Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Crisis Funds

Each service user at the Refuge has access to the “crisis fund”. It’s up to the discretion of the project worker and the manager to define if the service user is facing a crisis.

One of the few astute and sensible project workers, Alice, has informed me that Arthur, one of the few heroin addicts that use our service, was recently taken out and bought a microwave for his newly acquired social housing flat he had obtained from the state. He asked to be able to keep the receipt in case there was anything wrong with it and he had to return it. I reckon that Arthur returned that microwave and the only thing that would have been wrong with it would be that it didn’t come with a free bag of smack. How did the nice Christian ladies not see through this very obvious manipulation?

Now, I would hate to be judgmental and stereotype those in the smack community as conniving, shrewd and manipulative when it comes to feeding their addiction, but I am going to do so, because to put it plainly, it’s the truth.

In fact, the junkie that would simply manipulate you or con you is a cut above those that would physically separate you from your worldly possessions with a dagger or blunt instrument. I’d rather be duped than struck about the head with a crowbar or any other class of weapon.

After hearing of Arthur’s acquiring of a microwave, I couldn’t help but put myself in the mind of a heroin addict. I mused upon the possible crises that could compose the daily life of an urban junkie. Now, put yourself in the mind of a smack- head. Which of these two scenarios is more likely to be a crisis in your daily existence? Choose (a) or (b):

(a) “Bugger, I don’t have a microwave to heat up that Marks and Spencer gourmet vegetarian moussaka I got at the refuge today.”

(b) “Oh my God, the withdrawals have kicked in and I am sitting here alone in my flat, craving, sweating, shaking, shivering and shitting in my pants. God forgive me, but I would mug my own granny for a hit right now. If only there was some other way I could get the money…A ha! I could always apply to the crisis fund.”

Anyone who knows anything about heroin addiction should know that it is very unlikely that (a) would ever be a crisis for an opiate addict of limited income.
Mealtime for the opiate classes is a rather haphazard and at times infrequent occurrence, so issues such as food temperature and the means by which you heat your meal tend not to be on your list of priorities.

When most people hear the word crisis it evokes images of a dramatic nature. Perhaps a stock market crash, a run on a bank, a harvest failing in an impoverished country leaving millions facing crisis, but never in a million years would any reasonable person judge a heroin addict’s lack of a microwave oven a crisis. Then again reasonable people rarely tend to work at the Refuge.

After this incident, Alice informed me that lots of other service users started to apply to the crisis fund for microwaves. Tony, our resident pot dealer and not shy of a few quid, got one on the grounds that he didn’t know how to cook or use a conventional cooker despite having one in his council flat. As Alice put it, “Well why didn’t we teach him how to use his cooker and to cook a few basic things instead of buying him a bloody microwave, I thought we were supposed to be empowering them?”

Is it any wonder so many people feel they are owed a living when you have charities and the government dishing out luxuries. Why work when you can blag it or claim it?


dpax said...

your views are very narrow minded.
just because a system can be manipulated dosent mean the system is wrong.look up the word crisis in a dictionary, then take a long hard look at yourself.

WinstonSmith33 said...

The system is not only being manipulated it is completely broken. None of the people that use the Day Centre I work at are doing anything constructive in their lives beyond using the place as a subsisdy for their dissolute lifestyles.

They verbally abuse and threaten the staff, most of whom volunteer. We are not allowed to challenge their lifestyles as this is 'judgemental'. So please tell me how this charity's system at helping young people isn't broken when it fails to do just that?

If you are going to accuse me of being narrow minded please make some cogent points rather than moronic ramblings.

nightjack said...

Absolutely Winston. Btw, could you allow anonymous posts?

Noddy said...

Winston's views are anything but narrow minded, they are merely realistic. His example merely shows how well intentioned naivety can be ruthlessly taken advantage of by those who's moral standards have been subordinated to the habit they have acquired, and I stress the 'they have acquired.'

If a system can be manipulated then it is as faulty as a boat with holes in it's hull. The more holes the faster it sinks. What he is suggesting is that once the holes have been found it's time to plug them.

Blog linked.

Hogday said...

I used to know a great guy who worked amongst the homeless. Whereas there were many who needed the `lifeboat` there were twice as many who could actually swim or be encouraged to do so. He once commented that the majority of those who lived along Victoria Embankment only hung about there because they knew the Salvation Army would turn up every night with food and once a fortnight with jackets, trousers and much sundry clothing. Nothing wrong with that. We need lifeboats, but much more than this we need swimming instructors.

The username "username" is already in use. said...

I came across your blog via 'Nightjack' and am finding it quite fascinating - do please continue.

