Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What a lovely day - shame about the social workers..

The first decent day of weather today, and for a while too.

So rather than be out there on the garden we spent it on all sorts of social worky meetings and things. Stat R's.

We ploughed our way through the mire, they were actually a bit on message and the suggestion little D spent weekends home with mum didn't even get off the floor.

But it was a lot of hours out of a day to waste on things we already had a grip on.

Later though we had meetings number two.

The meeting about renewable energy on this site, this firm want to lease a bit of land here to site a big bunch of small wind generators to sell into a feed in tarriff which in theory we will claim but in reality they will take the money from for themselves.

I am a bit dubious, they pay us ground rent to put a serious ammount of generators here it was all very soft sell, the most lethal sell of all.


Monday, 27 June 2011

Should have held a party!! Mowed the lawn instead.

I should have held a party, or at least tried to write something a bit clever.

Exactly 8 posts ago was my 1000th.

It's interesting to look at the bottom of the blog though and see what floated peoples boats and got them reading.

Some of it I liked when I wrote it, some of it I am  less impressed with at the time or now.

But anyway the student has been all studenty for the last time this academic year.

She came home with her portfolio from her practice learning wotsit.

Now lets get all social work here, she does her placement which is about doing the job and she can either pass  or fail that. Then she produces the document that talks about what she did and thats an academic piece of work. So she could be  crap at the job (which is not true they were foaming at the mouth about how good she is) but if she explains why within a academic framework she is a waste of space she gets a first class honours degree in social work. We don't have any issues with that do we?

She loved her time with the advocacy mob, I went there once and thought they rocked.

While she was there a meeting took place for a man who was a first language Welsh speaker, the social worker was not, so it was assumed the meeting would be in her first language not his, and it was. Let's look at that from a perspective of empowering people to take control of their lives. What did it tell him about who had power. 

Now the student god bless her had lots of other issues with how this social worker worked and diluted them.

Gosh she is getting to be a social worker allready.

But her academic reviewer suggested that challenging someones practice was to be avoided. Lift the carpet and sweep it under.

She then went on to suggest the student should have mentioned the Welsh dimension using amongst other things; isolation, rural poverty and unemployment. Now I am a bit simple but the for me Welsh dimension was about the discrimination and individual disempowerment.

The isolation, rural poverty and unemployment are actually macro issues as live in the village we spend time in in Brittany as they are here. I will let you have the fact that the Assembly has been far better engaged with them than for example Westminster but thats just that we were been better governed whilst Rhodri was involved now we have the nice but dim Carwyn. Wales has been far better served than  Brittany  as Wales ais since the 50's kicked a bit of bottom wheras Brittany was alllways a distant bit of French colony, like Martinique but slightly more bolshy.

These  are issues in Poland too and Yorkshire, so Wales is defined by rural poverty and unemployment? Errrr  sorry I think you could call that rascism.

Ooops overstepped the mark

Friday, 24 June 2011

Sometimes things are not as good as they seem.

Been a funny old day today.

Yesterday was spent messing about with motors with a trip out to take Bethan to her training place, this was an excuse to take our eldest for lunch in a lovely pub on the beach whilst watching the Irish Ferry leave the Haven.

It's a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

Today was a running round morning followed by a day stopped in it's tracks by rain.

Thank goodness we cancelled the party tomorrow.

Oh and the phone number the social work manager gave us is wrong - thats a relief actually, prooves he is the same social worker he ever was.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

It's not what but who you know.

As I mentioned yesterday we are being courted to take on a young man who might be a one man demolition team for a period of weeks and I think I might have hinted that I was underwhelmed by the show so far.

This morning the phone made noises and a senior manager was asking to speak to us in person about the case, he knew lots about it, he had read the file and really wanted to share all he knew about the situation.

The voice on the phone was instantly familiar, though it was no longer the person under siege, trying to get a young person and his whole family out of town because he was up his neck in merde, had a film crew following the young persons every move and senior people in the council suggesting things courses like  sacking  him for running a service within the budgets they had voted for..

In that case about ten years ago, we hid a family from the media till all had calmed and probably saved his career. Not sure what it did for the young person but he was a lovely Jack the lad type so I bet he  is doing OK.

So when it came back up the line that this family in West Wales were prepared to take on this young person for 6 weeks - yes I have at the back of my head that might be a smoke screen for "get him out of here for a couple of years", the maager recognised the names, was prepared to stop his day and get on the phone to us, in person.

I don't think it should be like that but - there we are.

We have mums phone number and, regardless of the boxes filled with ticks we are going to be getting it from the horses mouth.

Or in social work speak we will be doing an assessment and the people who are doing it are ones we trust - ourselves. 

I am a bit clearer, this is not a family unknown to the service but I still don't get any answers as to why  oh why they are not throwing the money at keeping the young man home.

