Perhaps the most important thing we can give each other is our attention
Network Counselling and Training is a Bristol based charity, providinglow cost counselling and training within a Christian ethos. At the end of November, it celebrated Listening Day, a day with origins in America but co-opted by the charity to bring focus on the value and importance of listening.
Several churches and schools in Bristol took part in the day;Network released an animated voxpop video, from the streets of Bristol, called How do you listen (see www.network.org.uk) and invited people to try some simple steps to listen differently.
Network director, Nick Ruff, explained the work of the organisation and why it adopted Listening Day:
"Over the years Network has trained hundreds of people, in pastoral, caring and helping roles to listen well and believes that it is something we can all learn to do better. But our experience has shown us that we can all forget how to listen well or not recognise our unhelpful and sometimes entrenched habits.
"For example, many of us try to listen but often we are thinking about what we want to say in response, long before the person we are listening to has even finished speaking. Listening means actually paying attention. It means really being present with each other. When we are present with each other, we allow the possibility of making contact, actually making a connection, and really meeting someone.
"In feedback from schools, Twitter and Facebook, many people said they recognised that they often stopped listening while they thought of their response, and wanted to jump in with advice and solve the problem. One Tweeter shared that it was a relief to realize that they didnt have to solve the problem but just listen
Listening Day was an opportunity to offer something back to the churches and communities who have supported us over the years. Almost 30years ago the church communities in Bristol identified a need for counselling which recognised the role of faith in our lives. From these beginnings, Network has grown to provide over 4,000 counselling sessionseach year for people of faith and no faith, and training in counselling and listening which considers the spiritual dimension of our lives. We wanted to remind people of the simple power of listening and hope the video and other resources will be useful for any church or community group where listening matters.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
To watch How do you Listen go to www.network.org.uk
If you are interested in finding out more about Network, or can offer you time or help with fundraising please contact use firstname.lastname@example.org