Hammersmith Reflections – People who aren’t like us

I was sitting in the sunshine on a bench in Ravenscourt Park having a coffee when I noticed people waving from another bench on the far side of the Tea House. It was Diane, who lives locally near Hammersmith Grove, and a couple of other people.

Diane comes over. We haven’t seen each other for a while. She’s pleased to see me and shrieks in delight.  I am delighted to bump in to her too. Diane smiles. You should see that smile; it speaks volumes. She puts her head on my shoulder and we reconnect and catch up. It’s one of those friendships that transcends time, so we always pick up where we left off.

I almost forgot to tell you (but does it really need saying?) that Diane doesn’t use words to communicate. She spent her formative years in Leavesden, a Victorian institution for people with the label ‘mental handicap’.

I’ve learned a great deal from Diane about how to communicate better, and from how she has dealt with what life has thrown at her. I am richer for knowing her as a friend.

Serendipitously, I was browsing the BBC website and came across Crossing Divides: The benefits of having friends who aren’t ‘just like us’ By Prof Miles Hewstone University of Oxford – 22 April 2018:

“For most of us, the people we see on a regular basis – our social network – are a defining part of our lives. Friends help us understand our place in the world and research shows that strong friendships are associated with reduced anxiety. But there is a growing body of evidence that suggests people tend to make friends with people who are similar to them.

It may well be that we could all benefit from widening the circles we move in. For example, mixing with a diverse set of people can stimulate creativity and benefits both the individual and society.”

The Charity’s 400th anniversary year is all about enabling connections between different people, different communities, and different generations.  From Enigma lunches, and the Ethnic Communities Oral History publications, to the intergenerational project, the Disability Arts Festival, Dancing for Joy, Open Gardens, our very own Gardener’s Question Time, and our new campaign with Dr Edwards & Bishop King’s Fulham Charity, called UNITED in H&F.

Our hope is that these joyful opportunities will provide unexpected and chance encounters for you to meet new friends and neighbours who may not be just like you.

Tim Hughes
Chief Executive & Clerk to the Trustees
Hammersmith United Charities

May 2018

 

 

Hammersmith Reflections – Award Winning Secret Gardens Open Saturday 9 June

Hammersmith United Charities is thrilled to announce the charity has won two awards at the London Gardens Society Competition for each of its two sheltered housing schemes for older people.  Sycamore House won third place for the large community gardens at the awards ceremony. (more…)

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Enigma Event – Polish Heritage Day

We were up against the Royal wedding, the FA cup final (featuring Chelsea), battery powered technology and Ikea flat pack garden furniture…it didn’t feel promising! But the sun shone, we viewed “the dress” on our mobile phones and we were enchanted by the hospitality of the organisers of Polish Heritage day in Ravenscourt Park.

This Enigma lunch took place in a tent on a drop in basis. The revelation was how to make people laugh – genuinely surprised, proper laughs – directly ask them to sit at a (slightly wobbly, bilious orange) table, eat bread and cheese and talk to someone they don’t know. For those who dared, this was everything we wanted from an Enigma event; people sharing their stories, their languages and their experiences.

We focused the lunch around the republication of “Passport to Exile”, memories of Polish migrants in the 1980s. And around an artist in residence who shared his art with us during the day. Technology failure denied us a Polish musician but instead we enjoyed – for the first time in this series of events – the conversation and enthusiasm of some delightful children.

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Irish Enigma Event

Serenaded by footstompingly enjoyable traditional Irish musicians, we enjoyed the hospitality of the new Irish Cultural Centre for our third Enigma lunch.

The hall was full for the occasion with guests drawn from the Cultural Centre, our residents, friends of the charity and neighbours who found out about the event from Next Door.

As hoped, the conversation flowed, sparked to some extent by responses to our republication of the reminiscences of Irish migrants first published in the 1980s. Guests were delighted to read the stories; some remembered the original project and, for others, the stories newly discovered, very much tuned in to their own memories.

We ended the event with a riveting and entertaining story by a professional story teller who had the whole hall enthralled and entertained with her tale of her life as the daughter of a small town shopkeeper  – and more seriously with her thoughts about “community”  – very much the theme of our Enigma lunches.

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Hammersmith Reflections – People who aren’t like us

I was sitting in the sunshine on a bench in Ravenscourt Park having a coffee when I noticed people waving from another bench on the far side of the Tea House. It was Diane, who lives locally near Hammersmith Grove, and a couple of other people.

Diane comes over. We haven’t seen each other for a while. She’s pleased to see me and shrieks in delight.  I am delighted to bump in to her too. Diane smiles. You should see that smile; (more…)

Read More ...