Friday, 11 March 2011

More Pointless Pieces of Paper part 2

When Gerry, the project manager, was informed of Jim’s attempted assault and verbal abuse of an elderly woman he decided to issue Jim with one week’s notice to vacate the premises. I would have also liked to have issued him with a size ten boot up the arse, but I bet if I checked with the policy department it would not be in line with our “anti-oppressive” policy. Gerry summoned Jim to the office and asked him to explain his actions of the previous day. Needless to say Jim denied all knowledge of the incident, so we showed him the video evidence of his thuggery. Gerry then handed him written notice, which he was unable to read, that he had one week with which to vacate the premises. Jim now having nothing to lose felt no need to contain or regulate his behaviour to any degree, not that he had much previous success in this regards in the first place. He erupted in a tirade of verbal abuse infused with self pity and an attempt at emotional blackmail.

“You fucking bastards, you have no idea how hard it is for me. My bloody parents don’t want me either. If Im kicked out of here Im going to kill myself.”

Well Jim I have no idea of how hard it is being you, but if it’s anything like working with you I can imagine it’s no picnic. The sad and unfortunate thing is we could help young men like Jim if we were able to use discipline and authority to put them on the right path.

Neither myself or Gerry responded to Jim’s attempt at emotional blackmail. Just another idle threat from the idle minded as far as I was concerned. Even if I thought he were to do it I would still want him evicted. Suicide would be his choice and not our fault. Threats of his imminent demise having not rescinded his eviction required more direct and immediate efforts to get what he wanted. He continued to shout and swear at us and at several points raised his mobile phone above his head as if to throw it at me or Gerry. Thankfully, instead of lashing out at us, he began to repeatedly punch himself very hard in the face. And they say corporal punishment doesn’t work? Who knows? Perhaps this lad needed some of it so bad and having never had it in a more civilized and restrained manner when he needed it, now in his adult years he is willing to inflict it on himself. I hope one or two of those punches he directed at himself is in retribution for his abuse of that old woman. Jim’s losing battle with his own fists led Gerry to offer a glimmer of hope to the young hooded weasel.

“Well Jim, you can always appeal my decision, as is your right, to the Area Business Manager. In fact, she will be here later today and if you get your Support Worker to help you write the letter of appeal she might rescind your eviction and put you back on the ABC.”

Here we go again I thought. Jim’s support worker, Neil, a nice kind soul, who tends to give everyone the benefit of the doubt was about to once again be complicit in making excuses for Jim’s loutish behaviour. Although an ignorant semi-literate rogue, Jim knew exactly the kinds of buzz words to drop in his appeal letter. He instructed his secretary, I mean support worker, to write that due to his ‘drug problem’ he had ‘anger management’ problems and that he had been told he would have counselling arranged to help him with these issues and that as it wasn’t forthcoming he continued to have problems with his behaviour. In other words, his anti-social behaviour was not his own fault, but that of the project for not having acquired him the right kind of support. In fact, Jim had actually never proactively sought counselling, but had merely agreed to it if it were arranged for him as he used his weed habit as an excuse for why he never paid the extra rent of ten pounds from his Jobseeker's Allowance not covered by housing benefit. He agreed because he knew that as part of the conditions of his accommodation he is required to engage with support. In other words, he was merely telling us what he thought we wanted to hear to ensure he could have a roof over his head to take drugs in the evening.Neil seemed to concur with Jim’s abdication of personal responsibility as he explained to me.

“Well, he has a point we did offer to get him counselling months ago in relation to his drug use and anger management issues and then failed to get it sorted for him,” Neil stated.

“Well, in the first instance we suggested that to him he never sought it. Did he ask about it again or has he only brought it up now that he is faced with consequences for his actions? Surely if it was something he wanted sorted he would have asked about it since? Instead he has continually taken drugs on a daily basis and has regularly been aggressive in his dealing with staff and his peers,” I pointed out.

“No, he never got back to us again about it now that you mention it,” perhaps Neil was beginning to see the true picture.

“This is how I see it, he’s terrified of getting kicked out and is telling us exactly what he thinks we want to hear in order to get us off his back. His anger and aggressive outbursts are not due to his cannabis habit, but due to the fact that he is a lout and has never suffered serious consequences for aggressive behaviour. Anyone, who knows anything about cannabis, knows that it subdues and chills people out and doesn’t fuel aggression,” I reply.

