A community can be defined as a group of people who are considered a unit because of their similar interests or background. In TACT Connect, we are brought together through our shared experience of being in care. The experiences that we have and bring to Connect are all unique, but we all have the awareness of what it means to be care experienced and how it can make us feel.
Being a part of a community is important for us because it can create so many opportunities that we may not be aware of. There’s a ‘sense of community’ that we can see reflected within Connect; membership to Connect can create a strong sense of belonging for us. It allows us to invest into the community, but it can also provide a space where we can feel safe and feel that we belong. Influence is a key element of Connect; as we help to influence the community around us, we provide insight into what works and what might need changing, helping us to build our community. This influence can give us a sense of fulfilment that we have made a positive change for our community. The most important element that we have is the shared emotional connection that we develop, because as time goes on we go from complete strangers to knowing so much about each other –developing key relationships with people who know what it’s like to have our experiences and the complexities that come from it.
An part of what makes Connect important to us is how we see it and understand it, and what makes it so special is that there are so many things that we get to do and experience within Connect that we may never have had the opportunity to do before. It is these opportunities that allow us all to connect with one another. Through the Covid-19 lockdowns, having weekly meetups slowly helped to build the foundation of our community. Then the development of groups based around crafting, relaxation, gaming, but also safe spaces (for those who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community, for example). All of this provides us with a space where we can come and be with others who have the same interests and, despite being virtual, we are still able to bond and connect within these spaces.
Seeing how Connect has been developed through the ideas of members allows us to see how we can develop it for the future, making sure that there are spaces where new and existing members can come and continue to create new opportunities and make new connections with one another. There is such an importance in making sure we continue to help improve and develop Connect for the next generation of care leavers, so that we can continue to build and strengthen our community.
Ash, TACT Connect Advisor