It’s not often I start a post with a big, fat, steaming turd of a lie, but let’s do it anyway. I offer my apologies to all turds for the comparison. They really don’t deserve it:
|Courtesy of The Guardian|
I remember watching with awe and amazement Cameron spouting this mantra over and over again on the pre-election campaign trail. He said it on the live TV debates. He said it on visits to Day Centres, usually with sleeves rolled up and gurning over a girl in a wheelchair. He said it bloody everywhere to anyone who would listen, and I remember thinking how remarkable it was that the leader of the Conservative Party was starting to sound like the hybrid spawn of Ghandi, Mother Theresa and that nice lady in Borehamwood who devotes her life to saving hedgehogs.
But ‘spending’ and ‘cuts’ were never far from the spiel either, Cameron’s point being that whatever they had to do to reverse the public sector overspend of the previous mob, it’s okay. Vulnerable people wouldn’t suffer. “A Conservative government will always look after you.”
|Courtesy of The Guardian: Author Keith Cooper 22.8.11|
People whose lives are shattered by mental illness, drugs, alcohol, homelessness or often a bit of each. Ex-offenders, people with learning disabilities or the frail elderly are also the very folk supported by Supporting People, usually with the invaluable provision of four walls and a roof, and a regular visit of one of those front-line, face-to-face support workers.
Supporting People (SP) is a fund distributed to local authorities to spend on housing and support provision for vulnerable people. The providers may be in-house local authority staff, but are more likely to be independent providers or charities who receive a portion of the local SP pot every year to help those who really can’t get by without support. The Guardian report highlights the massive re-allocation by some (not all) local authorities of SP budgets away from their original targets and into … well, I don’t know what, but it certainly isn’t going to be spent on providing sheltered accommodation and a warden for 80-year old Doris, or helping Gary get his life back on track after a 5-year jail term.
David Cameron and Housing Minister Grant Shapps will undoubtedly argue that their government have barely touched SP funding (true), and it’s those nasty councils who’ve pulled the rug right from under the already unsteady feet of the vulnerable. But this sounds to me like Hitler blaming the Holocaust on a few SS officers who got a bit over enthused with the gas tap.
But back to my real world – the training room, where I spend coffee breaks and lunchtimes staring disbelievingly at yet another support worker telling me “Yes, Connor, this is a very useful course, but to be honest I’ll be stacking shelves in Tesco in six months so there won’t be much call for your insights on Dual Diagnosis.”
I often use a technique called Mind Mapping to help staff think about the work they’ve done, often for a particularly difficult or vulnerable client. There are inspiring success stories, the odd dismal failure, but more often the seemingly humdrum case of a service user encouraged to reduce their intake of White Lightning from four litres a day to two.
I ask the support worker a simple question: “Where would this tenant be if it weren’t for your support and a roof over their head?” The answer is usually death, prison, homelessness or very long spells detained in a psychiatric unit.