Written by Jean Roberts-Jones, Chief Executive, One Community
For anyone who knows me, this may be hard to believe, but I used to be a quiet person who hardly said a word. Now I speak up and have opinions about everything. I therefore choose to vote in all elections, and shall make my mark in the upcoming Borough and County seats, and for the Police Crime Commissioner (we will leave the issue of Europe for another blog).
I feel very passionate about having the opportunity to say who I want to represent me. I never say who I vote for, it is not appropriate as Chief Executive of One Community as we are non-political. However, I urge everyone to use their vote. Thank you Emmeline Pankhurst for your struggle nearly 100 years ago.
I always encourage colleagues, friends, anyone to go out and cast their vote. I recognise that some people may have difficulty getting to their polling station, but please ask a friend, a neighbour or even contact one of the candidates for a lift (you don’t have to tell them you have voted for). You can vote by proxy, and also cast a postal vote! It is not too late to arrange a postal vote but act now. These days I am told you can also register to vote online! The cut off is this Monday (18th) and so if you haven’t registered yet, do it now.
Having a voice, especially if you are a member or a Trustee of a small voluntary or community group can often feel a challenge. Many organisations by their very nature are obliged to be politically neutral despite the massive impact politics has on such groups and services. Being an active citizen goes beyond voting in elections, although that is the critical first step if you will.
At One Community, our team always ask for feedback on our services in order for us to keep improving what we offer. Keeping our community organisation people driven, and democratic. People raise issues with us and we can help them identify the right person to help sort that issue out. We also hold network events to enable voluntary sector members to talk to each other, to other agencies such as health, or the council or police so they can explain their points of view or advocate on behalf of their service users. We are enabling active citizenship – that is what we do.
One Community can help you or the people you work with but only if you talk to us. We will try and help you or your service user have a voice, and to direct that voice to the right people. I would be delighted to get feedback on any of our services, and as Bob Hoskins once said in an old BT commercial, “it’s good to talk”.