Sunday, December 02, 2007

Many expect 'community service' but few take part

It has struck me at least three times this week that many people seem to expect things to happen without thinking that they could be one of the people that makes those things happen. Last night I attended the 70th Anniversary dinner of Chelmsford Round Table. In common with Round Tables across the country they do a great deal for the community with the backing of very few. Amongst other things, Chelmsford residents expect a Round Table Fireworks display in November and a Santa sleigh during December - but if these ever stop it will be "someone else's fault". Rotary, Rotaract, 41 Club, Lions et al are in a similar position.

Similarly, I was out canvassing this week in the Moulsham & Central by-election and a resident said that he had not seen a politician on their doorstep in the five years they had lived there. For me, the answer to this is the same as the answer to "why are candidates and party activists older than average / not more like me etc." Namely, because more people 'like you' do not get involved in politics. With all parties losing members, I fear that this is going to be an increasingly common statement.

The third instance this week concerned those who I think are one of the greatest band of unsung heroes. Namely, school governors who effectively take on the (very responsible) role of Non Executive Directors of million pound organisations. Not only are they unpaid, they put considerable amounts of their own money into the organisation (through unclaimed expenses and also taking part in school life like fetes and fayres etc.) Just one small example: we had to get in a baby sitter this week so that I could go to a Lib Dem meeting while my wife was at a Governors' meeting.

As a Liberal Democrat I strongly believe in the importance of enabling people to take action in their communities rather than waiting for some arm of the state to step in. But when people do not even come forward for organisations like Round Table, which are great fun, is this too idealistic?

How should the verb go....?
I am a busy person; You should do more; They will do something about it......


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