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7.1 Relationships and Time

 

One of the key observations to be teased out from the project is the mutuality of the relationships involved, and the implications of that: If the project team has been experienced as thoughtful and caring, for example, it is a reflection of and is reflected in the caring and thought the Team have experienced from and with Community members and other participants.

 

A further observation is that the essential and irreducible element of relationships is time; that building new relationships in strange situations – and for many people there could be few stranger situations than were presented by the project – requires sometimes considerable time, both face-to-face, in letters and emails, and sometimes lengthy phone calls; and that where there are unresolved vulnerabilities and personal uncertainties, relationships may well involve a great deal of time. Where childhood damage has been compounded, as some of the later Bodenham men were describing, by damaging experience in the children's home or school itself, instead of being resolved or in some way grown through with the help of the institution, a project focused on that home or school can and should expect time to be the central issue of the project design. If this project were being put forward to the Heritage Lottery Fund again, it would ask to build in at least one more full-time member of the project team, perhaps someone dedicated to building and developing the websites, and working with Community members to take full responsibility for theirs; and if involving as many as five communities again, would seek for 24 or 36 months to build relationships and outcomes more effectively and successfully.

 

Another lesson is that, while the project team is the obvious main focus of relationships, it is the entire organisation which is involved. There came a point early in the project when everyone employed at the Trust found themselves reminiscing and sharing memories, almost as a contagion; and it was clear throughout that it was the organisation as a whole - the Team as a whole - which shaped (and was shaped by) the character and nature of the project Events, and shared responsibility for the success they had.