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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Jesus Throws Molecular Acid

Something happened to me that stopped me blogging since May.

I had some good feedback on my previous posts, but after "the event" (or rather a series of fortunate events) I didn't really want to do any more because the posts were haunted by a soulish kind of anger and a hint of bitterness. I was viewing my life from the valley. I wasn't sure- or bothered- whether I would pick this up again, but feel okay about it now. And the whole point was about being real, and such a lot of real things have happened I have to share them.

God hijacked what I was doing, and where I was. God does that alot. He ruins perfectly good sermons by demanding truth and the fresh outworking of faith, rather than the condensed defences of 500 years of commentary writers, and sabotages perfectly running religious systems by The Great Inversion and love. The writers of the New Testament even had to hijack a Greek word- "agape"- to talk about Gods kind of love- a love not built for the deserving, lovely, or successful. Agape was an obscure little word according to Michael Harper in his brilliant book "The Love Affair" (pages 62-63) Harper says "It is clear agape was in use in the Greek language at the time of Christ because of its inclusion in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) though it had a vague and variable use. It was mostly, it seems, used as a substitute word"

Vague. Variable. Used as a substitute. Bit like my faith and where I was placing Jesus in my life.

Blatant use of Max Lucado cheesey literary device

After our "challenging" (TM social work terminology) adoption experience we felt our marriage was battered and we needed some counselling. Nothing drastic or awful was about to happen, but that should never be the point where you seek help anyway. I'll just say this; we werent the slim, energetic, carefree people we were pre younglings. I looked liked Jabba the Hutt and was only just less irritable than him as well. We were into our third session (first as a couple) and what I thought would be a wince inducing blast of reciprocal agony and accusation was suddently bypassed when Jesus, via the counsellors, asked us to start fighting for our children in prayer.  And for me to stop being a sanctimonious, negative carnival of flesh.

We started and things got harder with the children- in fact some demonic in my little daughter went into another gear (see a later post). We had a fateful trip to France where the intensity cranked up- along with a lot of good times, bizarrely- and during that time God also asked us as a couple to drop everything so we could focus on the kids. That was all the things we were enjoying- home group, an adoption charity project, the possiblity of helping form a community outreach and best if all we were going on a retreat with a charity that moves people to live in inner city sink estates.

But we had to give it all up. I have already shared that I had given alot of things up, including a career, but this was another level. This was the burning of residual bridges. The giving up of things I really really cared about and was getting a drip feed of self worth from. But not the right kind of self worth. Like the British Rail snow, but deeper.

God was clearing the decks..........

And I felt like a wreck..............

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Wilderness Years...

I trawled through some of my posts in Facebook the other day, and there was a strange theme. It seems the children behave better, and I am happier, out in the wilds (or talking about the wilds). Have a look- I've spent ages tryoing to source zany photo captions for each entry:

"Went into central MK shopping centre on mission "Occupy Children Before Divorce" (wife sleeping of a night). The girls went off to buy pink items or whatever teenage girls and 4 year old girls do. I headed for coffee and Waterstones with little man. This Xmas I got loads of books about being back to nature- Deep Country by Neil Ansell about 5 years alone in a ruined farm in the Welsh Mountains. And also got "A Sand County Almanac", "Notes from Willow Farm" and "Waterlog". All on the same theme- Gods wondrous creation and no noise.

I need to move back to Cumbria and live in the mountains for the sake of my kids. They need 200,000,000 acres of back garden you can only get in the Fells, in that "difficult" after school slot. Otherwise its like Gladiator on a loop, as they give out girly slaps and cry just long enough to fool the other into offering a hug and getting another stealth slap. Im prising deregulated children covered in school glue and reward stickers off the one remaining door handle in the house every 30 secs. Its about -2 degrees, and outside is covered in dirty frozen slush and all I can offer by way of distraction between various pick ups and chores is Spongebob, clips of Rumanians falling off bikes on YouTube, or some car boot purchases stuck behind the radiator. 

