Description: Community Engagement Keywords: resilience, network, partnership, Kagiso Trust,University of the Free State, University of the Western Cape

Project partnered into by the:
University of the Free State, University of Western Cape and Kagiso Trust

Resilience Network as a Whole

The resilience network is a partnership between the University of the Free State, Kagiso Trust and University of the Western Cape (Project Founders) that started late last year (2012). The project saw a participation of 20 UFS students who were interviewed to qualify to be part of the project; they were then trained last year to be mentors in the project. A variety of topics were explored when the students were trained.

The outcomes of the workshop that UFS undertook on the journey of becoming mentors, were:

  • Provided mentors with a framework for having a vision and clarity of purpose.
  • Provided mentors with goal setting tools to enhance planning.
  • Assisted mentors to understand the importance of reflection in their mentoring role.
  • Increased mentors' understanding of their role.
  • Increased mentors' awareness of their own strengths which they could draw on to cope and develop holistically.
  • Provided mentors with skills to identify resilience in themselves and their mentees.
  • Understand the Seven Elements of Resilience.
  • Explore how HOPE can be fostered through resilience.

Seven elements of the Resilience Network

Description: Community Engagement Keywords: elements, principles, resilience

  1. Meaning:  People need to have a sense of purpose, a sense that what we do and who we are, actually matters.
  2. Meaningful relationships: Being connected to other people in mutually fulfilling, supportive and uplifting ways seems to be good for us. Some of us are more in contact with others, some of us less so. Some people learn to be comfortable alone, while others are just lonely. So there are variations. For most of us, however, relationships matter.
  3. Participation: Being actively involved in what happens around us, rather than being passive recipients of whatever we are offered is good for us. It creates a sense of involvement and interest in our lives and those of others.
  4. Personal power: Have some sense of control, some power of influence in our lives, builds within us a confidence and ability to tackle life's hardships and challenges.
  5. A positive sense of self: This is more than just self-esteem. It is a deep sense of worth, of belonging, of having a clear place and purpose, a sense of agency of personal influence, a sense of being in charge of our own lives.
  6. Other's positive expectations: We are likely to flourish when others expect the best of us (the reverse is also true). These expectations need to be positive, high and realistic. We tend to do well when other focus on what we can do rather than what we can't; on our qualities rather than our shortcomings.
  7. Hope: We need a sense that we can get through something: a belief, a faith that "things can get better", that "life will be okay", that "I will prevail".

Many people live lives of deprivation and oppression. For them, Maslow's basic need for food and shelter would be a priority. On the other hand, someone with a serious medical condition may prioritise health.

For this reason, one can see that resilience is contextual. It is not a finished product, but an ongoing process changing over time. Given a reasonable standard of physical living, a resilient individual may be sad from time to time, but is able to establish some sense of equilibrium and by personality and ability, manage their emotions and circumstances.

Although there seems to be some overlap between Slattery's seven principles and Layard's seven factors affecting happiness, there seems to be a suggestion that people do better if they have some control (freedom) over their lives and if they are connected to others (family, community, friends).

Factors which affect people's happiness (Layard, 2005)

Description: Community Engagement Keywords: factors, happiness, resilience 

Lem Syme (2003) emphasises that a person who has a sense of control over his life, has the ability to take charge and make decisions, and seems to have a better quality of life. 

Baylis (2006) highlights that an individual who aims to be happier, may not it perceive as a priority in life, but as a progress ... "a genuine improvement that advances our relationship with life". The WILL TO IMPROVE may suggest caring about life, having some meaning and possibly the ability to create change and the hope and belief that it is possible.

Relationships or a feeling of connectedness to someone or something, adds another dimension which influences resilience. Caring relationships, high expectations from others and opportunities for participation, are significant protective factors which influence youth development. It is important, however, to remember that although relationships seem to be an essential ingredient, some people can flourish without it. Meaning in life may be more important for some, while for others having a strong sense of self and being in charge of life may be more important. As long as some elements of resilience are present in a person's life, his life can be good.

Youth development

Participation or engagement has also been identified as an important factor in resilience. The following three principles for youth development have been identified (Youth Development Strategy, 2002):

  • Youth development is about young people being connected.
  • Youth development is based on a consistent strengths-based approach.
  • Youth development happens through quality relationships.

Resilience does change over time and is contextual. It can guide our actions and make us mindful of what we look for in others and ourselves,  and in what we do to bring that forth in ourselves and in others.

The Action Learning Cycle as a tool (CDRA)

Action Learning is a continuous cycle – the end of each learning cycle becomes the beginning of the next cycle.

Description: Community Engagement Keywords: action learning, cycle, continuous, reflection, action, learning, planning 

  1. Action: Doing/experiencing and recalling the experience: nobody kows your experience of your actions better than you do. To become more conscious of our "experience" while acting, can impact on the next step quite dramatically.
  2. Reflection: Re-examining and thinking about the event or action means to make it more conscious. to analyise it, to evaluate it, to understand it better or on a deeper level. The problem is that we do not do their normally. Often it is only as a result of a crisis that we reflect that we stop to take a deeper look. A more pro-active approach is vital to become a good action learner. This is very much a "brain storm" activity where we would look at the event from different angles.
  3. Learning: Reflection is no guarantee that learning has taken place! Very often people "reflect" on practice and repeat the same mistake over and over again. Therefore the distinction between reflection and learning in the action learning cycle is important; learning here is the process of distilling or drawing out the core generalised lessons; moving from "what actually happened" to "what tends to happen as a result of such circumstances". Be careful of jumping to learning before adequate reflecting has taken place.
  4. Planning: This is the key link between past learning and future action (and learning). The core "insights" from the previous step must now be translated into decisions that will ensure improved practice and these decisions then need to become part of the plan. Planning that is unrelated to learning from the past is nearly always a waste of time!

The Action Learning Cycle can be used as a "frame" to guide the process of working consciously from past experience into the future. It can be applied to many challenges:

Description: Community Engagement Keywords: action learning, cycle, germination, bean seed 

The Five-phase Mentoring Relationship Model (Cooper & Wheeler, 2007)

Description: Community Engagement Keywords: Five-phase, mentoring, relationship, model, Cooper, Wheeler

Read more: Report on the Resilience Camp at Golden Gate Hotel

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.