Yesterday we sent to press posters, declaring each of our five values: Inclusion, Worth, Hope, Perseverance and Life. These will be delivered to each of our projects & central office to be hung up for everyone to see and reflect on. As I signed off on the design, it made me think again about our values and the importance of them.
Our values, if we read them and re-read them, and commit to them and meditate on them, and consciously choose to demonstrate them every day in the work we do, are powerful things. They stop being aspirational and become corporate behaviors that shape our practice and give messages of inclusion, worth, hope, perseverance and life to those we serve.
Our first value, Inclusion, is a new value for Oasis Aquila Housing, though for Oasis it is a value that has been key for many years. Although it is new to OAH as a stated value, it is not new as a behavior: it is tied up in our commitment to providing places of belonging. When we reflected on our key themes (Creating, Belonging, Journeying) we started to say explicitly that “everyone has a need to belong”, and this is something I believe passionately.
Working with people who have been homeless for any length of time quickly reminds you that there are people in our communities who are excluded…Who don’t have anywhere where they belong, who are never included. They come into Basis and sit alone; they move into the Foyer and keep themselves to themselves. Being included is one of the best gifts we can give someone and is the work each of our projects do with these isolated clients. When we are included we find strength, company, a vision for our future, community, self-esteem… without inclusion all of our other values will be very hard to achieve.
I have spent time with someone over the last few weeks who has spent a decade living in a country where she hasn’t got to know anyone. Kindness to her is a shocking thing because she has not known it. She had not been included, she had faced isolation. Humans are relational beings, we need one another. If Oasis Aquila Housing is saying one thing this week to those it works with, I want it to be this: You can belong here. We will include you. Whoever you are.
… That is not easy, and people may not always accept the offer, but we make it regardless… Inclusion – we all have a need to belong, so we are passionate about including everyone.