MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
It was back to work with a bang on Friday! Four hours of surgery (meeting residents face-to-face to discuss their issues) to remind me that the problems never go away and that people’s lives are often dreadfully complicated – and usually even more complicated if benefits, housing or immigration are involved.
I worry about the level of reliance some people put on someone else looking after them – but also about the life led waiting, often being humiliated and treated so rudely. It is dehumanising. I also think that sometimes matters as so overwhelming for the staff dealing with those who come to them that they are forced to raise defensive barriers to cope – which can come across as indifference (or reportedly worse) to the hurt and need that parade before them.
Take something as simple as noise nuisance for example. I often find that the complainant is asked to keep a log and to call environmental services to get the noise officer out (in Haringey there is only one!). Obviously with something like noisy neighbours, it is something that happens often. So the person calls the noise nuisance line to get the officer to come and listen – but the more the complainant calls I find the more annoyed the department often gets with the complainant. And in the end the complainant is made to feel that they are being a nuisance complaining – rather than the department dealing properly with the noise producer.
Imagine how much worse it gets when a family is desperate for housing because there are four in a room – and they believe that asking and begging to be moved to the Housing Officer every week will help them. The officer just gets annoyed with the barrage of requests, has no housing to offer, and so shuts off and begins not to hear the agony of their situation.
I see this kind of stuff over and over. I see it in hospitals with overworked nurses. I see it in so many walks of life. Even if you can’t change a situation or deliver a positive outcome – you can still treat people properly.
It is extraordinary that if someone is nice to you and smiles at you – you feel good. And if they are mean or grumpy – it sours the moment or the day.