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Counsellor and Councillor

14 Jan 20
Sue Smith
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Being a Councillor/Counsellor

My name is Sue and I am a little unusual in so much as I am currently a counsellor and a councillor.

I’d like to think that an element of this occurring is down to my core position of caring about people, knowing right from wrong and wanting to ensure the best possible outcome for all.

As a therapeutic counsellor this makes absolute sense. I have worked with people to help them deal with problems, recover from difficulties and to heal from harm since the 1990’s. I have seen the debilitating effects of traumatic incidents on individuals and have a passion for working with clients with PTSD. I’m a qualified manager and have spent many years managing teams providing services to people affected by crime and am also a Mental Health First Aid Trainer.

Being a councillor however was never on my list of ‘to do’s’. It started as a result of me challenging the County Council over their decision to remove the lights on our street. I felt passionate about it because I care about people.

You see, our ‘street’ is actually a single track 60 mph ‘road’ that also happens to be a footpath connecting bridleways to the village and surrounding areas. Consequently, its regularly used by dog walkers, joggers and hikers alike and in the winter months pedestrians cannot be seen easily with streetlights – so it was a real concern that the County Council intended to remove them.

The Parish Council became aware of my challenge and approached me to see if I would consider joining the Parish Council.

My initial response was no – no way. I didn’t want to get involved in ’politics’ and my understanding was that the work of the parish council was neither understood nor appreciated in the main.

Then I got thinking and my core beliefs kicked in.

I started to consider being a parish councillor, as role to do good for my local community, about representing the local people and trying to ensure everyone had a voice. As I resided in a remote part of the village, I thought perhaps I could bring the voice of those few to the meetings or at very least keep them informed of developments in the village. So, I joined – and I remain.

I see my role as exactly what I initially envisaged. I believe I represent members of the community. If people cannot attend meetings themselves, I take their viewpoint and comments to the meetings on their behalf. I do this regardless of whether or not I share their viewpoint. If something is going to impact upon the residents, I push to ensure they are consulted. Again, I may not agree with the outcome of the consultation but believe that in our democratic society that is how it should work.

I try to keep up to date with all that is going on so that I can inform members of our community of anything of interest to them.

That is how I see the role and initially I shared an additional passion with a fellow councillor to develop more community events. I’m not sure how I feel about that now, whether it’s worth it, within our remit or indeed if it would be appreciated. We started the process with setting up a Residents Forum on Social Media and getting invites sent out for residents to join. It did not go particularly well initially and although the forum still exists and notices are regularly posted, the experience has perhaps postponed attempts to develop community events beyond that.

I do not profess to understand all, if indeed much, of the Parish and County Council business, as yet. However, I do believe it is not understood and not appreciated, well at least by those who comment upon it. I do believe I have joined the ranks of those who are there to be ridiculed by the few, I have experienced that personally. I do hope though that there are many out there who appreciate the efforts of their local councillors and are simply less vocal about it.

Will I continue as a councillor and a counsellor? Well the latter definitely- it’s in my blood. The first however, who knows? I guess it depends upon what happens next.

But in the meanwhile, if you live in Middridge, want some information or have a concern you wish to raise with local or county councillors I remain happy to be your voice, the conduit to the correct platform, for the time being.

Finally if anyone needs any counselling after reading this ………..

Sue

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