Just been to Apsley Woods with kids and dog. We bought one of those tennis ball chucker things, dog 100% beasted. Kids still have enough energy for squabbling. M asked "What are shoulders for? Are they for parrots?" LOL

Great walk just off Apsley Woods- near Jobs Farm. This old ruined stables and farmhouse and then the swamp behind it. D lost both wellies in the quicksand. The ruins reminded me when I walked in Apsley Woods as a small child in about 1974-75 ish. Is it me or do I correctly remember a Ford Anglia (Harry Potter car) abandoned in a pond up there? Looked like this;

In a remote village in Gloucestershire with D and my Dads family. It rocks when men mix with their sons and grandsons, Im so blessed. Walked in this ancient forest today and if it hadn't been for D pushing a large Audi garden toy through liquid cow shizen behind us, occasionally hooting at birds, it would have been as tranquil as Eden. Amazing how the woods have grown over this old WW2 airbase as well. I felt briefly like Will Smith in "I Am Legend" only white and fatter. And with 2 other people. OK that was a bad analogy.

Just back from Apsley Woods again. It was Hoth Ice Planet, but we had a good walk and I think God spoke. About the spiritual paint stripping he's doing on me. What a season. Plus we beasted the dog to the point he was licking frost to rehydrate. I thought he would get freezer tongue, and do a massive back flip as it stuck to the ground, but alas no.

Not long back from a remote part of Apsley Woods with D. We went there yesterday and we heard the trees groaning in the wind. I told him it was a "magic tree" talking to him, and when we got home I showed him Ents from Lord of the Rings. So today he freaked out because I couldn't locate Treebeard. And then the dog galloped past him with a stick and poleaxed him. And it was raining.

 Next strange noise in the woods I will say is Jack Torrance from "The Shining". That will end any non sighting disappointment."

For a long time now I have craved a house in the forest, or on the lower slopes of a Cumbrian fell. I also have a dream of owning a smallholding, a property with enough ground to keep some easy to maintian animals like chickens, ducks, bees and maybe pigs.

But the thing is, I also dream (its a stressier dream, but I like it) of moving into a sink estate and living and loving with the people there. As a social worker I was most moved, and frustrated, visiting the lone single mother with beautiful kids who was in an occasional relationship with a violent nutcase boyfriend and whose esteem was so low she thought the beatings and the emotional distress was the best she could dream of. And also the boyfriend; to be so robbed of masculinity, and devoid of security and affirmation that he beats it out of people. The drug addict couples, and the ex drug addict couples who look 20 years older than they are; the teenage mothers doing it all too much too young....etc. No amount of paperwork and professionals meeting can put Humpty Together Again.

Frankly, nor will me living on a farm amongst the animals.

Lifes too short to mess about, and spread our callings and gifts too thinly. I was raised in some places that had issues like those above, and my teens were spent mixing with people like that, especially when I was in my punk band. It's amazing how God uses our broken pasts for His glory! I am working class, even it's got buried under Jamie Oliver books and Ikea furniture. On my birth certificate it asks "fathers profession"- he wrote "pig carcass assessor" Beat that, Che Guevera! But life is also too short to get religious and think that it doing something that is hard is more noble or fruitful. 

I had a great weekend with a good friend recently and he passed on some teaching he had digested. It came originally from a minister called Mike Bickle. In part of it having "a sober mind" was discussed. I had always translated this as "keep off the Stella" but having a sober mind is actually "the mentality that allows you to walk in reality with God in fellowship and prayer".

And you cant fellowship if youre distracted, as sobriety and anxiety are opposites. So many of us are "bothered" about stuff and this stuff is invariably "having an opinion thats not necessary"- being opionated, and majoring on minors. One of my most powerful assets!

"Just checked my pockets. Before the kids I would have money (including NOTES), sexy car keys, Radiohead tickets.

Now I found 46p in copper, part of a scooter handlebar adjustment gromit, alum key set for D's BMX, snotty tissues that isnt my own snot, car key for a Bobbins car ("Woodleigh Daewoo") a dummy, a confiscated matchbox toy still with the dogs blood on it, and two green post it notes with numbers for professionals, and two loyalty cards I havent even registered.

What happened?"

Need to think.....out in the woods.....

