Changing the tyres while the wheels are still moving…

Written by Anthony Meyer & Alex Augustine

As a busy social enterprise start-up working out of the Impact Hub Islington, TIM is surrounded by inspiring new people, ideas and opportunities every day. So this morning, with the office door decorated with the following all-too-familiar quote, we started reflecting:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Whilst Einstein was so often ahead of his time, this reference to ‘insanity’ isn’t so helpful, but if you turn it on its head and say that the definition of improvement is doing something differently every time, achieving better results… then, Albert, you’ve got TIM listening.

Last Thursday, at the offices of our funder Lankelly Chase, TIM ran its fourth and final pilot of what will now be known as Streetherapy Lab version #alpha to 13 passionate frontline workers who responded to a call to action: ‘help us build this thing’. If you’re wondering — Streetherapy is a phrase coined by our sibling charity MAC-UK that embodies the idea of taking mental health out of the clinic and on to the streets, and a Streetherapy Lab is our way of sharing this concept with as many people as we can!!

With plenty of feedback from our pilots, we organised our very first Hack Day* on Saturday (yes, Saturday!). The mantra was simple: Ask. Listen. Improve. The goal was to listen to the brilliant feedback from prior Lab participants and to build on what we already have, to make it better.

By agreeing to attend outside of the working week , our dedicated ‘hackers’ were demonstrating a serious commitment to our movement. By taking everybody out of the daily grind and hosting them at the office of our partner, Catch22, we provided our hackers with a space to strip Streetherapy Lab back to basics, and take a look at it with fresh eyes.

Opening up to our hackers from a position of honesty, and being rewarded with their trust, we encouraged a no-holds-barred approach to challenging all aspects of the Streetherapy Lab: its principles, its mechanisms, and its outcomes.

The exam question: How can we share Streetherapy with organisations so they can best support and respond to young people’s mental wellbeing?

Five reflections from our first Hack Day:

everything is an opportunity: A young person will come to you with an interest, which can be harnessed to form an idea, which can be supported to turn into a reality. Young people bring the resources.

…Streetherapy should support young people to create change not just in themselves, but in the systems around them: It is about understanding that individual, in that point of time, but also how they can collaborate with a group of individuals to achieve a systemic goal. Young people are empowered.

…Streetherapy is about ‘flipping the lens’ by turning blame into empathy: It’s important to take a non-judgmental approach, not to take things personally, to empathise with and understand a young person’s view, and why she or he is saying something or acting a certain way. Young people’s point of view is key.

…Streetherapy involves thinking about what you don’t know: This mentality allows a practitioner to envisage where they fit in relation to the services around them, how they can make use of their networks, and how much potential they have in their role. Practitioners, working together, have the answers.

…Streetherapy Lab should first challenge ways of thinking, not ways of working. Questioning our views can lead to changing our habits, which can help us avoid running on auto-pilot.

The Integrate Movement shares a ‘way of working’ that is built on ‘a way of thinking’. So watch this space, TIM’s new and ‘improved’ #beta version of Streetherapy Lab is coming.

*Don’t worry — we weren’t breaking into GCHQ. For those of you that don’t know already, a Hack Day is simply a time to bring a group of people together to solve a problem.