Life in My Shoes is Body & Soul’s campaign to promote empathy as a means of understanding the experiences of others and reducing stigma around ‘invisible difference’, e.g. the difference encapsulated in being HIV positive or being adopted. The campaign is perhaps best known from our outreach work, in which we go into secondary schools and youth groups to encourage young people to consider things from a different perspective.
The campaign is equally relevant to the work we do with our own members: it is common for teen members in the adoption programme to ruminate on their difficulties even within a group where there are similar emotions, experiences and patterns of behaviour. Life in My Shoes sessions place the emphasis on connecting with others in the group and beyond, shifting the focus from ‘introspection’ to ‘outrospection’. Being able to focus on other people’s lives and emotions is hugely beneficial for them. The idea that there are other people who have challenges (perhaps even greater than theirs) provides a perspective that is often absent from the group.
In the last quarter, we ran a Life in My Shoes day as part of the Teen Spirit adoption programme. This involved three guest speakers coming in to talk to members about their own experiences of adversity. One exercise required members to think what life might be like as an adoptive parent, which was challenging for some given they often find themselves in conflict with their adoptive parents. Members engaged meaningfully with the session and understood the value of taking an interest in others and resisting assumptions.