Yesterday I ended a relationship with a national mental health organisation, mainly because I had the feeling of being used as a stepping stone, by them, to further their own ends. Added to which I had great difficulty in contacting any of the senior managers who seemed to want me to 'speak to the hand' or go through their secretaries. Hierarchical nonsense which I have never conformed to as a community worker.
I met with one of them last week, after having to practically force their hand. And I did this because of being gradually left out of local developments when taken up with my caring duties. After doing a lot of groundwork over two years, of linking them up with local mental health groups, it seemed as if I was now surplus to requirements. This manager told me that I'd helped them a lot in their work, as if I should be grateful. My response was something like "but what am I getting out of it?".
I'm not sure if this organisation's leadership think that people on the ground, working voluntarily, are of less value than the celebrities and politicians that they are in the habit of consorting with. Their website front page is full of famous people, appeals for money and their logo permeating the prose. I'm not impressed with any of it. And this was before I got the feeling that I was a means to an end.
Then there is the human rights campaigning that they profess to be involved in. Talking about it, writing about it, going to meetings about it. Meanwhile in the localities people on the ground are having to deal with seclusion, restraint and forced treatment in psychiatric care. And I was one of these people back in February this year, dealing with the realities of human rights issues as a carer. While I was up to my neck in challenging issues this organisation was moving ahead in my locality with their agenda. With little time to read my Emails or stand with me in my battles.
I suppose they have services to run and important meetings to attend, with famous and powerful people, and this is why they require one or even two secretaries to man (or woman) the phones. You can tell that I'm not impressed. For I believe that the important people are the ordinary folk, on the street and in the localities. The services wouldn't exist without us and there's no excuse for us being used as stepping stones.