A tool to restore self-belief

It was good to see an article about
antisocial behaviour orders in Community Care (“Time for last orders?”, 16
August). Yes, there have been fewer than Jack Straw anticipated – but their
success or failure should not simply be measured in terms of the number

It is important to discuss the
orders in the context of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 as a whole, which is a
mixture of antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos), parenting orders and strategies
for community safety. The key elements are clear: partnership working and the
duty on councils to consider the crime and disorder implications of each
decision they make.

Informal alternatives to Asbos, such
as the popular acceptable behaviour contracts developed in Islington and
elsewhere, are a direct result of the multi agency approach.

The case conference approach being
used to make decisions on Asbos brings together all the agencies to address the
behaviour. An incremental approach invites change, the aim being to stop the
behaviour rather than punish the individual. There are some misunderstandings
to be addressed. For example, the way the Home Office collects statistics tends
to underestimate the numbers of orders obtained. They seem not to have touched
on the number of case conferences or problem-solving groups convened under the
guise of considering an Asbo that have found another way of addressing the
issues. Costs of any new legal tool appear high – the evidence from those who
have taken out Asbos in significant numbers is that they are not expensive.

Some early indications suggest that
Asbos are a socially inclusive rather than exclusive measure. The terms of the
order will demand behaviour only of a standard that the vast majority of people
live up to in their daily lives. Asbos seem to be particularly relevant to 10
to 17 year olds. The order invites them to address their behaviour and will
involve all agencies in providing support in that process. On many estates, not
just traditional “council estates”, communities have been devastated by
inattention to this issue. At a tenant’s conference recently I heard the phrase
“communities need respite”. Asbos are not a panacea, rather they are another
tool to restore self-belief to those communities.

Tim Winter
National organizer
Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group

Establishing a professional body

article on the need for a voice for social care professionals is almost
entirely right (“Little voice”, 30 August). But like almost every other commentator
on this issue your writer ducks the question of just how a “specialist social
care union” might be established.

The employers are, as she
recognises, opposed to it, and so is Unison, for whom it would mean a
significant loss of members.  The great majority
of social care workers are either employed by local authorities or have a local
authority as their effective paymaster, working for voluntary and so-called
independent agencies who are dependent on local authorities for funding. Local
government is not like the NHS, which has always recognised professionalism and
gives a voice to professional groups in its negotiating systems. Local
government much prefers negotiating arrangements which allow it to deal with
all employees together, and so of course does Unison, as its name tells you.  

The history of local government
trade unionism has many examples of professional bodies trying to develop a
trade union function and being snuffed out by the big unions. The National
Guild of Residential Officers was incorporated into National  Union of Public Employees and disappeared.
The Association of Local Government Engineers and Surveyors was destroyed by
National Association of Local Government Officers. There are no examples of
successes. Your examples of success are all health service professions – health
visitors, physiotherapists and nurses.

Some support might be hoped for from
the Association of Directors of Social Services if they can be helped to
realise that it is in their own interests to support the development of other
professional social care organisations, to encourage staff to join them, to
advise their members to consult with them, and to give their staff time off for
professional business, but it will need a lot more than that. One problem for the
British Association of Social Workers is that, to have any chance of getting
the power, we need the members, and to get the members, we need to have the
power. I doubt if a propitious situation will arise unless there is so much
turmoil that existing structures disintegrate, and potential members are left
with nothing to sustain them except their sense of professionalism.

Keith Bilton

New voice is needed

I want to express my gratitude to
Bob Holman for identifying the problems facing social work as a profession in
the 21st century (Perspectives, 30 August).

I have found Unison less than
helpful when discussions take place around social work practice, due to a
general lack of knowledge and insight into the profession’s existence.

On the other hand the British
Association of Social Workers appears to be struggling to steer the ship in the
ocean of the mixed economy of care, which BASW has endorsed and society has
welcomed as the NHS and Community Care Act 1990.

As a voice for the profession, as
Bob Holman says, BASW does not appear to have any impact on government in
challenging changes in social policy.

In 1993, social work embraced the
introduction of accountants to our area of work, and now in 2001 the
accountants have taken control in a tide of apathy on the part of BASW and
Unison. It would be grand if Bob Holman could become a link between the
government and the social work profession, to endorse his vision for the future
of social work.

John Davies
Approved social worker
Colwyn Bay

Why Full Stop is a success story

The NSPCC continues to operate as a
child protection agency (News, page 6, 6 September).

The Full Stop campaign has widened
the spectrum of services we provide to include abuse prevention, which is a
vital part of protection. We remain committed to services across this full

Two years into a period of rapid
growth and development, and six months after my arrival as chief executive, was
the right time to review and to restructure, share what we have learned and
secure the next stage.

There is no change to the announced
results of the Full Stop campaign. It would be good to celebrate the
achievements of a campaign and appeal for a social policy cause raising so much
awareness of child abuse and so far nearly £100 million in donations and
pledges. This is an outstanding achievement particularly as such funds have
been raised for the needs of people rather than for bricks and mortar.

Mary Marsh
Director and chief executive

Support for carers

Savitri Hensman (“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 is particularly important when you consider that carers
contribute at least £34 billion a year in care (Institute of Actuaries, 1993).

Carers’ contribution to long-term
care, in economic terms, is likely to be considerably greater than that of
either social services or the health service. With current demographic trends,
carers are likely to continue to be key to long-term care. That is why
recognition and proper support for carers is both a moral and an economic issue.

Diana Whitworth
Chief executive
Carers National

Thanks to all

I would like to take this
opportunity to thank those who have either contacted me personally or have
written to Community Care offering moral support and understanding. Since
writing the article (“Love is…”, 19 July) about my son Fox and Asperger’s syndrome,
I have won the battle to gain an assessment of need from social services. The
only thing I can say is that the assessment process has been “educational”.

Special thanks go to those who just
by reading the article, have been able to gain an insight into children’s
lives. I feel proud of my son for giving me the opportunity to do this. The
article I wrote was from the heart and I will never give up trying to educate
people about living with and understanding the implications of hidden

One more thing to end this letter.
Although Fox enjoys a cuddle, he does not like to be kissed. Gradually he has
been able to kiss me on the cheeks, nose and forehead but one week ago Fox
kissed my lips and any bad days of the past four years slipped away instantly.
One kiss that said so much.

New Milton

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