Community councils – a force for good or just groups of busybodies moaning about trivial matters like broken slabs and street lights?
I must admit to having thought the latter over the years, but I’ve changed my mind and feel dreadful after judging people without actually knowing that much about them.
A dear friend of mine is a committed community councillor in Edinburgh, where I work, and, over some drinks, he was telling me of their responsibilities and work they do.
When he first mentioned the words ‘community council’, I hope he didn’t notice my eyes rolling while I thought, ‘here we go, boring!’.
However, my head was turned 360 degrees after hearing one particular heart-warming story in which my friend helped a desperate couple.
The couple’s lives were being made a misery after their son, who suffers from autism, was sent to the wrong school which seriously affected his behaviour at home making him very difficult to control. I believe this is common in such cases.
The local authority insisted his needs were being met at this school, but the couple and their doctor knew otherwise.
Despite recommendations from their GP, he was stuck in a classroom with other children who had different learning difficulties.
Because the poor child wasn’t being stimulated as he should have been, his behaviour deteriorated dramatically pushing his parents to their wits’ end.
Out of desperation, after trying numerous other avenues, one of the parents turned up at a quiet community council meeting one cold Thursday just before Christmas.
After hearing their plight my friend took it upon himself to valiantly fight their cause and helped to turn their lives around.
With the help of the community council, they researched the boy’s condition, questioned the council’s decision and demanded his case be reviewed by autism specialists at the New Struan Centre in Alloa.
The council finally relented under the pressure, the boy was examined by experts who asserted that Struan was the best place for him.
A month later he was settled at the school, sometimes staying overnight giving his frazzled parents much respite.
His behaviour changed almost overnight and the youngster is developing amazingly in his new surroundings.
His parents can’t thank my friend enough for changing their lives for the better.
Now who would have thought a trip to the community council could be life-changing?
I can now see that people become community councillors because they care deeply about the people in their communities and my friend’s gallantry has also put a wee twinkle in my eye.