Today’s Zoom session for Art Derbyshire and the Cultural Prescribing pilot went to new levels. [A commission that sees me working closely with Link Worker staff from across the county to consider how engaging in creative activity helps nurture them and support the work they do with their clients]. By their very nature these highly motivated stretched to capacity workers are empaths and generous. They make do with little resources and are driven by the limitations. Both of which makes me not surprised by their responses to the question: Would you eat the last biscuit or give it away? All said ‘give it away’ bar one who only then would save half for herself.
Why though were we considering this question? I was initially interested in mirroring their responses back to catalyse a conversation about value and worth. I wanted us to consider how given our traits and the nature of the role, our answer would help us she how we can be easily led into a position of being exhausted or put upon. I wanted, I guess, to see how thinking about ourselves is as important as what we deliver. And as a good friend of mine would say: “if I’m overwhelmed I cant be of use, so being safe is about staying useful”. This all links back to considerations I’ve done over many years in relation to resilience, both of ourselves and the nurturing of it with others. Resilience I believe is about accessing, acting on and actioning choice and often we cant do this when we’ve given away everything. I, alongside artist Katie Smith, considered this at Ash Villa – a young people unit in Lincolnshire. We used the biscuit idea, then as now, as a metaphor to consider concepts of why we loose focus, loose resilience, loose power… we considered how if we give away all our power in the support and help of others we become depleted.
But why is this interesting for Link workers today? Of course it addresses the same Resilience ideas. But also I propose it helps us consider in a creative, artful, skewed, non-direct way, a base line assessment? Maybe it also reminds us that just because you can doesn’t mean you should, which might help us to consider choice? Does it let us reflect on where we all stand as we start, alerting us to our own health/wellbeing – helping us consider how close to exhaustion or overload we are? I wonder too can asking the biscuit question of others help us be more responsible of what we ask of them? I would argue that saving the last biscuit helps us see our own agency and gives us the power to demand that we deserve to be cared for to?