I work in the private sector and have very little to do with any government agencies, but recently got to know somebody whose son was having difficulties at school and was reffered to a special educational unit. I was amazed at the number of people that became involved in this and genuinely shocked at their attitude to their 'work'. The more I learnt about it the more I realised that this was all quite normal. I've spoken to various friends and familly about this and they generally don't believe what I'm telling them. I think there is a real need for people such as yourself to inform the public - we really have no idea of the dammage being done in our name.

Laban said...

I used to work at a large company who had a volunteer week each year when the staff were encouraged to do good deeds. Each year the charity committee put together a list of projects involving local charities.

Some of them (like taking a bunch of small Downs kids on a day out - they were lovely) worthy, some less so.

The one that really got me involved a 'half-way house' for young people (16-21) who had been in care and were apparently learning to take responsibility for their own lives. Their shared house had a back garden that was apparently a tip. Could a bunch of forty and fifty-something IT guys come round and sort it, clear the rubbish, lay some slabs, get a few benches and tables in ?

What ? These people are supposed to be learning independent living. They're young and fit. And apparently they need someone to clean up their own back yard ...

Some 'charities' just don't do what it says on the tin.

nightjack said...

Some comments left back at my site

Good link NJ!
It’s good to see that Winston has already got himself a Bystander-esque fan “dpax”.

I too don’t have a blog account (as I don’t blog) so not being able to comment does detract from it.

Winston speaks the truth. He would find much support in my workplace amongst the feet-on-the-ground folks who get bloody depressed with the pretence that we’re supposed to keep up.

I agree with Cabbage & Hibbo, though, that it would be better if it were possible to comment without having to sign up to an account. Can he be persuaded to move to the provider used by NJ?

I wouldn’t compare bystander to dpax, Hibbo. Bystander is intelligent, and while his views may be significantly more liberal and sympathetic towards what the writers of policing blogs call ’scrotes’ or ‘the underclass’, the difference in views is the product of a difference in moral philosophy and general outlook on life, NOT of ignorance or of a refusersal to think anything which is politically incorrect. Many of his posts show that he understands the lives of those he deals with as well as the police bloggers do - dpax, on the other hand, could never understand them, because his values would never allow himself to even open his mind to such realities.

I hope this goes some way towards getting this blog more widely read


WinstonSmith33 said...

Thank you all for your comments. Its great to have some new followers. I will be posting again this week.

I will try to activate the account to allow for anonymous posting as suggested. I think I can do this.

Well done Nightjack on a fantastic blog! Incisive, sardonic and shines a light where it needs to be shed.

Cabbage said...

Winston, first let me say this is an interesting blog and will likely become a regular read for me.

dpax: You are of course correct to say that just because a system can be exploited does not mean it should not exist. The flipside of this argument is that just because a system exists (rightly or wrongly) does not mean we should allow it to be exploited unnecessarily.

There were, I believe, two main points in this post: firstly, that a microwave is a luxury that the man who received it did not need and had no right to receive at the cost of the state, and so a better course of action would have been to teach the man to cook instead, which would have given him the idea that he is actually able to learn, better himself and move on in life, and encouraged him to stop living the parasitic existence he currently does. Secondly, that once the microwave was bought, the project workers who bought it were woefully naive to let him keep the receipt (effectively allowing him to make a free cash withdrawal from the state, outside what we already give him on benefits, and which it is likely he will spend on heroin (though it would still not be right if he spent it on anything else)). They could have kept the receipt themselves and let him come to them if the microwave broke; instead, they took a course of action that let him exploit the system when there was no need for them to do so. This, Winston says, is wrong.

What exactly in this argument do you disagree with? Yes, I mean the argument itself, not the nasty non-PC words and phrases that horrible Winston used, like 'junkie' and 'smack-head' and 'heroin addicts would mug their own granny'.

dpax said...

cabbage,i am the least p.c. person you would ever meet, am very judgmental as indeed most people are, my view on winston is that i think he is in the wrong job, and instead of being a vulture who picks at the bones of the less fortunate and then spews out vitriolic nonsense he should focus his attention on a different career. the likes of yourself who pat winston on the back, have no understanding of the 'underclass'.
i have seen heroin addiction close up, and winstons genralisations are so outdated its unbeliveable. cabbage, winston and co. are middle england at its best. i hope one of your children or family members never have to go through any form of addiction, but belive me, hard drugs like heroin and crack cocaine are becoming more and more acceptable in middle england, so soon enough you may have some real insight into societies problems.
to answer winstons questions- i have a REAL job getting my hands dirty everyday as i am a mechanical engineer, and of course read the sun(shock horror)

Hibbo said...


