Over 3 years as President of the Redcliffe Peninsula Chamber of Commerce I was involved with creating events whereby people gather so as to discuss business issues, network and establish skills. During this period of time we have grew from 26 paid members to a membership over 150 with many more associates. During these RPCC meetings I have personally observed people come together, share knowledge and create personal connections….. not always about business and the pursuit of wealth.
I feel that we could establish a similar feeling with the emphasis being on personal connection, friendship with as opposed to business networking.
There are a great number of well established people in our community that want to contribute to cultural change in our community but they don’t know how or don’t wish to be a part of a traditional NFP style of organisation. In addition there are a large amount of people suffering through loneliness, social exclusion and lack of opportunity that are unable to establish a sense of connection due to circumstances beyond their control. These circumstances can include but are not limited to:
- Mental Health
- Situational Poverty
- Generational poverty
Interestingly I believe that these gatherings will assist not only the people with the difficulties above. A great number of people that experience loneliness and a lack of connection appear on the outside to be very successful members of society.
I recently had a well known successful business owner in my area confide in me that he was going through a nasty divorce and felt isolated. He had worked hard on his business for most of his life but didn’t feel that he had a friend he could be open and honest with. He had staff, he had associates but no one he felt was a friend. His purpose was his business and it left him feeling empty.
These gatherings will be an opportunity for basic social interaction between people that may not normally interact and as a result the following outcomes should occur:
A sense of social belonging and community inclusion grows. Both for those in hardship to be included and noticed but also for those that appear to be on the successful side of the coin to feel that they are making positive change.
- Opportunities for employment, skills development and new experiences. The opportunity for business owners to see the untapped value of people that have lacked opportunity as future employees will come as a result of simple conversations. The current system of employment agency style job searching is cumbersome and basically ineffective.
Seeing a resume on a white page is no comparison to speaking with an enthusiastic person who may not be able to tick every box on an application but is ready, willing and able to learn new skills.
- A reduction in costs to the community by way of increased employment rates, reduced health issues associated with loneliness and lack of social interaction and a decreased suicide rate.