Beginnings: Gary has had a varied and extensive career in voluntary and community work, within Greater Manchester. His work has included community and neighbourhood development and supporting local people, via a strengths and asset based approach, that recognises the strengths, talents, gifts and skills of local people, along with the assets of their neighbourhood. He was instrumental in the development of an Asset Based Community Development Team and included a small grants programme, that enabled people’s ideas to come to life. in local communities, he continues to work with some of these communities today.
The Orange Club UK was established in 2015. Gary says that the colour orange represents happiness and optimism and anyone who works with Gary cannot fail to be influenced by his positive and optimistic approach to his work and life. The emphasis on being a Club represents Gary’s commitment to the asset based community development approach and the importance of local people recognising their infinite and unlimited potential.
Caterpillars to butterflies: Within The Orange Club UK logo is a butterfly and Gary tells his story about this. He says that the caterpillar to butterfly transformation is unique and natural. It involves a complete change of structure, appearance and function, with some internal cells competing to remain unchanged. It is not until other groups of cells connect and form networks, that change is successfully completed and the butterfly emerges. Gary sees this as a metaphor for local community transformation: the challenges, the concerns and the eventual coming together, in networks of strength, to create new and emerging worlds. He recognises transformation as an uncomfortable process, but, if rooted in strengths, assets and networks of collaboration, it can be achieved, almost effortlessly.
The Future: Within the Orange Club UK you can now find 1) Coffee Club Coaching providing: organisational and 1-1 coaching; Laughter Yoga, and Silent Spaces workshops and 2) the ‘Re-Discovering Our Neighbourhoods’ Programmes. All of which incorporate asset based community development. Gary says that ‘change requires a new narrative and a new way of doing’. The Orange Club UK can support this, by helping to ‘release the unlimited potential’ in our communities and organisations.’