Friday 5 June 2009

Valuing Diversity

The Supported Housing sector like so many other spheres of the public sector has to demonstrate that we are secretly not a bunch of white supremacists. Supporting People’s Quality Assessment Framework assists government bureaucrats to measure the degree to which we are complying with regulations on diversity and anti discriminatory practice in the workplace. As the QAF states our organisation should demonstrate, “that there is a commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion and to practice of equal opportunity (including accessibility in its widest sense) and the needs of black and minority ethnic service users are appropriately met.”

On the face of it this diktat sounds great but when put in to practice they are often farcical. In measuring compliance with the QAF one of the things that Supporting People will look for is that we have provided information to service users about the availability of cultural and religious organisations and centres. Again on the face of it sounds great but here is how it works in the project I am currently working at.

Upon entering the building and standing in reception you will be greeted by a variety of posters and leaflets outlining things like “How to Complain”, “What you can expect from our Service” and so on and so forth. All these documents contain illustrations of individuals from several ethnic groups and somebody in a wheelchair. They are all smiling and look well pleased with their lot despite the fact that they share accommodation with the feral indigenous underclass. However, as there are no obvious Celtic looking people or any partially sighted lesbians on any of these posters I am deeply offended. I will be forwarding a suggestion to our *Diversity Officer that a new poster be made up with a greater degree of inclusion.

After perusing the politically correct leaflets and posters you will become aware of a very large poster outlining the tenets of various religions including obscure faiths such as Zoroastrianism. The last time I checked there were no Zoroastrians residing with us. We will soon be updating our faith information poster to include information on druids and jedis.

I must say it is a lovely poster and is extremely positive about the world’s religions and makes no mention of any abhorrent practice within these faiths or the fact that they have all been killing each other for hundreds of years or ironically that many of these faiths don’t value diversity in the same way our organisation does. If you don’t believe me then read up on most of these faiths' attitudes towards homosexuals and women. You wont find a valuing diversity section in most of their holy books.

Next to this poster, there is an information leaflet directing would be worshipers to their nearest church, mosque, temple or synagogue whatever the case may be. Should the aspirant worshiper find the challenge of getting to the local place of worship a challenge we can incorporate this in to a key work session and come up with an “action plan” that we can document in the Support Plan. This will further help us demonstrate compliance with our QAF on diversity and will give the bureaucrats that the public pay something extra to read when she or he (just abiding by my diversity and equal opportunities training) come to carry out an inspection.

Now, the main problem with this initiative is that it doesn’t correspond to the reality of our project. The majority of our residents are white British and their centres of worship tend to be the local off licence and the nearest pub during happy hour where they praise the spirits of their choice.

We have only one resident from an ethnic minority background. He is an Iraqi refugee, Tariq, and a nicer fellow you couldn’t meet. Polite, well mannered and he studies and works part time. He is contributing much more to his adopted country than many of the indigenous residents who sit in their rooms all day stoned playing video games. No doubt watching friends and relatives being tortured by Saddam and then seeing his country descend in to internecine conflict have given him an appreciation of living in a fee society and he is using every opportunity he can to better himself.

One of our residents recently complained, “these bloody Poles and other foreigners are coming over here and stealing all our jobs, it’s not fair.”

I responded, “but you never actually look for work so why would you be bothered? Do you expect an employer to come and knock on your door and offer you work? You have to look for it.” He walked away perplexed at the notion that he would actually have to do something to get a job.

Anyway, back to Tariq our only refugee. Now Tariq did describe himself as a Muslim when signing up for our project but judging from the posters of naked women that adorn his wall as well as the discarded beer cans in his room I have deduced that he isn’t practising his religion too often these days. Who can blame him after the role he has seen religion play in the violence in his native land. Never the less, should he decide to revert to the practice of Islam then we have all the information at hand to help him access his cultural and religious needs and we get to tick the relevant boxes to demonstrate our compliance with the QAF.

Now, thankfully Tariq was a fluent English speaker and we didn’t have to provide him with any interpreting service. However, according to the QAF, “where necessary service users are able to communicate in forms other than English.” Perhaps, it would be more effective and helpful to teach service users with no English, to learn the native language, after all they will need it in applying for jobs or training. Surely this would be real support?

However, nowhere in the QAF does it outline that we are to assist people in grasping the rudiments of the official language of the country. I believe that this is due to the fact that the people that formulate these regulations are politically correct zealots who perceive that asking someone to learn or improve their English is tantamount to discrimination. This is nonsense. It is the best help that we can give migrants and would help them integrate in to our society and allow them to live freer lives as equal citizens.


RayD said...

Winston, your blog is an essential read. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to write it.