Saturday, 19 May 2012

I'm not your stepping stone...

"If politics involves the acquisition and deployment of power, and social work is 'one of the most political of all professions' an understanding of power must be more than normally important for social workers".

So wrote Robert Harris, in a social care book I cant be bothered to reference.

I released this by default; due to some niche positions I managed to get, because these niche positions had no evolved managerial structure I had to liaise with senior social care managers directly. And by and large, I didn't like what I saw. I saw empty beige suits, with unhealthy responsibility and directives, welded to the political will of coming and going elected councils and the directors of social care. Social care directors appear to come and go every three years or so. They seem to have only one remit; change. Now change is good, but only good if it has this criteria; point. Not as an achievement to list in a CV so you can move on up.

So the more politics I saw, I figured becoming politically savvy was the way forward. Maybe politics could change the system, a system someone once described "The McDonaldization of Social Work" in the book by Donna Dustin. This book, "based upon George Ritzer's McDonaldization of Society thesis and incorporating aspects of social theory, examines the introduction of care management to social work practice. Donna Dustin analyzes care management as an example of the managerial application of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control to social work practice. These principles, put to good use in organizations that produce tangible outputs at a profit, are being increasingly applied in non-profit public sector organizations where the outcomes require intangibles such as professional relationships."

In short; management techniques and workplace culture from Curry's Electrical has been placed in the social care sector. If you like buying your toasters from a merciless Ferengi empire, via a disinterested and clueless teenager, fine. But I don't think that system should be employed in the care of people and the planning of that care. To the tune of performance indicators.

But of course, learning about politics, rather than adapting me to the system made me hate it more. But that position came gradually.

I hate New Labour. I hate the way a respectable (but terminally flawed) system like socialism ended up in the Nanny Fascism and celebrated lying of Tony Blair, Peter Mandleson and Alastair Campbell. Although Tory MP Michael Howard certainly has "something of the night about him" (classic quote, Ann Widdecombe) I also think he spoke with incredible truth about the evil core of New Labour in this old Newsnight clip...

Given that nobody knows what the Liberals Democrats actually do, I figured I should explore the Conservatives. Plus they were the only likely candidates to topple the B-liar legacy, and they had allegedly been rewired with a new creed- the enigmatic Red Tory book by Philip Blond. The book had many critics and curate egg reviews like this one, (and this is another good one) but having read it I thought his ideas could well change society, and consequently social care as well. Large parts of the book were used by the Tories as part of their social policy road map.

But the problem is the two words "large parts". Mate, a Jaguar shares large parts with a Ford Focus, but I know which one I'm choosing given a choice. I like large parts of a steak and kidney pudding, but I detest kidneys- so I don't buy steak and kidney puddings. Although I reserve the right to steal much of my wife's one at our next pub lunch.  And in fact, getting serious, you cant like large parts of a creed or a signpost when it comes to implementing that system and expect that system to work only half applied. And that's what happened to the Red Tory idea; Philip Blond saw his ideas as a way to get Britain off its drip feed of learnt fiscal helplessness and moral nosedive. Instead we got cuts, cuts and more cuts by a modern day equivalent of a circa 1299 feudal Britain.

But politicians do that, not so much all the time, but by nature. They are a strange blend of cult of personality, hunger for power, and dark rescue all floating in a fog of delusion.  They 
can't change society for good, they can only change society.

The end of our Union Group (church home group) went into this territory the  other night. In history, and even right now, Christian's are lobbying parliament and/or running for election, hoping to be salt and light. But my experience, even backed by some research, is that all good things are done locally by local people (and even better when this is done "off the grid" as per the very mad Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone, or TAZ) Good people get diluted when they realise they cant change a great deal and even the little they can change from the corridors of power involves so much lying, conniving, politicking and nasty plop why stress yourself and loose your good character?

Should Christians expend so much energy trying to lobby? Why do we care what parliament says? Why not just model the stuff? And when I say model, do it with 100% church resources so we are not answerable to some PC commissar?

We are called to be salt and light. But how is it done best? The Anabaptist model or via state church?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Fractal Social Work...

