Tuesday, 07 February 2006

Community activism and burn out As the pressures build up on community activists, so the chances increase of their becoming ill from exhaustion. I've commented on this before, within the context of neighbourhood governance. Working with Partners in Change, my good friend Bev Carter has been developing a 3-day course on activist burnout which has been fully subscribed - she emerged the other day from the first running, herself both exhausted and elated from the stories of commitment, frustration, lack of recognition, breakdown and resilience. The course runs again in March - details here. Bev tells me that much of what she heard from participants echoed an important recent report for Renew North West by community psychologist Carolyn Kagan at Manchester Metropolitan University, called Making a difference: participation and wellbeing. As Carolyn notes - "bottom-up, active participation and collective action is exhausting. It takes time, energy and perseverance. Not everyone who opts to take part is strong and resilient. They may have been struggling with hardship all their lives. Community leaders and other activists are under relentless pressure. They have no supervision, despite working in complex human systems, often with people with extensive personal difficulties. They have no colleagues to share the load when the going gets tough, no working hours, time off or holidays and no development activities built into the role. Also they do not get paid." It's hard to find on the Renew site, but here's the link.

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