Campaigning and service delivery

I’ve done a few assignments recently with the dilemma of campaigning and service delivery has come up. You know this dilemma – an organisation asks should they be providing direct services to people or should they be campaigning?

And this issue has come up within quite a few organisations and networks where historically they’ve been all around service delivery, and some of their number are keen to campaign, while some of their number are equally nervous about venturing into campaigning.

In my career, sadly I have become quite well versed in dealing with this so-called dilemma. At the Red Cross it came up many, many times. I would always say at the Red Cross that our default setting was always to provide direct humanitarian support – that is basically provide services. But when those services alone were not enough to deal with the problem, that is when we would then look to campaign for the change needed to tackle the problem.

At City of Sanctuary, when this so-called dilemma came up, I would talk about service delivery and campaigning being two sides of the same coin. And I think that’s really important way to see this issue. It is by doing things directly that you get the evidence base for doing campaigning, and it is by doing campaigning that you can do more to help more people!

I have also found that you need to take people gently on a journey to move from delivering services to campaigning. We are all different as humans, and our response to this dilemma is great evidence of that difference! So, I like the line of saying that is good to start tackling an issue by providing individual support, but when that alone is not enough, you can use the evidence of that work to drive your campaigning.

So I think this dilemma of choosing between service delivery and campaigning is a false one – it is not a dilemma but they should in fact energise each other – as they are really two sides of the same coin!

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