stepping up to social work…..

Two days to go until my assessment day for the Step Up to Social Work programme and. I am getting excited for what lies in store. I am not anxious (not yet anyway).

Hubby is getting jittery, reminding me that I have a perfectly good job to stay in  and that it pays well. Why is it that every time he says this I get a sick feeling in my stomach and I instantly want to distance myself from him?

This is not a healthy reaction but I feel that (once again) he is trying to steer me  down a path that he prefers. He has been doing this unwittingly since I was I my late teens and I have been trying and failing to resist ever since. 

I feel he is just waiting for the right reason to Kaibosh all my plans and he is keeping his fingers crossed that something will come up that will mean I can’t continue.

It’s horrible knowing someone you love doesn’t want you to do the thing you know you will love (but at times also find tough).

We shall just have to see how it goes.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

A housing policy that pulls the plug

Interesting stories from The Observer this week…

Rowan Jones in the Observer profiles how London is beginning to lose its identity as the things that make the city special – the markets, pubs, high streets and communities – are becoming unrecognisable. He cites numerous examples where local authorities are planning “regeneration” projects, which he says are in fact demolition exercises, which obliterate social housing legacies for the sake of new developments with fewer social housing units.

Daniel Boffey gathers reaction to the government’s plans to offer 1.3m social housing tenants the option to buy their homes at a discount through the right-to-buy. James Murray, executive member of housing and development at Islington Council, says it is possible that local authorities in inner London will have to sell every new council home they build, as soon as they are ready, to finance the Conservative’s giveaway. He says it could be the death knell of the council home. Meanwhile, Henry Gregg, assistant director of communications and campaigns at the National Housing Federation, questions whether it was legitimate to bring in a new policy, given its frailties. “At a time when we need to be increasing the overall supply of social housing, it is like trying to fill a bathtub with the plug taken out,” he states. Mark Field, the Tory MP for Cities of London and Westminster, has called for a rethink on the policy: “It is a policy that arose during the election. There are some iniquities that need to be ironed out.”

Makes sense doesn’t it – spend money building them for people who can’t afford to buy their own home, then sell them off.

So the struggle to replace the council housing hole that Was started in the Thatcher years continues..

This blog is for UNICEF. Thanks for reading.

Salary to student

Yesterday I worked at an all day large scale event, spending lots of time (as part of my job) looking at a screen doing social media, so forgive me for not wanting to look at a screen last night to do a blog post. So £1 in the pot to UNICEF.

I had a lovely day at home today seeing my Dad and Stepmum for a belated Father’s Day. Hubby cooked the meal as I was knackered (I milked it rotten about working a 6 day week). Then spent time in the garden and enjoying one another’s company. Later I did some housecleaning and had a rare moment of feeling house proud. So proud in fact that I have taken to indulging a little if my earnings each month to buying something for the house. This month it was a couple of towels, next month I have my eyes on some cute ceramic toothbrush pots nod a soap rush holder from my fave shop Susie Watson. I would also like to squeeze in a pair of sandals in the sale at Anthropologie.

Part of me wanting to indulge now while I have a salary before I start as a student in social work next year. My husband is warming to the idea but more like lukewarm. My Mum, bless her, is willing to help out financially if needs be to help me through the course – bet she didn’t think I would need help as a student again in my 30s ……

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

sleepwalking society

Crisis warns the UK is ‘sleepwalking’ into a homelessness crisis….

More than 93,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation, the highest level since 2008, according to government figures. They include more than 2,500 families with children who are staying in bed and breakfast-style accommodation. This was 35% more than a year earlier. Overall the number of households, including those without children, accepted as homeless by their council has risen 8% across England and 9% in London, statistics from the DCLG showed. Ministers said more than £500m was available to support homeless families. Campaigners warned that the figures show that local authorities were running out of capacity to house families in need, with Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, warning that England is “sleepwalking into a homelessness crisis”.

With right to buy schemes squeezing out families in need of housing, being sent out of their council homes on lucrative land and pushed further afield, what kind of society are we travelling towards other than a very negatively segregated one?

This blog is for UNICEF, thanks for reading.

