Joan Gullen March 2015
I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with Joan, Matron of The Well, where she shared with me her reflections of The Well. Joan has been involved with The Well for over 10 years along with her expansive career in social services and as a community activist.
Joan answered the question: “Why are you involved with The Well?”
My involvement with The Well is focused on two levels: front-line service and function in the larger system.
The front-line service can be extended to the role of the Management Board. The Well is more than just offering food; it is about building a community, about belonging. It is built on the idea of sharing, not just resources but the sharing of ourselves. It is to show that “someone gives a damn as to what happens to a woman”. The Well aims to be non-judgemental and tries to minimize the power differential between staff and participants through personal sharing.
The role of The Well in the larger social services sector is to be an advocate and demonstrate the values of social justice but not to be a charity. We are to hold the government accountable in their role to provide social services to the vulnerable and marginalized in our society. Over many years, we have witnessed the dismantling of the welfare state with serious repercussions to the people that we ‘serve’. Insufficient funding and funding cuts suggest that this human need is not important.
Knowing the reality of poverty and marginalization, The Well offers community and dignity which is important “in being human…in knowing that we are in this together”.