The importance of management
As I wrote in the Mediation factsheet, while sterilisation is really the backbone of a good TNRM programme, Management is the glue that holds it all together. Sterilisation is absolutely essential - it's necessary to control the community cat population and cuts down complaints. However you can have an estate with all the cats sterilised, and still have problems.
This was reinforced for me today when I received an email from a caregiver. She had gone to see her MP and asked to start a TNRM programme across her estate, and her town council officer called her to say that while they were happy to work with her in the areas she managed, they could not extend the programme estatewise just because there wasn't good management in other areas.
The caregiver also said that the other people she knew in other areas looking after the cats weren't doing a very good job. One person sterilised, but fed in a messy way, which led to many complaints. Another person fed but didn't really sterilise. She was wondering how to try and convince everyone to manage the situation better as her previous attempts had not been very successful.
She was also a little discouraged, but I told her to look at the positive side - she was doing a good job, which the TC officer noticed as well, and hence was happy to work with her. At the same time, with her good example, and with time, more people will hopefully come forward to help. This will mean that more and more areas will be covered as more people come onboard - it may take a while, but I'm sure that working together we can all get there.
Management is really about bringing in all the different components - feeding, sterilising, handling complaints/explaining TNRM/liasing with TC - and making sure that everything is done properly. It may take more than one person to do everything. Some people may be great at sterilising, others may be very responsible feeders. Some others may be great at dealing with mediations and town councils. Everyone can chip in and do what they're good at. At the end of the day the cats - and the community - win!