In the run up to Guernsey’s next general election, the States Assembly & Constitution Committee wants to educate the public and potential candidates on what to expect from an all-consuming 'job' like no other.
“The role of a deputy has changed over time and the skills and knowledge required to perform effectively have increased dramatically over the decades,” said SACC President, Deputy Carl Meerveld.
His committee has published a report outlining the ‘Induction and Ongoing Development Programme’ that is currently underway. It provides current deputies with training in a variety of topics to help them better serve the public.
“Leading up to the next election we are taking that a step further," said Deputy Meerveld. "Before the election we’re going to start a campaign to explain to members of the public what the role of a deputy is, what their duties are, what the expectations are on the job, and to make the public aware of what deputies do for them."
Pictured: SACC collated the responses from a survey circulated to deputies to better understand their experiences before taking office.
Historically there hasn’t been much induction training or pre-election engagement with candidates about the role they are seeking election to. From his own experience, Deputy Meerveld said this be quite a shock for some people.
“I came in with an expectation that this would be like a senior role in an international corporation, and it wasn’t – being a deputy is different to anything anybody has done before.
“It’s not just the number of hours a week it can take, but also the psychological and emotional commitment required to do this job - it’s the responsibility of representing your entire community and the stress that it can bring on,” he said.
This is only Deputy Meerveld’s second term, having first being elected in 2016.
Pictured: “There is an intensity and commitment to this that goes beyond a normal job,” said Deputy Meerveld.
Deputy Meerveld argues that the role of a deputy has changed considerably over the past few years and prospective candidates need to be aware of far more rules and regulations.
“When I was a younger man there wasn’t the personal data privacy act, there weren’t the same compliance issues. Health and safety didn’t exist in my youth and it was more common sense back then. The role has changed and become a lot more intense,” he said.
Furthermore, the role of social media and the unregulated scrutiny it comes with can be overwhelming for new deputies.
“The people who stand to be deputies, not exclusively, tend to be older – they are coming into a world that they aren’t familiar with.
“Learning how to manage social media accounts and how to do it in a way that doesn’t get you into trouble is challenging for people who’ve never been on social media,” he said.
Pictured: 18 new deputies were elected last year and 20 incumbents were re-elected.
Preparing for the 2025 general election, and educating people on what a deputy does, is one of SACC’s most significant workstreams for this term.
“This is both to help the public understand the role of a deputy but also for future candidates to understand what they are committing to, and so they know what support they will get in the future,” said Deputy Meerveld.
“What we intend to do before the next election is produce a schedule of induction training – a catalogue essentially, explaining what each session will provide.
“It’s going to be a lot more organised; it’s going to be a lot more structured, there’s going to be a lot more information available in advance for future deputies,” he said.
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