Friday, 20 November 2015

Bringing Home the Bacon

I've thought of a few titles for this tale.  Tonight I'm Going To Party Like It's 1971, Pigs Might Fly, It's All Gone to Shit are just 3.

I've just come back from the Housing and Support Alliance Conference, amazing, inspiring, brutal...

I reacquainted myself with some great people and met some new ones.  I drunkenly met Sara Ryan, was lost for words, and wine wasn't the reason.  I vaguely remember saying that I try to make things funny. It's not funny.  Not for the dudes.

Anyway here's the tale...

I was recently dismissed by a Social Worker in one branch of a local authority as 'not being a professional' (while doing some canny work in another branch of the same authority.)  I was slightly piqued and almost fired off a big-headed email in which the subject heading may have read, 'Do You Know Who I Am?'  Like a '90s boy band member trying to jump the queue at a seedy nightclub. Then I began musing about 'professionalism' and how people and families are dismissed with much harsher consequences than a slight prick to their over inflated ego.

The backdrop of all of this is another of the appalling story of a young man abandoned in an ATU.  While the 'professionals' argue about who pays, solicitors piss about not sharing info with the family, the hospital makes the young man's emotional and physical health worse, social services departments in two areas of the UK do either nothing or precious little, both at the pace of a sloth hitching a lift on a snail. The DoH sends in a team and no lives appear to improve.

In the middle of it is a young man and his family, lost in the system, desperate, drowning in reports, advice and professionalism.

I'm glad people don't think I'm a professional, you could train a pig to be a professional in these situations, and it wouldn't be a long course of study.  I remember a quote, "don't wrestle pigs, you'll get all muddy and the pigs will love it."  I think we are pig wrestling on a grand scale and it isn't the professionals getting muddy.

I'm having a bit of a struggle at the moment, I cant remember a time in my 'non professional' career when I've felt so powerless professionally or politically.  I've always felt I was on some kind of I think I'm just bringing home the bacon.

The conference fired me up though, not to back down, to 'fuck the label' to not accept the cuts, to stop the shit holes.

And it WAS funny especially the uvavu bit...

Disclaimer.  I'm not describing anyone as a pig. It is a metaphor or a simile or a split infinitive or summat like that.  I also stand by my long held view that professionals are usually really good, and try really hard.  They are great tireless workers struggling in a pretty broken system.  You do unearth the odd truffle...


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Taking the 'U' out of 'ATU'

I mulled over the Bubb report, and made this picture quickly after reading it - planning some incisive, ascerbic post.  Then I read other people's posts and realised I haven't really got anything to add......perhaps my contribution is a couple of silly pictures......

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Magical Shrinking Envelopes and Going Forward Bingo

I sometimes feel really bad writing this, like I'm some kind of dinosaur who 'resists' change, who fails to rise to the challenge and see the destruction of local services as an opportunity for communities to rise again.  I think I might be a dinosaur. Never mind.

What I think is that state bad - communities good is a bit of a pointless argument.  There's just us.   And I reckon if I knocked on my neighbour and asked him to help me in the bath - we'd have a pretty frosty relationship - rather than the really good one we have built over the years, reciprocating tasks exchanging gifts and chatting so long I'm sometimes late for work.  So if I want a different type of support than that which I'd want my neighbour, family, friends to do - I think tax in and support for those who need it out is not a bad deal in theory.  And at the moment there's just us as citizens, residents, tax payers, and local government employees to figure that out.

I think what I'm arguing here for is a reminder to local government workers that they are just US.  And therefore we can all face a bit of honesty, and don't need to be deflected by a party line.

The picture above is TRUE!  The phrase used was GOING FORWARD WITH A REDUCED FINANCIAL ENVELOPE.

A reduced what?

I think I wrote one of these about Partnership Board Bingo.  There is another game called 'Going Forward Bingo'

Here are the rules;

1 Count how many times a presenter says 'Going Forward'
2 Gnaw your own legs off.

There's probably a technical term for cunningly using language to cleanse it of any real meaning - but for the moment 'Bullshit' will do - surely everyone is aware of the attack on the safety net which we all, at any time, may come to rely on.  Even that has been 'bullshitted' into Austerity.

MORE, CHEAPER, BETTER is my new cry - just so people don't think I'm a dinosaur.

Next time who knows, see what happens.....

Friday, 6 December 2013

Necessity is the mother of underpants....

Necessity is the mother of invention?

Here we go again.  I've heard a few people say recently that hard times force us to innovate.  There's truth in that - but hard times also tempt us to turn on each other.  I've heard people say, "it's not fair, we need to bring the learning disability spend in line with older people" - yeah go on there's progress...look how shit it is over there, let's make this as shit as that!

