So said a team member of our small but mighty Your Own Place conglomerate (currently eight team members and counting). But what does yoga have to do with the housing sector and homelessness prevention?
Yoga’s early branding, when it arrived in England and North America in the 1960s, was all about flexibility, and receiving teachings from the lived experience of an expert who would pass their knowledge down to select students. In recent years, however, the industry has expanded to become more holistic, focussing on wellbeing, compassion and the effect each of us have on the world around us.
In our sector, too, we see a widening of scope. No longer are housing associations, for example, only tracking number of evictions and rent arrears — there’s a growing curiosity and impetus to understand tenants, meet them where they are, and ensure their voice and lived experience can be heard.
The vision of Your Own Place is for a world where everyone has a safe and secure home. For this to become a reality, the myriad systems governing economics, politics, and the amorphous ‘culture’ need to free up their rigidity and become more flexible. We play our part in this by listening, responding, iterating and committing to the virtuous circle of improvement.
And not only listened to, but catalyse change and influence policy.
This approach, however, requires flexibility. And maintaining flexibility has always been a key principle of working at Your Own Place.
At the level of team delivery, flexibility is paramount. We deliver workshops in a vast range of contexts. When we’re delivering group workshops or 1-2-1 sessions, this can range from adjusting timings, meeting trainees across community locations, or not knowing if four or eight people will arrive on the day. At all times, we need to be poised and curious when a challenge is raised in the room that needs to be prioritised in an empathic and solution-focused way.
On a project delivery level, we work with our partners, funders and commissioners to trial new and different ideas. In our partnership work with Trussell Trust Norwich foodbanks and The Feed Social Supermarket, funded by Norwich Consolidated Charities, we’re quickly learning and working out how to best work with people in localised Norwich community areas. Rather than setting a schedule and obstinately sticking to it, we run a test, evaluate, iterate, and begin the cycle anew.
With our service offers, we have honed five main offerings, which you can view here. Considering the context of the people we work with, we can respond in community settings, to people in pre-tenancy or who have already moved on, with group or one-to-one workshops. We work in housing, but also criminal justice, education and health. Responsiveness and innovation are key to us reaching as many people, in as many places, as possible.
This change and iteration is an essential characteristic of the modern working world. Flexibility is inherent in success.
While you may trial a yoga class to stretch your hamstrings or touch your toes, working at Your Own Place offers another level of flexibility. Ensuring we have a flexible delivery style, with multiple service offers, to meet the holistic needs of the world in which we live, and the people with whom we work.