Manchester Universities Catholic Chaplaincy
Bureaucracy in frontline services
Through my own experience meeting and contacting Governmental services, such as Medical Practices and Jobcentres, I have come into contact with an enormous amount of bureacracy. Usually something I only ever hear right-wing media complaining about, I have experienced how bureacracy prevents the most basic of enquiries from being completed.
Just recently I had attended a local medical practice and the struggle I had just handing them a formal letter from ourselves completely tired me out. After many weeks e-mailing various frontline care organisations, I came to realise none of these e-mails had been read or passed to those they were intended for. I then moved onto a new method of calling these organisations directly and more often than not asked to repeat the previous step. At medical practices, as one example, the receptionists have either told me bluntly that they were not interested, despite only knowing I was from a foodbank, or explained to me in-depth the organisational barriers to them accepting any letter from me. I finally have resorted to just 'dropping in' unannounced, which has proved surprisingly successful in getting in touch with those that we need to contact. However similar reasons stated above continue to get thrown my way.
Something that I have taken from these experiences and how degrading and depressing it can be to be consistently confronted by these barriers. Individuals at the front of these organisations seem more concerned with the process than what they are actually there for, which is helping those in society that are disadvantaged and in need of help. Receptionists and Greeters are the 'frontline' of these frontline services and are the first and last people members of the public will see. It is important that these people realise that and begin to think more about the people who come in to these places for help.
The most important aspect of our Foodbank is our relationship with a wide variety of 'referral agencies'. These agencies include local charities, government services and community associations.
Clients who come to us for food come with a voucher that is authorised by one of these agencies. We at the Foodbank do not take it upon ourselves to identify those in need of food. Instead we leave that decision to established organisations who deal with our clients on a day to day basis. It is these agencies that are best placed to make the call as to who needs to be referred.
One local agency we are a building a relationship with is the Cornerstone Day Centre. This centre provides support for vulnerable adults in the community. They are open every day and are acutely aware of the difficulties many people face with just being able to feed themselves. We hope our partnership with them will help further the community effort to helping those in need.