Over the years since Bev died I feel like there have been so many let downs from a system that could only be seen as totally broken. I look back over the this period and think that if I had approached it from the perspective of that I was alone in walking out of the fire that life had become it would have been easier. If you have to depend on yourself then you will make better decisions that you can only blame yourself if they go wrong.
Where I am right now I look at the various people and organisations that have let us down and think we would have been in a much better place without them. I suppose I have to look at the decisions to engage with various organisations and people as a choice I made. Therefore I have to take the responsibility for the mess. Then another part of me views it as “if the organisations worked the way they say they do” it would be very different. There is a very marked difference in how these organisations think they work and how it feels to be entangled with them.
I offer a few examples below.
Respite - Bedeburn
We took our time entering into this endeavour. It was a very difficult thing to do to entrust my beautiful boy to strangers. So we took our time. Lots of visits. Lots of acclimatisation. Lots of conversations. Lots of what felt like assurances about the care he would be given.
How wrong I was. The assurances became platitudes. The care was disgusting. The staff should be ashamed of themselves.
Bedeburn as a service failed Tam by putting him in an impossible position and then they abandoned him and me. As a service it is not fit to look after dried cattle excrement.
Firstly I will say that I have come across some excellent staff in my interactions with CYPS. Lauren and Tom both helped us so much. However as a service they are a massive failure. So many things wrong that I will only draw attention to a few things.
Crisis support service - Well contact is via a phone number that is not always manned. Then when it is you are not allowed to talk to a doctor. They pass the message on to the doctor and pass on the advice from the doctor back and chinese whispers win the day. I had multiple incidents where the information relayed in either direction was wrong and once was not even to do with us. Secondly, any home visit with the staff is very difficult to get and has to have the police involved. So the length of time from the crisis starting to help being requested to any help being provided is ridiculous. In reality dealing with the crisis team just adds to the anxiety and makes the situation worse. Best to just imagine it does not exist, because in reality it does not serve the purpose that is described.
- Continuity of service - The staff turnover is huge. Good people come and go. Bad people stay.
- Attitude to parents - I had one incident I will never forgive them for disregarding both Tam and myself.
- Importance of self on the individual and disregard for either Tams wellbeing or my need to make sure he was ok.
Newcastle City Childrens Services as a service are a mess. In particular the management of the service is lost in it’s own sense of self importance in looking after staff.
- Progress being stalled due to someone not being in work. How can this be allowed.
- hundreds of people being involved in one case (this is from emails and Teams meetings over 5 years)
- 4 people doing the same thing without communication
- No minutes of meetings or communication of outcomes, tasks or reasons for the meeting
- people not being able to communicate what their role is
- Use of language intentionally to obfuscate what is happening.
- more holidays taken than Thomas Cook used to sell.
- Lying in a public office (more to come on this one)
A better idea
Well with all of this said what is the solution for parents in a similar position that me and Tam found ourselves in?
Well it is simple. Take the ability away from these public funded people and get rid of them. Replace them with private companies that are not allowed to employee any of the people that worked in public bodies. Make laws that give the private companies boundaries, practices and oversight that makes it obvious what is expected and stand back and see a dramatic improvement in communication, deadlines, operational practices and a saving in costs of operating the business.
I say all of this and add that the companies have to be allowed to make a profit and need careful oversight within well defined rules. Then let the system develop and improve. It is simple. It is a far better idea than what we have now.
None of this crap of propping up failed systems with more public money. None of this crap of public servants making sure they are comfortable and feeling important over the service they provide. None of this adding more crap to a process to fix a problem that can be fixed far better by removing part of a process. None of the rotten culture that seems to be breed into public servants.
The better idea is get rid of this rotten approach to looking after children and families that need support and help. The better idea is to make sure that our taxes support a system that works accepting that the companies are allowed to make a profit. At least then the support will be forthcoming and actively managed.