I was approached by a ThinkTank, back when I was a a working social worker, and asked my opinion on social capital and its role and relevance within social care, and how this could slot into some research they wanted done.

I'm very, and cheerfully, critical of statutory social work, but most of my career I have thought about, offered, and occasinally modelled new ways of maybe doing stuff. I'm fat and not in social care any more, so you can work out how that went. But hey...

By social capital they meant "social capital as the networks and relationships between people in families and their communities"

The Unreflective Kindness of Strangers

I had written some research for the Childrens Welfare Development Council that held social capital central (and I will upload it some time) and in that research I quoted Robert D Putnam who wrote the seminal book "Bowling Alone". The book was about that how in America once people bowled in groups- with their workmates, their social club, their faith community, but now people bowl alone, and how that was ominous for American society. 

The quote I used of Putnam was "The ebbing of community over the last several decades has been silent and deceptive. We notice its effects in the strained interstices of our private lives and in the degradation of our public life, but the most serious consequences are reminiscent of the old parlour puzzle: ‘what’s missing from this picture?’ Weakened social capital is manifest in the things that have vanished almost unnoticed – neighbourhood parties and get-togethers with friends, the unreflective kindness of strangers, the shared pursuit of the public good rather than a solitary quest for private goods"

The Think Tank were wanting to run a project. I suggested that the best type of research is experiential and applied. I suggested a control community that fits the above criteria where nothing is done surplus to the offer of existing statutory social care services. In contrast I also suggested a project community where a pilot project will be established. Two local authorities that come to mind when discussing “cases of severe abuse” are Birmingham Council  (where Khyra Ishaq died as a result of abuse, neglect and malnutrition) and Haringay Council (Victoria Climbie and Baby P) where I suggest the project be based in one large, ideally “failing” primary school.

I offered to network  and get funding, resources and personnel from companies and the charity sector to establish a Steering Group that would have encompassed the following personnel:

·      School staff (at least one teacher/ head, receptionist/ critical friend/ school pastoral worker)

·      Community Mobilisor­/ Wardens

·      Housing Department representative

·      PCSO or Community Police Officer

·      Local parents

·      Parent Champions (see below)

·      Ideally a social work manager, especially from Referral and Assessment as this is the first contact team for child protection

·      Parenting Commissioner (this was during New Labour, every local authority had one, no doubt hey no longer exist)

·      Faith Community representatives that mirror the local faith community statistics (i.e. Muslim Imam for high Muslim in take, etc)

·      Early Intervention Team/ equivalent- this differs LA to LA but should be the team that runs parenting courses

·      A national business with local interest/ social capital intentions i.e. Ikea, supermarket, etc

I suggested the setting up of a network of trained, established, funded Parent Champions. These were basically parents who were trained and used, as co equals, alongside school and extended school staff to run projects and communit, and build social capital, in UK schools. I saw the UK school system as one of the last systems of social capital left.

I went on to say:

The project worker will work to establish social capital networks that were not there previously, between the community, school, social support agencies and ultimately child protection services.  In particular, parents, local residents and civic societies will be offered training (for example Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator, DISC, and Belbin among others) from contacts I have in the charity sector.

Nordic Fires

The Think Tank wanted to "investigate potential barriers to more involvement and to reporting such as the legal situation, and fear of reprisal from those accused" and "explore any potential community leaders can have to initiate any kind of desired behaviour change, such as not turning a blind eye towards difficult situation where children are harmed. For example, research has found that ‘peer to peer initiatives’ work most efficiently when programmes are aimed at changing behaviour"

In Bo Rothsteins sprawling essay “Creating trust from above: Social Capital and Institutional Legitimacyhe discusses a fire in a Swedish nightclub where “63 young people died (and at least as many were seriously wounded)……….. This was one of the worst human catastrophes in Sweden since World War II, and it made headlines all over the world. The victims of this horrible tragedy were mostly, though not all, young people (from immigrant backgrounds)……..Very soon, the police and the media suspected that the fire was not accidental but was instead a case of arson…... After about a year of police investigations, four young men from immigrant backgrounds were arrested and…..they were all convicted of arson.

