Together we matter

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am only for myself, who am I?
If not now, when?” 

The quote above is from Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14, and is about who we are as people: we are not by nature solitary individuals nor wholly merged into a collective. We are always an interplay between separateness and togetherness. To flourish as people, we need these aspects to be alive, to be nourished, and to be in creative tension with each other. It is a dance, a conversation, a relationship.

Claremont’s mission is all about facilitating this creative process so that we can flourish as individuals, friends, communities, and so that we can build a resilient, inclusive, and vibrant civil society. We do this by focussing on the way in which we work…

Mattering: The Relational Approach

We were a founding signatory of the Flourishing Lives National Charter, which identifies the core values of a best practice approach:

Building Quality Relationships

We believe that building quality relationships with people is the heart of our work. Quality relationships require respect, and engender dignity, equality and a striving to see someone for all that they are, have been, and could yet become. Older people are, first and foremost, people. Older people do not form some sort of homogenous group that is different and sectioned off from the rest of society.

Reflective Practice

We think it is important that we foster an awareness of ourselves in how we are working with people. Working self-reflectively means striving to be aware of not only what we are doing but how we are doing it and what factors are motivating us to do it. Many other professions, especially those in mental health and the allied professions, work in this way because it is essential to developing quality relationships. Working self-reflectively helps us avoid falling into unhelpful dynamics with people or acting in ways which are detrimental to the outcomes we are trying to achieve.

Aspirational and Inspirational

We want to facilitate people to be all that they can be. We want to provide aspirational activities and groups and we want to seek inspiration and partnerships externally to help us do this. We aim to make the most of the cultural, sporting and social capital of the areas in which we operate.

Variety, Choice & Life as Normal

Just because someone reaches a certain age does not mean that they automatically want to reduce their existence to one of passive nostalgia. Most of us want life to continue as normal. As providers of services, we want to be able to provide variety, choice and normalcy, where we can, and point people towards choices elsewhere if we don’t provide them ourselves. These choices should not be automatically delimited by arbitrary age groups.

A Shared Vision of Best Practice

We believe that by working closely together, sharing our research, resources, and experience, we can play a part in laying the foundations for a shared vision of progress and quality assurance across the sector. We aim to develop and promote a relational methodology as a member of the Flourishing Lives Coalition, in its online forum, training programme and thought leadership. We and others in the Coalition, want to raise the bar in quality relationships and service delivery. We want to be a catalyst for change and participate in a movement of progressive organisations working together to build communities and enhance the lives of older people.

Booklet Link: Mattering: An Introduction to the Relational Approach

We are also proudly part of the #HowNotWhat movement. See here: https://www.hownotwhat.org/

Participating Nationally

Beyond services delivered locally at Claremont, we are also on a mission to be part of a national and international progressive movement in the provision of the highest quality later life services.

To this end, we co-founded the Flourishing Lives Coalition, a group of 200+ UK organisations working with older people. Members include national arts and culture organisations (such as Tate Modern, Barbican, and British Museum), organisations such as OpenAge, Age UK franchisees, as well as smaller community centres, arts organisations, and individual practitioners. For more information on the Coalition, which also has the Relational Approach at its heart, see Flourishing Lives. We also currently Chair the Age Action Alliance for the Arts.

We were also invited to be a co-founder of the Islington Development Partnership, alongside The Parent House, Help on your Doorstep, Company3, and the Cripplegate Foundation. The Partnership is about exploring and stimulating discussion about the way services are designed and delivered, rather than just what is being delivered. At its heart is a focus on authentic relationship.

International Work

Our work has also become international. We’re currently working on a partnership with a Latvian arts organisation and the Latvian Ministry for the Arts; we have advised Under-Secretary General Bience Gawanas of Namibia, the UN’s Special Advisor on Africa, and who was prior to that Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union. She has taken the Claremont model of working as one international exemplar of how to deliver good outcomes for active older people in Africa. We are also at the first stages of making connections with organisations in Japan and the United States, from whom we can learn and share knowledge.

If this all this resonates for you, and you are excited about it, we want to hear from you!