Graham said...

Winston, it's not 'politically correct zealots' that are stopping people from learning English; the government substantially cut its funding for ESOL education several years ago. Non-EU foreigners who want permanent residence need to prove their English profiency in an exam (either the Life In The UK test or an ESOL pass (grade 5?)). But if they don't have enough English to get a job, they won't be able to pay for classes. A cynic might think the policy was set up as a way to cut down the immigration figures...

Just as an aside, I know quite a few people who moved to Spain years ago who still speak only the most rudimentary Spanish. Funnily enough, a good proportion of them are Daily Heil types who left Britain due to 'politically correct zealots letting too many foreigners in who don't even speak our language'...

Of course you could ask why we need to pay to help foreigners to 'take our jobs', but I'd take the majority of the immigrants I know (declaration of interest, I married one) over your UK-born 'service users' any day. And I think you would too. Contrary to popular myth, most of them, like your Tariq, work their arses off in the sort of jobs that Wayne and Waynetta wouldn't even consider doing for a nano-second. If they show commitment, why shouldn't they get something back?

Anonymous said...

Winston , I work within the madness called children's services. I can identify with a significant amount of the things that you write about. Keep writing I enjoy the blog.

Anonymous said...

12 years of NuLabor has led to this, tho' it's very unlikely the Tories will change anything. As you say, all these policies sound great but all it really does is provide the bureaucrats with (well paid) work. I used to work as the Finance Officer for an inner-city "community centre and youth club" so I've seen it up close and personal too.
I despair of this country.
PS I'm a Christian, and yes, very bad things have been done in the name of Jesus (although He condemned violence, so anyone who commits violence in the name of Jesus has something wrong.) However, atheism has killed millions, too (stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc). It's just bad people who'll use any excuse, religion or whatever, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Seconded. This is a fantastic post.

JuliaM said...

Fantastic post.

Did like your Freudian typo though:"..given him an appreciation of living in a fee society.."

Don't change it. It fits perfectly...

Pete said...

Very interesting insights - please keep them coming.

Hogdayafternoon said...

I don't think there will be much support from the new Mayor of Doncaster either.

AsYouLikeIt said...

Please keep the posts coming. I check almost every day to see if you've added one.


WinstonSmith33 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
North Northwester said...

My tiny corner of the Welfare State contains a diverse Labour-loving majority of whom a minority are happy to hear that newly-elected MEPS have been physically assaulted at the Palace of Westminster and some of whom are quite happy to refer to gay people as queers but who can't bring themselves to offer congratulations to long-term colleagues who are leaving to work for the Immigration Service [sorry, the UK Border Agency] as their work is unthinkable. Go figure.

There are quite a few ordinary Joes and Janes who do their job in good faith and get along fine [Mrs. Northwester for one!] , but we're still pretty much a one-party State.

PC or not, it's still a cosy Gulag for the Labour Party and you get it, as it were, from both ends.

Hibbo said...

Anon 6 Jun - you are clearly a bible-bashing idiot; no-one has done ANYTHING because of atheism, atheism means not a theist, a lack of belief in any magic sky-pixies. Stalin and Pol Pot etc were evil nasty people, true they didn't believe in any gods, but (as far as I know) neither did they support West Brom, but none of those two facts were responsible for their actions.

Religion has got a hell of a lot to answer for. Keep on talking to your invisible friend by all means, but don't come out with tripe like that.


ajpatty said...

What a breath of fresh air. I wanna stand solitary at westminster with a plack "Cant stand the red tape, what happened to humanity"

Angela "forget the QAF" Paterson

Anonymous said...

Finally someone who dares to speak the truth. I really look forward to your next installment and I am so happy you have been nominated for this prize. I have been working in Social Housing now for ten years and I have seen and lived in the madness. I have often been accused of being too blunt when I work with clients simply because I challenge them as much as possible with regards to their choices. Er yeah!!!! when a homeless man who has previously fathered 4 children for 4 different women gets his new homeless girlfriend pregnant I offer my condolences NOT my congratulations. I was accused of being insensitive and not supportive (too bloody right I didn't want to support this). They were shocked when they realised that changes in the housing system would mean they would have to go for private rented housing as an option.
I have often said its no wonder you have a lost generation of teenagers out there who have been raised by the streets... when their parents only became parents primarily for the freedom of their own flat and to get away from their parents 15 years ago.
I often think if you can't beat this then the only option I have is to leave them to it and go and live somewhere where family is still valued and people employ tough love. I know I am going off on all different tangents but our organisation is about to be visited by one of the heads of supporting people and I am about to print as many entries off from your blog and place it in her hands and say "I think this might be of some interest to you". :o)