Resilience Starts At Home


I often wonder about this word we associate ourselves with – resilience.

We chose it as the name of our public speaking initiative because it defines a positive response to setback, and to us, that seems the only way to go.

We speak about how we respond to the challenges of severe disability, how they affect us as a couple and as a family. We talk about the ways we’ve found of coping, financially, physically, emotionally. We’re honest about our resilience, we encourage others to think about how little changes in the way they think about their own situation might help with whatever problems they’re facing.

Being resilient under pressure is hard. Please believe me, I know. I count myself as a grown up, and it’s nearly 2 decades now that I’ve been trying to cope with the impact of Sepsis, but I still struggle on a daily basis. I have to work like an athlete to get a grip on my mental health. Even just physically, with my 4 amputations, I’m pushed to the limits, and I always have to live with pain.

But it’s OK for me. Really. I have lots of great things in my life that cheer me up, and one of them is a nice home. When I was a kid and a teenager, this was always a problem for my family – we never really had a place of our own, so I made it a priority as I got older to make sure that was never an issue for me as an adult. I made sacrifices so I could afford to buy a home. Nic and I both did. So, now we have a house in Oakham, Rutland, which is a small country town, we’ve got enough space, we’ve got a garden, we’ve put down roots. We’ve got our own front door which we can close.

It’s not so for the younger generation. There’s a crisis going on, maybe, a hidden one. At least, it feels to me like people aren’t talking about it – well, not enough, anyway. The younger generation has been completely priced out of the housing market, there’s little or no public provision to back them up, so there are literally millions of young people who only have options like staying with their parents long term, sofa surfing, or sleeping rough. It’s a scandal. We should be shouting about it.

This is what I mean about our resilience. I’m conscious that while we try and encourage our audiences to feel positive about their circumstances, the plain truth for some is that they don’t even have a base to go back to every night, a proper home, so how can they be expected to collect their thoughts, become proactive about changing their lives, and make the connections they need to? How can they have any security, or even think about starting a career? Let alone, a family. How can they build durable networks of friends and allies, access essential services? How can they grow?

We need to rebuild this aspect of our society and fast. Inevitably, the Labour Party is the starting point, with the best policies on education, welfare, in-work poverty, housing and supporting youth. Another beacon is Centrepoint, the charity that speaks up for the homeless, spreading awareness, providing help, and campaigning for housing change. Their brilliant website is at centrepoint.org.uk and I hope you might take a few minutes of your time to pay it a visit. You can subscribe there for news and updates on this important subject.

Have a great week everyone.