Frills and furbelows are, of course, the completely unnecessary add-ons to any functional item. I can spot a frill at 100 paces, but I have no idea what a furbelow is. All I know is I probably wont miss it if I don’t have it.
Here’s a quote from the chair of the LGA in a recent edition of Management Journal:
‘There’s still a lingering perception that the services we provide are nice to have. They’re not, they’re essential to have,’ he says.
While health and education are percieved by central government as essential and protected, local government is seen as second clas – but that perception is wrong.
‘Having bins emptied is not nice to have, it’s essential. Roads and transport are essential. Adult social care is essential,’ Sir Merrick says. ‘But getting that understood is surprisingly difficult.’”
This is absolutely right, but there’s another point to remember. You know what else is essential if we want healthy and robust communities? Public places where young people feel welcome. Town centres where our elders can function without feeling like either a fossil or a nuisance. Services where helping is more important than conforming. Projects where outcome trumps process. These things are not “nice to have”, they are the only way we can develop the mindset and the skills that will make the money stretch to meet our goals. The things we currently see as essential tend to be those services that step in when someone is already in crisis – we have an ethical and moral duty to step in. If we switch our focus to what we can do to avoid that crisis, we will get further on less. It’s not just about what we provide, it’s about how people find it and use it.
Nutshell summary: make people feel like they matter. If I matter, I engage. If I engage I support. If I support I make a difference. Exclude or ignore me and you will never know how close you came to success.