A while back I wrote a letter of concern and complaint regarding access, or lack of it, to a place that I had expected, because of what it was, to have total access. As regular readers will know, it is not my habit to use this blog to flame an business or an organisation, only to write about my experiences as someone who sometimes speaks up about things or out against things - so it doesn't matter where this was. I just want to document how I've changed over the years.
After I'd sent my letter, I heard back quite quickly and a series of conversations happened and a meeting was set up without weeks and weeks passing. I'd give an A grade to their response time. Well, I went yesterday and met with two people, people who it seemed had to power to make some changes. I took them through my experience from arrival to departure. It must have looked strange to passers-by who must have wondered what I was saying, intently, to two women, one of who was writing everything down as fast as she could, both listening with equal intensity.
They asked questions.
I answered questions.
I asked questions.
They answered questions.
I was sceptical, at first, in meeting them. It has been my experience that often businesses or services have learned how to show concern without actually being concerned. We live in an era where the tired old maxim "Once you can fake sincerity, you've got it made" has become tiresomely true. But I put my scepticism aside because both women seemed eager to learn from my experience and to make maxim use of the time I was there and the expertise that I brought as someone who had the lived experience of disability.
So, it went well. We said our goodbyes, we talked about future directions, I was offered a voucher (which I turned down - I don't complain for free stuff, I complain for change - they understood why I said 'no' to their gift) and it was over. I left having moved from scepticism to a kind of trust. It seemed to matter to them. The solutions seemed, to me, quite simple.
But this is only part two of a three part process, isn't it? I used to feel good at this point, once I felt 'heard' it was 'mission accomplished' - but it's not is it? Now comes the time of anxiety - did it matter? Writing was phase one, meeting was phase two ... action is the third and final phase. I can no longer feel good that I wrote, that I was heard. In fact I don't even know if I was heard, and I won't know until action happens.
So, we'll see.
It's a wearisome process this advocacy business isn't it? Working up the energy to write the bajillionth letter, getting through another phone call, another meeting - and then it's the waiting.
Waiting for change.
Waiting to know if the process of earning my trust is just another trick.