Competition Shortlisted Entry: ‘Freeskilling: The Great Reskilling of Society’

In her entry for our competition on how to make Sheffield a more mental health friendly city Beverley Jean Akcay proposes increasing opportunities for individuals to gain new skills through creating a community network which will regularly provide a place for people to develop themselves for free.

In order to make Sheffield a more mental health friendly city I propose we create a gift economy in practise. This would prove that people don’t need the incentive of monetary reward to want to teach other people in their community and network the skills they have been able to acquire. ‘Freeskilling’ would ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn regardless of their financial situation and with the learning of new skills they can empower themselves and improve their wellbeing at the same time.

To make this idea a reality we would create a growing database of available skills, which in turn is passed on to others in the wider community on either a group or one-to-one basis. Then one person from the local group or network, knowledgeable and skilled in a certain field, comes along to a free and regular venue and spends anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours teaching others in the community how to do that skill.

The key aspects to accomplish my idea would be to:

  • Gather a small group of people with the same goal, who share the same social values and responsibilities
  • Find a venue that is willing to host it for free
  • Ask the local members of a community or network to fill one of the weekly/monthly slots on the schedule
  • Promote it
  • Take turns to teach everyone who is interested

There are many benefits to ‘Freeskilling’ as the host may receive new skills i.e. experience in public speaking, through leading one of the skill sessions and NO funding is needed so it would be a low maintenance idea. It would also strengthen the community, allowing individuals to progress and perhaps resulting in further collaborative social projects being created.

With my idea new enterprise would be born within the community and with each session a new community member now has a new skill and can now go onto become a host and teach others that skill they have learnt. ‘Freeskilling’ is an empowering, practical concept and the cycle can be repeated to reach and benefit as many people as possible.

1 Comment

  • Rachel

    This scheme exists within the city already, as Timebuilders at St Mary’s Church. It’s fantastic!

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