We caught up with Claire Murray, Good Ideas Academy alumni and founder of Emotion Works, about what she’s been up to and what TMP means to her.
“I’ve used The Melting Pot as a training base, it’s helped to support my business when I just needed a desk, and now I have a network of fellow-minded people.”
How did you come across The Melting Pot?
Jackie Scutt (women’s activist and long term friend of TMP) rang me one time when I was making a decision about moving from my paid employment role to setting up a Social Enterprise. She, obviously, was aware of The Melting Pot and you guys’ work. She put me in touch and really encouraged me to apply for the Good Ideas Academy programme.
What where you looking for at the time?
At the time, we were in agreement, Jackie and I, that it wold be useful to find a peer group of people who were working in a similar way as I was. Setting up, doing something really ambitious, which involved a lot of isolated time and things that you need to be really dedicated to. You have to work on your own to, sort of, create and fulfil your ambition. My hope was that there would be a peer group of people who were not necessarily in the same field as me, but at least were doing the same kind of ambitious thing.
I left my job and I was setting up Emotion Works full time, working from home, and quite isolated really. So the Good Ideas Academy programme was a real appeal for that.
Can you tell me a bit about what your organisation, Emotion Works, does?
So I’m a teacher by trade, with a background in psychology. I have developed a programme over a number of years, which originated in my classroom, where children can be helped to learn and talk about emotion. That fits in with Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, which asks all teachers to now support emotional health and wellbeing as part of the curriculum. That came in, in 2007 and since then I’ve really had a real interest in supporting learners to engage with the emotional events and experiences that happen every day and in children’s literature, in song lyrics and in all different areas of the curriculum. We help teachers see how our role as educators can develop children’s understanding of emotions, enabling children to talk about emotions so that it contributes to their wellbeing and their resilience.
How would you sum up the difference your work makes to people’s lives?
We support teachers to deliver the curriculum and understand the topic of emotion in terms of the educator’s role, rather than the therapist’s role or the parents’ role. How we can teach emotion in the classroom, our website means that they can access support around the clock. They can access readymade examples rather than them having to create and produce work. We’re really supporting delivering the curriculum and know-how and cutting down on precious teachers’ time. In terms of children as beneficiaries we’ve got some really impressive case studies now, where children have started to find their voice if you like. Children who can find a voice who otherwise wouldn’t have had a voice. Those more vulnerable learners, as a result of disability, additional needs, emotional support that’s needed, they are now speaking about themselves and experiences and showing their learning. You just know now it’s going to be of support and benefit to them for the rest of their lives.
Then the mainstream, the bulk of our learners who are just enjoying working with the materials. Emotion Works is a very fun and engaging programme and it can be very based around the child’s own interests. It can support them to learn a real life skill and understanding.
What sort of impact has membership at The Melting Pot had on your organisation?
It’s really helped me have an identity as a social entrepreneur. Mixing, as I’d hoped, with people who have similar ambitions and want to do good despite some of the forces that may be. I said to Claire when she rang me to offer me a place on the Good Ideas Academy, I just said, “Oh thank you so much it’s so nice to have a door open instead of it being closed”. The peer group that I met during that year and then the connections that I’ve had since, it’s just good to know these days that The Melting Pot is here. It’s always a place that you can find like-minded people, but also it’s a place to use. I’ve used the space as a training base, it’s helped to support my business when I just needed a desk, and now it just supports I think as a general affiliation and community for me. Ongoing now, four years down the line, it’s an important aspect of being a social entrepreneur, to have a network of fellow-minded people.
What are your favourite things from being a member of The Melting Pot?
I’ve enjoyed coming back as a Good Ideas Academy alumni. Telling my story to people who are in that vulnerable position, where you can say that: it’s hard but, you know, you keep going and there are supports to help you through it. By sharing my story, I get strength too: it helps me see how far I’ve come and just how tough it’s been, but at the same time how worth it, it is.
Do you have any favourite moments of being here at The Melting Pot?
Well, everybody mentions the boards when you go to the loo and you can get a bit of banter. I also just like that moment you open the door and you walk in. There’s a nice atmosphere, it’s always friendly and it always was, there’s always people sitting in their favourite positions and desks. It has a familiarity. I think that kind of opening the door and coming into the space.