Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whoever you were - thanks

Having been in back-to-back meetings since 8am this morning, I stepped outside County Hall today for some fresh air. Standing in the Members' car park checking emails on my Blackberry, a young man walked past me. He looked to be in his mid to late twenties, with a baseball cap and jeans, nose stud and earrings, and he carried a can of Special Brew. "Can I ask you a question?" he asked. "Of course" I replied.

"What's it like to have a job?" he said. I wondered if I'd heard him correctly, so I got him to repeat his question. "See, I've never worked" he went on. "D'you work in there? What d'you do?" he pointed towards County Hall.

I explained that I was a County Councillor, elected every four years. I asked him if he'd ever spoken to his local Councillor. Needless to say, he hadn't. When I asked why, he told me that nobody ever asks him how he feels and nobody ever listens to him.

"You know what you want to do?" he suggested. "You want to take that suit off, put some jeans on, and get out and talk to real people."

We chatted for a few minutes more, then parted company. But as I walked back to my office along the opulent wood-panelled Cabinet corridor; as I passed my colleagues' offices with their flickering computers and ringing phones, I reflected on why we're all there. I reflected on how one of Sandy Bruce-Lockhart's most powerful policy ideas, the Kent Supporting People Programme, had come about.

Sandy had taken time to work a night shift at a soup kitchen in East Kent. He'd spoken to those less fortunate, trapped in a spiral of dependency with no clear escape route from poverty.
I have no idea who that young man was today. But I've already discussed with my officers how I can put my jeans on and go and talk to real people. So whoever you were - thanks.

1 comment:

Matt B said...

The world needs more moments like that. ...and more people ready to respond to them. Well done.