Communication is the key to a better quality of life in so many areas. In business there are experts with energy, enthusiasm and creativity who can really understand your business and, with their experience, help the business communicate in the best way possible.
But communication is also key in many other fields. Many years ago I spent some time as a volunteer with an adult education programme. Communication was important to get to know the students and their requirements, and to encourage them to be the best they could be.
As a volunteer we had to undergo training, complete assignments and have monitored lessons where our ability to help the students was assessed. Before the course began each student got together with the teacher and the volunteer to discuss their needs and abilities, along with their interests and aspirations, and so really get to know the person.
The students varied immensely, and so too did their reasons for attending the class, but they all had one thing in common and that was the courage and determination to improve their communication skills.
There was a stroke victim who found they had lost the ability to read and write; a recently widowed lady whose husband had always looked after their finances and who required help in filling in the simplest of forms; an amazing dressmaker who had never had a formal education; and a gifted carpenter who wanted to be employed but was daunted by the prospect of application forms. These are the people I was assigned to help.
The role of the volunteer was to assist and mentor, and lessons were planned to build up the knowledge and confidence of the pupil. The results could be seen in the interaction of the class as time went by.
Resources for lessons became a pre-occupation and sometimes appropriate material seemed to jump out at me that I knew instantly would suit one or the other of these students. One of the greatest pleasures was when they, too, were able to choose something to bring along that they wanted to work on, a real partnership formed as we had a common goal.
I remember the dressmaker wanted to be able to do a crossword with her mother and when this was achieved she brought in the completed crossword! To see these people have more respect for themselves and feel able to compete with everyone else was incredible.
At the end of the year there was an award ceremony for the students and certificates were given out at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. I know some of them went on to continue their studies and completely change their lives for the better.