Towards the end of 2022, our deputy CEO Mel Smith submitted her application to join the ‘Relationships Collective’, being formed by The Relationships Project – a national network of thinkers and doers pioneering a relationship-centred future.
Mel and eight others made it through the application process to become the newly appointed Relationships Collective representing a diverse, enthusiastic cross-section of people putting relationships at the heart of work across the UK.
The Collective will come together to:
- Explore and respond to the challenges and opportunities commonly faced by relationship-centred practitioners.
- Identify areas for collective, practical action to push the field forwards and make putting relationships first the norm, not the exception.
- Support one another to become even stronger advocates of relational ways of working and develop their own relationship-centred practice.
Mel says: “I am chuffed to be part of the Relationships Collective. It’s vital that we work towards a world that prioritises relationships. From the small relational things that nurture friendships and joy to being wholly intentional about the design of tactics and strategy to build relationships that can respond to wider systemic issues. Let’s do this!”
Her application outlined how relationships matter to her in all aspects of her life.
She writes: “I believe they are a precious resource. From the individual to working deep in communities through to the boardroom, it all starts with being more human.
“Bringing our whole self to everything we do enables us to work together better. The social challenges we face can be difficult to overcome if we have too many of the wrong kind of relationships and not enough of the right or perhaps we don’t have any at all – ‘I had a friend once but I don’t have one now.’
“And our strategic relationships for change can be a powerful way of unlocking potential leadership and willingness to act.”
Among other things, Mel hopes to bring perspectives and learning from Grapevine’s transformational work with individuals, through to building core groups of people committed to creating change to tackling the frustrations of a lack of commitment to relational ways of working within the system world.
She is joined in the Collective by Fi Carden, Halima Khan, Verity Howorth, Joe Michelli, Farrah Nazir, Elizabeth Oldfield, Brigid Russell and Sarah Yardley.
The Relationships Project said: “We were overwhelmed and overjoyed by the interest in The Collective when we advertised it in late 2022.
“Almost 100 people applied to be a member, spanning many different disciplines, sectors, specialisms, geographies, backgrounds and perspectives.
“It was incredibly difficult to whittle the list down but we are delighted with where we have landed. We’re excited because of the breadth of experience and perspectives that this group contains.
“Whilst a group of 9 people could never represent the whole of the field, we feel that, together, The Collective reaches many different corners and sub-groups within the wider field.”
Mel and her team of Connecting For Good Cov community organisers – Laura, Melissa, Gemma, Fee, Sian and Leonie – have recently been writing ‘week notes’ to help capture their learning and reflections. You can read their latest notes on Medium here.