Saturday, September 03, 2016

Reflections on moving from Canning Town, London E16, to live & work at Romford YMCA

Moving on and creating Fertile Ground
When we first moved into Romford YMCA.
Leaving our inner city work and home
to enter into a new work.......

Pip Wilson Mission Statement
I will be an effective lover.
I will live to love -
Modelled on my developing commitment, understanding and faith in God.
I will continue to believe, behave, and affirm that all individual persons are unique, 
special and valuable - beautiful human persons. I will demonstrate that, verbalise that.
I will live to love myself, family, friends, colleagues and active socially and cosmically.

Joan and I walked from our new home in the 11 story tower block – Romford YMCA. 
We walked from the YMCA for ten minutes into the bustling town centre of Romford, 
London Borough of Havering. 
We talked about our release and liberation. 
We felt free. 
That was a combination of housing, 
Church, pressure of work, client group, 
community and many others we could not 
get our heads around in those early days.

I had lost my resilience in my work. 
Still bubbling with enthusiasm and creativity. 
Still loving humans with all my heart. 
Still spending lots of extra time with them at their point of need.

I remember that the last months and weeks of living in the East End – 
I spent lots of time in Crown Court with young humans and their families. 
Time drinking tea and wondrous conversations. 
Then shorter blasts of time when I spoke on their behalf before the court. 
Spoke honestly of their strengths and development. 
Their prospects for the future.

Now we had a new community. 
A mixed bag of humans in community, with my main responsibility towards 
150 young humans who lived in the hostel. 
We had a selection of Students from overseas, 
Ford Apprentices, homeless youngsters and others with special needs.
A number of those special needs resided in anger, loneliness and lack of confidence.
I will tell you a story – paint just one picture right here – right now.

We sat around talking and asking each other questions.
I was tired, slouching as you do.  
There someone else who was particularly tired slumped, like me, in mirrored style.  
Sadly, a couple of bright sparks were at the table as well.  
There was five of us bunched together eating the YMCA evening meal. 
Two, I know, had come from a background of hell.  
Scars showed in different ways.  
Let’s say there was three - I count myself in with the scarred.
We chatted and they asked me questions and 
I asked them questions and the questions were going well!  
So I asked more deliberate focused questions.

“What colour are you, what colour describes your personality and your character?”
I aimed the question at a young woman who I’d never met before 
who was warm chatty and open.  
Before she could answer the other three people on the table 
had answered, really meaningfully and thoughtfully.  
She engaged as well. 
People picked single colours.  
Then one broke ranks and went multiple. 
He duly shared without being self conscious.  
Real self of revelation.  
Me?  I felt I am red with yellow cracks like lightening flashes, all over me.  
“They are the vulnerable bits” I said.

I followed that with another question, 

“What colour is Princess Diana?”
There was quite a head scratching thoughtful eye-rubbing expressions. 
People vocalised different colours. 
She was yellow, vulnerable and bright and yet glowing and fragile, 
some incredible answers, really good stuff.  
Emotion was expressed yet it was analytical, deep.  Beautiful.

 The next question was  - same question.
“What colour is God, what colour describes God’s personality and character?”
Some wonderful comments flowed forth about God.  
Someone was talking about him being black and dark and unknown. 
Another one of God being brown, a mixture of colours, 
a reminder of being at nursery school and 
mixing all the colours together and ending up with brown.

There was of course the reflection, masterful reflection, 
on God being white, a fusion of all the colours of the rainbow. 
And of course the picture of God being royal purple.
There was no hesitation in this.  
Spiritually oozed in conversation.
I’ve never met a person who hasn’t prayed.  
Talking about God seems like this too - 
if the level is pitched in the words of the street and a group feels ‘cool’.
After that I was asked questions like 
“What’s your favourite verse in the Bible?” - 
My favourite verse in the Bible is …. 
and general talk about God and being relevant to today’s culture or not.
I now feel alive.  
Not tired.


“We become fully conscious only of what we are
able to express to someone else.
We may already have had a certain inner intuition about it,
but it must remain vague so long as it is unformulated”.


from ‘The meaning of persons’                                        
Paul Tournier


 Joan and me, with Joy, Ann and two cats, had been warmly welcomed into this new community. 
Getting all our furniture into the lift to glide to the second floor was a bit of fun. 
The flat was  a door across a corridor and it was great to have a bedroom each for the girls. 
Standing in the lounge of our flat, and looking left, we could see real green grass. 
Wow – so good to see after ten years surrounded by concrete. 
We could also see a small narrow stream which turned out to be the River Rom. 
If we looked forward through the lounge window – 
we had a brick wall facing us which was the upper part of the large sports hall. 
We hadn’t escaped concrete but for us it was pure joy.
We stayed very happy in our flat. 
We loved how I could drop down to work and when ‘time off duty’appeared – 
we were totally guarded by the Reception desk and left alone with our privacy.

Pearls of Wilson Community
Down at ground floor level – I set to work.
Loving …….

I needed an office for my Juke Box and Pinball machine – and and to get some work done!
I spotted a little cupboard next to the Diner servery counter in the lounge 
which was the centre of the YMCA social action.
I got it knocked about, cleaned up, and made into a little office. 
That was the place I chose to be. 
On view. 
No barriers. 
I put my jukebox in and my pinball machine on the wall 
and it become a little hive of attention centrally in the YMCA, 
available to all to pop in and see me.

These were early days when Joy was 18, Ann was 12 and Joan was 21 !  
Joy was working for the fashion designer Zandra Rhondes 
and commuting into London daily. 
Ann was at school in Dagenham – the YMCA was in in that part of London town.


I got among humans. 
There was plenty here. 
I said hello to everyone and got even closer to my strategic target group – 
those living at the YMCA while thousands of others came in and out 
to use the Squash Courts, Sports Hall and Dance Studios and more.