All of a sudden, Jim’s fellow recipient of an ABC and partner in roguery, Kyle, strolls in to the office without knocking to offer his opinion on his friend’s hopefully imminent eviction.

“I hear you lot are evicting Jim? You are all a bunch of cunts! I want a complaint form.”

As it’s his right, obviously, Gerry gets him one and hands it to him and informs him of the Area Business Manager’s address to post it to. I challenge Gerry for not having dealt with allowing both himself and his staff to be verbally abused in such a way.

“Gerry, one of the clauses of Kyle’s ABC that you signed is that he must not be verbally abusive to any members of staff and that to do so will lead to notice. Therefore, he should now be getting marching orders.”

“If we give Kyle an eviction notice it will only exacerbate problems with the other residents who will think it harsh and are already being quite boisterous in their objection to Jim’s eviction. Besides Kyle wasn’t threatening in his verbal abuse,” responded Gerry.

I didn’t know that verbal abuse was only considered verbal abuse when imbued with violent undertones. So is it ok for me to be called a c*nt by someone I help and support as long as they are not holding a knife or the leg of a chair when they are doing it?

“What’s the point then in having ABCs if we don’t back them up with the consequences stated within them? They are just meaningless pieces of paper. Besides, it’s not fair or consistent to give Jim notice for violating his ABC and ignore Kyle’s transgression for the sake of expediency. I say we make sacrificial lambs of Kyle and Jim and get rid of them so as to send out the message that we will not tolerate any kind of verbal abuse or threatening behaviour towards staff, fellow residents or in the neighbourhood. Their example will be a deterrent to the others and act as a bulwark against any such future behaviour. We need to be tough to protect the decent residents and staff against anti-social behaviour.”

Gerry heedlessly dismisses my suggestion that he be consistent in carrying out his stated consequences for violation of the ABCs. He has became slightly irate with me and changed the subject. The voice of reason and common sense is often dealt with by ignoring or suppressing it or not offering a counter argument. Why? Well the idealistic, ultra-liberal approach to anti-social behaviour is the one currently espoused by policy makers and as we can see all around us in the wider society it is failing.

The Area Business Manager came and heard Jim’s appeal and as I suspected her heart bled and she rescinded his notice when she read the eloquent letter of appeal written by his Support Worker documenting how both drugs and anger are issues for Jim causing him problems in his life and how he now wishes to have support to deal with them. The people that work with Jim talk to him as if his heavy drug use and anger were forces outside of himself as opposed to behaviours over which he has some choice in whether he indulges in or not. Anyway, the ABM gave him a stay of execution. His ABC was updated and a new clause stated that a counsellor would be arranged for him to help him with his drug and anger problems. A week later Jim had his first session with the counsellor, at the project of course, we couldn’t expect Jim to make his way to the counselling centre only a twenty minute walk away. We also had to wake him to remind him the counsellor had arrived. The session was so successful that to celebrate afterwards Jim went out and got very stoned as I could tell from the stink of skunk weed off his clothes and breath when he returned.

A week later, I had Jim down in the office to talk to him about sneaking in several teenage girls in to the building after visiting hours. He could have booked one of them in as an overnight guest, but then that would have been doing things by the book, an alien concept to Jim. As usual, and despite now being counseled for his anger problems, he was defensive, stubborn and argumentative as I explained to him that he had broken the house rules whilst still on an ABC which could lead to immediate eviction. As he has heard this several times before whilst on his previous ABC and before that his final warning, Jim failed to be perturbed by the threat of eviction. His recent experiences having led him to believe that we say one thing and do another.

Whilst he was in the office, Terry reminded him that he was behind in his rent repayment plan. Jim had been failing to pay thirty pounds every two weeks from the ironically entitled Job Seeker’s allowance of which he was in receipt. Jim is more of a cannabis and ketamine seeker than a pursuer of employment. Jim has to pay ten pound and ten pence a week from this benefit towards his rent. As he is in arrears of over three hundred pounds due to the purchase of illicit substances a repayment plan was drawn up several months ago. Why does he need a plan to pay rent? Does anyone in the real world plan the paying of bills? Despite the plan and several personal assistants to remind him of the plan, Jim didn’t keep to the plan as he had a plan to get off his head that clashed with the plan to pay his rent. Terry’s reminding him that spiraling arrears and non-payment of his share of the rent will eventually lead to eviction evoked indignation in Jim as opposed to self reflection.

