We took the day off yesterday. Me, Paul and the kids drove over to the Suffolk coast to spend a day by the ocean. We walked on the beach, swam in the sea, ate fish and chips and drank bitter shandy. It was bliss. Very elemental. Clean, fresh air; soft, crisp sea; sand, grass and stone; and the warmth of the sun when it broke through the clouds. We made a deal that no-one was allowed to talk about the yoga centre...which was hard! But a necessary breather from all of the busy-ness of this new family venture.
Meanwhile at the centre, our focus has now moved into the downstairs spaces. We cleared what will be the 'lounge' area - which we have been using as a storage space for building material, tools, spare wood, insulation, the sofa and the enormous pile of carpet tiles, which we have now found a home for.
Once the room was cleared we could take up the vinyl flooring and the hardwood boards underneath, to reveal more original floorboards. With help from my wonderful mum and a couple of crowbars, we managed to get all of the tiny nails up and get the wood ready for sanding this week.
We donated the carpet tiles to the Family Intervention Partnership. FIP is a Cambridgeshire County Council team whom I formerly worked for. They support families in a long-term and comprehensive way where there are multiple and complex issues relating to drug or alcohol abuse, mental health problems, unemployment, social isolation, anti-social behaviour, truancy, a history or risk of criminal behaviour and risk of eviction from their homes. A lot of these families have a lack of basic furnishings such as carpets or dining room tables, so I knew the carpet tiles would be put to good use.
My work with FIP was incredibly challenging and rewarding. Labelled unhelpfully by the government as the 'Troubled Families Programme', a lot of attention was given to these teams a few years ago when a large injection of money was given to various Local Authorities to help 'turn around the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in the country' (this was following the riots of 2011). Families 'would be assigned a single, co-ordinating key-worker who adopts a "persistent, assertive and challenging" approach and can "get to grips" with the whole family and look at the family "from inside out rather than outside in". There has been a mixed response surrounding both the remit and the results of FIP, but from my experience, on the ground, it is brilliant work. Having the time to build trusting relationships with and advocate for families who are often totally overwhelmed by the various pressures they are faced with, can go a long way in supporting the possibility of sustainable change.
I have been in discussions with FIP for a while now, in the hope of trialling The Satyam Programme with a selection of their families. This is a programme I am developing as a way of introducing yoga and mindfulness to individuals and groups who are disadvantged in some way. My feelings are that the self-regulating techniques of yoga could play a crucial role in enabling people to make different choices and manage their daily lives in a more positive and conscious way. A few years ago we did almost get a programme up and running, however due to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of their lives, not a single person turned up for the first session! So there is some necessary preparatory work that will need to be done to increase their chances of engagement and success. And with funding in the public sector dwindling, these kinds of incentives are looking more and more challenging.
For the time being our focus is on making the centre a success. New radiators have now been installed in both studios, further progress has been made with the design of the lighting, the Osmo Oil has arrived for the floors, the flyers and posters have been designed and are on their way to us. And we have just had another tutorial in the MindBodyOnline software which we will be using for our bookings. Time is ticking away and we are on a bit of a countdown now. Will we have everything ready on time? Of course!! ...