Long overdue advocacy scheme to protect children from trafficking

A good move – the introduction of a Statutory child trafficking advocates scheme (extract from LGIU Policy update)

Frank Field’s review and the pre-legislative scrutiny committee heard evidence that children are not being adequately supported as they navigate the complexities of the social care system as well as the immigration criminal justice systems. This was seen as important for a number of reasons including that children are deemed to be especially vulnerable to going missing and re-trafficking if they are not properly supported.

In response the Government is conducting a trial of independent child advocates in twenty three local authority areas whereby a specialist advocate is allocated to a child who has been referred via the National Referral Mechanism. Their role will be to steer the child through the complexities of the social care system as well as the immigration and criminal justice systems, and to ensure the child’s voice is heard.

The Act places a duty on the Secretary of State to make independent advocates available for all child victims of trafficking, after a trial has concluded, provided that both Houses of Parliament pass resolutions that this is the correct way to proceed. This scheme, including the detail of the role, will be established by secondary legislation (subject to affirmative resolutions being passed by both Houses of Parliament). The interim trail evaluation was published in March 2015 and can be found here (PDF document).”

The idea of having an advocate for vulnerable children, particularly those who are in care and/or going through immigration procedures is long overdue but of course a relief that it is finally happening.

This blog supports UNICEF, protecting vulnerable children worldwide – trafficking is a crime and an abuse that many children suffer on a global scale so policies to help tackle this are heartening to read.

What I like when getting old

There is something about getting older that changes some of the things you like and dislike.

I am not talking about knick knacks – bizarrely I have always liked collecting little trinkets to gather dust, ever since I was a kid. I have noticed my daughter has the same bug, which makes dusting her dresser and shelves very very tricky. Good job I don’t do it that often.

No, my obsession since hitting my 30s is as follows:

– hand cream (my search for the elusive moisturising cream that lasts a long time and smells divine continues)

– interior decorating and ceramics. I enjoy reading Country Living (although confess it slipped into my bag at self checkout when I saw the price!!)

– fabrics, towels, tablecloths

– cream teas and herbal teas

However, I also like:

– motorbikes

– Motorsport in general

– roller coasters 

– blokey, explosions every 5 seconds movies

I am a self confessed ‘oddball’ but that’s just me.

My downfall is all of this is expensive, typically. Which is why it helps to be into these things when you are slightly older and (hopefully) have a bit more pocket money.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

the problem is….where do I begin

Today’s problems sending this country backwards are mostly…

Partly due to a bigoted and ruthless approach to immigration….

‘The Royal College of Nursing has warned that thousands of foreign nurses working in junior posts in the UK could be forced to return home under new immigration rules. A new migrant pay threshold means non-European workers will have to leave the UK after six years if they are not earning at least £35,000. The RCN said the rules would “cause chaos” for the NHS and waste money spent on recruitment.’

If I was foreign I would have left this country years ago as it has taken me 18 years to reach this figure – another sign of a Goverrnment completely out of touch with large sections of society.

Mainly due to a Government that wishes us to return to a period when you either earnt money or you died in poverty. Understand where they are coming from but it isn’t real life – what happens to the children brought up with low earnings (who are they trying to kid suggesting wages will go up and taxes will go down)  arrogant bloomin Tories!!!

‘David Cameron will today confirm a further £12bn of cuts to the welfare budget. The Prime Minister will use a speech to say that the Conservatives will encourage hundreds of thousands of people into work by transforming Britain “from a low-wage, high-tax, high-welfare society to a higher-wage, lower-tax, lower-welfare society”. In response, Labour leadership frontrunner Andy Burnham pledged to oppose any attempt to cut benefits for the disabled or tax credits for those on low incomes. The Guardian says savings are most likely to come at the expense of working-age young people, families with children, and people on housing benefit, while the Independent quotes a warning from the Chartered Institute of Housing, which argues larger families could be priced out of their current homes because they would not be left with enough money to cover their rent.’

As per my previous paragraph, surprise, surprise this is the consequence…

‘Leading charities are warning that child poverty is on course for the biggest rise in a generation, reversing the steady improvements of the last two decades. Calculations from the IFS have suggested that progress between the late 1990s and 2010 has been reversed and that the number of children living in relative poverty rose from 2.3m in 2013 to 2.6m 2014. The introduction of the bedroom tax and cuts in benefits between 2013 and last year are blamed for fuelling the rise, and the Child Poverty Action Group has warned that the problem looks certain to grow for several more years with the government committed to a further £12bn of benefit cuts.’

