Sunday, October 01, 2006

How not to lobby

Antonia and I were going round all the stands at conference last Wednesday, and we came across a stall which was one of these social enterprises which runs children's services for local councils.

As Oxfordshire runs a pretty rubbish youth service, and conscientious councillors like Antonia are always on the lookout for opportunities to look out for better alternatives, we stopped to chat. We explained about how Oxfordshire directed spending to the more rural areas (some of the wealthiest areas not just in Britain, but the whole world), and ran more activities in areas where it was easy to find volunteers, rather than focusing on the more deprived areas of Oxford, Banbury and Bicester where an effective Youth Service could really make a difference. We wondered whether they might be able to provide us with some information about their work, to see if they might be able to help address any of these problems.

Presumably, this sort of conversation was the reason why this company had turned up at conference, the chance to impress local councillors and explain how they could offer a better service than the one currently being provided. Instead, the three members of staff that were present all looked totally baffled, as if they couldn't understand why it would be a big deal for a Youth Service not to be providing a good service in more deprived areas, let alone why anyone might think that they would be able to do something about it.

If all their other conversations were like this, they must have had a very odd time at conference.


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