Blogs: A two way street

Blogs are more than just an online diary. They also make it possible for readers to interact with the writer – to offer their thoughts, ideas and responses. This is the real strength of blogs – they can become a two way conversation. However some technical glitches have made this difficult on Community Care’s website. Readers haven’t been able to access their own comments and its been difficult for bloggers to check them out. But now although I am not sure if everything is yet sorted, it does look as though some of these difficulties have been overcome. So I hope Community Care readers will feel encouraged to respond to blogs even more. I also have had a chance at last to look at some of the comments that my blogs have generated.

I have been keeping my blog diary now for eight months. That’s the longest diary I’ve kept in my whole life. Diaries – except as records of appointments – really ended for me in childhood.  I could never keep up the discipline. It was the usual thing, a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning of the year ,quickly turning into no more than a list of events, so and so’s birthday, so and so’s anniversary, then rapidly tailing off into blanks. But not this time.

One reader clearly felt I was mean spirited not to pay £4.00 to go and see Wandsworth’s bonfire night fireworks in Battersea Park, but instead watch them free from the river. It’s a reasonable point, but I am afraid that I have long had difficulty with ‘Mrs Thatcher’s favourite borough’, which seems to me to be one of the most mean spirited councils in the land, with its history of cutting and closing services so that it could claim to have the lowest council taxes in the Land.

Another reader made the important point that some social workers could be said to be doing quite well thank you – locum social workers  – in contrast to my view that social workers get little reward or recognition. That reader may indeed have a point, but I wonder if it isn’t a further statement of the low status of social work that it is only in such an insecure and potentially isolated role that social workers get material rewards that reasonably match the high levels of skill and human qualities that are truly required. That reader’s bigger points about the state of social work need to be taken very seriously.

Another reader pointed me to a really good photographic exhibition and I’m pleased to say I’ve had some encouraging comments too, for which many thanks. They really keep you going. Blogs also get to be mentioned on other blogs and people come up and talk to you about them. Thanks again.

But the  feedback that has given me the biggest buzz relates to the Blog I wrote about the new statue of Nelson Mandela (November 21st 2005). The hope has been that it should go up in Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery. At the turn of the year, John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister reported on the result of the inquiry held in response to Westminster Council’s objection to the statue being sited there. He supported their objection, so now at least although the struggle goes on, the statue is in limbo. Shame on you politician! I was so pleased to read the response that came from one reader, which I’ll quote from:

What a fabulous statue of Nelson Mandela. (from a South African, but now British citizen and British-trained social worker, local authority children and families. Nelson Mandela is a truly great international statesman and politician, who despite years of incarceration could still preach peace and forgiveness. I remember the first general election when white and black stood in line together for the first time, to vote. It was peaceful, relaxed and everyone felt the enormity of the moment – it was a day to be proud to be a South African. Westminster politicians should be proud to have a great man like Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square. He gave half his presidential salary to a children’s’ charity, he prevented a civil war in a country torn apart by hatred and racism, and promoted reconciliation and forgiveness. Can any ‘comfortable’ British politician truly say this is not a great man of our time?

Who could put this better? Come on Westminster Council. Come on Mr. Prescott. It really is time to show Mr Mandela the respect that he deserves and where better can that be demonstrated than Trafalgar Square? Meanwhile readers, please keep the comments coming!!

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