We continue our coverage of Christine Locher and Mike Shaw’s recent hangout discussion on trust.
Jilly Julian, activist and local election candidate
I was raised with the principle that if you think something needs to change, it’s on you to be that force for change. As such I’ve always been involved in community activism to some extent – it really ramped up when my kids came into the world.
In terms of politics, I was a referendum-night-party-joiner. Watching the results at 1.30/2am with my then three-month-old, I hated the hideous way the campaigns had been run and the fact that I felt utterly disenfranchised and powerless.
Voting didn’t feel like enough to be that force for change any more.
So I took the plunge to get more involved in local activism – I can’t negotiate international trade deals or reverse human rights atrocities, but I can help the single mum of three down the street to get two black bins while the twins are still in nappies, or lobby for a bench in the local park so that Dave, who’s well into his 80s, can have somewhere to sit when he walks his Jack Russell in there.
Trust is the antidote to that sense of out-of-control uncertainty.
Parks and potholes are where it’s at right now, and a lot can be achieved for our communities at a local level.
What is trust?
Trust is like the netting at soft play, or the outstretched hand as you’re balancing on a wall when you’re a kid. It’s being able to live your life knowing that someone has ‘got you’. Trust is being able to lean on something or someone. It builds confidence and gives comfort. It’s what builds communities. But it’s probably something that we don’t think about a great deal until we’re in need
Why is it important?
In politics at a community level, trust is everything. (It probably should be at a national level too, but to get to that seems to involve a lot more self-promotion, more on that in a second).
To get all zeitgeisty for a moment, it feels like there is precious little that is certain about life at the moment. The ‘Death and Taxes’ cliché is no longer a cliché! Trust is the antidote to that sense of out-of-control uncertainty.
What destroys trust?
Ego. Which is unfortunate in politics as ego is pretty much everywhere. You see it in every single news story, tweet, post from a political account; when someone is serving their own ‘brand’, rather than genuinely just making a positive difference, that’s diametrically opposed to authenticity and trust. Which is tricky!
Because you *need* to be elected to have access to the resources and influence to make the difference – and to be elected you need to campaign and build your brand.
But in the quest for that you see people attempting to ‘claim’ things that should never be politicised – we have the perfect illustration of that all over the UK right now as politicians of all parties and all over the country attempt to claim aspects of the free school meals situation.
How can we (re)build trust?
In local activism there’s two bits to this; demonstrating shared values is the thing that resonates initially, combined of course with really, truly listening.
Talking to people on doorsteps pre-lockdown and over virtual coffee mornings and surgeries, they want to know that they’ll be represented and if they feel that sense of shared values, there’s belief that it’ll happen.
Follow through on what we promise – consistently – reliably – and let people know. Otherwise, ego-fulfilling rhetoric is all that’s left. (This also pretty much explains my absolute lack of desire to get involved in national level politics).
Rachel Burnham’s sketch note from the session
About the author
Christine Locher is a learning consultant with NIIT Services