Professionalism says poor standards must be outed

I read with interest your article
“Calling time on victimisation” (9 August) as I myself am a whistleblower. In
June last year I applied for a post as a residential social worker, was offered
an interview and subsequently a position. I took up the post, which involved
moving house, in November 2000.

On starting my new role I quickly
became aware that the job specified at interview was not the job I was doing.
The hours were long, sometimes 48-hour shifts, and there was no support
available to staff. Management style was one of intimidation, to the extent
that some staff were told they could be sacked at any time as they were still
in their probationary period, and many were told they were incompetent.

The final straw came when I
witnessed an incident of sexual abuse between two of the children in my care.
When I reported this, I was told not to take it further as I was “labelling”
the children, even though I was the third person to report such an incident
involving the same two children.

I complained to my immediate
supervisor, who then made a list of complaints from all the staff and took it
to her supervisor. This did not work and my supervisor began to be victimised,
repeatedly being told that it would be in her best interest to leave the

The bullying, intimidation and poor
childcare practice became so bad that seven staff, including myself, left. I
had secured another position two weeks before I left and upon leaving the
company I complained to its internal audit department. I did not dare do this
before I left as I knew that my life would be made very difficult.

Other people also complained and an
investigation was set in motion. It is due to be completed at the end of the

Since the complaint I have been the
victim of “hang-up” phone calls at my home and place of work. Another person
who complained has had their job offer revoked, and another has had their job
offer put on hold pending further investigation. I have also received a letter
asking for my relocation money to be repaid, which I have refused to do as I
feel I had no choice but to leave and, more obviously, the money had been spent
on relocating.

I have now had enough and want to go
back home. However, this will cost several thousand pounds, which I do not
have. The stress is making me ill. That said, I would do the same again as my
professional standards would never allow me to keep silent against a company as
bad as the one I went to work for.

Name and address withheld

pin the blame on football culture

I have long admired Beatrix
Campbell’s Perspectives on class and gender issues, but I feel that her
dismissal of anti-social behaviour orders and her stereotyping of football fans
is mistaken (Perspectives, 16 August).

Women make up at least 10 per cent
of football fans, but nowhere near that percentage of hooligans, so it is
hardly fair to lay the blame for hooliganism with “football culture”. This
culture can involve mutual respect between differing nationalities and races.
Unfortunately, it can also be shaped by narrow-minded bigotry.

Local authorities’ reluctance to
seek anti-social behaviour orders might be due to the suspicion that it is
another short-term fix intended to appease common fears and a vengeful press.

For too long we have overlooked the
fact that most crime, particularly violent crime, is committed by males. Yet
families, individuals, women and ethnic minorities cannot afford to wait around
for the government to make a “connection between mainstream values and
anti-social behaviour” before getting the protection they deserve from
“perceived”, or real threats of violence.

Government policymakers could take
heed of Campbell’s call for an investment in childhood.

Probation officer

shouldn’t be the main motivator

I was surprised to see that in your
recent Community Care website question (News, page 4, 30 August) 82 per
cent of respondents believe that the government’s recruitment campaign for
social workers has the wrong emphasis and should include pay rises.

Although large salaries are a great
motivator in employment this must not overshadow the need to find new,
motivated social work staff who will join the profession at an exciting time,
not just for a good salary but also for the job itself.

To do this we need to improve the
image of the profession and get it on a par with areas such as teaching,
nursing and other public service employers. Advertising will perhaps also
encourage people who do not historically ask for this kind of support to make
more use of the social work service.

As a diploma in social work student
(qualifying at the end of this year), I am looking forward to gaining a social
work post and all the ups and downs that go with this.

I am also looking forward to earning
a fairly good salary, which I think it is. Where else can you study for two
years, earn up to £24,000 and work from 9am to 4pm? Am I on my own?

Simon Hunter

Carers’ contributions deserve recognition

Savitri Hensman’s article “Equal but
Different” (16 August) rightly highlights the importance of partnership between
users, carers and service providers, whether health or social care, in ensuring
the most effective use of resources. This emphasis on the partnership is
particularly important when you consider that carers contribute at least £34
billion a year in care.

Carers’ contributions to long-term
care in economic terms are likely to be considerably greater than that of
either social services or the health service. That is why recognition and
proper support for carers is both a moral and economic issue.

Diana Whitworth
Chief executive
Carers National Association

foot the bill for home adaptations

I was interested to see that junior health
minister Hazel Blears acknowledges the importance of home adaptations in
reducing older people’s accidents in the home (News In Brief, page 6, 9 August).

The Association of Charity Officers
represents a group of more than 200 charities and benevolent funds which are
regularly asked to fund adaptations because of the failure of the current

Our research shows that member
charities spend from £200 to several thousand pounds per individual home

There has been a large increase
since our last survey (between 1997 and 2000). 
Often several charities have to co-operate to meet the need and this
increases the administrative burden on charitable funds.  

Charities are asked to pay because:
people cannot afford their assessed contribution; they are asked to wait up to
two years for an occupational therapy assessment; or they are told they will
wait up to 18 months for any statutory funding once the need has been
established. Add to this the postcode lottery of differing eligibility criteria
operating from one local authority area to another.

These delays and the demand on
charities, along with the minister’s comments, give a clear message. People are
suffering by not receiving the service they need, and the NHS in the longer
term will be forced to spend much more as a result of these failures. Urgent
action is required.

Valerie J Barrow
Association of Charity Officers

of support

I would like to add to your story about
the British Association of Social Workers’ representation service (News, page
4, 16 August).

I have been a member of BASW for
many years. I first made contact with it in 1999, following a period of
stress-related illness due to problems at work. At that time it informed me it
would be unable to represent me against Kent Council.

My illness has been defined by
occupational health and other assessments as being caused by work-related
issues, so I was not a “time-waster”. Even after sending detailed reports of my
situation, I feel that I had no support or constructive advice. In the latest
conversations when I informed them I was unable to continue with my work due to
illness, the suggestion was to “get another job”.

At no time during my membership do I
recall being told to join a trade union, and I did not feel I would have to, as
I naively thought BASW would give me full support and representation if I
needed it.

and address withheld

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