Last week, I hit off my phone by accident and Siri asked me if there was anything she could do for me. “Finish my QQI validation application” said I. “I don’t understand” said she. “Neither do I,” I thought. She had the same reaction to the CRA and the CRO returns, so no point in asking her to fill out the Lobbying return or reviewing our GDPR.
One could be forgiven for thinking that this is the sort of thing a computer would relish. As it turns out, even computers find it too dull to contemplate.
The poet Dante imagined there were nine circles of hell for different types of sinners. He got it wrong; there are ten. The tenth is for those whose sin is to work in the Community and Voluntary sector and/or with disadvantaged communities in Ireland and who foolishly imagine they can just affect change. For us, we don’t actually die first, but experience the tenth circle of hell on Earth. The cycle begins with the sinner asking cringingly embarrassing/intrusive questions of a person seeking help, followed by endless reporting of the same facts to a myriad of agencies on said person, ensuring there is neither time nor resources to render assistance to them.
The sinner is doomed to an eternity of not providing the assistance they want to and were trained to do. As soon as the cycle is finished, a new one begins with an updated version of the form/code/validation/reporting just completed.
Mid-cycle on the tenth circle, a student rocked up to my door; a welcome sight and a reminder of who we are here to serve. I spent a stimulating hour studying the spelling-meaning connection with Jane (not her real name – GDPR don’t ya know). Then I spent fourteen hours on paper work. Am I prepared to do this for her if that is what it takes? Absolutely. Is it a rational way to run a service? I think not.
By Columba O’Connor, Assistant Director of DALC.