Hard hitting lessons, emotions and family

Reflections of the Drivers for Change journey by Samirah, Mayla and Nabeeda.

Hard Hitting Lessons, by Samirah 

This train will now be arriving at Liverpool Lime Street station.

Finally. After standing up for the whole journey, and the joys of rail replacement services I had arrived at the first stop of the Drivers for Change journey.

Leading up to the journey, I remember being so excited, trying to subtly drop it into every conversation. This was an opportunity to learn through presence, to experience different spaces and to gain substantial knowledge on creating community-led social change. Most importantly, and a credit to those who made this possible, it was accessible and inclusive. I’m not embarrassed to admit, that without it I would not have been able to take part.

Drivers for Change enjoy a social enterprise walking tour with Invisible Cities Edinburgh
Drivers for Change enjoy a social enterprise walking tour with Invisible Cities Edinburgh

One of the sessions in Birmingham had a focus on emotional well-being and mental health. As entrepreneurs and activists, it is easy to become engulfed in fighting for social justice and equality for others that we often forget ourselves. That session opened a safe space for people to reflect on and discuss the pitfalls of their own journey, with the comfort of knowing that those around them truly understood. Being able to sit down and write freely helped me fall back into love with writing, maybe because we were instructed to do so. Big up Anna. It was refreshing to sort of have a word with myself, I guess. God knows I need to.

The most powerful and beautiful aspect of this program was the diversity of the group, the inclusion of the International participants was truly rewarding. Looking back, I’m grateful for having the opportunity to listen to these stories, to be able to have an insight into their world that is not through the lens of Western media.

Drivers for Change participants from Pakistan and Egypt
Drivers for Change participants from Pakistan and Egypt

The conversations that I had with both participants and facilitators throughout the journey have left me with a few lessons, one being not to isolate yourself when you feel misunderstood, but rather challenge the quieter parts of you to take form, define your essence before anyone else can.

Leaving the DfC journey behind, I’ve started another journey for self–growth. I’ve got a bag of knowledge on social entrepreneurship, and a whole Santa’s sack of valuable life lessons!

I’d just like to add a truly genuine and sincere thank you to every single individual on the journey, the participants, facilitators, Richard and Jude. And a special shout-out to Group 4, George, Tilly, Leonie, Molly and Akua, you guys really defined my journey. Much love. Big up everyone!

Unexpected Emotions, by Mayla

I think that most of the people who went on this journey, if not all, feel that it opened them up in an unexpectedly emotional way. We were challenged so many times to look inside ourselves and share things that mattered to us, things that were personal or even painful and hard to talk about.

There was a feeling about the programme that allowed this openness to flourish. From the very beginning, with her words, Jude Kelly made us feel like it was a place for everyone, that difference is ok and that there is no such thing as ‘the norm’, that it’s ok to have had a difficult life but it’s also ok to not have many things that have affected you in a painful way.

Mayla presents her groups idea for a social enterprise at the House of Lords
Mayla presents her group’s idea for a social enterprise at the House of Lords

Despite the fact that everything was organised, there was an informal feel to the program that made it possible to connect with not only other participants but the facilitators and organisers too. There was a feeling that we were all equal. The exercises that we were asked to do together provided an open space for emotions and honesty. This safe space is such a rare thing to have, often even among friends let alone people you have only known for a few days.

By creating this atmosphere by the end of the journey and, even closer towards the start, we saw people share things about themselves that were deeply difficult in the form of speech and spoken word poetry and express themselves in a number of ways. People confronted their fears because they were in a space where they felt safe enough to do that.

After our reflective debrief and show at the Southbank Centre, when I saw so many people pouring their hearts out in one way or another and I myself was able to confront my anxiety of singing in front of people, I fully realised the power of the space we had created within each other’s company.

Sharing memorable experiences between learning about social and creative enterprise
Sharing memorable experiences between learning about social and creative enterprise

When we all came together in one room and reflected on the journey we all started to show each other our emotions in that space, we became more aware of how the journey had affected us, the things we’d learnt, the people we had met and the experiences we had had, a reflection that would go on long after the Drivers for Change journey had ended and the rest of our stories began.

I Found a Family, by Nabeeda 

The title sounds a little weird right? That’s what I felt like when I was writing it. Because I am writing about a professional program I went on so how did I find a family? Even I am surprised.

At the start of the journey, I went into it thinking I would create a professional network of people who we can discuss business with and hopefully speak to them once in a while. I have been to similar things before and people lose touch within a few days and I didn’t expect this to be any different.

But the reality was SO different. See Exhibit A:

Drivers for Change climb Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh to watch the sunset
The Drivers for Change ‘family’ climb Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh to watch the sunset

We did so many things together from climbing mountains to exploring new cities and that created a bond that we will forever have. Its funny when I tell people around me about it, they don’t’ believe it or understand how it was possible.

But spending 11 days together, every moment accelerated the process of bonding as we became vulnerable and opened up to each other. Now, it has been over a week since the trip ended and we all still talk, message and support each other.

I know that when I miss DfC or have a bad day, I can send a message to one of them and they will do anything to cheer me up or understand what I am feeling. That’s what families do right?

Getting a selfie in the sunset with the DfC family
Sunset selfie 

It’s amazing to think that all this came out of a journey like this. I also know that together we will bring the change we all want because we are supporting and encouraging each other. So, everyone watch this space as this family comes together to change the world, one community at a time.

To find out more about my own experiences on the journey, check out my blog www.worldofnabeeda.com

Thanks to Samirah, Mayla and Nabeeda for your reflections on the journey experience.

We look forward to continuing to support you to create change!