I find it very hard to believe that you have lived in an area where one would see this people, nor that you have ever had anything to do with such wasters. If you did you would certainly not hold such views.

Winston's blog does not appear to be about opiate addicts, rather the more general young underclass wasters; people who have no intention of ever working or paying their own way.

Yes, there are unfortunate people who have had it tough and want to make a go of their lives, but these are far outnumbered by those who just wish to get drunk & high at the teat of the taxpayer. Have you actually read anything that Winston has typed?

Now whilst I am not doubting you, I find it incredibly surprising that you have a real job, as you perfectly fit the stereotype of the "3rd in sociology, now working in a government paid for job with the word "outreach" in the title" type of chap.


WAYNE & KYLIE said...

Kylie took a crisis loan without noticing small print stating it had to be paid back; so now we have a real crisis. Had we read your blog earlier, we would have known of a choice between plasma and microwave, opting for cooking over the fire.

Things are now so bad that Kylie is considering going into Parliament. I told her that there was no need for anyone to sink that low but self respect is all but gone. Short of rewriting history (and I am not canvassing favours Winston), how will we face telling the kids when they are older?

Cabbage said...

dpax: You still haven't said what you disagree with! How does Winston 'pick at the bones of the less fortunate'? And I don't buy for a second that Winston's generalisations are outdated, since it's commonly accepted by people both on the left and the right wing that many heroin addicts turn to acquisitive crime to fund their habits. What the exact statistics and proportions are I have no idea and whether his comments apply in general to heroin addicts I don't know - but I'm willing to bet that they're true for most of the heroin addicts HE meets (who are all homeless or council housed and living on benefit), because how else can they possibly afford the heroin? The money has to come from somewhere, and we know from the start they're not earning it.

Given that, I'm reasonably confident coming to the conclusion that the majority of heroin addicts are like this, since I expect the majority of heroin addicts are career criminals on benefit; maybe I'm wrong to assume this, and I confess I'm making the assumption from a rural middle-class household with no experience of the 'underclass' besides the occassional clash with local thugs, but I just find it hard to imagine many decent, employed people getting onto heroin in the first place. For starters, they'd need to have the connections to know where to get it, which means they're probably already regular weed smokers which means they've already taken their first steps into criminality - albeit, for now, criminality that isn't especially morally reprehensible, if at all. Secondly, they'd need to have a degree of recklessness and a lack of foresight and inability to consider the long-term consequences of their actions - traits that one can easily imagine are more common in criminals and in those who are willingly unemployed than in those who choose to work for a living. Thirdly, they'd need to be encouraged, or at least not deterred, by their peers - suggesting they're surrounded by reprehensible people who care little for their wellbeing, which is likely to have already lead them, or to lead them later, to becoming a sponging, criminal member of the 'underclass'. I have no statistics to back these ideas up; indeed I do not even have experience, and rely upon bloggers like Nightjack and Winston to paint a picture of the world for me. However, since simple common sense leads me to presume that a typical heroin addict has precisely the character Winston describes here, I am extremely doubtful of anyone who claims he is wrong without some sort of evidence to back their claims up.

Of course, none of this means that there are not decent, honest people who developed a heroin addiction in an uncharacteristic lapse of judgement or at a younger age when they were less decent and honest, and even the despicable ones should be helped if we can help them. But as Winston has already pointed out, these people are all victims of their own failure of judgement and their decisions are now controlled by their addiction (either that or, as some right-wing commentators claim, they are simply despicable and use addiction as an excuse; I have no idea which is true, so I give the addicts the benefit of the doubt and assume addiction really is so terrible it drives them to crime), so to simply provide them with things they want and not try to change their character or empower them is plainly not help, but a madness that can only perpetuate their misery. Where exactly is the flaw in this argument?

Anonymous said...

dpax, they're not "less fortunate", they're more fortunate, as they are housed and fed by the state while pursuing lifestyle addictions and learning how to game the benefit system.

I'm quite prepared to believe some of them have been let down by their chav-tastic parents and families, but for that minority of cases, all the more reason to stop "enabling" (i.e. facilitating) their behaviour. Which appears to be a consistent theme of Winston's posts so far.

I'm also not sure precisely what meaningful alternative informed by "real experience" of heroin addiction involves simply giving these people handouts on an indefinite basis.

Big Fat Trucker said...

I came here from Nightjack, and I'm impressed with Winston's honesty.

I find none of it surprising though. Depressing certainly, but I live on an estate where entire families resemble the Chawners, those champions of state sponsored obesity. Coupled with the half dozen bastards spawned by my neighbour, all by different fathers, all with prenatal damage caused by poor nutrition and drugs, they contribute a Hogarthian frisson to the backdrop of dual carriageway noise and the smell of the sewage works.

