Jargon busting! by Sue Spiller, Sobus CEO

Statutory services are increasingly keen to engage with local voluntary and community organisations – but a problem we often come up against is the sheer level of jargon, acronyms and mind boggling terms and concepts often used by professionals relating to their area of work or expertise.  I’m sure that within their organisations, the language they use is every-day, but for many of us, trying to decipher terms and phrases that everyone else around the table seems to be perfectly familiar with, can be daunting to say the least!

If we don’t understand the conversation – we cannot meaningfully contribute to it, and again the voice of the sector and those we support goes unheard.  Whilst Sobus will continue to campaign for statutory services to stop using jargon and mystifying terminology and acronyms, I don’t think it will ever disappear completely!

Of course, it’s not only perfectly fine to interrupt a speaker to ask them to explain the last set of complex letters and jargon they’ve used – but only by challenging on a regular basis as and when these instances occur will we get the message through to our erstwhile colleagues, that they need to simplify the language if they expect us to be real partners and collaborators.

However, asking questions of this nature takes confidence (which not everyone has), and for many, the worry is that they will appear perhaps less professional, less educated or not able to contribute to the discussion at the same level as their statutory sector colleagues – which of course is not true at all!  The insights and experiences of the VCS is critical in order for us to ensure that local systems and services truly meet the needs of our residents.

Most of our statutory sector colleagues are only too happy to be reminded to avoid the use of unnecessary jargon and use straight forward terms and language – and will gladly work with organisations to help them understand the background, context and terms used.  In the meantime, Sobus has started to put together “jargon busters” that you can use to help you understand some of the terminology and acronyms that we often come across on a regular basis.

We’ll update these regularly – as pithy new phrases, words and abbreviations are regularly created!  If you have any others that you think we should include – we’d love to hear from you!

Jargon buster VCS

Jargon buster health & social care

Jargon buster crime & policing


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