On a lighter note, but not light enough, here, here to clover who wants to let the grass grow and save the bees – how much Government money could be saved from a reduction in grass cutting?

‘Charles Clover urges councils to refrain from cutting back verges in June. He says such action suppresses wild flowers, bees and birds, and ignores the pollinator strategy launched last November, which stresses the need to protect the 1,500-odd species of bees, moths and butterflies that populate verges.’

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

going under for better outcomes

My poor dog has been spayed. It was a tough decision but readers of this blog will know the issues we have had. 

She was so excited to be travelling with me in the car, without her Mum, thinking she was on a special outing. It reminds me of a doggy birthday card you can get with a picture of a dog gazing out of the car window chanting to himself ‘park not vets…..park not vets’.

She was still excited when we walked into the vets. It wasn’t until the nurse came to take her away that she started to try and follow me and was straining against the lead as I walked out.

Made me recall how my Mum in Law must have felt when she took the family Labrador to the vets to be put to sleep when he was diagnosed with leaukeamia. My father in law encouraged her to hand the dog over and just leave. I can’t believe he insisted that she do that – that must have been so hard to watch her dog be led away knowing that was the last time she was ever going to see him. As hard as it would have been, I would stay with them until the end.

I watched a documentary about human euthanasia, where people go to Switzerland to end their lives. I never forget watching an old man and his wife go to the Swiss clinic having taken the decision after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He wanted to do it, but it must have been incredibly difficult for his wife as she sat next to him while he drank the lethal cocktail. Particularly when he flinched slightly and reached out before he took his last gasp. The finality of death is incomprehensible.

All these thoughts went through my head after leaving the vets. Afterwards when she returned home she was clearly in pain and wouldn’t eat. Thankfully she is almost back to normal having taken painkillers and eaten a diet of scrambled egg and chicken. Just have to wait for the stitches to heal now. Then it will be the turn of her mother so that we can hopefully get rid of the female hormones that cause the fights.

Hormones are a bitch.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

a day well spent 

One in 20 children in England was referred to social services last year, figures from the NSPCC disclose. The charity found that social services departments dealt with just under 660,000 referrals from neighbours, teachers, medical staff and other members of the public about the welfare of 570,800 children in the 12 months to March 2014. It also revealed that the number of children in the child protection system has risen by 80% in the past 12 years.
These statistics demonstrate that as a society we are taking child protection seriously and are acknowledging that it is a responsibility for all of us. 

I had a fascinating day today learning about the role of independent visitors and had the chance to meet a child from a children’s home and her visitor. They were clearly very much enjoying one another’s company. I must admit the visitor was such a lovely lady, I would have enjoyed going out and having fun with her as a child myself. Despite having 8 grandchildren, this lovely lady still found time and room in her heart to help make life enjoyable for another child who deserved a break from the children’s home – what a lady.

I have submitted my application form and it will take about 6 months to go through the approval process and I can’t wait to be matched with a child and share monthly outings with them

There may be times when they don’t want to go with me or they might be stroppy or upset but that’s all good in the Indy visitor of – after a lifetime of adults either disappointing them or telling them what to do, it’s no wonder reactions are varied. But those that want it benefit hugely from the experience and make friends for many many years.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

100% the right thing to do

£2 in the Unicef pot for two missed posts – it has been an immensely busy week for many reasons.

Most exciting is that I have enrolled on an independent visitor scheme, which involves taking a child out of a care home or foster home for the day to give them a bit of respite and a chance to have some fun from their day to day life. My role would be like an auntie, so not too close but enough for them to be relaxed and enjoy company once they get to know me.

It is once a month for at least two years, but obviously this keeps going for many years as you never lose contact.

I am very excited about this and I feel will be an amazing thing to be involved with regardless of whether or not I become a social worker.

I will let you know how it goes.

In a separate post, please sign a petition, if you haven’t done so already, against the barbaric dog meat eating festival in China. The dogs and cats are kept in inhumane conditions and slaughtered in a horrible way. There is simply no need for this tradition and the suffering these animals endure, many of them former pets, is unthinkable. Join actor Ricky Gervais in signing this petition here.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.