Thursday, 25 March 2010

'Funky' Worker Required and some good news

I've just had a call from the social care agency I work for trying to entice me in to doing a placement with some eighteen year old care leavers. The conversation deteriorated in to farce once the word 'funky' was used in trying to persuade me to undertake the placement. The conversation went something like this:

"Hi Winston, we've just had a call from the leaving care team at the local social services. They're looking for someone youthful and funky to work with care leavers. What they said the young people want is someone who dresses funky and likes the same music as the kids. Basically, they want someone like the kids that can relate to them."

This snippet of information leads me to believe that they would be happy with a stoned adult slacker that walks around with his trousers hanging off and who listens to Dizzy Rascal and Lady Sovereign in their spare time. I regularly encounter these kind of teenage adults in both care homes and the supported housing sector. If they are a particularly uncivilised group, as some care leavers are, do they wish me to mimic their behaviour in this area as well? Perhaps they want me to turn up for work with an insolent and aggressive attitude towards even the most minimal displays of authority?

It's a terrible shame that social services are not seeking a worker who has overcome problems in his own youth and whom the young people are trying to emulate as opposed to the other way around. I concede that establishing this relationship and attitude isn't always easy, but any sane society should be seeking for adults to lead and guide problematic youngsters as oppossed to the inverse. However, social services would seem to prefer for me to lower myself to the levels of dysfunctional youths. Can someone please tell me how this will help these young people? Contrary to what many of my detractors say I actually care for what happens to young people and our kids and just don't understand how nonsense like this serves the interests of misguided youngsters. These kids need guidance, boundaries and discipline not emulation. How can the fools in the local social services not see this?

I politely turned down the placement on the grounds that it was too far away as oppossed to the fact that it was an asinine initiative.

For once I'm ending a post on a positive note with the news that I've been longlisted for this year's Orwell Blog Prize. If I only get this far I feel very honoured to be recognised. Firstly because I think some of my earlier posts are slightly sloppy in style and secondly because George Orwell has been one of the greatest influences in my life.

You can read some of the blog posts by some of the other bloggers on the longlist here. Congratulations to all the other bloggers.


Urban School Teacher said...

Massive congratulations on making it onto the longlist for The Orwell Prize. Well done. I will have my fingers crossed for you.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your Orwell nomination Winston - very well deserved.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on being longlisted for the Orwell Prize. I love your blog and only wish you would post more regularly!
Best of luck. Alex.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Congratulations and well deserved! BendyGirl

Boy on a bike said...

Well done - well deserved.

Why aren't these clowns recruiting ex-RSMs from the Army?

just play the game and have an easy life said...

" These kids need guidance, boundaries and discipline not emulation. How can the fools in the local social services not see this? "

Yes I agree.
But the social services aren't fools. Just realists wanting an easy life.
Your ideas died out years ago. Surprised that people still cling on to them.
Knowing care workers who have been assaulted ( including stabbed) and seeing nothing getting done about it I can appreciate why everyone just wants a quiet life. Any private care company making a fuss would quickly see it's referrals drop to zero.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Winston!

WinstonSmith33 said...

To "Just Play the Game and Have an Easy Life" above, whilst I understand how people get to this point in that the care system as well as the education system have made it almost impossible to implement boundaries, discipline and direction without losing one's job in some cases, it still is wrong.

As individuals we must stand up and say something, by becoming lethargic and apathetic we have surrendered the ground to idealistic policy makers that have severly let down the kids and young people in our charge and this has had a corrosive effect on the whole of society.

These kids by not being given effective guidance then go on to turn in to dysfunctional adults and all of society suffers as is evidenced all about us these days.

Remember: "“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

Graham said...

Do 'the kids' still listen to Dizzee and Sov? I thought he'd sold out to the Observer supplement / Later with Joolzzzzz crowd and she'd given up rapping a while ago to concentrate on her footballing... But then, I'm 37 so what would I know? ;o>

Congrats on the nomination, BTW.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. You deserve to win.

teachercreature said...