“It’s not fair, having to pay that thirty pounds for rent that only leaves me with seventy quid to have a life for the rest of the two weeks.”

‘To have a life’ as Jim sees it, is much different from the many varied but accepted standards of what a life of quality should consist.

“What do you mean by ‘have a life’ Jim?”

“Well, I want to go out with my mates and stuff. Like next weekend I’m going out to a rave with my mates and I’ll need lots of money for that as I’m going to get off my head.”

‘Stuff’ is Jim’s euphemism for stealing, robbing, assault, verbal abuse, threats and all manner of anti-social behaviour just in case you were confused and thought it meant perhaps learning to read properly or volunteering in the community.

“That’s not really part of the support we are meant to give you by helping you budget for partying (although a rookie support worker had done a budget plan with Jim where 20 quid a week was allocated towards cannabis). Mainly, we are here to help you become independent in managing with day to day life skills and paying your rent is the top of that list. Continue not to pay it and you will be evicted.”

“For fuck sakes, between paying rent and court fines you lot would be happy for me to be stuck up in my room day and night with nothing to do and no life,” barked Jim.

“Your recreational and chemical pursuits are of no concern of mine Jim. Im merely here to support you maintain accommodation access benefits as well as educational or employment opportunities.”

I refrained from telling him that the only place I’d be happy with Jim being stuck was behind bars or in a dundgeon with Joseph Fritzel, or with his head and hands in the stocks and his bare arse exposed to the elements as well as to the footwear of all those decent people he has aggrieved. I’d be at the top of that queue with a size ten winkle picker. You may dismiss this approach as medieval but I would bet any money it would work a lot better than all the ABCs and counselors which have so far failed to eliminate Jim’s anti-social behaviour.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I work with this age group in prison the long line of bleeding harts who come & see them taking pity on them all.Their bullshit to justify what they have done never ceases to amaze me.

the fly in the web said...

Always amazes me that there is no correlation between their everyday vocabulary and that which appears once a counsellor gets hold of them.

Daedalus said...

Can't you offer them £5K to have a vasectomy or in the case of the girls have a tubal ligation or essure, so at least they dont breed? Then at least the issue will slowly die out, one hopes!!! It's got to be far cheaper than seeing some of these guys fathering kids all over the place.

Daedalus

jaljen said...

Snap. I'm a teacher and it's just the same rubbish as spouted by our esteemed *snorts* leaders.

Rachel said...

This ought to be dramatised on TV, more people need to know about what goes on, but the BBC and the cinema would never do it.

meredith&samuel said...

I work with teenagers in residential care and belive me ive just had a very similar discussion with a similar young man who thinks at 15, unemployable, drug and alcohol user that this is the ideal time to go out and chose a female to have kids with! I am at the end of my tether with this 'natural consequence' cant give them a bollocking stance that is promoted everywhere, even in schools where i watched said young man give a 'talk' to his class of similar deliquents, the talk was 3 sentences long, he got a round of applauise from his 2 teachers and a certificate. One of the teachers told him this talk would be ideal preparation for when he gets a job interview! Selling false hope at 15 to these kids!

Zenobia said...

Winston, would it be fair to say that there's also a financial incentive not to evict folks?

How much does the home get paid to put up these yoblets, as it doesn't sound like they pay (or at least are meant to pay) a market rent, so the home must get subsidies to keep in business.

Then, how long is it after an eviction before another resident turns up?

If the gaps are large, then there's clear financial motive not to evict. So no wonder the manager's heart bled for this specimen.

Also, please tell me it's a joke that they drew him up a budget in which £20.00/week went on weed.

Thing is, one of these days you should just push for an eviction and make a huge song and dance about it. Then point out to all involved that as he was evicted for rent arrears and/or anti-social or nuisance conduct, the Council will consider him, in all likelihood, "intentionally homeless" and not have to assist...

Oswald Bastable said...

The stocks are the mildest medicine I would prescribe for that oxygen-thief!

Did I say stocks?

Sorry- I meant gallows...

Anonymous said...

