If you’re talking to people about the States, a lot of people are going to tell you about public services that don’t work well for them, or about times they feel they have been treated wrongly or failed by the system. Some of these will be desperately difficult problems which are a real issue here and now – and you’ll want to try and do all you can to help fix it.
If you are a first-time candidate, I would just be a little bit cautious about what you promise. People’s lives are complicated, and you may not have the time or the ability to get fully involved in sorting out a problem while you’re on the campaign trail, however much you may want to.
If there is an obvious, immediate need for outside help, then you might want to point the person in the direction of someone who can offer it. The Citizens Advice Bureau is usually a good place to start, or another voluntary organisation more directly related to the person’s needs. It is probably wisest to pass on contact details, and leave it up to the person to choose if they want to get in touch.
If there is an injustice which needs addressing, but it isn’t urgent, you can say to the person: “I don’t think I’ll be able to address this for the next few weeks, but I’d be glad to pick it up with you after the Election, and try to get things sorted for you.” If you say this, make sure you mean it. Give the person a way of getting in touch with you that will work after the Election, whether or not you’re elected; or make yourself a diary note to get back in touch with them again after the Election. If you’re not elected, you might not be in a position to do what you hoped – if that happens, try and connect the person to someone else who might be able to help.
Ultimately, you’ll handle this in the way that feels right for you. I think it might just be useful to know that the campaign period is a conundrum – it’s the time when you’re most likely to find out about people’s problems, but least likely to be able to take any meaningful action to address them – and to have some ways of managing that, so you don’t leave people in the lurch, but you also aren’t making promises you can’t fulfil.