Thinking about the practice of democracy support officers.
Dave Mckenna
1

I think formalising the navigator aspect in both these roles could have far-reaching benefits.

For residents it would be about explaining how to get more information on a topic, and linking individuals up to other local groups interested in a topic (connecting communities).

For the councillors, it is a therapeutic role as you say but also a supportive one. When working in Scrutiny teams I was often struck by how rarely councillors reflected on the links between their ward work, scrutiny role and other civic efforts. Democracy support officers can definitely help here, potentially by following their councillors’ interests on Twitter. You don’t need to be a party support officer to help individual Members, especially if you can share the information you provide with whole committees.

What this requires in both cases is an active interest in your job. Being able to join the dots thematically needs staff who care about the issues being discussed in the meetings they administer, not just banging out minutes and chasing councillors for comments.

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