A big part of my job as an MSP is to represent constituents. I have a number of surgeries across Glasgow and people can also make an appointment to see me or one of the constituency workers in our office in Glasgow. Generally speaking people only come to you when they're at the end of their tether but I'm looking at how we can get the message across that you don't have to wait until you're desperate.
However, I was really quite shocked recently to discover that some people don't know that they can get help from their MSP. I was campaigning with David Kerr, the SNP's candidate in the Glasgow North East by election and we were chatting to parents outside a school as they waited for their kids.
As has been happening more and more often these days it turned into a bit of a street surgery and I picked up a few cases to deal with. One woman was telling me about terrible financial problems her children were having with something not of their own making and I, of course, offered to look into it for her. She was delighted but shocked and said she didn't realise MSPs did that kind of thing. But that's our job!
We got it all sorted out within a couple of days (ridiculously and very unfairly, that's what tends to happen when an elected politician intervenes) but it's left me thinking that if she's not alone and there are a significant number of people out there who would not think to ask their Councillor, MSP, MP or MEP for help, then we really do have a big job to do. So, that's something to go on the list for after the by-election. Any ideas, let me know.