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Patricia Lauria

Cormac Russell is a master storyteller. Not only can he use nursery rhymes to draw analogies with great effect, and yes, he did exactly that at our recent conference, but he can also gently challenge our notions of how we view the world we work in. Starting his story in 2003 and the heatwave in France Cormac took us on a journey. It was a journey to understand that communities are powerful, “there is a hidden treasure chest in our neighbourhoods”. Cormac encouraged us to collaborate and shift our way of thinking from what’s wrong with communities to what’s strong.

This work of reimagining was a challenge for us. If we want change, we can’t wait or take a top-down approach or leave our health in the hands of experts. All people are needed to make communities well and have a role to play. He really belies the notion of the ‘other’ and could describe communities where the social cohesion we should be aiming for had happened - for any of the non-believers.

Cormac reminded us that “loneliness is the great call to do the work of community”. It’s fair to say we are the richer from having had Cormac beamed in from Ireland and have a new way of thinking about the steps we take.