Dr. Sandra Carlisle of the Afternow Project shared these thoughts on GalGael's work.
"One of the strengths of the GalGael Trust lies in the clear and obvious benefits it brings to participants, such as teaching various kinds of practical skills that foster their sense of social worth, and social skills that enable them to participate in and contribute more fully to their community - and, potentially, perhaps gain employment in future. It also, crucially, provides a culture of belonging for those who have often been shunned or dismissed by others. These are strengths the Trust shares with other exceptional community development organisations which deliver both intrinsic and instrumental benefits.
Where it differs from virtually all other such organisations – making it probably unique – is in providing a different kind of ‘story’ by which to live and with which to think, and thus a different kind of purpose and meaning in life. This strength should not be underestimated, even if it might not be readily understood by outsiders to the project. The meanings and values that GalGael participants bring to their work differ sharply from those found in mainstream society, where the dominant social and cultural values appear to be economism, individualism, consumerism and materialism. These dominant values impinge hardest on the lives of those living at the margins of mainstream society – unemployed people; people living in disadvantaged areas; people living on a low income, and so on – because they are associated with a particular way of life and a particular set of assumptions, from which disadvantaged people are effectively excluded. A key point to make here is that these mainstream values and assumptions have been found, by some of the most expert social commentators, to be damaging to both individual and social wellbeing. The conclusion many have drawn is that what makes for the good life, the life worth living - and in a sustainable form of society - is in urgent need of re-thinking.
The GalGael Trust actively resists the damaging socio-cultural trends referred to above in its day to day work and seeks to cultivate a deeper sense of what might be a life worth living. It arguably does this by re-integrating key dimensions of human life that are often separated by modernity, i.e. by forging new links between ‘the individual’ and ‘the collective’ (community, society etc) and between the social world and the natural world. An important point to make here is that, for any of to thrive in the face of the daunting problems now facing humanity world-wide, these separations urgently need to be addressed. The work of the GalGael Trust thus provides an extremely useful example of how this can be achieved, and one from which many others could learn. Given that most of the people with whom it works have experienced the most profound forms of disadvantage and exclusion, the Trust demonstrates the enduring human capacity for achieving transformational change and the ‘art of the possible’."