In my previous article I told my story about returning to the UK having lived in South Africa for mny years and how I coped.  In this article I am going to discuss my experiences of awesome results of collaboration.  Many years ago, before I opened my practice I was a volunteer Counsellor for Life Line in South Africa. Life Line came about because in 1962 a Reverend of a church in Australia took a call from a distressed man who later took his own life.

In 1968 Life Line opened in Cape Town and the Johannesburg branch opened in 1969 . In addition to face-to-face counselling today Life Line receives 200 calls a day nationally. This organization can run this vital service because many people give up a relatively small chunk of time coming together offering their diverse skills and ideas to make a big difference to many people’s life.

The concept of many people working together to create something far greater than an individual working alone was evidenced by me many years later in my role as a Rotarian.   Rotary is a worldwide organization that demonstrates the awesome results of collaboration in just about everything they do.  Going back to my story….. What happened was the lady who I employed to clean my home came to work one day very distressed. She lived in a shack in a community of people who were very impoverished, and she told me that whilst she was at work her 10 year old son had burned down the shack next door whilst playing with matches. This meant that a Grandmother and her disabled granddaughter were homeless!

Not only were they homeless but the little girl’s wheelchair was also destroyed in the fire which left the Grandmother with no means to transport the little girl. She was not strong enough to carry her because at 6 years of age the little girl was too heavy.

Fortunately, the Grandmother and little girl were able to stay with a friend nearby until my employee could raise funds to recompense her neighbour. As I listened to this sad tale, I remembered that another Rotary Club nearby regularly received second- hand wheelchairs and crutches from another Rotary Club in the UK who in turn received them from the NHS. So, I made a telephone enquiry and was told that they had several small wheelchairs in stock, but I would need to take the little girl to their warehouse to ensure that she received a chair that was a perfect fit for her.

As I had never visited the facility before I had no idea what to expect so when we arrived and saw wheelchairs and spare parts and crutches of various sizes stacked to ceiling height I was stunned! I learned that these wheelchairs are periodically shipped to Northcliff Rotary, South Africa, who then distributes them countrywide through affiliated Rotary clubs.

The welcoming Rotary volunteers very quickly found a wheelchair that was a perfect fit for the little girl who left the facility smiling.

I don’t know what led to Rushmoor Rotary Club in the UK sending the wheelchairs to another club in South Africa but someone had an idea that sparked the beginning of the initiative that has made a huge difference to a lot of people.

They learned that there was a drastic shortage of wheelchairs in the shanty towns and rural areas of South Africa;  That many people were being dragged around in wheelbarrows and on sheets of cardboard and metal.  They set about finding second-hand wheelchairs from the NHS and private donations and sent them to Southern Africa for distribution through the affiliates of Rotary. Many people doing their bit working together towards a common goal to benefit the community.   More than 22 000 wheelchairs have been provided to worthy recipients across South Africa, free of charge. This was achieved through the collaboration of organizations, donors and volunteers. A nigh on impossible result if only a handful of people were involved.

These are just two examples of how the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts and huge results can be achieved if we collaborate.

People come to see me for help to address a wide range of challenges. It has always been my practice to encourage my clients to receive other types of treatment alongside what I offer if I feel it would be of benefit to get a better or quicker result. What I am saying is that I don’t aim to be everything to my client and that sometimes a combination of treatment and collaboration is necessary.

For example, when I am working with people who are struggling with depression I will equip them with tools to relax deliberately, teach them mindfulness, challenge and reframe black and white all-or-nothing thinking, help them to reduce worrying with my “worry well” for solutions template and do a Primal Needs Assessment to help them set goals for a balanced fulfilling life. Often, however, because nutrition is not within my scope of practice, I will refer the person to a Nutritionist because I know that the food we eat can affect our mood state. In some instances, I might also refer the person for CBT.

If you are looking for someone to help you overcome a specific challenge and is client centered contact me on 07708 961 073. I offer a complimentary 20 minute telephone call when I will have an opportunity to understand what you are going through and how I can help you.  Read about my services here

Read article about interprofessional collaboration here