Being a Governor on the Board of the Sir David Martin Foundation gives me cause to think about choice, opportunity and belonging.
Most of us have the power to make sound choices and to spot a good opportunity when it comes around.
During my Navy career I had daily interaction with excellent young people around 17-25 who had been given that rare head start in life; they were in a position to make sound choices and to make the most of good opportunities. Equally I could see that if some of these fine youngsters had ever made a poor life-choice or gone off at a tangent at some stage, results could’ve been drastically different.
In Navy ships the Captain has the authority to preside over legal proceedings, make a judgment of guilt or innocence and sentence a sailor appropriately. In one of my commands I had a young man turn up at my Court a few too many times for relatively minor misdemeanors. It might have been easy to overlook but further detailed investigation revealed a long-standing alcohol issue which we were then able to address. It was painful for the individual but doubtless he now counts his blessings and wonders what might have been. This is why I'm driven to do my bit at SDMF. It's because I know that a young person in 'crisis' is worth a second chance and is not a worthless case on which we should turn our backs.
And if you're reading this, I'm sure that is how you feel too!
The Navy is great for fulfilling that most fundamental of human needs, giving people a sense of belonging.
In any team which he led, Dad (Sir David Martin) had a remarkable ability to build a sense of belonging through making people feel valued. As a young fella in the Navy I was told many stories of the various ways he connected with people in his teams. Whether it was standing on the sidelines of a sports match in heavy rain shouting his support, remembering people's names (and the names of spouse, kids, dogs etc) or turning up in various places within his ship with uncanny timing. His ability to make people who would otherwise feel like fringe-dwellers, feel extremely included was tremendous.
The 16-24 year olds at Triple Care Farm have exhausted their choices and have precious few options left in life. Many feel completely unvalued, powerless and have no sense of belonging. How remarkable then that they end up at the Farm. Here is their brilliant, life changing and challenging opportunity. No wonder they all firmly grab it. On day one they’re literally broken, scared, shy and struggle to maintain eye contact.
They know this is their chance and for some it can quite literally be a matter of life and death. Then through a mixture of the program, the wonderful leadership, the staff and their own extraordinary courage these people emerge unrecognisable. They have mentors, friends and role models. Most importantly they belong to something bigger than themselves.
Dad would be so proud of them.
My two sisters and I. We are each inspired in our own way to support youth in crisis.
- Will Martin