Then again that's just me kicking against neo liberalism again, why should I advocate for something that is likely to be appropriate, effective and deliver a good outcome when I can have something that is profitable for me.

This is the model we are being asked to work to, take the money and run.

Munro is proposing something sensible, what we will get is most likely not.


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ill winds blow no good - maybe not.

Now this cut back in public spending is a terrible thing to behold

Things that were here yesterday just are not here today.

We have taken a 10 year holiday from what we would call proper fostering. Not strictly true as we have done some quite complex work with the D's.

We are though completely yesterdays fostering as we live 100 miles from Daycasle and fostered children must be kept inside the county

Of course when it's us or a 3000 pounds a week residential placement we can seem suddenly oh so very attractive again.

You might know that we have done some piece work recently, last week we got called up about another young person.

Years ago when we first started, information about young people got shoved at us in droves. One day we went out and came home to find that the whole fresh roll of fax paper was all over the kitchen as we copped for the lot and got left to sift through it.

Then we went through a phase where only "professionals" could read files and we were excluded from information we needed to guarantee day to day safety.

Examples of this are someone who was a suicide risk and this being deemed confidential and so we did not "need to know".

There were also cases where things that put other children in the house at serious risk were withheld, in one case the looked after children would be removed if a former young person came to the house as the service had to protect them, there were 4 of our children living here who of course could be placed at risk

But anyway I digress

We have significant progress, today no child is placed without a "risk assessment".

We don't actually get a copy of this, it could after all get a bit embarrassing if this turned out to be wrong.

We get a risk assessment read to us over the phone, not by the person who did it but by a fostering officer who is not of course a social worker registered with the care council but basically a flunky

So we have had this delivered about this young lad and it seems we are a bit challenging.

"He was very rude and aggressive to a Police Officer but apologised later"

Fine by me but the question I wanted to know about was why the copper was there in the first place.

Was I being silly asking that?

It was question too hard time.

We got through things with a raft of other questions which eventually got answered this morning along with an announcement that the social worker then was not his social worker now.

We do a lot of talk about placements changing but what about social workers too, This is not at all directed at them as of course they should get out of bad teams but about their managers who should keep them on side, who should be explaining why they are losing their staff at hemorrhage rate. That could be some conversation: "The budget you set means the workload is impossible so the staff are leaving in droves" is another of those hard to put in the tick box things.

Lets go back to this lad though, Where things got well uncomfortable was our suggestion that we didn't need to speak to the social worker, we needed to speak to the mum who was struggling to cope, to find out what was really going on. Put another way, we had received the third hand information about this young person, we wanted the issues from the mouth of the horse.

Suggesting that the services role was to work holistically and identify what would need to go in to enable this family to hang together and deliver good enough parenting for this young man is about good social work not being a social worker.

There wasn't a box for that on the form that could be ticked for that either. It's about doing the job not filling the form.

There seems to be a culture that makes it all about National Occupational Standards that are about lists of competencies, filling in forms and not doing what people need and our daft idea that we need to speak to mum and determine what would make it work are really dangerous.

How this fits in with personalisation and how this reflects what this young man needs is beyond me.

I know there are both practitioners and academics reading this, your answers would be welcome..


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday sunday....

My is the student ever happy.

We hauled ourselves out of bed this morning to take little D to see his mum. We do this every month. D himself put the kettle on to make sure we had coffee, in the process knocking the tea jar which fell out of the cupboard landing in a cloud of tea and thousands of pieces on the floor.

Dealt with and away to meet mum half way, well no, Mum you see has a range of responsibilities such as "looking after the kitten" which sadly, prevent her coming to get her son, this job falling to step dad. Step dad by the way being the person we normally make the arrangements with.

So anyway step dad was conspicuous by his absence, half an hour passed and we phoned our house, no phone calls registered there. Phone mums house no reply. Phoning 10 minutes later we were told they had not yet woken (at 10.45) and had a few things to do but they would be along in an hour or two and we could sit and wait for them.

The student took the news not at all well and we came home. Mind you she seemed to calm a bit when I experimented a bit with the VTR, the phrase "not getting in a car with you again" was heard and indeed our next little trip out was to drop off Bethan which involved the C5 and a student in the driving seat.

Now, you would have thought that the mother would be very apologetic and on the phone saying so, and if you thought that you would be wrong.

The student is quietly livid, the annual review in a couple of weeks could be "interesting", especially if the dippy idiot who is the reviewing officer suggests weekends at home again.


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Welcome to the party

Last year we had an "official" 18th for my eldest.

That was a party separated by months from her birthday but which was still classed as her birthday

This year we planned to do the same for the twins, well not really Mr Moneybags Taliesin is too tight for anything like a party so it's his socialite sisters party really.

