Boingboing blogs from… Lewisham

Designing tools for talking resilience… The Resilience Tree

by Penny Phillips – Programme and Community Development Manager, HeadStart

I attended the Designing Resilience event in June with Boingboing and University of Brighton to explore tools for bringing the resilience framework to life and was inspired by the Resilience Tree as a metaphor for resilience. I was also hooked into the idea of how a tree, leaves and fruit could be utilised as a communication tool for describing resilience and a method for gaining insights from people about their own resilience, resilient practice, resilience of others and what they might do differently given the opportunity.

I was inspired by the flexibility of the Resilience Tree concept and the ability to use it in a number of ways with different audiences. We had two large events coming up in Lewisham and so I took the opportunity to see if I could get something made and in action locally.

We are working already with a number of arts organisations through HeadStart Lewisham so I contacted LEAN who put us in touch with a local young artist, Sinead Kempley, who made us our Resilience Tree. She worked with some children in her after school club to paint leaves and fruits to go on the tree. The frame is a two piece of mdf with little plugs as sticks on branches to hang leaves and fruit. The leaves and fruit are laminated so they can be written on and wiped clean.

So far we have used the Resilience Tree at Lewisham People’s Day a large free community festival in Lewisham – We were there with the Young Mayor and Advisors, Youth Service and HeadStart Lewisham Young People’s steering group where we facilitated a range of activities for young people to participate in. We used the Resilience Tree to ask young people to tell us what they did that kept them happy (our HeadStart young people steering group use the slogan ‘because I’m Happy’ in their youth led work).

Responses included statements such as, “getting involved in new things“, “drinking plenty of water“, “eating healthy food“, “experiencing life“. Many of the comments were food related and this may be because the tree was located next to a healthy eating food activity Delicious most Nutritious. Because there were lots of things for young people to do the tree was less of a feature than originally anticipated but it gave us an opportunity to test it and it looked great and was resilient against the wind!

On 14 July 2015 we held a multi-agency event for young people, parents, and practitioners at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance who not only provided an amazing space for the event but are leading the Dancing Ahead project as part of HeadStart Lewisham. The aim of the event was to introduce Lewisham’s approach to young people’s emotional and mental health and the role resilience plays in influencing outcomes for young people. We put the Resilience Tree to use this day capturing attendees’ thoughts on what they do now as part of their work to contribute to young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Responses included:

Tell her she is loved every day” Sharon Finch Foster Carer
Support their parents which in turn raises the aspirations of the child
Work with partners to make links that help young people

Resilience tree

At the end of the day we asked them to answer the following question this time writing on the fruit. What one action will you take as a result of attending today? Responses included:

Using the resilience framework to support our practice in all service areas we deliver
Practise mindfulness
I will be using the resilience framework and rejigging our school resilience programme to include context

Resilience tree

What is next for our tree? Voluntary Action Lewisham has borrowed the Resilience Tree for a voluntary sector asset mapping activity, where they will ask community groups to assess the strengths in the sector. We will continue to look at how we can use it as an engagement and communication tool around organisational and system resilience with practitioners and in our work with young people.

Resilience tree

For more information please contact Penny Phillips, Programme and Community Development Manager – HeadStart, on 020 8314 6968.

This work is part of our Imagine Programme, and the Connected Communities Programme.