One of the joys of working with clients is that you get to hear their stories. I am a great believer in the value of the story as a gateway to learning and creating relationships.
It is often simple things that have a resonance – whether it is talking about food or cooking or about a musical moment or display of passion for a football team.
It was the football team story that got me thinking recently about the news that the UK government is spending millions on exporting on what it sees as its refugee problem to the central African state of Rwanda. I had been talking with a client about their passion for Liverpool Football Club and asked them why someone living on the south coast supports a team from the north west.
His reply was simple. He pointed out that when he arrived in the UK as a teenage refugee in the late 60s, he had been placed in what he called a resettlement camp just outside Liverpool. The support that he received allowed him to pursue an education, saw him obtain A levels and a University degree, which was then followed by a highly successful business employing over 100 people. This led him to think of Liverpool as part of what was his home and, hence, his support of Liverpool FC.
We are also currently working with a fantastic private care provider for unaccompanied child refugees. They recount stories of the children that they look after and who they have helped, in what are incredibly difficult circumstances, where the children's thirst for learning and desire to work is overwhelming. There is a recurring, driving force for these young children in their care and a sense of pride to be able to come back to the care home at a later date to show everybody how they have made a success of their lives.
All of this sits oddly with the UK's Rwanda experiment, widely criticised by all sorts of groups from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Theresa May as being, what is essentially, nasty and cruel. This made me think that perhaps it was time to reflect back on the words of Marvin Gaye's 50 year old song and ask ourselves the question – what's going on?
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