The reason these young men gave for setting the place on fire was that their friends, who had organized the disco, had demanded that they pay the entrance fee; this, in their eyes, was a sign of disrespect…. Media reports of the trial indicated that a sizeable group of young people living in the immigrant areas – who had been to the disco and had lost many of their friends in the fire – knew who the guilty persons were, but they had refrained from telling the police. Thus, the situation was very special: even though a lot of their friends had died or been seriously hurt in the fire, and even though they knew who had caused the fire, these young people felt that going to the police was not an option.

A former social worker with extensive experience from Göteborg’s northern suburbs described the situation in an interesting way. She argued…..the young people in these neighborhoods were convinced that during the fire, “the police were standing by laughing while their friends were dying around them.” Anyone who had seen the media coverage of the fire (knew this was false). However, the social worker stated that, as a consequence of this deep mistrust of public institutions, “the rule of law is in a bad situation in Sweden’s so-called ‘exposed neighborhoods.’ The alternative of the rule of law, to report to the police, to testify before the court about what you have seen, heard or been part of, and to let the court take care of administrating justice, is gradually becoming a less realistic alternative.”

The situation above can be transferred to the UK; and instead of a criminal scenario one can substitute a sink estate and its community who feel all social workers will do is work against them- and thus it is better not to tell social workers about child abuse.

Rothstein goes on to say that “As many have argued, we need to understand the causal mechanisms between interpersonal trust, collective action, civil society and trust in government institutions” He cites other sociologists who suggest that having  “efficient institutions” is the solution, and says “From a political economy point of view, it has been forcefully argued…. that it is the lack of …. “efficient institutions” that explains why so many countries remain poor, despite the tremendous growth in the world economy. The correlation between a country’s level of corruption and the strength of its economy is quite straightforward – the more corruption the less economic growth……. In another such study, the conclusion is that “at the aggregate level, social trust and confidence in government and its institutions are strongly associated with each other. Social trust can help build effective social and political institutions, which can help governments perform effectively, and this in turn encourages confidence in civic institutions”

Rothstein quotes Miller and Hammond’s advice- “(to) search for a means to establish “efficient institutions” is thus very simple, namely, “to find out how such disinterested altruistic actors are created, and then reproduce them throughout the political system” ……In a world consisting of rational self-interested utility maximizers, this is of course not possible. In addition, there is the problem that a profession’s teaching its students to think that this is the only way the world works will make such “disinterested altruistic actors” in government institutions a very rare species.”

Remote Control

Jean Robinson, a Health Visitor, wrote an open letter to Prof. Sir Liam Donaldson, the 
Chief Medical Officer
Department of Health in 2007. (The full text can be seen here)

She made the argument that people are increasingly wary of asking for state help, whether from Health or Social Care. Salient points are condensed as below:
FEAR OF ACCESSING MEDICAL CARE - Nowadays parents call us and ask for advice when their children have accidents, because they are afraid to go to A & E, and they know we run a totally confidential service……..We have been in existence for well over 40 years and can recall no such requests until about four years ago. There is now no health professional, or official help line, parents feel they can safely ask for help. All agencies, including NHS direct, will report anything they regard as suspicious. Innocent parents who have had one brush with the system, or social services investigation, or whose friends, relatives or neighbours have, now find the risk of avoiding treatment preferable to the risk of damage to the whole family of going for help..

DISTRUST OF HEALTH VISITORS - Mothers are opting out of seeing health visitors, and are advising friends not to see them, after they, or someone they know, has had a similar encounter (to above)…… In some areas, however, merely opting out of seeing a health visitor (maybe because they… didn’t like her)….. is cause for referral to social services in itself - thereby confirming the increasingly common perception of them as the 'health police'. Those who do see the health visitor are highly circumspect about the information they give…..

CHILD PROTECTION AS SOCIAL CONTROL- Use of child 'protection' or threats thereof, are increasingly being used to control parents who are seen as unorthodox, or not completely compliant…….The message is getting round quickly, and parents are opting out of official sources care even more, or being even more selective on what information they give, and what they conceal.”

