The spirit of Marie Antoinette (right) is alive and well. Shelter are publicising its “Make a time for Cake week (19-25 April), which is all about raising money for its campaigning work for the homeless by baking and eating cakes. The campaign even has Sarah Beeny from TV’s the Property Ladder chipping in with “Whether you’re a kitchen goddess or you just want to indulge your sweet tooth, Cake Time is the perfect opportunity to raise money for homeless and badly housed people.” Meanwhile, Shelter’s workers have been on strike after being told they face pay cuts of £2,000 or more or redundancy. One worker on the picketline said “I am the main breadwinner in my family, how are we supposed to live” Well if they can’t have more bread then maybe some crumbs of cake will do.
Bill Markham e-mails in with a couple of anecdotes about CSQW training. First the “group decisions are better than individual decisions” exercise. “We were asked to estimate the number of dried beans in a jar. We made our individual estimates, then got together in a group of eight and started averaging all our guesses. Going around the group each individual estimate tended to be in the range 300-400. Until the final person was reached, their estimate was 33,000. The seven sought to persuade the one that their estimate of 33,000 was wildly inaccurate. After a long debate, the said person revised their estimate down to 10,000. At this point, three left and observed the heated exchanges from the sidelines, (later labelled as ‘subsersive tactics’ by the course tutor). After further argument, a figure of about 370 was agreed, which turned out to be only 10 or so out. Point proven.”
Second the moonshot or desert exercise, “where the group is required to rank items of equipment in order of importance to aid survival. Two members of the group insisted that a box of matches should be ranked highly so that people could relieve stress by having a smoke. All my arguments that matches would be useless on the moon were discounted. So the box of matches was ranked second, behind only water as an aid to survival.” Such exercises are supposed to build trust and relationships but for Bill: “I have resolved to this day never to rely on social workers in a life or death survival situation.”