Treasure Seekers is like an elephant

There is an ancient Indian parable about blind men and an elephant. Each one of the men feels a different part of the elephant and thinks it is something different. One man feels the feet of the elephant and thinks the elephant is strong like a tree, another feels the trunk and thinks the elephant is flexible like a snake, another feels the ear and thinks the elephant is soft like a fan. Each one of the men feels a very different part of the elephant and so believes it to be something different. In many ways Treasure Seekers is like an elephant.

I am the Store Manager at Treasure Seekers Gift Shop. When I meet new people and they ask me what I do for a living it usually takes me about five minuets to explain. So you are a Charity shop?  So you are a social worker? So you are a fundraising shop? so you are like a Job centre? So you are a fair trade shop? So you are a business?

 I reply: “how long do you have?”

 its a bit more complicated…

I think every person that has walked around 52 Westgate street, the main Treasure Seekers building, will remember the first time they did so. It’s a place for young people, it’s a place for seniors, it’s a training place, it’s a place for courses, it’s a shop, it’s an art centre… Each corridor takes you to another room that you wouldn’t have imagined would be there. It has been described as like Alandin’s Caver, a Labyrinth, there are winding staircases which bring you out to another surprising project that at first seems unrelated to the floor below. You end up with a feeling of a kind of seasick amazement! Not really able to locate yourself in the world anymore but in a sense of complete awe!

After a year in this amazing family of Treasure Seekers, I have concluded that Treasure Seekers is like an elephant. Each part works brilliantly in its own right and is really different to the other parts but somehow it is all part of the same body. So what is holding this all together?

The first time I went to a Treasure Seekers Performing Arts show (TSPA) the answer to this question was clear as day to me. Seeing a massive team of Adults with leaning difficulties performing their hearts out to an audience of people in heartfelt admiration explains everything you need to know about Treasure Seekers. What holds it all together is a commitment to empowering people to be the best versions of themselves. Some people might see this as a tag line on our flyers, but if you spend any time in the Treasure Seekers family you see this to be the complete personality of who Treasure Seekers are. The people behind Treasure Seekers are committed to the idea that each person is unique and has something special to offer the world, our Job is to find out what that is and give them a space to shine.

So whether it is the brilliant customer service given by a shop volunteer, the skills of a enthusiast DJ at the discos, a perfectly mixed cavern shake by a cavern team member or a dancer at a TSPA show, Treasure Seekers exists to give all these people a chance to shine. 

Joining Treasure Seekers was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. Coming from a retail background it was at first a bit bewildering to be part of a coffee shop, disco, art, shop, retail, community company. But now, after a year of seeing people begin to believe in themselves for the first time, discovering new talents and showing the world what they have to offer, I now understand the full meaning of what it is to be part of the Treasure Seekers family.

There are some vacancies in the company at the moment. Around this time last year I left my role in traditional retail to be part of something I find hard to explain to people as a job title. The only way I can explain to people what I do is through stories of my incredible and talented team of shop volunteers conquering the barriers in their life to become the best versions of themselves. No Job role could compare for me to the honour and privilege of being part of something that is transforming so many lives every day. I would recommend anyone to get involved in Treasure Seekers, because, like me, you are likely to become one of the many hundreds of people who’s lives are transformed by being part of this: big and small, strong and flexible, diverse and simple organisation.

Just like an elephant, Treasure Seekers has many parts but when put all together it makes up something beautiful, something unique and something you cant help but stop and look at in awe! 

Nathanael Arrowsmith

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