I would disagree that cannabis does not make people aggressive. The most violent people i have ever met, have all been heavy cannabis users. I have also heard from their families that they were not violent before cannabis got a grip. Not scientific i know but there it is.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Zenobia, There is no shortage of potential residents for these projects. There are usually queues waiting to get in but some time there can be short gaps between one resident being turfed out and another moving in. The management call these 'voids' and are more concerned about loss of rent from accumulated void days than they are about dealing with yobbish behaviour.

However, they also dont like to evict people as the people who get evicted usually have large rent arrears and it is almost impossible to get this money from an ex-resident. However, the issue of rent arrears is a rod created by the management themselves in that the residents are allowed to accumulate large rent arrears. As their arrears grow they get a series of warning letters. This usually results in an "Action Plan" to pay the rent which will include engaging with your keyworker to support you to get Housing Benefit which you should have done when you moved in but were to lazy and stoned to fill in the form in the first place. Another part of this 'plan' which will all be documented on reams of paper as 'evidence of support' for a team of state bureaucrats to 'audit' will involve reminding you for the umpteenth time that 7.50 of your rent must be covered by you out of your JSA, Income Support or whatever benefit your recieve.

Lots of our residents do eventually end up being evicted and get made 'intentionally homeless.' They then return to live with parents or parent whom they initially claimed to be estranged from to require supported housing in the firstplace. It one big mad mess of a system.

WinstonSmith33 said...

@Anonymous above,

Im not saying cannabis is a risk free drug but most people that smoke it dont tend to become aggressive. Perhaps those who develop psychosis do but I would say most people who are aggressive that use cannabis would be so anyway. They are just thugs no matter what drug they imbibe.

That said heavy cannabis use in one's teens according to research severly increases the chance of damaging long term mental health problems.

Zenobia said...

Winston, when I run into clients (actual clients - I am in L&T law) who have arrears in this situation I try to get a direct debit for the shortfall (plus a contribution to rent arrears) directly taken out their benefits by the DWP and paid to the housing association. Can you not do this at your home?

Also, isn't Housing Benefit now usually paid to the tenant/occupier unless there's 8 weeks arrears or they're "vulnerable." Do you find residents spending their HB on drugs as was the big fear when the Whitehall brainfart of HB paying to tenants first came in?

Anonymous said...

Winston, cracking writing as usual shining a light into the scum peopled crevices that the vast majority of people don't even realise exist.

I despair for the future of our country and salute those like you who try and keep your finger in the dyke.

WinstonSmith33 said...

@Zenobia,

Any of the Housing Associations I've worked for have never suggested that it was an option for us to be able to siphon payment from our residents benefit entitlements by cutting them out and going to DWP. Most managers in Supported Housing wont even allow Project Workers to implement measures to ensure that rooms and kitchens are kept to a desirable standard as this would be against their rights.

Many of our residents have to be 'supported' to even apply for Housing Benefit as they dont care whether the rent is paid or not. If they were paid the money directly as opposed to us then they would no doubt have a few weeks of imbibing whatever drugs are doing the rounds and then end up homeless. Most of our residents are one or a combination of the following: too lazy, semi literate or illiterate, feckless, drugged or incompetent to even bother to get their Housing benefit sorted.

The media constantly harp on about 'benefit scroungers' but the reality is even far worse than reported in that many of these 'scroungers' have to be 'supported' to even make a claim. There are a small minority who need some support due to serious health issues but most just feel they are entitled to be indulged so. Seriously Britain is a crazy crazy country and most people dont know the half of it.

Joseph said...

For some reason, the song "Gee, Officer Krupke" (a song about louts gaming the system) is going through my head now.

Hideki said...

Hi

"Does anyone in the real world plan the paying of bills?"

I take exception to that.

People such as yourself who have a fair amount of money probably don't plan the paying of bills but the rest of us have to do so as a matter of course.

(just got my £800odd quid council tax bill so this is rather a sore point at the moment...)

It's not just benefits either, low paid / part time work also lands people in this situation and in the current economic climate more people are in the position of having poor/no work than is usual.

I used to go to boarding school and if you misbehaved badly you got slippered (don't be fooled, it was usually with something more heavy duty than a slipper) or if less badly got 'gated' which meant you couldn't leave the school, oddly enough most people didn't misbehave...

The problem does seem to be the lack of any effective sanctions, the whole system in that place seems fundamentally broken, I suppose contacting social services and mentioning they're failing in their duty of care to the residents would be pointless?

Anonymous said...

