Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We could do with a Winston Smith at Work and Income

This morning I came across a blog previously unknown to me. Winston Smith (a pseudonym) works in Supported Housing in the UK and writes about his daily dealings with 'clients'. (It occurs to me if I wrote an anonymous blog about my volunteer work and experiences it would not differ much though my writing talents would not match Mr Smith's. You win some but you lose more.)

I will add him to my blog roll. Here are some excerpts. The last is long because it is just too good to cut.

Bribing addicts to meet targets

Now, call me a cynic but when I read about bribing members of the underclass in order to ascertain their views I smell the scent of performance targets. Why? You may ask. Well, we in Supported Housing have our own targets, (the QAFS. see earlier posts) one of which is consulting residents about various aspects of the project. One of the problems though is that most residents don't want to be consulted they just want to be left on their own in their rooms staring blankly at TV screens, knocking each other up, spreading chlamydia and avoiding any contact with reality. To get them out of their rooms and to hear their insane ideas we use fast food, cash incentives and sugary fizzy drinks. It always works. I'd put good money, if I earned it, that the Drug and Alcohol action team are using a similar tactic. Just like us their jobs depend on it. If they could get away with giving them drugs or alcohol to get them to the meeting then I have no doubt they'd be tempted. If you think about it they have done just that. What do you think all those junkies, potheads, pill poppers and alco-teens are going to spend that ten quid on? Hazard a guess go on.

Can the Drug and Alcohol team be that naive and stupid? Believe me I regularly encounter people in this industry who are that thick and worse. If you pay circus wages you will often attract clowns. However, it is just as possible that in the interests of meeting performance targets the judicious decision was discarded in favour of the expedient.

Failing to scrounge from the state

Five minutes after getting rid of Gavin, Kenny, 21, knocks on the office door. He too is failing to successfully scrounge from the state. I’ve seen slugs with more get up and go. Soon, his ex-girlfriend with whom he has a fractious relationship, will be bearing him a child. There are similar scenarios throughout the project and indeed up and down the country ensuring that Britain has yet another generation of employment and education averse youngsters to take the place of today’s underclass when they go to the great Burberry factory in the sky. He seeks my sage advice in relation to benefits.

“Any chance you could help me think of an excuse to tell the Job Centre why I’ve missed signing on?”

Is being a toe-rag an excuse or is it a reason? I ponder. I’m in no mood for him and I’m not employed to lie for him so I tell him exactly what is on my mind, well with some modification.

“Go away Kenny. I’m not paid to lie for you and besides if you can’t even manage to sign on once every two weeks to get free money without it turning in to a drama what hope is there for you in life,”

Kenny shuffles off swearing under his breath as he goes. He isn’t used to such straight talk, even from me. I was a bit more forthright than usual. In fact, were he to fill in a complaint form I could get in trouble as such direct talking could be interpreted as “oppressive” language, in the terminology of the social sector, and as such could be detrimental to his self-esteem. Well, as far as I’m concerned if you are sitting around on your arse 24/7 and making no efforts to do anything constructive and can’t even manage to draw the dole then you should have very low self-esteem. The only things that Kenny has contributed to society are several bouts of chlamydia and a child he will soon abandon. I know it’s not much in fashion these days but just the smallest amount of shame can be a great motivator to change and regulator of one’s behaviour.

Britain: The Land Where The Criminal's Victimhood Supersedes That of The Decent and Law Abiding

A couple of weeks before the Christmas, one of our residents, Mike, 18, openly divulged to several staff that he had acquired some of his yuletide gifts for his family by stealing them. Although starved of intelligence and devoid of manners, Mike is in no ways cash hungry. He is on lucrative benefit payments and receives regular cash donations from his father who works abroad. However, much of his income is regularly being paid out on various fines he receives from the courts and the police whilst persuing his favourite hobby of being a public nuisance. In defence of his latest criminal activities Mike felt that it should be appreciated that he was no longer burglaring people's homes as he had lately required a conscience in this area. One of my colleagues actually congratulated him for this, as if he was doing the local community a favour by no longer 'choosing' to break in to people's homes.

