Friday 14 December 2018
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Jonathan Channing: Five things I would change about Jersey

Jonathan Channing: Five things I would change about Jersey

Friday 07 December 2018

Jonathan Channing: Five things I would change about Jersey


As an entrepreneur, public speaker and charity adviser, it’s hard to believe that tech whizz Jonathan Channing might have ever struggled at school – but undiagnosed autism made things difficult.

Since learning he was on the spectrum at the age of 18, Jonathan has since gone on to set up his own coding business, lead the strategy for National Coding Week, and help found the Chamber Connection Committee, a branch of the island’s key business lobby group aimed at young professionals.

He is also an autism awareness trainer, and recently became the Chair of an advisory council for charity Autism Jersey, which is possibly the first of its kind to be composed entirely of autistic individuals.

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Pictured: Jonathan and Nick Winsor, Chair of Autism Jersey. 

With his interests firmly rooted in autism awareness and digital development, it’s no surprise that these are among the causes he’d like to champion in Jersey, but the entrepreneur had some other interesting ideas to improve the island, which he shared with Express

1. An autism-friendly Jersey

Jersey with its small population is in a unique position to pioneer many things, such as being a 'digital sandbox'. If this is the case, why can't Jersey lead the way in others ways, such as being the first autism-friendly island?

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Pictured: Some shops do an autism hour... Why not make the whole island autism-friendly?

The notion of an autism-friendly Jersey will require far more elucidation than this small article affords, but here is a small example of the kind of concessions shops in Jersey would need to make to be considered autism-friendly. You may have heard of the 'autism hour' - here's my interpretation.

  • Dim the lights - Hands up if you like bright fluorescent lights?
  • Turn off music - You have to be lucky to get decent music in your supermarket!
  • Make no tannoy announcements - Who actually likes tannoy announcements?
  • Provide an autism-friendly checkout (the bleeps of machines set to the lowest volume) - Who enjoys the sound of loud bleeps at the checkout?
  • Hand out maps to help customers with the layout - doesn't that sound convenient? 
  • Have autism-trained ‘staff champions’ - simple customer service (people with Autism are customers too!) 

2. Suppawt for animals through licence fees

The JSCPA is a wonderful charity that does great work to improve the wellbeing of animals in our island and does not receive the support it should. In an ideal Jersey, I would like to see the JSCPA share in the bounty of our dog licence fees paid to the States either partly or wholly. 

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Pictured: Dog licence fees paid to the States could be shared with the JSPCA, Jonathan thinks.

Wouldn’t it be great to see it being supported in part by those who pay for the privilege of having a dog? We cannot afford to lose a charity that provides such crucial support to the wellbeing of our four-legged friends. We all need to support this charity or we could face losing a service we all take for granted

3.  Digital upskilling for social good

Jersey should absolutely encourage the creation of social enterprises with a digital focus. I am quite frankly shocked that a digital social enterprise hasn’t been set up yet. A digital social enterprise has great potential, as it can upskill those who may find it difficult holding down a job, giving a sense of purpose to people who may not be ready for full-time work.  

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Pictured: Jersey has social enterprises, but Jonathan thinks there is a gap in the market for digital ones.

We should create a digital social enterprise where members of our society who may not be able to commit to full time work are able to contribute and gain a sense of purpose in their lives as well as learning new skills which could potentially lead them to becoming self-employed or working within industry in a digital role.

4. Guidance to help charities withstand the test of time

I would love to see a governance framework enforced and implemented by the Charities Commissioner with training offered to all trustees of Jersey charities to ensure that our many charities which provide crucial services to our society do not end up in precarious positions due to lack of understanding of good governance. 

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Pictured: Jonathan wants to see measures put in place to ensure that crucial charities do not end up in "precarious positions due to a lack of understanding of good governance."

For Jersey more so than any other jurisdiction, it is crucial we provide a good governance framework that is simple and easy to implement for charities of all sizes. This will ensure that charities are able to withstand the test of time and also ensure that new charities are able to start out with a good governance framework to follow which will enable them to grow faster and smarter.

5. A female Chief Minister

I can candidly say I was disillusioned with the election outcome. For the first time, ever we had two women topping the polls and ended up with a male Chief Minister that is not reflective of the public’s votes and undermines their confidence in our politicians and the States Assembly.

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Pictured: Senators Tracey Vallois and Kristina Moore topped the polls in the recent election.

In my opinion, senior politicians should have done more to support and encourage the poll-topping candidates to step up and take the reins. It was a deplorable display of self interest, agendas and deal making with little concern or oversight of what is best for Jersey.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author, and not of Bailiwick Express. Those interested in learning more about the Autism Jersey Advisory Board should email ajadmin@autismjersey.com.

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