My best friend from college seems to suffer from the same delusions. He is 42 and is in the process of being booted out of another flat, for not paying his rent. Unfortunately I know his drug dealer, who can attest to where his rent money actually went. One good reason not to move back to my hometown.

@PokerFiend said...

Your frustration is clear and I recognise many of the situations you have described. I'd like to hear what your solution to these social problems are. (I'm not sure being locked up and sharing a cell with JF is much of a long term solution)

I think despite the very real frustrations that support workers suffer in the workplace, the alternative would be that these wayward individuals would cost the state much more. I could be wrong here but I think the Service Users.. (Or clients as they are now called in your organisation) would cost a fortune for statutory services without some support.

Don't misunderstand. I have similar frustrations but I try to manage them.. It occurs to me though that you may actually be happier in a different job..

@PokerFiend said...

Your frustration is clear and I recognise many of the situations you have described. I'd like to hear what your solution to these social problems are. (I'm not sure being locked up and sharing a cell with JF is much of a long term solution)

I think despite the very real frustrations that support workers suffer in the workplace, the alternative would be that these wayward individuals would cost the state much more. I could be wrong here but I think the Service Users.. (Or clients as they are now called in your organisation) would cost a fortune for statutory services without some support.

Don't misunderstand. I have similar frustrations but I try to manage them.. It occurs to me though that you may actually be happier in a different job..

PC Bloggs said...

Direct debit? For that, they would have to have a bank account.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WinstonSmith33 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian M said...

I feel your pain Winston.

I worked in a training centre for 16-19 year olds last year. I left after one guy, who was caught making a rolled up cigarette with his pubic hair, got away with having a go at me and I ended up being warned for daring to confront him for making said cigarette. I walked out and never came back. Two weeks ago said little scrote jumped me (with a mate of course as they aren't big and brave to do so alone) but he ended up with a broken nose, a front tooth knocked out and two broken fingers. Luckily there were witnesses and the Police deemed it self defence. But guess who cried victim ?? .. what a pansy. He had another verbal assault at me the other day threatening allsorts of retribution. That was kind of funny as he had already come off worse. These kids know they can get away with it though and that has to stop. As someone who went through the care system and ended up in the Forces I reckon they need the discipline and consequences, I certainly did, and if need be a good slap as well. I did. This "Jim" needs to be taken up on his threats and owned. Maybe we should recruit some ex Marines and Para's and introduce milling with them as "Anger Management Therapy" for these Oxygen Thieves. Incidentally there used to be a scheme in Scotland called "Airborne Initiative" that used ex service people, mainly Para's, to get such kids out and about and using their aggression postively on assault course, field trips and such. It had good results until it was binned by the Scottish Parliament without discussion, not PC enough apparently. You only have to watch "Bad Lads Army" to see that the approach does work.

I dont how you do it but keep with it, I am sure one day you will come across one kid who will respond to your approach. As someone who had such an individual help me immeasurably when I was in care I can vouch for that. And I shudder to think what would have happened if I had not had that guy put time and effort into me.

Hopefully someday you will be in a position to influence policy and change things. I think you seriously need to be !!

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for a while now... and surprising as it may be I'd like to know the best way of getting into your profession... I think I'd be good at it. Any tips would be welcomed :)

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for a while now... and surprising as it may be I'd like to know the best way of getting into your profession... I think I'd be good at it. Any tips would be welcomed :)

WinstonSmith33 said...

@Anonymous above.

Register with a social care agency. Many of them will need you to have at least 6 months of experience with young people. If you havent got that then just volunteer somewhere.

There shouldnt be too many barriers to entry to work with Teenagers in Care, apart from a clean CRB check, as there is a high turnover of staff for the reasons outlined in this blog. Supported Housing is relatively easy to get in to but the cuts are affecting recrutiment and some projects are shedding staff.

WinstonSmith33 said...

@Hediki

I dont know why you assume I make a lot of money. I make much less than the average salary in the UK and struggle to get by.

I disagree that able bodied people need to have a state funded support worker to help them write a budgeting plan and another written plan to go to the Jobcentre and another one to go to the Housing Benefit office and another to meet with your Youth Offending Officer and another to attend college and so on so forth.

Zenobia said...

@Brian M

Making a cigarette with his pubic hair?!

I'm going to dread asking, but was that the filling or the paper?

Brian Finch said...

