Connection & Conscience

Connection & Conscience

A message from our chief Executive, Vaughan Milner

The media has become very good at highlighting the extremity of abuse and neglect in our society. While extremity makes for good headlines, the sad reality is that abuse and neglect, at greater and lesser levels than those we hear about, happen all too frequently in our communities.

Public conversations are important. Yet awareness is of little use if we ignore the need for networks of support around our most vulnerable citizens and those who care for them.

After more than forty years working in social services I have a strong view that people being able to mistreat and hurt others is more likely to occur when social connectedness is lacking, or when the only social support people have access to is part of negative, selfish, or damaging relationships.

Most people have bad days when they have responsibility for looking after someone else day in and day out. Having this responsibility when there is no-one around to value or support either of you is soul-destroying.  The statistics of abuse also show it is dangerous.

When adults put their own wants ahead of their child or dependant adult’s wellbeing, there is a corrosion of care. With no help or challenge to care well for those who can’t care for themselves you lose accountability.

Presbyterian Support’s conviction is that having a sense of belonging, of feeling valued and included, is fundamental to positive human function.

This grace of relationships creates hope and meaning in life. It also creates accountability, including a motive to keep behavioural boundaries
in place.

How can you or I foster inclusion and belonging in others? A kind word or small practical gesture like baby sitting or looking after an older person for an hour or two can be immensely supportive. Feeling like someone cares and understands can make a difference. Being part of community means being connected in positive and accountable networks of support. Truly, people helping people.

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People are more likely to hurt or mistreat others when social connectedness is lacking.