Anyway, when trying to talk to him about his immoral behaviour I became aware that both myself and my colleague were trying to get Mike to see the error of his ways by appealing to how crime would affect him as opposed to the effects it has on others. My colleague made no mention of the victims of his actions and I only made reference to it and was immediately accused by Mike of the greatest taboo in the social delinquents perpetuation sector: judgmentalism. My colleague was quick to assure Mike that he wasn't being judged. Instead, I took to plain speaking and told him that it wasn't I that was going to judge him but rather someone called a Judge who would indeed be judgemental as his job description requires just that. However, as I have said the angle we were taking was one of trying to make him see how crime would affect him should he continue to keep appearing in court. Should we have employed a technique of say condemnatory language for his actions as well as trying to make him ashamed of himself by being harsh in describing how his crimes affect other people we could have well faced disciplinary action should he have made a complaint, which is his right, about the way and manner we spoke to him.

In fact, Mike did just that with regards to a colleague verbally reprimanding him for bad behaviour on the project the year before. The colleague was suspended and an investigation was launched. She was so demeaned by this experience that she resigned her post whilst being investigated for the crime of plain speaking to a feral yob. Mike openly boasted of how he got rid of her. The threat of such complaints censors many staff from plain speaking when dealing with young people engaged in crime or other anti-social behaviour. One wrong word or misconstrued phrase and you could find yourself up on a disciplinary hearing for 'oppressive' language. This culture where 'judgmental' language is seen as the ultimate taboo allows for criminals like Mike to shift the balance of power in their direction in that support workers fear telling the truth or evoking shame in a resident for fear of a complaint being made against them.

What I have highlighted in the above example is indicative of a trend in the wider society and that is how perpetrators of crimes, even the most heinous, can so easily achieve victim status even superseding the rights of those they have commited crimes against. This trend is being reported more and more by the media lately. The actress and singer Myleene Klass was warned by police for trying to protect herself in her own home. There was the high profile case of the business man jailed, but later released for the crime of defending his home against vicious and dangerous criminals.

After the horrific case in Edlington where two boys attacked, tortured and brutalised two boys of a similar age,the social care magazine, Children and Young People Now advocates reaching out to future torturers and trying to understand them. No mention is made of providing services for their victims. Whilst I agree that the torturers were to a degree a product of their environment and don't advocate or support lynch mobs to deal with such people something in me cringes when reading an article that makes no mention of the people who have suffered at the hands of the people they are defending.

Instead of arguing for targeting dysfunctional families whose children may be being socialised in to savage torturers would it not make more sense to prohibit such people from breeding in the first place? However, that wouldn't suit the social services and social care industry which requires the children of the extremely dysfunctional and disturbed for its perpetuation. Many livelihoods and lucrative salaries depend on Britain remaining in the social morass in which it finds itself. As a boss of mine once said, "If we do our job correctly we do ourselves out of a job."


JCUKNZ's blog said...

Is he writing from "Alice in Wonderland" or some similar weird place?

Anonymous said...

I relished this. I am currently composing a Victim Impact Report having been burgled late last year. His observations understandably affect me deeply.


Eric Crampton said...

The full blog is here, and is bloody depressing. I keep hoping somebody will reveal it's a fake, but I'm not optimistic.

Anonymous said...

We could do with a Winston Smith at Work and Income

No... we could do with a Ruth Richardson at Finance, backed up by a Jenny Shipley at Welfare...

their really is only one solution to "Winston Smith"'s Problems. And everyone knows what it is!

Oswald Bastable said...

It ain't fake!

I heard so many similar tales here in NZ, when I worked in Corrections.

They ARE out there!

Lindsay said...

As I said Oswald, it certainly rings bells with me. The learned helplessness anyway.

Peter said...

The welfare state is a cancer and when it grows large enough it will kill the patient.