I read this blog because it is a good reminder of real problems in a real world that many of us shut out from our thoughts most of the time. But hell, it's depressing. Not the behaviour of clients but the attitudes of the managers. And to think this pervades so many parts of the public service is, well, depressing. Above all it is our powerlessness to improve matters even if appropriate responses are clear that leads to despair.

Still, thank you Winston for venting your exasperation because it does us good to read it.

rielouise said...

Let me get this straight: this brat assaulted an old lady in the street and faced no legal consequences? No wonder the elderly feel as though they are under siege. Notice how cowards always choose their targets carefully. Hopefully next time he won't be so lucky.

It makes me want to turn vigilante.

sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

jan said...

Hi, i work for a supported housing project for a company that sounds very similar to yours if not the same. I have the same issues that you have and get paid the pittance too. Compared to approved premise hostels where the staff are paid twice the salary and do half the work.
If only they would do job evaluations!
I also work with someone just like your team mate that regularly name and shame for being a hugger. So similar i makes me think it must be in the name!!!
I was sent a link for your blog by a police officer friend who thought i was writing this as it just sounds like my life. i almost thought that i must be afflicted with some sleep walking syndrome were I write a blog about my job while i slumber!
You my friend are my idol! i am now hooked to this blog and will be getting your book as soon as i can. i may even get two and leave one on my managers desk with a post it saying " must read to show the moral of the lowly project worker" I laugh as i write this comment but as i think about it as i check for spelling mistakes i feel sick to my stomach that we have to put up with abuse and crap when we spend our days helping the people who hurl the abuse.
good thing is my company offers a course called "aspiring manager training" i want to go on it just to see what shite they spout!

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Jan,

I feel your pain. Glad you enjoy the blog if enjoy is the right word.

Go to the training at least you can have a laugh about it afterwards no doubt there will be plenty of spouting.

My book has some interesting pieces on 'training'.

Anonymous said...

Hello Winston....I am a first time reader of your blog. It really is quite sad how cynical and bitter some can become due to working with the so called underclass.
Perhaps this negative attitude is due to the frustration that many who work with disadvantaged, and difficult people, often feel.

Perhaps this common attitude expressed by support workers has a lot to do with all the politically correct "training" you have to go through. Plus the clear understanding that a lack of discipline in childhood has led to an obvious lack of respect for authority shown by some teenagers.

However, what you may not be aware of, is that some strains of the hybrid skunk cannabis can and do cause sudden violent outbursts in users of it. Skunk is bad news, because in the modification of it, the hybrid plant has the vital chemical that protects against psychosis from developing, missing.

It is true to say that users of the old type, or original cannabis, were just chilled out and not normally aggressive, nor violent towards others.

Skunk and the negative affect it has upon some people, especially on teenagers, has given cannabis a "bad name".....all blown up out of all proportion by the press.

It is a given that teenagers shouldn't be using cannabis, but the old type really is a lot less harmful than skunk, or alcohol.

Also I find it rather odd that teenagers in supported housing would be allowed to get into arrears with their rent. The DWP can and do make deductions from people's personal allowances for direct payments to landlords, mortgage lenders or utility companies where a debt has grown and the person has difficulty in managing their weekly subsistance personal allowance.

£65.45 per week JSA, or now ESA is not a lot to live on, when there are bills for food, heating, lighting, water and a contribution towards the rent to be paid out of it. People who feel in despair and that they have no hope of a better life, often turn to drink/drugs, to escape the reality of their miserable situation.

There but for the Grace of God go I, has always been my thought when I see those who live such empty and sad lives. Pity does not help them very much, but some tough love would help the "lost" kids.

WinstonSmith33 said...

@Anonymous above,

Supported Housing is about supporting people to become independent. To that effect we are not allowed to take the rent contribution from people JSA/ESA. We write a Support plan in which a resident agrees to come and pay the roughly ten pound contribution from their rent. Their electricity, heating, water, council tax are all included in their rent payment which Housing benefit pay most of.

Whilst many of our residents struggle to improve their lot this is not down to societal barriers as much as it is to do with a lack of socialisation and life skills. Our poor are only relatively so there is still a largely functional and generous welfare state that will put food in your stomach and a roof over your head. I believe after that it is up to the individual to take responsibility for their lives. The real poor that exist in truly deprived countries would be envious of the material accoutrements of our underclass. I was in a house a few weeks ago of a young couple who were apparently 'poor' yet they both had mobile phones, a TV twice as big and several times more expensive than the one in the shared house in which I live and not to mention a laptop. Do you think the slum dwellers of Naoirobi or Calcutta have it so good.