For years people have been talking of people's gifts and building stronger communities - in times of plenty those conversations were sometimes ignored.

Now times are tough and the voices who largely ignored the 'community' call are couching the vicious cuts in the language of opportunity.

Technology to assist people to take control is being used to justify the cuts. Dressed up in 'assistive' language.  We are clothing cuts in the language of plenty.

Not so much 'Emperor's New Clothes' more 'Emperor's Weekend Underpants' - you know the one's that you only use in an emergency...saggy elastic, washed out colour, perhaps a little hole starting, even perhaps some mysterious stains......everybody's got a pair.

I'm going to carry my emergency underpants around with me - and whenever anyone disguises a cut with bullshit - I'm going to put them on my head.

I urge you to do the same.  A movement.  We've got to do something.  Underpants is as good a place to start as any.

I know that the my use of 'emperor's new clothes' doesn't really fit this situation - but I can't think clearly with these underpants on my head....


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

There's Another Rabbit Off!

The cartoon above is pretty close to a current reality - the names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

Only in Serviceland could people's clearly stated - and well planned wishes be so absurdly skewed. 

It's not often I can't see a way forward, OK I might moan and whinge for a bit but I usually find a way.  And I'm sure a way will open up - right now it feels like 'Everything is Broken'

The Housing and Support Alliance Conference this week should give me a fix.....

Bob Dylan always does it - even when it's unremittingly negative!

"Broken lines, broken strings.
Broken threads, broken springs.
Broken idols, broken heads.
People sleeping in broken beds.
Ain't no use jiving.
Ain't no use joking.
Everything is broken.

Broken bottles, broken plates.
Broken switches, broken gates.
Broken dishes, broken parts.
Streets are filled with broken hearts.
Broken words never meant to be spoken,
Everything is broken.

Seems like every time you stop and turn around,
Something else just hits the ground.
Broken cutters, broken saws.
Broken buckles, broken laws.
Broken bodies, broken bones.
Broken voices on broken phones.
Take a deep breath feels like you're chokin'
Everything is broken.

Everytime you leave and go off someplace,
Things fall to pieces in my face.
Broken hands on broken ploughs.
Broken treaties, broken vows.
Broken pipes, broken tools.
People bending broken rules.
Hound dog howling bullfrog croaking
Everything is broken."

Bob Dylan

Friday, 4 October 2013

Partnership Board Bingo

I think this cartoon was one of Mark (The Shadow Cutter) Conlin's, I'm sure he won't mind me using it.  We made them in spare moments at Skills for People years ago.

At a time when cuts are very much with us, but with some more than others, these cartoons seem even more scary.  When resources seem scarce there's a tendency to draw more people into the decisions about how to spend those scarce resources.  Panels we call them.

I used to play Partnership Board Bingo - going around the room and estimating people's salary (including my own) - creating a rough hourly rate then adding it all up, adding some complex algorithms to account for travel and preparation time, factoring in the percentages of heating bills and pondering how much of a percentage of the mayor's car to add in so I could come up with a fairly accurate cost of the Partnership Board.

The answer was  a lot.

Try it at the next meeting you are at.

Just try not to shout HOUSE.

There's a different panel for them.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Driving Forward Personalisation

I almost forgot I did this blog. I haven't done one for ages.  Then I remembered why - this picture was made in the 'white heat' of personalisation and was so brutally true that I sat on it for a while.  

I spent a canny bit of time as an advocate and there's a phrase which always brought the red mist down - when people say "What you don't understand is........" I inwardly, and occasionally outwardly, GO OFF IT!  Guaranteed to make me GO OFF IT BIG STYLE is if the "What you don't understand..." is preceded  by "With all due respect" 

So in relation to the cartoon above I now understand that the approach of selling people's lives off to the lowest bidder is something to do with 'provider development' or 'stimulating the marketplace' something like that.

And I also understand that a Thatcherite free market is the way to drive up choice and quality but only if it is aligned with 'frameworks' hinting at some Stalinist state control.

I understand that I should become accustomed to phrases uttered by a pinstriped, cuff-linked, bronzed provider rep such as "We'll have a punt at £12 per hour" even though it is the most gut-wrenchingly putrid phrase I've heard. 

Now I understand.

And before some smart arse says, 'Why didn't you do something about it?'

With all due respect - I did, or at least I tried really hard to.

Next time; deregulationprivatisationandcompetitioncertainlyworkedformyelectricitygastelephoneandtrainservicesdoyourememberhowawfulelectricitywasbeforeyouwerehoundedtochangesuppliereverythreemonthsitwasreallybadelectricitywasntit?notliketheelectricitywehavenowadays