The Friendship Bench


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In a lot of our local school they have adopted the “friendship bench” or a “buddy bench”

This bench is a special bench situated in the playground where children can go when they have no one to play with and feeling lonely. All the other children are encouraged when they see someone sitting on the bench to go over and offer some support and friendship, to sit and chat or to ask the child to come and play.

I think this is a fantastic idea, and it teaches children to think of others.

Asked by one of the children they explained how it works….. he said “its where, if you can’t find your best friends and you don’t know where to go and play, you sit on the friendship/buddy bench and someone will come and find you and they will include you in their game” Another child agreed that the bench helps to ‘find friends easily when you are lonely and you don’t have anyone to play with’.

Fast forward to adulthood. Have you ever been in a situation whereby a friendship bench could have been a lifesaver for you? Maybe not the actually bench but having the hand of friendship being offered.

Have you ever started a new job and felt so alone, not included and that feeling of dread often being left on your own at break time? This is particularly difficult for people who do temporary work.

Have you ever been at a meeting where you feel that everyone knows someone except you?

Have you ever been involved in a large group and you seem to be the only person there on your own?

I am sure that you quite possibly might have been in this situation at some point in your life.

Some people are comfortable at mixing with strangers and find it easy to walk up and introduce themselves and start chatting to another person, or even a group of people. But there are many that haven’t got the confidence to do this, perhaps they might be shy, lack confidence or just feel that they are not good enough to be there for whatever reason.

What do you do when you are presented with a situation that puts you in a large group of people who you don’t know?

I am a generally a friendly person and will chat to anyone. I am one of these people who will start a conversation at a bus stop rather than stand in silence. If I am on my own I will look to see if there is another person standing on their own and go over and chat to them. If I approach a group I just smile and stand on the edge of the group until there is an opening for me to speak. This is harder to do, but I would rather do this than stand on my own.

So how can you look out for those that need that hand of friendship.

Always welcome a new member of staff and include them in the work place as much as you can. Try and arrange that they have someone with them at tea breaks or lunch breaks. Introduce them to other members of staff – even those that might not be in your department. Making someone feel welcome is a massive step towards someone feeling confident in their new role.

At a meeting, you might be aware that it is someone’s first time there. It is important for them to be made welcome and know of any procedures that may be required. People often worry about not knowing what is expected from them and that is a reason for nerves to set in, or mistakes to be made or simply them not taking part in the meeting.

If the occasion is bigger such as a conference look out for those people standing on their own. Go and chat to them or offer them to come and join your group. They well might be waiting on others coming and decline your offer, but you at least have asked.

If you a Manager and a new person starts its your responsibility to ensure that the “new person” is made to be felt welcome. If you can’t do it personally then ensure that they have someone who will mentor them and that they have someone they can go to. Often new people get “forgotten” in the busy day and that can be very scary.

If you are organising a training session or meeting try to include everyone and make them feel part of the group. I always make sure that I am there to personally meet everyone and chat to them on arrival.

Someone once said …… “There are times in my life when I could use a friendship bench. People of all ages are lonely at times. It’s a simple, transformative idea”

It can often take a lot for someone to go alone, the hand of friendship can be change so much.

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© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

I’m Late, I’m Late for A Very Important Date


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In today busy society meetings and training sessions are an every day event for most of us.

As Managers we have meetings with the Partners, we have meetings with outside agencies we then have to have meetings with our Heads of Departments and meetings with the Reception Teams.

We sometimes have to have meetings about meetings!!!! Or it seems like it.

As well as meetings we often have to attend or facilitate training sessions.

Whatever we might be attending be it a meeting or training session it all takes up valuable time and often we might have to attend these in our own time.

So, what annoys me more than anything is bad organisation of a meeting and bad timekeeping.

If you are responsible for organising a meeting session please give some thought to the following

Agenda

  • Ensure the agenda is sent out well in advance and people attending have the opportunity of adding something to the agenda and giving them time to arrange the time to attend or sending their apologies if they cannot attend.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

  • Ensure that everyone has been sent a copy of the minutes of the previous meeting to enable them to read before the meeting. Precious time can be lost if people have to read through the minutes of the last meeting before the meeting can actually start.

The Meeting

  • Ensure that the meeting room is set up read for the meeting to start. This includes

–       Relevant paperwork prepared

–       Room prepared as in tables and chairs set out / computers / overheads /   whiteboard / paper / stationary         

  • I have been at a meeting that should have started at 9.00 only to find that the room had to be set up – paperwork had to be photocopied and overheads set up. The actual meeting started at 9.30.
  • If you are not able to set up before the meeting on the day (ie early meeting) ensure that this is done the day before.

Start and Finish Times

  • You should always have a start and finish time for your meetings and keep to these times.
  • It is important that people know the times as they can plan around the meeting.
  • There is nothing worse than someone turning up late to a meeting or worse if the meeting is running late (due to it starting late) people start getting up and leaving as they have other commitments to attend to.
  • Out of respect you owe it to the people who do turn up on time that the meeting starts and finishes on time.

The same applies to any training session that you might be holding. The start and finish times are just every bit as important to the participant as the session itself.

I am attending a training session at the moment every Wednesday morning at the moment. The tutor on the very first session made it very plain that the sessions would start at 10.00 on the dot and not a minutes later – but also that they would finish at 12.00 on the dot. Everyone knew exactly where they stood and five weeks in not one person has turned up late – and we have all finished on time to. It is such a breath of fresh air to know that we would not be sitting around waiting on the “latecomers” arriving.  We were also asked on that very first session that our mobile phones would have to be switched off during the sessions. Everyone was happy to go along with this.

Yet another course I have recently finished was completely different – people would role in 10 minutes late, to the point one didn’t even had the decency to apologise for being late. Mobile phones would regularly ring during the session and people would go out to answer their calls.  These things disrupted the class as the tutor would then re run what she had gone through with us. This was frustrating as we would have all liked to have had a bit more time at home in the morning, but we agreed to attend the training session, fully aware of the starting and finishing times.

Resentment started setting in amongst some of the group – little digs were given about timekeeping but the tutor wasn’t strong enough to enforce the times – and by this time the sessions had been going for some weeks.

Nothing is more annoying that bad timekeeping.

So, if there are regular meetings, or a training session that might be running over a period of weeks I would suggest that you make it very clear on the very first meeting or session that time keeping is important, and you will start the meeting or the training session at the given time and you would appreciate that everyone turns up on time (of course there are always the exceptions but notice of this would be appreciated). Also that mobile phones are switched off whilst the meeting/session is running.

Always give a contact number or email address to your group in the event that they are not coming, that way you can start the session fully aware that they are not going to be there.

You certainly will find that if everyone knows this from the start and you will not abide latecomers that everyone will arrive on time.

Respect should be given to those that turn up on time.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved