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Ordinary people achieving extraordinary things

28 January 2013


In this guest blog, John Hamblin, chief executive of Shekinah, a charity based in south west England delivering services to vulnerable adults, talks about how such projects allow ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.

At the end of a recent presentation I gave to a local community group, I was asked the question; “Do you think Shekinah is successful?” Whilst I never hesitate in answering this, it is good to reflect upon what appears to be a straightforward question.

John Hamblin

Shekinah’s John Hamblin

Shekinah has been delivering services to vulnerable adults since 1992 and from its early days of operating a small drop in centre in Plymouth, it has grown to a stage where there are nine diverse projects across South Devon.

These include an accommodation scheme, drop in centre, rough sleeper street outreach service and an extensive education, training and employment programme.

In addition we have also developed a number of social enterprises such as Growing for Life where generation of income along with the creation of real employment opportunities are just two of our social outcomes.

On a daily basis I see people accessing our services who are broken, damaged and clearly have what they perceive as no hope, or future. Watching individuals as they progress on their journey has brought me many smiles and in some cases tears over the years.

I strongly believe that while we create the platform for individuals to change, it is the individual and not the service that brings about change.

One of my favourite sayings about Shekinah is that we allow for “ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things, all we do is create a window of opportunity”.  So yes, whilst I think that individuals take up the opportunities that we provide, success for me is about the individual.

I guess what is sad is the way that we have grown over the years. Apart from the increasing challenges of keeping the money coming in, it’s sad to think the demand that led us to grow continues.

I always remember at one of the first staff meetings I attended as CEO, I was asked, “What was my wish for the future?” While my initial response of “Make you all redundant and close our doors” was received with puzzlement, I still dream of a day where I live in a society in which the Shekinahs of this world are not needed.

“Dreamer” I hear you say? Maybe, but it will never stop me working towards this.

Watch the above video to see Shekinah’s work in action. Are you inspired by their story? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 31 March 2013 3:25 pm

    Ordinary people achieving extraordinary things | The Big Lottery Fund Blog

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