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A very different place now - a reflection on Citizens UK national community organising training

By Fr Dean Atkins, St Mary’s Church Butetown, Church in Wales Diocese of Llandaff

I am exhausted and ready to go home.  As people leave - even the trainers too -  I am left alone in the hotel.  It feels a very different place now.  The space has reinvented itself, become just another hotel.  A family books in at reception.  They wait for their room.  The children look tired.  At last, their room is ready. They pull their suitcases behind them.

Six days ago I checked in for the Citizens UK Training in Community Leadership - an hour late -  and was soon plunged into a leadership roleplay as I tried to work out what was happening and what my role this week would be, dazzled by the diversity of those participating, moved by the stories, the experiences, the sheer emotion of those who want to change the world!  These were “power hungry” people, a phrase which has very different meaning for me now than when I first arrived.  Power is no longer a dirty word.

The quality of training has been exceptional.  Each trainer skilled and well equipped to change the way we see things.  During one of the training sessions, Daniel spoke of his work with various institutions, churches included.  “It’s my job,” he said, “to remind them of who they are so they can do their jobs.”

It is this, perhaps, which I will pull behind me as I check in again as my role as parish priest.  It will take some time to assimilate all I have learned during this week.  I am exhausted and ready to go home but ready, too, to rediscover who we are so that we can do our job to change the world -which now seems a far more achievable goal than it seemed six days ago.  The world is a very different place now.

The Citizens UK National Community Leadership Training is designed to help people to change the world (or at least your own local community) while strengthening their own community group in the process. People from dues-paying membership of Citizens Cymru Wales are nominated for the national training – it is one of the big perks of membership! The training includes six days of intensive residential training, followed by support to people to put the tools learned into practice in their own areas. This blog from Andrew Pendleton who did the residential training last year provides a good overview of the training https://medium.com/@andrewpendleton_55747/five-fantastic-lesson-from-citizens-uks-community-organiser-training-2cd2aa44a045 . If you would like to go next time (the next dates are 7-12 October 2018 and 10-15 March 2019) then do contact your Citizens Organiser.

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