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I Honestly Don't Know - Data Protection Paranoia

(21 Posts)
Alderney Fri 29-Aug-08 10:25:04

I honestly don't know if I'm being unreasonable or not

I'm an NCT branch committee member. I'm bringing up at our committee meeting that we are making informal events LESS easy for new people to get to as we have stopped giving full info "to protect people".

Let me explain - 98% (or so it feels) of what we as a bracnh do is informal "coffees" - basically an open invite to anyone to go to someone's house on a specific day and time for a cup of tea and a chat. Most weeks there are 4 or 5 of these going on throughout the area. We print the diary list in the newsletter saying what is on when, and the really active mebers (like me) are expected to commit to having 2 - 3 of these per newsletter (a 3 month period).

Few weeks afo I was going to one (primarily to drop something off and I knew that as my friend was having a coffee that she'd be in) and I have only been to her new house once, in the dark, when I wasn't driving, so I went to look for the details for my was then I noticed that in the recent edition of the newsletter that they have removed ALL house numbers from the Diary list - so if you were hosting a coffee the entry in the diary now says "Coffee at Joe Bloggs' - Buttercup Lane" - no number, but it does have your phone number.

The idea is that new people who wanted to come to your coffee will phone you to find your house number and any directions and that phone call can be a bit of an introduction so they aren;'t coming to a total strangers house.

I can kind of see the point of that, but it transpired that essentially 1 branch member has a huge bug bear about giving out info, and so when she complained to the newsletter team they completely changed the policy.

To my mind, if we are trying to be open and welcoming to new parents (who might be struggling, have early onset PND or just have little confidence and be shy) then we should be doing our utmost to make it as easy for them to come to these events as possible - not make it harder.

And anyway, they are happy to give out our phone numbers but not our house numbers...that to me seems strange - if I was going to get pestered by strange people its far more likely they would phone me up than come to my door.

We regularly have "outside coffees" or other meet ups which aren;t in people's houses - meet ups at parks or soft plays etc - so anyone who doesn't want their house number given out is welcome to organise something like that where it would be the location of the park in the diary dates rather than their house.

To me it just seems like we are looking like we are doing stuff, but not ACTUALLY doing anything to help anyone - very few people actually go to these coffees anyway, especially of the target audience of new parents who are currently outwith the organisation or who are moving on from ante natal classes - and I feel we should be making it EASIER for people to go and not harder.

(I should add part of my issue is that I am completely phone phobic and if I had to phone a complete stranger to find out their house number I'd just not do it and just not go, whereas I would possibly go along to their house for the event, esp if it was nearby and I could nip home easily if I hated it).

So, am I being unreasonable to think we should give out the maximum amount of info to allow people to easily attend events, or are the newsletter team being reasonable to remove the house numbers to protect their "identities" and give out phone numbers so people can attend if they have made a phone call for the full details.

Elmosgirl Fri 29-Aug-08 10:30:15

I don't know what the right answer is but I agree in that phoning a complete stranger seems very daunting...don't want to disturb them at busy times etc.

Is it possible to give email addresses out as well, I find it much easier to contact people I don't know via email.

HonoriaGlossop Fri 29-Aug-08 10:32:54

I agree with you and I think you're being genuinely thoughtful about NEW members; you need to be ultra welcoming of people and I think being faced with a sheet that just says "coffee at Joe Bloggs" makes it sound like a private party and is very off putting.

After all, you're only giving this info out to new members, anyway. And if people aren't happy to have their address printed I guess they just wouldn't offer to host?

YANBU. Good for you I say - once most people are in a group they forget what it's like to be an outsider IMO.

Elmosgirl Fri 29-Aug-08 10:37:04

Just to add another point against phoning....I have two under 2 years. I NEVER (unless completely necessary) phone people during the day as you can bet as soon as you start talking someone starts screaming so you then end up sounding like an idiot on the phone trying desperately to quiet said screamer and is just too stressful to bother.

StealthPolarBear Fri 29-Aug-08 10:39:38

I agree with you. Surely when people agree to host these things they can say whether they are happy to have their address in, or just phone number.
Addresses are public knowledge with a bit of searching, phone numbers don't have to be!

WideWebWitch Fri 29-Aug-08 10:42:02

I think fair enough that people don't want their exact address publicised. So I think "sarah's house, Buttercup lane, call 01234 55555555" is fair enough. Email too would be good.

lingle Fri 29-Aug-08 10:43:15


YANBU. The NCT desperately needs more people like you. The Data Protection Act is much misused.
I think it is legitimate to object to publication of any details online, because it makes the job of identity theft so much easier, but not on paper.
Please stick to your guns.

littleducks Fri 29-Aug-08 10:43:17

The thing is do you hand out your newsletter at nearly new sales, leave them at drs surgery etc as 'marketing' for want of a better word? In both my branches they did

in one branch the coffee list read something like:

joanna, harry (18 months) and max (6 weeks) windsor central (phone no)

in my current branch it lists addresses but no childrens ages which i found useful

we also have a yahoo group, perhaps full addresses could be limited to being on the yahoo reminder emails which are only sent to members whereas the newsletter is often given to non members (to tempt them to join)

Alderney Fri 29-Aug-08 11:50:38

Thanks so much everyone -it is being brought up at our committee meeting on Tuesday.

