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Would you use the National Bullying Helpline?

As we have discovered this week, the issue of bullying is atricky one in that the lines can be blurred between single incidents of angerdirected at different people and a continuous stream of invective aimed at aparticular person.

At Community Care we have run stories where managers areaccused of bullying – Cafcass being the subject of a recent one – but where doyou turn when the temperature rises?

In many cases, a trade union would be the obvious recourse.But what if you prefer to seek advice elsewhere – perhaps thebully is heavily involved with the union, for example? Where do you go?

The National Bullying Helpline would, on the face of it,have been an attractive alternative. Until this week, that is, when it breachedall protocols of confidentiality and went public by implicating the primeminister’s office as a hotbed of bullying.

That from a charity which, one would have hoped, had nopolitically partisan axe to grind.

In an embarrassing climbdown by Christine Pratt on Radio 4′s Today programme yesterday, the head of the National Bullying Helpline admittedthat Gordon Brown had “absolutely not” been accused of bullying.

So why link the two? Who, then, is the bully? Moreover, isthere a bully? Or was there simply a party political point to be made, as an addendum to last year’s rumours of Gordon Brown being on antidepressants and his deteriorating eyesight?

However, it does appear that Brown has been known to thump,wait for it, the back seat of a car and use the F-word after discovering thathis speechwriter had lifted phraseology from a US presidential campaign. 

It has also emerged that, in a fit of pique that will draw comparisons to Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous hair dryer treatment, the prime minister once hurled a tangerine. Just once.

At this rate, Brown himself will need to speak to ananti-bullying helpline, having spent recent months watching attempts todeconstruct his character, health and mental health.

But it does beg the question: where does bullying begin andwould you trust the National Bullying Helpline if you had an issue with they way you are treated in the workplace? 

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3 Responses to Would you use the National Bullying Helpline?

  1. Anon 12 April , 2013 at 12:44 am #

    I was recently forced out of my job in social care because of bullying which had been going on for years. I got support from an anti-bullying forum where some members had fallen prey to the tactics used by Christine Pratt to refer business from the helpline to her consultancy firm. It was the reason why I never used her helpline.

    Good to see that she is now getting her comeuppance.

  2. Mervyn Humphreys 12 April , 2013 at 12:44 am #

    Clearly, bullying is a serious issue which needs sensitive management. It’s another issue which requires some cool, clear thinking and more attention. Social services should not be a sector where bullying can survive unchecked but we have some way to go before we reach that level.

    This charity seemed to lack a well thought-out strategy for handling very sensitive and confidential information. If you add high-profile public figures,media interest, politics and a forthcoming election etc you soon have a recipe which will end in tears. It was almost a case study in how not to navigate the minefield of charity campaigns and politics with many lessons for the unwary.

    Talking of Gordon Brown, there was an oppportunity, not fully grasped, to open a debate about the abuse of power among social policy professionals/agencies when he apologised to Britain’s former child migrants on 24/2/10.

    UK apologies are still rare events, especially to vulnerable service users.

  3. Dolly Hedges 12 April , 2013 at 12:44 am #

    The article touches on some very good points. The comment about Mr Brown requiring a helpine is actually very pertinent. The steady trickle of vague allegations is the very essence of a bullying behaviour. Unfortunately, in his case, he would find it difficult to trust anyone. That is partly a product of the politician’s trade.

    There is a very important point that has never been raised and that is the role of a minister in civil service personnel issues. From personal experience, I found that the ministerial code effectively prevents intervention, even in such cases where a minister’s unique position could resolve a potentially expensive and harmful case proceeding blindly.

    The minister gets all the blame, but no ability to act. Mrs Pratt’s intervention in claiming Mr Brown was in denial over Number 10′s alleged issues was also a failure to understand how the system operates.

    My own experiance has left me concerned that there is a structural issue that needs addressing, and is not a party political point.

    As for the NBH-HR&DM: an entity that purports to be anti-bullying cannot use bullying behaviour itself.