From the vaults

Twenty years ago

 Sexism was rife in social work training education in September 1987, according to the newly formed pressure group Women and Social Work Education. The group claimed the new social care certificate would discriminate against women.

They were concerned that the content of the course – unless balanced correctly – would reinforce the belief that lower level caring skills were “women’s work”.

How right they were. Twenty years later, a European Commission report says that women still earn 15% less than men on average. This is because of the high proportion of women in part-time work – more than 40% – compared with an EU average of 31.2%. And what are many of them doing? Working part-time in caring roles.

 Quality journalism prevailed – not. The Sun ran the front page headline “You Spastics” after an alleged taunt made by Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips to a group of photographers. The Spastics Society – as Scope was known back then – was quick off the mark to capitalise on Rupert Murdoch’s redtop blunder.

Three days later a Spastics Society advert appeared in several of the Sunday newspapers containing the headline with the slogan “four million newspapers sold at our expense” written underneath. Evidently there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Ten years ago

 A woman who campaigned for the closure of a residential home for people with learning disabilities next door to her faced criminal charges in September 1997. Catherine Clark, from Purley in Surrey, placed posters in her and neighbours’ front gardens complaining about the “noisy 12 people” in the care home. Unsurprisingly the residents of the home were offended by her display of signs berating them. But they should count their blessings. Nowadays they’d probably receive an Asbo.

 National Care Homes Association chief executive Sheila Scott warned that most private care homes would struggle to implement a minimum wage of around £4 an hour. Unsurprisingly she blamed the downward pressure on fees from social services rather than on an overwhelming desire by homes to make large profits. Some things don’t change.

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