I’ve been lucky enough to work with Here in a part-time capacity for nearly a year now. I’m not an employee – I work as a freelancer and spend time when it’s needed helping with the work to share stories inside and outside the organisation. (I’ll come back to why we’re sharing stories below.)
Much of the rest of my time I’m a volunteer and mindfulness teacher with another Brighton-based social enterprise – Grow Mindfulness.
The financial incentive to go to work
Up until five years ago I was working mainly in the private sector, working for traditionally structured and profit-focused organisations. Although these organisations often had a set of values and a mission that I was supposed to believe in and be working towards, in my heart of hearts I understood that the real motivations for going to work were
- Motivator a) to earn enough money to keep my family afloat financially
- Motivator b) to help the owners or shareholders of the business make as much profit as possible
Motivator a) offered a certain kind of incentive to get out of bed each morning most of the time. A bit like being poked by a sharp, pointy stick. Motivator b) – profit for the business owners – was something I spent less time thinking about except during times of financial turbulence. During those stormy times it became apparent that I, like all of my colleagues, were expendable ‘resources’ that could be jettisoned at a moment’s notice in order to protect that profit. So it was very much in my interest to do my best to contribute to that profit if I could.
What was often lacking from this working experience was any genuine emotional or ethical connection to the output of my labours.
A personal challenge to give my life more meaning
Then five years ago I took a bit of a leap, gave up my job and started working for myself. My challenge to myself was to see if it would be possible to work only for organisations who were doing the world more good than harm. I’ve been more and less successful at meeting this challenge, but it has led to me working with a wide range of amazing and inspirational charities, non-profits and social enterprises. And it’s a decision that I’ve never regretted.
Of course, every business has to be financially viable. That’s something I’m more conscious of than ever now that I work so closely with social enterprises! But working with an organisation with a social purpose like Here has completely changed my relationship with my work. While my need to pay the rent is still present and pressing, the need to make profits for a small group of others has been replaced with a new motivator:
Motivator c) Here’s purpose – care unbound, creating more possibilities for care in every moment.
For Here, these words aren’t the fluffy output of a hollow (and expensive) ‘branding exercise’. Here’s purpose came from the organisation looking into its heart and asking itself what matters. It is also its social mission.Which is where the sharing of stories comes in. It’s about helping to build connections, share inspiration and learn from all the other amazing organisations and individuals who are growing care in the world. Working to support this purpose means that getting out of bed in the morning has never been easier.
Working with meaning: the best reason to get out of bed
Brighton and Hove is chockablock full of amazing social enterprises doing amazing things. This means that people who live in or near the city have an amazing opportunity to find work that matters to them and isn’t just about paying the rent. It feels like many of us are standing stunned and daunted by the challenge of keeping our heads above water in a world that’s running out of resources to sustain us all. Committing to a cause you believe in and giving it your time, energy and unique creative input feels like a really constructive way to care for yourself and for all our futures.
Here has been nominated for the social enterprise of the year award at this year’s social enterprise awards. Wish us luck! And if you’d like to come and work with us – as a partner or a colleague – take a look at the Working with us section.
Tamsin Bishton works as a freelancer with the Circus team. Find out more about the Circus team here.
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