First published – Jersey Evening Post 29th November 2017
I have changed the name in recounting this story. Margaret was in her 70’s and lonely. Her husband had died, they did everything together, and her children no longer lived on the Island. She was fit and healthy and volunteered to work in a charity shop. Unfortunately the well paid Manager of the shop had little charity in his heart. Margaret chatted too much, and whilst reliable and willing to work long hours, was not economically productive. He had targets – after all his own salary when added to other paid fundraisers was not insubstantial – and there were financial targets to meet. So after a few months he took Margaret to one side and told her that she was no longer required. It broke her heart as this was both her way of giving something back and her entire social life. It made her feel useless.
My support of Andy Hibbs in the current dispute is more a protest against the abuse of volunteers, than it is about lifeboats. I am against the rise of the highly-paid charity worker, and believe that we must fight against the exploitation of volunteers. Increasingly Charities are becoming hard-nosed corporations, professional money-making machines. It annoys me, but does not surprise me, that our Government are firmly on the side of the bullying RNLI and have now decided that not only the coxswain but the whole crew are expendable. They even colluded in their sacking. From the Government’s viewpoint the RNLI has all the money, money, money. Its money that important – not the likes of Margaret or Andy. This Island is losing its soul.
Three years ago the Deputy of Grouville inflicted a rare defeat on the Council of Ministers by extending Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to Ports of Jersey, and other entities that we own. However nothing has been done and Ports of Jersey, which currently requires extreme scrutiny, is still outside the law. Maybe this is because Council of Minister policies emanate from the civil servants on a sort of “you pass them and we will implement them basis.” Trouble is they do not like to implement policies which are not their own. Perhaps one of our politicians would like to give this piece of legislation a shove now that Ports wants a spotlight shone on it.
And finally, I note that Deputy Noel has decided not to stand again. “Taxi for Deputy Noel.”