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Meet Anthony: Project Coordinator of Better Connected

photograph of Anthony

Quick Facts about Anthony:

Years worked at Guideposts: 2

Role: Project Coordinator of Better Connected programme

Background: Originally trained as a jewellery designer and manufacturer in South Africa; since moving to the UK has worked in therapeutic arts, originally for the elderly and now for people with autism and learning disabilities.

Main Interests: Arts, crafts, and a wide range of music: from hardcore psychedelia to Rachmaninoff

I was originally attracted to working on the Better Connected programme because of its combination of using tech for the online social groups, together with arts & crafts for therapeutic activities, and using creative and technical skills to create a monthly magazine. This is still an exciting mix, and makes it an incredibly rewarding role. But there is so much more.

You have a really diverse CV, having been a jewellery maker, and business person. What does that bring to your role at Guideposts?

When I started working with Guideposts Better Connected, I saw there would be some overlap with what I had learnt previously, in providing therapeutic activities for the elderly, with this service for people with autism and learning disabilities. The overlap is there, but I have expanded my knowledge base enormously.

I have a management and entrepreneurial background, but I also enjoy the hands-on approach and having connection with people – where you engage with people, and see the difference your work is making. I enjoy finding the many different forms of communication required, as the people we support have many different ways of communicating.

What do you enjoy about working on Better Connected?

This role is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I can get completely absorbed in the work – it’s hard to separate yourself when people need support and you can give it. Each day there is a new challenge, and a new surprise. I am thinking on my feet all the time – whether coming up with ideas for sessions on daily basis, articles for the magazine, or how to help a person through their challenges.

It’s really satisfying to know you can provide the support that people need.

The service has so many different aspects, I like using multi-media to reach people, and it means it can respond to many different individual needs. It’s extremely satisfying on a spiritual level, to be able to do this work. One of the most satisfying things is receiving feedback from members who have found the project has given them access to something they didn’t have elsewhere. That’s when you know we are providing something really valuable.

We have many members with high-functioning Autism. Without the service, they would be incredibly isolated. Better Connected gives them space to expand themselves: they have made new friends, and suffered the trials of friendship too.

Group photo of Better Connected members at Chessington World of Adventures
Guideposts Better Connected group at Chessington World of Adventures

The group becomes like a family community – it’s an amazing experience to witness it.

It’s great to see members grow, and become more self-confident: when they have their own column in the magazine, make a presentation or run an online session themselves, it’s impressive. I give them the space and support them to be able to do it.

What are the best bits of your job?

From my previous role I saw the importance of therapeutic arts, and what a difference it can have on individuals. I see this more and more. When we hold online craft groups, I witness the smiles when someone is proud of what they’ve created. It brings everyone together, and lets them represent their community.

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