Anonymous said...

No Winston, I do not think that the truly poor in places like Calcutta or wherever have it so good at all. I am sure that life is tough for them in many ways that are very different to the lives of the "poor" in the affluent UK, USA and other rich countries.

However, studies it has been claimed in the media, have shown that poorer people living a simple life with few posessions are actually happier than many rich and successful people in the western world. Material goods do not always bring people happiness.

Regarding the young couple you mention, who were apparently "poor" but both had mobile phones, a big TV and a laptop. So what does that prove exactly? Mobiles can be bought quite cheaply these days, sometimes for as little as £10, when on offer from stores and supermarkets. Lucky them if they have a big TV and a laptop. Their family may well have bought those items for them for all you or anyone else knows. The TV could have been bought on a "pay as you view scheme"....or off the "back of a lorry"!!! Who knows but the people who watch it and what does it really matter anyway?

I do take issue with the all too common assumptions many in the public sector make about members of the public. People are judged on tick box training assumptions, by their appearances, how big their TV's are and whether or not they are on benefits, or not. Many public sector workers really do appear to resent those at the bottom of the ladder, and even hate them because they have big TV's, or whatever.

If we did not have a "generous" welfare state, which provides a BELOW the governments own stated "breadline income", then there would be a greater problem of increased crime. Desperate people WILL do desperate things to survive, as history shows us.

A "civilized" society looks after its' sick, disabled, elderly and infirm, plus the disadvantaged "poor". That could be regarded as financially "generous". That could also be regarded as common sense too, to avoid more serious problems by keeping the "not have's" under state control. Generosity is not just financial, as assistance can be given to the poor, the sick and the disabled with the meanest of spirits Winston.

This mean spirited attitude towards the poor of the UK, who find themselves marginalized and on the fringes of an affluent society, begrudges people their "generous" Incapacity Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance, and treats them as "guilty" of being scroungers and cheats, until proved to be "innocent". Not much "generosity" of spirit there towards the less fortunate.

Throughout history the rich and the powerful have kept the poor and the working class "in their places". Nothing changes, and they do at least justify your job! ;-)

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous
This is typical left-wing rubbish. I can't believe I'm reading it. You are clueless.

Anonymous said...

Anon@ 8th April.... I am neither politically right nor left and nor am I "clueless"...LOL.

I took an interest in history when I received my education, which gave some rather huge "clues" as to how the system has worked for a very long time. The power and authority lays right at the top of the ladder, and it always has done. From Her Majesty's House of Lords, the House of Commons, the judiciary, the law makers. Under that pecking order are the police who are not allowed to usurp the authority of the judiciary. PC's have to abide by the authority of the officers in the ranks above them, or face the consequences.

The police have a duty to uphold and enforce the law. The public come under the authority of the police and the judiciary. Workers in any organisation come under the authority of their managers and the boss. People who are unemployed or sick and disabled, who have no means of supporting themselves, come under the authority of the benefits system and must abide by the rules.

There is a very clear "pecking order" from the top of the ladder right down to those at the bottom of it. Without this form of control, of all sections of society there would be chaos and anarchy.

The problems of feral youth seen today is rooted back in our recent history to the mid 80's, when the natural authority of parents and teachers was undermined by government policy. This has resulted in some kids growing up thinking that they can do as they like, and having little or no respect for authority and "rules".

I have more of a "clue" than you could ever possibly understand!

Rielouise said...

Winston,

I'm sure your clients (however much they whine) are not in a state of absolute poverty. However, I'm sure there is plenty of spiritual and intellectual poverty. What steps do those professionals who are tasked with helping them, take to ameliorate this? You once mentioned a DVD night. Do you have literacy nights? Are there any measures designed to remedy the poor education that some of them have experienced?

wheredoesthisgo said...

I agree with a previous comment (sorry didn't catch the name), I went to a private school and it was paid for with the risk to my father's life (forces) and subsidised by my parents.
We were punished properly which didn't always mean hitting them. I was made to stand outside in the cold while my teacher smoked all my cigarettes for breaking the simple rule of no smoking on school premises and then I had a detention. I have grown up with a sense of discipline and have no criminal record but am on one of the lowest wages (before the your rich so you won't know arguement rears it's ugly head). I do not steal or hurt old ladies because I have some respect for those around me.