I suggest that the “disinterested altruistic actors” discussed by Rothstein could actually be local parents. I feel Robinson illustrates a decay in public trust- especially amongst vulnerable groups-  is a by product of a Nanny state that has compounded the poverty trap, removed most civil liberties, offered toxic “help” and introduced an amoral “double think” that lacks a moral compass.

The basis of the social capital project I had in mind was to promote “participationalism as a government agenda, with either service users being empowered, or school heads and teachers being seen as the experts in regards to what they wanted by way of resources and social workers involvement in their schools.” And to see the end of “Professionalism and managerialist models (that) continue to stifle, overlook, and/or actively work against grassroots endeavours.” 

 The Think Tank wanted to "investigate how Social Capital between families and communities can  improve coordination between communities, actors and agencies and consequently achieve more efficient service delivery"

I discussed this in the research I did for the CWDC in that the school was better placed to know the local need, screen for it in the school, and then  as the local authority to deliver. But what happens now is that “What is being offered at the moment are so many managerial conditions that don’t even see a family sat somewhere in a central office – they will try to delegate out positions for people we don’t need, people that don’t fit in with our strategic models … and they can only work in a certain way, you know, why not just delegate this money and let it be used appropriately … They don’t know – they might know what the five [Every Child Matters] outcomes are but they don’t know what they look like in practice”.

A forum/steering group should be formed in a local estate to this end and suggested local partners such as Police, youth services etc would take pressure off the state and transfer it into a structure of shared responsibility.
I suggested the research project looked at the pilot study known as ViCP (Parents working in child protection). The ViCP Scheme is described here
      The scheme substantially increases the capacity of children's departments to deliver family support to vulnerable families. This sort of input constitutes a vital part of ensuring the welfare of children is safeguarded as well as promoted," Tunstill adds.

      Originally a three-year pilot in two local authorities in 2004, the ViCP scheme now runs in the London boroughs of Bromley, Lewisham and Islington, and in Southend-on-Sea. The scheme is about to be launched in Coventry and CSV is in talks with others.

      There are currently just over 100 volunteers. Sue Gwaspari, head of part-time volunteering at CSV, says: "They work with children at risk of serious harm through neglect. They give basic parenting help but, unlike parenting classes, this is done within the home so the volunteer sees them in their real circumstances. Volunteers are not a threatening presence in the home - they have no powers to take a child away, they are there to listen and help. They have time to go in several times a week to build a relationship with a family and can turn up when it suits the family, at weekends and evenings which social workers just can't do."

      She points to the fact that none of the families who have been helped off child protection plans by the scheme, have had to be re-registered. "Bromley said it would expect 11% or more who come off plans to go back on them," Gwaspari says. She adds that the figure is even more significant as often councils use volunteers as a last resort before taking a child into care.

Again an important caveat; social workers need to be part of every stage of the structure of shared responsibility; not only to ensure safeguarding continues within the context of support but also to ensure the social work model, which is pre-eminent, is the common thread in all the work. The other two “systems” abroad- educational and medical- are not based in anti oppressive practice, or empowerment, or reflective.
Psycho Geography

They also wanted to strengthen links between individuals, families, education and protection agencies and I suggested that teachers should train alongside social workers in child protection. Multi agency training dies not always leads to schools fully understanding core processes of CP such as the importance of timely referral, the need not to ask leading questions, the need not to involve parents in potentially serious presenting situations. Co training need not be expensive at the university level- many teachers and social workers share the same facilities- and child protection ABE training with the Police need not be the full blown week/ two weeks residential but only needed on certain pastors such as the part where actors posing as children are in interviewed in suites, etc- trainee teachers need only be observers- this would lead to massive impact.

I argued that the role of the physical environment should not be overlooked. Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals." and is a vital part of social capital.


This was understood hundreds of years ago by George Cadbury. The Cadburys were pioneers in employee welfare and labor relations, setting standards which other enlightened employers adopted. Cadbury Brothers was the first firm to introduce the Saturday half-day holiday, and also pioneered in closing the factory on bank holidays. In 1918, Cadbury Brothers established democratically elected Works Councils, one for men and one for women. Departments elected representatives to these Councils by secret ballot. The Councils dealt with working conditions, health, safety, education, training, and the social life of the workers.

