Being made to feel like a criminal

I am hopping mad. Well you may think I am mad anyway! I have been involved with the start of a U3A group, and we are slowly getting off the ground. Living in a small town we knew it would be less likely we would get droves of people pounding the door, but we are getting there. We have some very talented musicians and some wonderful historians in our group, as well as artists and others.

So I started thinking perhaps we could do something for the community by sharing this. I approached a hostel and they were delighted: they said yes to a talk on a local identity plus a simple morning tea, which will be part of the event. I hope it will take place so am keeping this rant under wraps until it does, I will explain why.

Then I was asked if we wanted a rock and roll demonstration and at the same time had been offered a music session which would involve the nursing home residents. We would go along and they would watch or sing. It would mean some members of U3A would go along as part of a choir. Good I thought; a nice change for the residents and bit of the outside world for them. How wrong I was; how foolhardy. Should have known the red tape was ready to strangle us.

I was told all the members need police checks. Okay, so why? They are just singing! Are they likely to rape in the middle of singing Daisy? Will the drummer go off and steal a necklace in the midst of drum solo? We would have been there an hour or so. An hour of entertainment was all it would be.

As I worked at this nursing home for many years I know the dangers, I had a police check and understood why, so no problem. I was after all dealing with them in vulnerable situations, in a position which needed trust. Cash and jewellery were often lost because they had various forms of dementia; we had to be scrupulously honest and always vigilant. But the evil people can still get through in spite of a police check. That does not stop the really vile people. Are relatives scrutinised too? Who police checks the travelling salesman, or anyone else who pops in for physio? They could just as easily duck into a room and do damage.

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It would be pure common sense for the establishment to say, “Yes we will welcome the older members of the community, those people who have worked and are still active, yes we will accept they may be older (most members between 65 and 90) but they still have active brains and are willing to do something for the residents”. Instead they turn people away, and make them feel like criminals.

Baloney! I say, and I am deeply saddened by the attitude that puts people off, makes them a slave to rules that are not at all steeped in logic. Government officials are highly illogical people, people who live by their rule books and love using reams of paper to increase their level of control. Catering, horse events and school playgrounds are all examples of areas they have brought to their knees, as they spread their cement of rigid rules. You need a degree to make a sponge, a lawyer to have a gymkhana, and the SES at every playground. We were asked to do an emergency help for meals on wheels, ah, but we need a police check first. I was delivering just for two lunchtimes. Should have told them I only rape and pillage when there is an R in the month!

Do you agree with Jacqui? What do you think of needing police checks for a simple community gesture? Have you been in a similar policed situation? What did you do?