One day, when the wheel turns, these people will be stacked in crematoria like firewood, or bulldozed into mass graves. I will fight that day, and so will most here, but it will come.

Constable said...


thank you. Came here from NJ and have read your accounts. It is actually refreshing to read the personal views and outright truths you tell. As in our role, you are not meant to stereotype people. Persons such as yourself are often stereotyped by the public and police as being soft and all for the underclass's rights. It is so refreshing to hear your honest opinions and see the other side of the coin.

Regards and keep up the work.

Merlin said...


Firstly, thank you for opening up your blog to wider comments.

Secondly, I can say that your observations strike a chord with me & my colleagues. I work in a profession not - vocationally - a million miles away from what you describe as your own - although with a more "macro" focus. I would hesitate to be any more specific online.

I believe, firmly, that we do achieve some good results for some good & worthy people. Sadly, I feel that the good people with whom I and my colleagues "engage" are a minority compared to the sheer volume of what social anthropoligists would call "wasters" or "scum". Having come here from Nightjack's blog, I would draw the comparison with police work; surely a person working in the public service has to believe that there is a point (beyond paying the mortgage) in their job, or it would be impossible to continue without becoming compromised morally. At the same time, however, I question, with increasing frequency & regularity, the way in which my agency approaches its task & the way in which it defines such (e.g. why do I work with so many "socially & economically excluded" who are, in reality, victims only of their own piss-poor & repeatedly piss-poor life-choices?). It worries me greatly, as does what is happening to our society. Sometimes it prevents me enjoying my "family time".

Anyway - a question relating to your post; how on earth were you allowed to let the baghead in question keep the receipt for the microwave? Quite apart from the issue of what happened to the idiot-oven in question, our finance dept would give me a very sharp rap over the knuckles for failing to retain documentary evidence of expenditure.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Merlin,

The charity that gave the junkie the microwave oven is not regulated by government and is run by people who have no idea what they are doing that is how they got away with letting the junkie keep the receipt. Not that the government regulated sector is any better. A lot of the agency work I do is government funded and just as deluded and incompetent. It wasnt me but a volunteer who bought him the microwave.

Merlin said...

Winston -

I see. Our dilemma is slightly different over in the government sector. We do have to present receipts (like Jacqui Smith). Unlike the case of Jacqui Smith, though, there can be a lack of scrutiny over whether the expenditure is actually achieving the results which it supposed to achieve, as long as the balance sheet is OK & every penny accounted for. To be fair, that is done at my level, and I try to ensure value for money. It doesn't happen everywhere, though. When I do see an opportunity do make some real changes and use money effectively, though, I am often blocked.

halojones-fan said...

"[W]hy didn’t we teach him how to use his cooker and to cook a few basic things instead of buying him a bloody microwave, I thought we were supposed to be empowering them?"

Because it's not about "empowering", and it never was. It's about a sop to white liberal guilt over being rich and having a nice life and, basically, not suffering through economic depression the way our parents did.

And it's easy to just buy someone a microwave. Heck, that's a win for everyone! You get that nice burst of serotonin and endorphin that comes from thinking of yourself as virtuous; they get a piece of consumer electronics that they can fence to buy dope. I mean, you could become their own personal assistant/minder/angel/chaperone/teacher, helping them and guiding them and protecting them and giving them a positive role model, a goal, a chance, a reason to give a damn. But that's hard, much harder than just throwing some cash at them (which is, really, all that happens when you buy them a microwave.)

And, y'know, I can't bring myself to blame people. I mean, why spend months of hard work and effort lifting someone out of the gutter when you know that they're just going to run out and get high again as soon as you turn your back? When you know that the best you can ultimately hope for is that they will hide the booze while you're present and will wait for you to leave before diving back into the bottle? At least if you just throw money at them you can pretend that they're going to do something good with it.

Ostendaise said...

I have just started reading your blog from the beginning, including the comments, and I 'd like to know WHY DPax actually continues to read this blog... He seems like someone who's just out to pick a fight with someone whose views he doesn't agree with. Watch it Winston... you don't want to bump into him in a dark alley...

Anonymous said...

i have been working in germany on U.S army bases as my role as mech. engineer not read for a while obviously a nomination made him 'trendy' and now alot more worker bees like yourself judgde him sane.I have nothing against winston would love have a coffee and shoot the s**t, ive also had alot of experience with bi polar and deppression clinics in genral,this goverment we now have is YOUR goverment, not the heartlands of the northeast.i will have a catch up and post after a read.till next time winston