Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “Westlake United Church Trust”

Toxic Charity: Lessons from The Field

What happens when our good intentions do more harm than good? We asked three Christian development practitioners to share what they’ve learnt about how we can help people without hurting them or ourselves.

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Lindsay Henley, Director of Beth Uriel, a home for previously disadvantaged young men

“Be constantly aware of what you are bringing into the relationship/acts of service in terms of your own expectations, needs and attitude. Giving can be ‘toxic’ on both ends.  Over helping to the point of ‘other reliance’ is toxic for the recipient.  It creates issues of dependency and perpetuates cycles of poverty.  While giving out of your own un-met needs and with unrealistic expectations of transformation is toxic to the giver and unfair to put on the recipient.  If the result of your service is not life-giving to yourself as well as the recipient, then hit the pause button and take some more time to think it through.”

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Colleen Saunders, core member of The Warehouse‘s Church Mobilisation team

“It’s easy for the well-resourced church to give of what they have to help ‘the poor’. But unless the recipients themselves recognise the possibility of change and acknowledge the need to change, that help will always be paternalistic and led by the giver – no matter how pure the heart behind the giving. Transformational development is a long, slow walk alongside another, helping them to recognise their own resources, worth and potential, and together with them seeking to restore what was lost.I value this scripture in realising how much this is on God’s heart … ‘The Son of man came to seek and save what was lost’ (Luke 19:10).”

Dave (centre back) and Liz (right) with their son Robin (left) and their grand daughter, Paige (centre front)

Dave (centre) with family

Dave Barnes, manager of Westlake United Church Trust

“Hand outs create dependency and usually don’t help people to move above their circumstances. The toxic spin off for the giver is that one can create a patronizing/paternalistic relationship with recipients where you see the person as someone always wanting something from you, not as a someone who is struggling but who could have some of their own idea(s) of how to try to improve their situation. Our help or charity can rob a person of their own initiative or enable them to maintain bad habits and remain in negative situations.

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Portrait of a Real Hero

A carer from Westlake enters the house of one of her clients

With the Care for the Carer campaign coming up, here’s a glimpse into the life of one carer. By Nathalie Koenig

It’s 5am, and Zoleka’s day begins. By 8:30am, she’s made breakfast for her family; made sure all three of her children are ready for school; dropped her two-year-old off at day care; waved goodbye to her husband, a warden at Pollsmoor Prison, and made her way to the Westlake United Church Trust (WUCT) building to start her work day as a home-based palliative carer.

First thing every morning, Zoleka, 36, receives a list of about eight clients to visit in the nearby community before 1pm.

Her clients range in age, needs and moods, but Zoleka remains consistent regardless of what the day throws at her.

A carer washing the dishes during a home visit

“When I have problems I don’t change because of how I’m feeling,” she explains. “I always put on a smiley face when I visit a client so that I can gain their trust.”

Zoleka’s home visits require her to fill a variety of different functions depending on the client. Sometimes they need to be washed and changed into clean clothes. Sometimes their dishes need to be washed and their home tidied. Sometimes all they need is a cup of tea and some company. Her clients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can become defensive and even aggressive. Wounds are dressed. Insulin is administered. Lost items are found and pillows are fluffed.

“It exhausts you mentally and physically,” says Zoleka. “But you have that feeling that you’ve done something good. And to see that smile, and bring hope into their lives, brings me joy.”

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