We had an idyllic time last year a fantastic party in a field with a fire pit barbecue and tents.

A small PA added ambiance and, all in all it was great.

Party started at 4PM on Saturday last guests left at about 8 PM - Sunday.

This weather though is making it really hard to work out when to hold it.

We had looked at next weekend but thats looking really impractical a party in the park is great a party in the rain - less so.

Also there is fostering to think of, they claim to have a raft of teenies lined up for us, would a party then be the right thing?

Maybe not. Going to have one anyway but it could turn life all complex

Then we have a music festival and a steam fair penciled in too.

This could turn complicated.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

What a suprise in store.

The student as I might have previously noted is a bit known for her brisk driving style. She could not get on at all with the 106 something I can relate to, it does take a level of heaving on the wheel to get it round corners that can be a bit tedious. It also has a habit when pushed, of making American car cornering noises that she does not enjoy at all.

So it's joined the 806 on the transfer list, especially after the deal that got cut on the VTR that's sat outside with it's rorty ness slightly curbed by a handful of stove pipe cement (fraction of the cost of the proper car exhaust type putty).

The VTR was a big hit when it first arrived, she loved it, Taliesin, his mate broken down a few miles away, moved several cars to get it out to go to the rescue.

I am sort of thinking though, she has been driving the C5, a lot. The C5 is quite forgiving on the steering, under normal driving very soft really.

The VTR is pin sharp, jumpy even, acceleration is there on the C5 but not the slingshot warp drive reaction of the VTR.

So, I am going to surmise that at some stage she got out of the "sofa" and got into the "rocket sledge" what happened next I will never know but I expect it involved a bit of torque steer, quite indecent acceleration combined with pin sharp steering.

Whatever happened she has been telling me what a nice car the VTR is when you don't push it, and she has become Ms Steady. Ms very steady..,

Today though  things took the turn comedic. I arrived at Bookers and the phone rang, a puzzled voice asked if it was me. That's the sort of question I can answer with reasonable confidence, I'm pretty sure who I am. So, having confirmed that, it turned out a colleague from uni had answered an ad for an 806 in the paper. Phoned the house, been given my mobile number, then having typed it in to the mobile had the phone recognise my name.

Bit of an odd conversation as, over the years, I have punted the odd car here and there. Not enough to be a professional but enough to buy cars through the trade run them for a bit then sell them on for more than we paid for them.

This has worked well, people I don't remember have come to me and said they bought a car off me years ago. Best thing they ever bought, they've had it ever since 1980 starts first time every time it's done 500 million miles and they haven't checked the oil yet, etc etc etc.

Then a mate comes to you and asks you to find them a car, so you do, you sell it to them, for what it cost you, shortly after they come back. They didn't bother to change the cam belt when they should and it snapped 5000 miles later after the engine seized because they never check the oil and someone crashed into the car while it was parked by the side of the road All of which is obviously your fault, and you should refund them the market value of the car if it was pristine low mileage fully serviced and working at the point at which the mud and oil encrusted shed died.

I even sold one person a car, got regaled with all the "problems", so gave the person a 100 percent refund then got held to ransom after  I sorted the problems and ran the car for 2 years with no problems.

So of course it was a tricky call.

I could have been sat in meetings for the next five years looking at someone who had bought a car off me which had exploded on the way home killing her husband and her children

Not for me...


Monday, 13 June 2011

what a wonderfull new product. fostering essential equipment

I have come across a wonder full device a must have in fact.

There is a device called an ecomaster. This is designed so you can check the electricity consumption in your house at any time. You can also turn any connected device off, remotely.

No more






"my electricity my house, if you want the power on you will need to negociate"

For foster carers of teenies this is an absolute must have.

I must have one of those...


Sunday, 12 June 2011

Giving everyone the bird.

So the summer has landed upon us with a vengeance.

The wind is blowing and the rain is falling...

The student has decided to give everyone the bird and get chickens. She has done the maths if we get three chickens we should get 21 eggs a week. Taking in start up costs they will cost 60 each in the first year. That's pretty dear, though of course like is not being compared with like when one egg is a factory egg and the other proper free range

The costs it seems drop to 3p each in years 2 and three with the chickens being converted to lunch in year 4. I didn't point out to the student that it's normal to write initial set up costs down over several years not in year one but it's keeping her happy on a horrid and wet afternoon.

It's an afternoon which could use a bit of excitement and there is not a lot going on. Excite is something you seem to get lots of when you are young, then calm down a bit as you age. Certainly i was brought up in an exciting town, a frontier town  excitement there was someone running down the main street with an assault rifle. No one thought to dial 999 as the protagonists might find out who had done the deed. I always thought pool tables were provided to encourage people not to break furniture. You always knew that if someone went over and picked up a cue or a player was wondering where a couple of the balls had gone as you noted someone was no longer wearing socks, it was time to nip into the other bar until the bedlam had died down.