Conditions and benefits were superior to those workers generally knew in the Victorian era. Young employees were encouraged to attend night school and were allowed to leave work an hour early twice a week. When the Bournville factory opened in 1879, it featured heated dressing rooms, kitchens for hearting food, gardens, and extensive sports fields. Management negotiated special workers' fares with the railway company. The Cadburys even provided swimming pools for employees. They also encouraged the spiritual development of employees, starting morning prayers and Bible readings in 1866, continuing for half a century. Around the turn of the century, the Cadburys established medical and dental departments. They established a Pension Fund in 1906.
George Cadbury was a housing reformer active in the Garden City movement. When the growing company needed to build a new factory, the Cadburys decided to move out of the unhealthy Birmingham industrial quarter to a country location on the outskirts of the city. They named this property Bournville.
When they built the Bournville factory in 1879, they built 16 houses for senior employees. In 1895, George Cadbury bought an additional 120 acres and began to build more houses in the garden city. He sought to provide affordable housing for wage earners in a healthy environment. The community was not limited to Cadbury workers, and was designed to be mixed in both class and occupation. Cottages were grouped and set back from tree-lined roads. Each plot had space for gardens, and building was restricted so the gardens were not overshadowed. In 1897, Richard Cadbury built a quadrangle of houses for pensioners.
To preserve the character of the Bournville Village for future generations, George Cadbury founded the Bournville Village Trust in 1900. The Trust was always separate from the company. Several Cadbury family members are still trustees today. The Trust continues to follow the original principles, including the preservation of parks and open spaces. The Trust has established 12 different kinds of special needs housing, diversifying the population even more than in the early days. Self-build co-partnerships, where members do the work themselves under expert direction, built 400 homes. (

Social experiments without taking this into consideration include utopian experiments that fell foul such as Fordlandia in Brazil

The Research Project, then....

The Think Tank wanted to run a "review the current literature on child protection and safeguarding children, academic, Government and third sector organisation’s  reports in this area"

I gave a warning of caution in this area. There is no shortage of excellent source material about child protection, but the problem is interface with the real world, and mode of application. Year after year social work academics write books on anti oppression, safe practice, etc, and every year social services departments continue to see children die, staff burn out, and needs go unsupported, as they turn into toxic, child harvesting oppresive departments. So the academics keep their mortgage in the Cotswolds, theyre as right on as ever, and they turn a blind eye to Rome burning over the hedge. I felt that the Think Tank didnt need to "establish what the main barriers to a more effective safeguarding children policy are" as to me these seemed obvious- a lack of investing in local people and community and building in their strengths, centralised and bureaucratised delivery, and dysfunctional social care workforce.

Finally they wanted examples of what worked. I listed some innovative, localist, community driven solutions in the UK and abroad, such as:

House of Dutch Language


Broadwater farm


“Majic Bus” project

 Giving local residents the chance to learn experientially by taking them  out of their situation, as per the educational experience invented by Douglas Brinkley

FAST (Families and Schools Together) started in the USA. Its website is here 

Harlem Community Zone(HCZ)

Called "one of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time," by The New York Times, the Harlem Children's Zone Project is a unique, holistic approach to rebuilding a community so that its children can stay on track through college and go on to the job market.

Results have included:
      Of the 161 four-year-olds that entered the Harlem Gems in the 2008-2009 school year, 17% had a school readiness classification of delayed or very delayed. By the end of the year, there were no students classified as "very delayed" and the percentage of "advanced" had gone from 33.5% to 65.2%, with another 8.1% at "very advanced," up from only 2%.

Over 98% of Promise Academy II's students scored at or above grade level on the math exam, outperforming their counterparts in New York State, New York City and District 5, as well as black and white students in New York State
      In English and Language Arts (ELA), over 93% of Promise Academy I third graders tested at or above grade level, outperforming New York State, New York City and District 5 peers, as well as black and white students in New York State
      Over 84% of Promise Academy II's students scored at or above grade level in ELA, outperforming on average their counterparts in New York State, New York City and District 5, as well as black students in New York City

  Family Group Conference ethos (FGC).

