually been extremely good, I've been working from home today and so currently sitting in my garden with the lawn mower working hard behind me (its a robot). Initially I wanted to write this post at the beginning of the week, but I was shattered had lots to do and decided it would be better to reflect on my previous week first.

I've just returned from a week in Lourdes with HCPT - The Pilgrimage Trust and am feeling quite alone as I have not had the privilege this week of having dinner with at least twelve other people. Thanks Old Boys for another brilliant week.

HCPT Torchlight Procession
Its hard to explain what Lourdes is or means, yes - it has a description and a purpose but I don't believe explaining either of those would give you an accurate representation of what it actually is or means. Instead I'll just tell you about some of the things we did and hopefully that will fill you in. So for a start HCPT take a few thousand young people with a spectrum of social, physical and mental needs to Lourdes in the South of France at Easter each year. There are many activities that happen during the week depending on each individual groups appetite.

There are a few types of people who go: Those who go to experience Lourdes - this is largely the kids but also some others; Those who go to help the kids - Group Leaders, Helpers, Nurses, HQ team etc; Those who go to help in General - Usually Service groups of young people who support family groups and help with the general work load of the week as part of an educational experience; and then The Old Boys - You don't really need to know what we do, as long as everyone else has had a safe, successful week.

SC711 at the Torchlight
During the week you get to see many of the young people grow and believe in themselves, making new friends and finding new things they can achieve. One of the other impacts they have is on the helpers, both their own carers and those from service groups. Its really amazing and humbling to see a small child remind grown adults and teenagers what life is about and show them all the things they have to be thankful for.

A particular privilege for us is spending time with Groups 711 Salesian College and 713 Alton Convent. Every year they start the week like a trip to Ibiza and every year they grow and learn and leave with a new bond of friendship, a new appreciation for their own lives and a healthy number of new songs to sing. Its hard to believe that the Old Boys have any effect on this new generation of tomorrow's leaders, yet a steady stream of "Thanks" as they leave for home makes you think that maybe just maybe you helped them through the week.

Fun in the Sun with Group 170
The joy and entertainment that each person gets out of the week is the product of what they and others put in. Everybody's focus is on the happiness and well-being of the young people in our care and in the words of Avenue-Q "When you help others you can't help helping yourself".
I particularly enjoyed my time with the group 170 family group. "Family Group" really is the right word, everybody is welcomed, looked after, cared for, missed, loved and respected.

Upon returning all I have heard is people wanting it not to be over, people wanting to go back and people missing their new found friends. The week in Lourdes is an emotional roller coaster that brings a new miracle every day.

Each year I have been Alex Hellier has reminded the Old boys of the same five words and I want to remind everyone who went of the same words "Believe what you have experienced".

Having fun
Loading the Train
Helping others

Preparing for Crowd control
Working with Family Groups

1 comment:

  1. *Round of Applause* Well said David!

    I love that we don't need to know what the Old Boys do, but we do know that they make a huge difference.

    Starry starry hugs from Group 170 xxx