Trust as a Glass Bauble

Chris Walter, Head of Communities, talks through the importance of reciprocal trust with a community.

Trust is fragile. It is beautiful, it is precious. And like a glass bauble, it is so easy to smash and break. When the cracks appear, and shards of glass fall, putting it back together again can prove an impossible task.

Yet to have reciprocal trust with a community is so important. It can take months, sometimes years, to build up. Each step, small and incremental. It lays the ground for real collaboration and change. It is a partnership of mutual understanding. They trust you to do right by them and use the insight they share in a way that comes back to them and does good in the world.

When On Our Radar first took Beyond the Bite to Sierra Leone and carried out training, there was a wave of unsure faces across the room. People felt as though they couldn’t speak up. They didn’t trust us or the project yet. They didn’t trust that their actions or what they said would be used in a way that they would be comfortable with.

Over the course of the project, and the plenty of time spent getting to know each other, these are now some of the most vocal and happy to contribute individuals. Their confidence has gone through the roof. Their trust in Radar is precious, but it is hard-earned.

Still, the slightest thing can break that trust. A miscommunication, lack of investment, or loss of connection, among other things. It is worth remembering that as practitioners we should never take that trust for granted. It is the most precious thing in the work we do, and with so many things that could jeopardise it, it is something we should be conscious of always.