Love the blog Winston. Good luck with the Orwell.

ambulanceamateur said...

Congrats on the nomination. Lots of other people must think as highly of you as I do. I love the injection of common sense into a profession that has a bit of a rep for being otherwise.

Why, oh why, do so many people in authority think that simply setting boundaries for kids is enough? The boundaries need to be enforced if they are to mean anything.

It's all very well being "funky" (whatever that means this week), but kids need some kind of a rock to provide a reference point. If the parents cannot/will not fulfil this function, someone else has to - and the various social services need to fill that role.

You are well away from this "opportunity". Don't touch it with a bargepole as it will do nasty things to your head.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Winston. I think you would be a worthy winner of this award. I always enjoy reading your blog even though I do find reading about the nonsense you deal with every day quite painful to read!!

When do you find out if you have been successful?


WinstonSmith33 said...

Thanks Bonny,

Shortlist is near the end of April and the winner is announced in middle of May I think.

Helen said...

Congratulations on the nomination - richly deserved.

By the way, is there any way of getting in contact with you, Winston (anonymously, of course)?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Winston, like an earlier comment I too wished you blogged more often!
I have worked with children for a very long time and watched the system ( which wasn't perfect) go from bad to worse. We now have a system that fails children, is obsessed by targets, with care and safety for children trailing in far behind. There are still good people out there, but others making a very lucrative income from a failing system. I work with young children and see them remain in the system for years, no plans, no direction, turning into examples of what you see at the other end. Keep blogging, you remind me, that others see the same madness in this system on a daily basis too!

fiona flynn said...

The very use of the word "funky" by your agency tells you everything about how not in touch they are. It reminds me of the online middle-aged paedophile who got caught not long ago after the teenage girl he was trying to meet up with cottoned on that something was amiss, after he invited her to a "disco".

I've just discovered this blog. Well done on yr award.

Merlin said...

"and likes the same music as the kids"

Trouble is none of the kids I work with like music of any sort. They tend to listen to machine-generated drivel with some baggy trousered pr!ck chanting along to it & enjoining listeners to "slap [their] bitch" or do something "in de hood".

p.s. congrats on the Orwell nomination.

Outside work, I do meet kids who like music - & even better, play in a band - & that gladdens me & gives me hope. Also, I find that I generally like the same music as they do - indie bands, R&B, whatever. As long as it's made by real people on real instruments, it'll do me for a listen.

Minnie said...

Good point about the best candidates in many cases being the ones who've overcome the very same difficulties as the clients present. Was a volunteer in homeless sector for a long time, & most of the best project workers I saw were former street people themselves. Not many survive to haul themselves out of the abyss, though.
On style, just re-read 'Politics & the English Language' (in the 'Inside the Whale' collection of essays if aged memory still works): it'll tell you all you need to know!
Bon courage.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! The dress and attitude of some youth workers has bugged me for the past 20 years. In what other field of work would you try to dress like your clients or customers? I can't think of any teacher who would wear a school tie and trutex skirt...
What most children and young people need is not more friends - they've got enough of those already. Instead, they need someone to rely on, look up to and whose behaviour and attitude they can be encouraged to emulate. In my staff I seek positive role models, not kidults! How staff are seen is so important to the ethos and atmosphere of your organisation. I'm a youth project manager, but I rarely dress down for work unless we're doing something particularly messy like painting. You don't need to wear suits to make a point, but smart casual clothing, clean shoes and a not-too-stupid haircut are essential. They give you an vital sense of authority and I've found young people like the fact that you're different from them, 'grown-up' and therefore, a more trustworthy and neutral sounding board.
I agree that some of the best youth workers are those who have been through the system themselves of had some experience of deprivation or educational struggle. Some of my own young people have been encouraged to go on to train as youth workers, but.... only those who have undergone a fundamental change in attitude and who take on board their responsibility to act as positive role models to others.