Thursday, January 24, 2008

Encountering problems with officials

I've been talking and emailing quite a lot to a young lady who is a caregiver over the last few days as there has been a setback in her project. I am very sorry to hear she is disappointed about the fact that her management strategy in the area she has been managing has been turned down after an initially positive meeting when we met with the people in the area.

I think though that there are a few things that I realised from this. First of all, it can be very disappointing and distressing when you think of all your work going down the drain and that's completely understandable - so it's good to step back, think about your next step, and when you are calm enough to then decide what you want to do. Take that time out - you've been disappointed and you need time to regroup - and then decide on your next course of action without being too clouded by emotion.

Secondly, it's important to find out whom or what the exact obstacle is in your programme. If the problem is a certain person who refuses to listen to reason, then you may want to go to the next person in hierarchy and speak with them. If there is a specific issue that they are worried about (abandonment, increase in the number of cats), then you need to know what it is so you can counter it as well. You then need to decide what you need to counter that evidence - could it be statistics you've been keeping in the area? Other people who can bolster your case with supporting evidence? You need to decide what is important to your case and then gather what is necessary.

Thirdly, remember at the end of the day if you are dealing with a town council officer, a person from a statutory body, or someone who is from the authorities, that they are there to serve members of the public. Don't be intimidated by them just because they hold a position. They are there to serve you and members of the public. They are in fact accountable to members of the public - as the many letters to the forum page where people write in to complain about a variety of things happening show. If you notice, every one of those letters which involves a town council, statutory board or government agency is promptly responded to - and that is because they are accountable to members of the public.

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