Letters to Community Care 11 September: Redruth curfew, Future Vision Coalition

Our Future Vision has users on board

As members of the Future Vision Coalition we would like to clarify some of the issues that have been raised in recent editions of Community Care. We have made great efforts to ensure that service users are at the heart of our vision for mental health.

For example, even in the opening pages of our discussion paper we state “Power relations need to shift in order to give real self-determination over the process and direction of recovery to individual, their carers and families”.

This is a constant theme throughout the entire document, in which we recommend policy initiatives to empower service users, improve commissioning of services based on individual needs, and support recovery to enable good quality of life.

We must make it clear that the coalition is not simply made up of service providers and mental health trusts. It includes organisations who exist to work with service users to promote their views.

There is no them and us here. We hope that readers of Community Care will read the discussion paper for themselves.

The Future Vision Coalition: Steve Shrubb, director, NHS Confederation Mental Health Network Simon Lawton-Smith, head of policy, Mental Health Foundation Paul Jenkins, chief executive, Rethink Angela Greatley, chief executive, Sainsbury Centre Paul Farmer, chief executive, MIND John Dixon, president, Adass Liz Felton, chief executive, Together Professor Dinesh Bhugra, president, The Royal College of Psychiatrists

Rewards of working in school social work

In light of “A class act to follow” (4 September, ) I would like to point out that social workers have been involved in primary and secondary schools across the north east for many years.

When Every Child Matters was merely a pipe dream, social workers were helping to extend the pastoral role in response to the needs of the pupils within the school and the community, with the support of St Cuthberts Care and the backing of some north east schools.

Initially posts were joint funded by St Cuthberts Care and schools, for a brief period, but schools soon took on the full cost.

I wholeheartedly agree with the comments made in the article we do offer a proactive, holistic service and our workload does tend to involve far more face-to-face work than I ever used to be able to do within my time as an area team social worker. We offer more therapeutic responses to pupils and their families, alongside many of us offering support to staff members also.

Working as a social worker within secondary schools is hard work – you never get a chance to hide away and get on with paper work and young people often seek you out. It’s challenging, tiring and very rewarding.

Elaine Thompson, St Wilfrid’s RC College, South Shields

Assistive technology: ethics code needed

We are writing in response to the letter from Liz Davies in last week’s issue of Community Care about the Social Care Institute for Excellence’s research briefing on assistive technology.

We recognise that some people will have reservations about the use of assistive technology, and clearly any changes to services, such as those referred to at Ajex House, should involve full and frank consultation with residents. The aim of our briefing was, however, to give a general overview of the current use of assistive technology and we do not claim to provide a definitive statement of all evidence on this issue.

The use of assistive technology is increasing and there are a number of ethical questions that need further discussion. Scie is currently working with a range of social care organisations to produce a code of ethics about assistive technology.

Iris Steen, director of communications, Social Care Institute for Excellence

Letter of the week: Redruth curfew

I read with considerable personal as well as professional interest the report (28 August) on the “voluntary” curfew which has been imposed on young people living on a housing estate in Cornwall. It is the same estate where I grew up, where members of my family still live, and where I visit and stay regularly.

The green on the estate is where I would be found most evenings until dark and beyond kicking a rugby ball around with teenage friends. My parents would now be telephoned if I was out after 9pm as a 14 or 15-year-old as the ‘voluntary’ curfew means that I and all other young people aged up to 16 are not then tolerated out on the estate.

I and my friends did probably create some noise but I don’t recall us being branded as a nuisance, which is not to deny that sometimes then and now disturbance and distress was and is caused locally by some young people.

But this is where the difficulty occurs. Rather than an appropriate selective response to young people who are causing difficulties All local young people are now branded as a potential nuisance to be ushered and contained indoors, not only when it is dark but even while it is still light on long summer evenings. There is also a concern that the estate itself has been stigmatised and that young people from the estate are now viewed within a negative stereotype by others.

Rod Morgan, the recent chair of the Youth Justice Board, has spoken out about the increasing criminalising of young people, catching more and more young people in the criminal justice net, defining them as delinquent, and escalating them through the penal system with damaging consequences.

I’m just glad that me and my mates were kicking the rugby ball around in the evenings 40 years ago rather than today.

Dr Ray Jones, professor of social work, University of London

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