Whitby Community’s Compassion Project (or Whitby Compassion in short) is what it says on the tin. It is about the compassion of a community which means the people family by family, person by person.
What is compassion? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.“
Empathy is one step up from sympathy. Compassion is the next level which is the active desire to do something to help. It starts with hearing from a person with a problem, need, circumstance or worry (we might say about nothing).
The simple act of pausing to hear is the key. Taking note. Then listening to understand and not just dropping matters without a good reason.
Do you remember the “But I know a man who can?” advert. That’s it. The cause for concern might be something you cannot resolve but you can signpost the person to help and even help them to reach the contact.
That’s it. Practicing (it takes practice) to “do compassion”. Remaining detached as far as possible (as nurses are trained) but being there and walking alongside to obtain appropriate help.
People are the agents of compassion. The project is about people helping resolve “small” issues themselves or passing someone on. Organisations can facilitate compassion through their procedures and systems but it is the human touch that delivers it. You know that.
The instigator of this project, which is more a movement, is Whitby District Sheds – for men and for women.
That begs the question, “What have Sheds, particularly Men’s Sheds, got to do with compassion?”.
However it is done, Shed relationships are family relationships and families care about each other (and sometimes for). It is camaraderie and banter for men.
Compassion can be/is different (whichever is your view) between men and women. Women open up to each other more, face to face (Facebook to Facebook) but men communicate differently. Shoulder to Shoulder is the phrase often used in the now international Shed movement for the way men converse – as they work, walk side by side or prop up the bar in normal times.
Compassion is there in the very word “mate” and the relationship of “mateship”. Look at www.whitbysheds.co.uk to see what that means. But please return here!
In Australia, from whence Men’s Sheds came, studies have proven the good that Sheds do for people by providing (in our words) “creative distraction”.
Forget worries, get on with something absorbing; relate a bit to others and that relating grows into relationships and the “C” word COMMUNITY. The Shed Community.
Now, Sheds are NOT unique in this. There are many activities that can help maintain the wellbeing of people. It is the feel good of individuals that helps build the feel good of communities which is the common aim.
A house is not a home when there’s no one there. A community is not a statistic or a boundary on a map – it is people who feel bound together.
Look closely at the illustration and the flag for the project is composed of individual people. They may be grouped into families (or as we say these days “bubbles”) and localities of place or interest but people come into community largely individually. Children in schools, for instance.
But the hands of the community should embrace them and help them engage. There is no simple formula for doing that but inevitably it is individuals who welcome individuals.
Covid-19 has enabled and encouraged people to help each other. The Whitby Together during Covid-19 Facebook platform has promoted compassion and particularly in the domain of food and essentials resources.