I wanted to take a moment to reach out to our community here in the middle of what has been another unpredictable month and entry into 2021. If there was ever a test of our ability to ride the waves, and be in the moment, I would say we are all collectively living it.
You may already be aware, but Orri’s Day Treatment is temporarily exclusively online once more. This comes with all sorts of feelings – too many to capture here – but essentially, it comes with a knowing that we are doing what we must, and therefore we are doing what is needed.
When coronavirus arrived, we were catapulted very much into a reality where ‘planning ahead’ was only so helping in preparing you for what’s around the corner. Since the 23rd March 2019, we are still in this space. A new challenge indeed.
I was reflecting that when we first set out building Orri as team back in Autumn 2018, that there was not a single piece of paper that said: “in the event of a global pandemic, this is what we will do”. I can imagine the conversation if anyone of us had suggested that!
So last March, we accelerated our digital plans and transformed the face-to-face day care service into an online day care service. This not only supported existing clients, but also opened the doors of Orri to a group of people who would not otherwise have been able to come to Orri.
During the months that followed, Orri Online proved itself to be a solid treatment intervention; one that was not simply a place holder until people could get back into ‘proper’ treatment, but demonstrated itself to be a viable and meaningful intervention that has moved people into sustained recoveries.
This took place because a team of people who are resourceful, determined, kind, and genuinely committed and passionate about the people they work with said “yes” to working out how to move an entire day treatment programme online. It still gives me goosebumps when I think about how lucky I am to be working alongside this team of people.
Together, we built a therapeutically organised, fully compliant systemic approach to treating clients online. We developed ways of working in groups, individually, ‘at the table’, in the community, whilst managing risk, undertaking assessment, reviews, overseeing physical health needs and ensuring that all times we remained responsive – and kept smiling.
It has taken time, dedication and a willingness to be vulnerable. It has also meant holding fast to be belief that we will continue to provide meaningful and transformative treatment for our clients. Being with others in the process of recovery from an eating disorder is hard work. Our work requires that we get “in the arena” with our clients and their loved ones (as Brene Brown would say).
Therefore, just like our clients, we come to know that at times we too will feel hurt and tired and worn down. We will question how we do it, if we’re good enough, if Orri is good enough, if each other are good enough. These are the qualities of the humanness essential to every person engaged in this work. This is the core quality of every person who ‘shows up’ and works at Orri.
The reason we do this is because, in the arena, there is victory. I for one have seen this during Orri’s Online period.
There are moments when someone gives you that first smile or lets you see that first tear. A moment when someone meets your gaze and shows you that they are opening to the idea that they will let you see them, and that they have seen you. There’s laughter, energy, change; new jobs, exams passed, new relationships, repaired relationships, reflections from a journey taken – actual and emotional – and letters or words expressing gratitude that really no words will ever convey. There’s a knowing and a connection that is forged and held and unbreakable.
Personally, being in the arena these last two years at Orri, and specifically in this last 9 months, has not come without its pain, struggle and sacrifice, but I truly would not have wanted to be anywhere else. This pandemic has taught me so much about myself – not least how much I look forward to starting conversations with something other than “can you hear me?”!
Despite the anxieties and concern that come with lockdown, I am confident that we will find our way through this together. Our brave clients are back with us online, with more people coming to us willing to try and see what changes they can bring to their lives.
I am excited about 2021 and the opportunities we have to explore. I am excited that despite all of this we are a growing team with new members bringing fresh ideas and energy, and that even in the midst of uncertainty we are excited about the work ahead of us and the possibilities we still have to explore.
So, here’s to 2021.