When the hub of crime in town was selected for a police raid, none of the local bobbies were prepared to be any part of it. They drafted in Police from 20 miles away, mind you on the day of the raid, this pub which was a veritable den of iniquity was as quiet as a grave ande clean as a whistle, something we thought more than odd by a lot of people.

Last week I drove through the centre of town and there were chairs and tables everywhere, nothing odd in that. The strange thing was they had been carried through doors not thrown through windows and people were sitting on them not throwing them at each other. Maybe the town has calmed down a bit since I decided to get out. On the top road there was a sign proclaiming and exciting new estate of houses being built by Mr Barrett, if that's "exciting" then the place has really turned boring...

In fact I would say a wet afternoon in Penole offers more excitements..

Summer is here

Summer really is here at last...

I don't think I have ever had the log stove lit in June before.



Saturday, 11 June 2011

I've been driving in my car.

Today was started at silly o clock for a Saturday and a run out to drop Bethan at work.

The magic carpet C5 then eased us 50 miles North to where the seller of the VTR was, very sensibly, still in bed.

For her own and, I am sure very well thought out reasons, the student then headed off in exactly the wrong direction for home. She did eventually change course and we ended up pointed for home. We took in a auction we used to do en route and she noted the time and date of the next one - not a good sign.

The VTR is a real monster car, personally I love it, goes like a rat up a drain pipe but if you are not in a hurry it's a nice car to drive too.

The last stretch home, our B road back lane special stage, she claims she was not trying but was seriously amused at the faces I was pulling trying to keep up in the monster C5. She might not have been trying but I certainly was!!!

We've done 1300 miles since buying the C5 and it is on it's second tank of fuel.

OK so a tank is about 70 litres.

That's good, very good.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Monitoring writing

You might have noticed a little logo on my blog for statcounter, this is a little thing that monitors how many people click on my blog every day and where they come from.

I have been getting a bit perturbed that I seem to have an avid reader in Scranton USA. Isn't that where the CIA are based?

Next time you see me I might be in Cuba wearing an Orange overall....

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Panorama and people.

For the overseas readers the BBC do a headline documentary called Panorama.

Last week they pulled a bit of a journalistic coup, they got inside a private care home and revealed some pretty terrible abuses by care staff who were running a reign of terror.

There has been a national outcry, media frenzy and general governmental tutting that they will make sure it never happens again. There have been arrests and promises that people will be charged.

Whether they mean using poorly trained, badly paid staff, to "care" for people, in usually understaffed places, to warehouse the vulnerable and economically sidelined in profit points for the private sector will not happen. Or will it mean they will stop anyone ever finding out what happens in those places, is not clear.

This week they did a programme about children living in poverty. It was truly grim, easily as grim as last week.

Trouble is this is about people being poor on benefits, somewhere where there are serious cuts in prospect.

Children living in misery and damp and spores and missing meals and lacking clothes and being bullied and driven to attempt suicide. A young man transformed by 9 pounds spent on his haircut. You could almost measure how that haircut changed his view of himself. That was a young man of 12 who anyone would be proud of. It broke my heart and drove me to despair too.

Humanity has been silent. The government is not up in arms. The previous government set itself a target of removing child poverty, but then carried on an economic system that guaranteed it's continuation.

We are the only ones who can change this, maybe the spring should not be limited to the Arab world.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Wild weekend

There was a time when a wild weekend would have involved music beer tents and frivoloty.

Now our wild weekend meant a hitching of the caraven to the 806, lots of pressure washing to make it look presentable. Then out with the boat on to it's trailer and seriously powerwash that.

A constant procession to the burning pit and lots of burning.

Finally Branwen and I heaved the 25 horse power outboard to the car and put it in the boot of the simply massive C5.

The date for Branwens official birthday party has been set a facebook event page opened and we are away!!


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Changed ideas.

Obviously, things have changed. The guy drove past the top of the drive and well suprise suprise he could see bugger all.

So now we have the nightmare scenario, a surveyor is coming to call on Monday.

The nightmare is not the surveyor but the student who will have us chasing our tails for 3 days making the place look worth more than a decent 3 bed semi in town


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A house surveyed.

As part of the new financial deal the house has needed to be surveyed and valued.

This has produced a flurry of activity, extra areas put to the mower, paint has been thrown around a mass tidy of everything to make all appear a bit more orderly so the surveyor will give the place a high value.

So far so good. Then of course as we tore round the county in the C5 the phone burbled and it was the valuer. He who is only allowed to view the house from the top of the drive (half a mile away) and from there guess how much it is worth. You really could not make this stuff up. Though of course it means all that work is for nothing.

Well no it might be for quite a lot only the valuer will never see it.