Project and Services: Five Years of Changes

I’ve been thinking about the services and projects that we deliver and if this is still current and correct today.

Michelle Hill

As part of the process of reflecting on the last 5 years of the journey TLC: Talk, Listen, Change has been on, I’ve been thinking about the services and projects that we deliver.

Firstly, I thought it might be useful to reflect on the ‘why’ of TLC: Talk, Listen, Change and if this is still current and correct today, 5 years on from our launch.

At TLC: Talk, Listen Change we believe that everyone needs a circle of safe, healthy, happy relationships around them. We believe this need is the same whether you are an adult or a child or young person. That circle starts with the relationship that you have with yourself and includes the relationship you have with your partner or ex partner, school or work, family and friends or your local community.

Whatever your life normally looks like, we believe that need for a circle of safe, healthy, happy relationships remains.  It was our belief in this model 5 years ago which led to the launch of TLC: Talk, Listen, Change and it’s this belief which motivates us now.

In the sector, there is much talk about the benefits of being an organisation which is governed, led and delivered by people with lived experience of the organisation’s mission. That’s a funny one for us – as everyone is surrounded by relationships all the time and everyone leading and working and volunteering for TLC: Talk, Listen, Change is no different.

You could say our whole organisation has lived experience of relationships! Some of us bring really positive experiences of relationships we’ve been in and others bring experiences of unhealthy and unsafe relationships.

All of this comes together to mean that our focus on the creation and sustaining of safe, healthy, happy relationships is the bedrock that underpins everything we do.

We talk about being an organisation which is committed to the outcome of achieving safe, healthy, happy relationships rather than one which is wedded to particular interventions or models of delivery.  This means that we can flex and grow to deliver and shape services so they best make an impact rather than structuring the organisation around one intervention type.  Over the evolution of TLC: Talk, Listen, Change we’ve structured our services around four different departments:

  1. Counselling
  2. Domestic Abuse
  3. Mediation and Separation
  4. Community

We sometimes struggle to work through where some of our services and projects fit, as just as people don’t fit into neat boxes, our work doesn’t either. For example, we’ve moved the location of our children and young people’s counselling service for people affected by domestic abuse many times. Does it fit best in our counselling department or in our domestic abuse department? Does it matter? It does from the point of view of ensuring that we can best support the children and young people we work alongside and the counsellors we have delivering the service, but really, no it shouldn’t as the commitment to the mission of the organisation is the same.

This struggle sometimes to place projects in our structure, could also be applied to where we ourselves fit. Our organisation intersects a number of sectors.

We’re part of, but not exclusively in, the mental health sector and the same can be applied to the domestic abuse sector, the youth and play sector and the traditional relationships sector. This intersection is sometimes a difficult place to be; as you’re not totally sure where your home is, but also creates a wealth of opportunities and spaces.

The sizing of our four departments has changed over time as we’ve grown different elements of our projects and services. We’ve tried different approaches in each of the four teams, there is lots we’ve kept and some we’ve let go. Sometimes this is based on changes in the external environment, some because they didn’t create the impact we wanted and some because we couldn’t obtain the funding we needed. Our flexibility of delivery model means we can continue to keep learning and adapting as the organisation grows and matures. These changes and fluctuations do mean that the departments are not currently evenly sized with some bigger than others, in terms of numbers of people supported, geographical reach and numbers of the team.

So does size matter (or in our case the equal balancing of those sizes)? It does really to us, not because we need everything to be equal, but because we are totally committed to being a relationships charity, that enables and supports people to build their circle. That circle is full of relationship touchpoints and we want our service offer to reflect that.

We’re really proud when one part of our organisation changes shape and size but it does challenge us to make sure that we don’t become so unequally balanced that we topple over one way.

TLC: Talk, Listen, Change started our life 5 years ago as a relationships charity and 5 years on, we’re fully committed to remaining one.