 Whilst this idea is a long standing tradition within the Maori culture, somebody systemised it and “sold” it to social services across the world. It seems vital ideas and outworkings from FGC have been missed in the UK. In fact if the whole concept had been taken on- and not just seen as a residual hoop to jump through before children were removed via the courts- the need for Every Child Matters and the Common Assesment Fraremwork deliveryt system would have been redundant.


The  Playstreets” concept which started in Belgium is a good example of the empowerment of communities- it’s completely the responsibility of the local residents to make it work. A “Playstreet” is a road in a residential area where the speed limit doesn’t exceed 50 km/h. Play streets can happen during holidays for a maximum 2 weeks. Two thirds of the residents must be happy for this to take place. There needs to be at least 3 responsible adults- “godfathers” and “godmothers” who should be residents themselves. They sign an agreement with the council. They are the link between residents and the councils although parents remain responsible for their children- this is not meant to be an alternative to childcare. The process is simple:

·      Applicants fill in a request form
·      Police/PCSO’s investigate the street qualifies
·      When agreed, the applicant needs to identify 2 godfathers or mothers
·      Residents must be 66% in favour of Playstreets
·      Godfathers and mothers need to sign the agreement to the council
·      Godfathers and mothers evaluate the success of the project at the end
·      The council insures the godfathers and mothers (public liability), block off the streets, and provide each street with a play chest, which contains toys and other items to play on the street. On some occasions, they can also offer jumping castles, circus equipments, trampolines....


Habbekrats is a Belgian educational service for underprivileged youth between 12 and 25 years old, offering several projects. Workers accompany youngsters in a spirit of solidarity, equality and justice. The emphasis is laid on prevention, but they also offer relief to those who need it. The core offer is flexible and their website is here 

 The Wire 

The Wire Project was founded by Paul Sanderson MBE in 1996 as a direct response to recognised issues involving drug and alcohol addiction, high teenage pregnancy, low literacy levels and low ‘community esteem’ in the community of Wick, Littlehampton, West Sussex.
The project acted as a vital link between Schools, homes, Police and Social & Caring Services providing advice and intervention for young people and families.
The charity provided activities, support and advice for children, young people Activities run by the WIRE included parenting courses, playschemes, night-clubs for 14-18 year olds, discos for 7-13 year olds, afterschool clubs, toddler groups and the Festival of Wick.
The WIRE was part of Spurgeon's, a children’s charity who provided the managerial, administrative and financial backbone to The WIRE’s work. Together with the locally formed UnderWIRE Advisory Group, The WIRE gained long-term stability and support to help strengthen the foundations of the project.
The project was so successful that similar projects were set up around the country, including Crawley, Portslade near Brighton, Bognor Regis and Oxford.
The WIRE was based in two different locations. In 1996 it was in a port-a-cabin on the car park of the then Wickbourne Chapel. When the new Wickbourne centre opened in 2005 half the team moved from the temporary office that became their permanent office at Flora McDonald Junior School.
In July 2006 Paul Sanderson was awarded an MBE for his work with this and other similar projects.
In 2007 The WIRE Project came to an end due to funding changes, but it's legacy lives on in the form of many other organisations and activities that started up during those 10 years.

 Finally I ditected them to the Adalbert Evers’ “User involvement in social services. Various strands of thinking, elements and tools” table. Which speaks for itself.



hierarchical governance of service systems
full coverage/ uniform services
equal standards
boards and commissions
for corporate governance
quality control by state inspection
social rights and patients' charter

case management
upgrading of educational levels
upgrading professional advice and consultancy
quality control through professional self control
public service ethos

individual choice
market research
customer orientation
consumer lobbying
consumer protection

managed care
target setting
upgrading managerial and economic concerns
external quality management
complaint management

collective self help
strengthening user and community based service providers
strengthening local “embeddedness”
orientation towards empowering users
more service dialogues
more user control in designing and running services

 You've been a great audience. Dont forget to turn off the lights.