There were a couple of TV programmes of interest on last night. One was on ITV, called ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and was about childrens’ social services in Birmingham. I didn’t watch it because.. er.. we were watching Beethoven… you never grow too old for cute animal films! Living the Social Work Dream writes up a brief account of her impressions and it seems like a sympathetic view.
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The other programme, which I did watch was ‘Undercover Boss’ on Channel 4 about Kevan Collins, the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets. I was curious to see what the perceptions of services on the ground would be from a local authority Chief Executive. I thought it was an interesting programme and quite enjoyed it. Of course, I’d have loved to have seen him in a social work office but the scope of the work of the council is so broad that it would take an 8 hour programme to cover all the different departments. The one thing that struck me at the beginning, where the filmed the Council Executive meeting (I assume) was how the ‘suits’ seemed all so worthy and nodded away when they talked about the usefulness of getting ‘front line’ workers to give input as they knew what was going on ‘on the ground’. I wonder it takes a television programme to emphasis this. I think they would all do well to ‘get their hands dirty’ to some extent and to actually listen to some of the ideas that would filter up.
Collins spent some time with the meals on wheels service. As I mentioned to my partner, Tower Hamlets is lucky to an extent as my local authority don’t deliver hot meals anymore and all the services have been contracted out. It was painful to watch how much that simple human contact can deliver to a person living alone at home who might not have the personal care needs to warrant a care package, and yet it is denied due to the costs of meal delivery systems. I hope it means that Tower Hamlets retains and promotes this service. He certainly came out of the programme positively and I hope it was more than a just-for-the-cameras interest he was showing and will continue to show in the services in that Borough.
I jalso wanted to highlight this post from a US social worker who came to London with her college to learn about social services in the UK. She visited Waltham Forest and gave an interesting view ‘from the outside’. One of the things I have enjoyed most about the blogging experience is learning more about comparative systems of social work, particularly in the US, It makes a fascinating read to see how a British Social Work team is viewed and is something quite different from the usual navel-gazing that we occupy ourselves with!