At the Viva Vauxhall (VV) November committee meeting I resigned as VV secretary and from the VV committee. Four other committee members also resigned for the same reasons as myself. With a sixth following suit when he realised he would have to organise the next General Meeting.
I regret having had to take this step, but feel that there was no other course of action open to me. Taking part in community activities should be rewarding, empowering and fun, otherwise very few would want to get involved.
On the surface there should be no reason why this should not be possible in our community, as many residents are successfully involved in the two garden groups and the Bonnington Centre.
Any voluntary activity can only thrive in an open, friendly, relaxed and inclusive environment. It takes a lot of effort by a group of committed people to create such an environment, but unfortunately this cannot be sustained if one single-minded member of the community sets out to antagonise and alienate anyone who puts forward an opposing opinion to himself.
However, this is what has happened in Viva Vauxhall where committee members were constantly publicly accused of wrong-doing by one local resident who went as far as to launching unfounded complaints against VV committee members to almost every community based body or organisation in the area (although to no avail).
Ironically members of the committee were even ridiculed for voting this person onto the committee in an act of best democratic practice and inclusiveness.
As this new committee member refused to abandon his aggressive stance the ensuing disharmonious atmosphere at general meetings made not just the committee members feel uncomfortable, but also many members of the community who, not surprisingly stopped attending the meetings.
For over two years committee members have been faced with a barrage of unfriendly and pernicious emails from a notable local resident, and if you tried to reason with him, you’d be subjected to another avalanche of email. These emails contained such things as demands to “question committee members individually”, belittling language, usually in response to being asked for once to justify his own stance, but what was most disturbing discriminating committee members on the grounds of their housing situation, who they live with and who they associate with.
The final straw for me was when a fellow committee member was repeatedly ‘teased’ with references to their profession and when complaints to their employers were alluded to.
Ordinary community volunteers acting in good faith can and should be allowed to make mistakes, and still be able to rely on the support and understanding of the community, and not be pursued prosecution-style by a self-appointed, unqualified McCarthy-like figure.
This kind of treatment is not what you should be expecting, nor put up with, when you give up your valuable time to further the interests of your community.
Andrea, January 9