For many of us, the last week of August means Carnival and the final throes of summer, but for 10 years it has also coincided with Body & Soul’s Development Week. If you can imagine a whole organisation taking a moment to step back from the frontline and draw a collective breath, you’re getting the idea.
But it’s more than that. Body & Soul is dedicated to transforming the lives of its community members, many of whom are living long term with the impact of adversity and trauma. To achieve such positive change requires us to bring together the latest evidence, theory, good practice and vision. As such, we commit a week of every year to bringing together all our collective experience and shaping our plan and strategy for the year ahead.
It was exactly a week ago that we found ourselves uprooted from our usual environment and transported to the London headquarters of LEGO for the day. It has always been part of Body & Soul’s DNA to engage with partners in the wider world as we search for fresh perspectives and inspiration, and this year I’m happy to say LEGO provided both. With the amazing LEGO building only a mile from our door, and with LEGO employees already volunteering at Body & Soul, the opportunity presented itself to spend a day exchanging thoughts, ideas and values with the team at LEGO. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance to spend a day with these icons of toy brick building.
LEGO have built an ‘intentional’ working community in which the physical environment plays a crucial role: every aspect of the space reaffirmed the company’s culture and ethos, creating a real connection with everyone who walks through the door. From the workspaces that encourage interaction to the office architecture and design, the philosophy of collaboration and curiosity is sewn into the very fabric of the building. What we noticed too is that every employee is also an enthusiast and an advocate for LEGO beyond their individual role.
LEGO’s ethos resonates so strongly with what we do at Body & Soul, not least the recognition of the importance of play and creativity in our lives. And we weren’t about the leave LEGO without getting hands-on with some building projects of our own, as the pictures below testify. Play might seem like a low priority for such an important week, but for both our staff team and our members, this is a key ingredient in the transformation and development that underpin our approach. In our experience, radical breakthroughs can emerge from structured play or creative sessions, so our day at LEGO was a vital component of this year’s Development Week. We’re also delighted that LEGO will soon be running project nights in Body & Soul’s children’s centre, which means our young members will stand to benefit in more ways than one.
For now though, Development Week is over and we’re already back to our programmes, applying some of the learnings and inspiration that were generated by this special week in Body & Soul’s calendar.