Regarding the newsletters - these go out to all our members (about 300 families) and they are also given out to new enquirers and some are passed to Health Visitors and things in case they have any queries -= however the convention in the past is that the coffee diary (the middle pages) should be removed to any newsletter that is given to HVs etc. As far as I'm aware we do't leave any in Drs surgeries and ante natal clinics etc.

We also don't put children's ages into the coffee diary, however elsewhere in the current newsletter there is some info on the area reps, and most coffees are hosted by area reps - someone would have to sit down and work it out though.

I agree wholeheartedly with giving out email addresses instead of phone numbers - I am far more likely to email a stranger, knowing I won't be disturbing them and they can respond in their own time, rather than phoning up and intruding on them, or possibly disturbing a baby's nap etc.

I must feel that, at the moment, what we are doing is enough to salve our own conscience's - you know "look how many events we organise" - rather than actually doing anything practical to actually help anyone.

All because 1 members didn't think it was right to give out this detail.

suedonim Fri 29-Aug-08 12:06:09

I think if you don't want your details published then don't hold a coffee morning! It's possible the woman concerned had genuine issues, maybe a stalker or something, but then as you say, you can organise the church hall meet-up thing instead.

I think that an email address or mobile phone number for texting would be a good idea, to avoid having to actually speak to a stranger. Maybe even a branch email address?

My local NCT prints the coffee list on the middle pages of the newletter so that when newsletters are distributed to non-members eg Dr's surgeries, the pages can be pulled out, giving some protection from having everyone know where you live. Not printing surnames is also helpful for anonymity.

Well done you, anyway, for caring about NCT! smile I used to be the local Chair - quite a challenge to keep everyone happy.

suedonim Fri 29-Aug-08 12:07:07

X-posted. smile

mother2two Fri 29-Aug-08 13:42:14

Other branches have this problem too. I know it will soon become an issue but I can't go into details here.

ChukkyPig Fri 29-Aug-08 13:49:34

I think I'm going against the grain here but I really don't understand the problem.

Your name and address are freely available on the electoral register, and for most people the phone book, FGS.

I don't understand what people think is going to happen. The whole thing's silly and people are overly precious these days IMO.

(Sorry seem to be in a rather blunt mood today for some reason).

tiggerlovestobounce Fri 29-Aug-08 13:49:55

I think this is fine, TBH. I wouldnt want my full address given out to people in that way.
Also, if you are going to go to a strangers house for me it would feel easier to have made a brief phone call first, and so would feel that they werent a complete stranger, if that makes sense. smile

ChukkyPig Fri 29-Aug-08 13:50:55

Incidentally if you live on Aldeney surely everyone knows everyone anyway!!!

bergentulip Fri 29-Aug-08 13:54:54

Give email addresses instead, and phone numbers. Much easier for shy people to email and say they are coming and ask for the house no.

But, I think it's fine to give the full address. It's not like the world is seeing it. I have been going to one group and the whole address is given, including postcode- which makes perfect sense to me as then people can put it in their satnavs and don't even need to bother the host for directions then!

Full address, email and tel no. should therefore be given. What's the full address of this trouble maker member and I'll go round there and sort her out....(!) wink
---oh, oops, maybe it's people like me they are trying to dissuade...(!)

bergentulip Fri 29-Aug-08 13:55:55

I might add, I hate satnavs and would never in my wildest imagination ever buy one. hhhmm..... give me two seconds. I think I might start another thread on that one....

DaisySteiner Fri 29-Aug-08 14:00:56

Surely the obvious solution is to print the full address of the sensible people who have no objection and anyone else just gets a phone number and/or email address to contact.

I don't really understand what people think is going to be done with this information anyway hmm unless they're hiding from an absuive ex/stalker etc. In which case I'd be pretty surprised if they wanted to host anything as public as a coffee morning anyway!

BouncingTurtle Fri 29-Aug-08 14:06:00

Certainly our NCT branch publishes door number, address and telephone number. Actually they do say to ring the host on the day in case it has been cancelled (for example if the host's child has suddenly taken ill). But it is not compulsory.

YANBU Aldeney, good luck with your meeting!

ProfYaffle Fri 29-Aug-08 14:27:10

Daisy beat me to it, was just going to post her suggestion! seems sensible to me.

EachPeachPearMum Fri 29-Aug-08 16:23:08

Our local NCT has email addresses- so much easier when you have a newborn, and never know when you're going to be up, or near a 'phone (I am 'phone phobic too, so I share your pain sad)

However, as a city dweller, I too would not wan t to give out my house number (or surname!) in a leaflet that is essentially for public distribution- there are a lot of weirdos out there. I also remember a few new mums who were pretty unhinged at the beginning, and wouldn't really want them turning up on the doorstep at all hours.

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