An important story about the ethos of public service and fairness/commerciality from Andy Hull, one of my highly respected and hard working local Councillors. Not easy being a portfolio holder for finance.
It Pays to Care - Andy Hull
“Open to all, coerced by none!” That was the motto of the local paper and Jon was its newest reporter. As he headed off for his first assignment, he figured his granddad, Harry, would’ve been proud.
As soon as he walked into Spring House, Jon was reminded of the place where he used to visit Harry, up north, while he was still alive. The big lounge, loud television and well-worn chairs were all familiar. The memories were mixed, though. Harry started to get confused easily there and, by the end, he didn’t really remember who Jon was. Still, that was a long time ago now and Jon had an interview to do.
“This is a care home,” said Grace, without needing much prompting. “Me and all the other ladies work here because we want people to feel cared for, in a place that feels like home. I think it’s one of the most important things we can do as a society. We don’t do it for the money, really.
“It is hard, though, when you put in every shift you can and still you can’t afford a Christmas present for your son. I can’t remember the last time our family went on holiday. But last month all of us here got a pay rise – a living wage, the council calls it. It’s made a difference. I can afford to catch the tube to work now, instead of two buses, which means I can get a bit more sleep in the morning and a little more time with my boy, Dean, when I get home.”
At the end of their interview, Jon put his cup down in its saucer, thanked Grace and was about to leave when Arthur, in the next chair, grabbed his hand the way Harry used to whenever he had something important to say.
“We’re not always easy to look after, us lot,” he said, with a grin. “But they do a grand job. It’s a hard day’s work. They should get paid enough to live on.”
Andy Hull is an elected member for Highbury West Ward and the Executive Member for Finance and Performance at the London Borough of Islington