• Mariam Gevorkian

Is 'Hard To Reach' a negative phrase?

I had the privilege of being a delegate to a conference held by Westminister in celebration of the 100 years since women got the vote and essentially became involved in UK politics. One of the many features of the conference was a session held by Aysha Esakji, a Community Coordinator working for the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

For the past 10 years Aysha has been working for the Council; serving various roles relating to hate crime, countering extremism and encouraging community engagement. Accordingly she hosted a session whereby delegates discussed the issue of isolation in society that of particular affecting women. She centralised her work shop towards the phrasing "hard 2 reach women" and asked delegates to form answers to questions which would be forwarded to the House of Lords as part of policy formation against the issue.

The government defines "Hard to Reach" as a phrase to describe those sections of the community that are difficult to involve in public participation.

Aysha's presentation listed a few factors this could entail such as; lacking internet access, language/cultural barriers, mental health issues, being affected by hate crime, not being in employment and having a few social networks outside of the home.

It was not until Sarah Judge voiced her opinion on the phrasing, a sense of epiphany entered the discussion towards "Hard to Reach Women". Sarah is a councillor of Manchester City and Assistant Executive Member for Children Services, giving her an intimate insight towards interacting effectively with communities and individuals. She shed focus on the irony of the phrase, questioning whether these women are simply hard to reach or are they easy to ignore? Sarah was critical of the governments attempts towards intervening in local communities. Being a member of the Domestic Violence Charity, Sarah has had the role of engaging with society members first hand and spreading the word of political and social engagement to her local community.

Sarah Judge: "Politics is done to people not with people"

She also recalled on the time a youth member voiced their personal distaste of the phrasing "Hard to Reach" as they felt that they were being categorised as being hard to reach but in reality are more than capable of receiving assistance from an organisational body. All in all the, Sarah gave light to the sense of detachment the government prevailing upholds when it comes to addressing what needs to be done to increase levels of social engagement...starting with phrasing which has negative connotations of reluctancy and inability,