I’m almost reluctant to write up my thoughts for the coming year and it is a battle to contain my more pessimistic urges. I wrote this post and sat on it for a while because it came across as too depressing.
I try to be as optimistic as I can in my day to day life. As even if optimism/pessimism make no difference on actual outcomes, at least I’ll go down happier if I think positive!
I’m finding it really hard to find much positive to say about my thoughts for 2011 though.
That’s an easy theme. No doubt that it will be the main background through which 2011 is played politically both nationally and locally. In my personal and professional life.
As we turn increasingly into a fire-fighting, crisis management service there will be less, if any, space for preventative work. The government and the local authority won’t headline this because it goes against every piece of evidence about long-term savings but the savagery of the cuts will affect those who just come in below the ‘life or death’ bandings.
Again, this is barely a prediction. Protests and rallies have already been called. They will be increasingly well-attended. I fully intend to participate myself. As people realise their actual tax credits decrease their real income, there will be a wider anger directed towards the government and the poor political process that has served us so badly.
Yes, the next commission will report. It will benefit most those who have the most to lose. Poor people who might have to sell the houses that they own to pay for the care that costs a significant amount of money. Inheritances will be preserved. What that does to the quality and support for those that don’t have, well, we’ll see. I’ve tried being positive, now I’m just cynical. The government have an agenda to protect their own political classes. They have no desire whatsoever to produce a more equitable scheme of funding. No political party does – which is why these consultations have dragged on for so long.
Big Society will be discussed and debated. And will be shown up for the sham that it is in the face of funding being withdrawn from voluntary organisations. It will be an opportunity for private enterprise to ‘invest’ in communities. Youth centres sponsored by McDonalds. Libraries sponsored by BP.
The College of Social Work comes into formal existence this year. It has already made some kind of deal with Unison for union membership. I expect it will merge with BASW (British Association of Social Workers) too. I hope so anyway. It will continue to be run by academics, managers and retired social workers because no-one on the ‘front line’ will have any time to be involved in the processes and committee upon committee will be attended by professional ‘consultants’ who may once have been social workers but remain so far removed from actual client contact that they will have no idea about whom they allege to speak for.
I remain hopeful that there will be some kind of positive outcome.
They’ll be more scandals, more appalling practice and more horrified ‘Daily Mail’ stories. No interest whatsoever will be shown in any of the good work that is done every day. Again and again.
This is a new one for me. Twitter become much more of a key network for me. I love it for so many reasons but mostly because it gives me more of a character than just a blog does. I love some of the conversations that I’ve been able to have with people whom I would never have had the opportunity with engaging with on any other forum. Local authorities are increasingly involving themselves in micro-blogging. I’m surprised that there is less in terms of standard blogging as far as government is concerned. It remains the domain generally of individuals and local politicians rather than local officials on behalf of the organisation for whom they work rather than as individuals.
If I really knew what what happen in this sphere, I’d make a fortune but in the meantime I’ll say that there will be more online consultations and more discussion and debate. And more blogs, podcasts and debates which involve users and carers. It’s a great opportunity and could potentially increase voices sometimes lost in the political process.
Efficiency savings. Ha. Real growth in spending. Ha. We are losing services hand over fist and the government is able to get away with this kind of whitewash. It will continue and services will struggle. I’ll have to move on from this subject because it really does fill me with fear just thinking about it too much.
And some more local predictions for me and my team
Yes, it’s coming. Another one. I think the third now in just over 2 years but this one is a big one and it’s going to affect not only our team but the entire Trust. Changes have already started and it’ll be the main theme for the year as jobs are lost and downgraded. More staff leave through the so-called ‘natural wastage’ and aren’t replaced. It seems there may be a change in the way the AMHP service is arranged locally as well. I try to ignore rumours and whisperings and let all the possible plans go over my head somewhat until anything is confirmed.
I’m lucky in the sense that I genuinely love my job. I was talking about it to a colleague yesterday who asked me if I was looking for other jobs and I honestly don’t think I could work for a better team with better managers/consultants/colleagues etc. That’s a pretty special place to be and while I couldn’t, hand on heart, say I love the work I do every day, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. In my dreams when I win the lottery, I still work, just part-time!
I hope to take another student social worker on this year. I might look into possibilities of being an off-site practice teacher though as it was a real struggle with workloads to manage having a student in the team. Of course, it didn’t particularly help that I needed to go into hospital the last time I had a student. I also worry a little that the lack of staff in the team might lead to managers seeking to push additional work towards a student. The local authority training budgets have been slashed so I don’t think I’ll be able to continue with the Higher Specialist Award in Practice Education (which is my longer term goal.. ) this year or probably for the next few years as quite rightly any funding should be focussed on those who have not accessed training and if there’s one thing I have been doing of late, it is accessing any training available.
One time in particular I was very close to closing this blog down. I even set up a parallel non-related one as a kind of outlet to keep me going and give me something to write about in the expectation that I would stop writing about work-related things. Anonymity can be a burden at times. It was just a little too hard to completely let go. I would say it’s about 50/50 as to whether I’m around next year to reflect on these predictions at all. I do enjoy writing though and sharing my thoughts about issues as they arise. I hope to continue that whether published or not. It really does help me with my self-reflection and maintaining my interest and connection with current affairs.
I don’t really stick to resolutions but I do want to read and participate more widely in the blogging communities. I was better at it last year and this year have become more insular due to time and health mostly but I want to re-engage more over the next year.
And I have a suspicion that when I do write, it will be a lot more political in tone which leads to..
One of my resolutions last year was to be more involved in Unison and BASW, seeing as I pay the subs. This year, I’m particularly going to focus on Unison – the issues and general themes of cuts, cuts and more cuts go far beyond social work specifically. This year I also attended an event put on by SWAN (Social Work Action Network) and it really got me fired up. I hope to go to more of their events. I really want this government to know how much their cuts are hurting and whom they are hurting. I find the injustice in the focus of the cuts and the ‘blame’ narrative sickening. I feel I have to push against it at every angle. I can see myself getting far more involved politically on many levels.
There is a lot to fight for.
And I hope there is not even one single day of sickness that I take to make up for last year (yes, I feel unnecessarily guilty.. ).
Happy New Year.
- 2010 – A look back (fightingmonsters.wordpress.com)