WinstonSmith33 said...

@RieLouise

The housing association encourages those with literacy/numeracy issues to attend E2E training which attempts to give basic numeracy and literacy skills. Most of them drop out or get kicked off due to anti-social behaviour and an inability to regulate themselves.

If a resident requests information with regards to 'spiritual' matters or religion we are to support them in accessing this 'need'. This has never occurred and to be frank I dont think the state should have any role in spiritual or religious matters. I am an atheist and secular republican.

Anonymous said...

"The voice of reason and common sense is often dealt with by ignoring or suppressing it or not offering a counter argument. Why? Well the idealistic, ultra-liberal approach to anti-social behaviour is the one currently espoused by policy makers and as we can see all around us in the wider society it is failing."

Now that should be tattooed on the arse of every MPs mistress so they can be reminded of it every week night!

I've only skimmed through your blog, having stumbled upon it, but I'm going to have to stop before I start actively campaigning for a wide-reaching and bloody cull.

Rstoff said...

E2E is a completre and utter, trendy, excuse-making waste of time. It does however, allow the ones who deserve it least to be treated well, while deserving students etc are ignored.

Anonymous said...

I have to say i work as a registered manager in a childrens home with some very damaged children. We have to remember that these children have been damaged by adults. Their parents are ones who need to be taken charge of.The Children Act 1989 makes it impossible for social services to legally enforce parents to accomodate their own children which places the responsibility for care on the local authorities. Some children accomodated into the care system thrive on the attention and positive reinforcement that they do receive from residential staff, however for those young people who have no inner controls the legislative guidelines inforce, such as the minimum standards make it impossible to put into place powers for the residential staff which children quickly grasp and exploit. We as a society cannot blame children for our inability to parent. We need as a society to change our perception of childrens rights and how we enforce those rights. We need legislative changes which enforce rights but also associated responsibilites. I cannot in good conscience support the view of physical chastisement as a way of controlling children. Otherwise we are no different to the parents who cared for them and we breed a culture of children who see violence as a way of control. I think we need a sensible approach of telling children the truth, whether they want to here it or not. We need to stop blaming the children for the state of our country we need to blame the rule makers who sit in offices making laws without responsibilites!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

OMG! I had no idea thats the way the system worked with guys and gals like him. TO be honest I think its shocking, all this pandering isnt doing anyone any favours least of all the poor taxpayer. The only way to deal with them is to show tough love and NOT give in. Sensible rules should be obeyed and if they arent then let the consequences of breaking them deliberately take place whether it be eviction or not. Its not doing the offender any good at all pandering to them as all that does is show them there is no discipline and that they can get what they want by playing the system. Its not fair on the offender at all. it really isnt. By not being strict its a shambles and really ultimately of no help at all to the offender.

Anonymous said...

I work in benefits and will never forget the time that I realised that an alcoholic was getting more in benefits than I was getting in wages. With the maximum combination of Income Support and Disability Living Allowance you can get £250 p.w plus Housing and Council Tax Benefit.

I've often found that its the twenty somethings that fail to sign on, older job seekers manage to get out of bed every fortnight.

My council reckons that people who dont reply to letters are 'vulnerable'. I can arrange someone to visit them and, guess what, their not in.

fed up form filler said...

I understand your frustrations Winston. I have worked in supported housing in Manchester for almost 7 years working in various hostels for but one organisation. The policies and procedures put in place by funders like DAST, SP and managers are a hindrance to any kind of performance and only serve demotivate staff working on the front line. If only our residents were as accountable as we were!
Things have to change. I don't mind being accountable for my performance, in fact I enjoy it. I take great pride in the work that I do and try to achieve the best outcomes where ever possible but it's becoming more and more challenging dealing with young people who have zero motivation and maximum expectation. The only analogy I can make is with a patient turning up to A&E but refusing treatment and refusing to leave. There has to be a change in the criteria for suitability for supported housing. Filling voids with unsuitable residents should not be tolerated. Engagement should not be an option but compulsory. There should be a set programme in place tied in with the receipt of benefits. Education and training should be compulsory for all. Doing nothing should never be an option. This is the only way I can see of stopping this merry-go-round of keeping people in the system for years with poor outcomes.