FROM THE VAULTS: Novembers in the past

Keith Sellick looks at past issues of community care


Like Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the social work strike was still going on and had entered the realm of the repetitive. But the end was nigh as there was “progress” in talks. PPHHEWWW.

Granada TV was having some success with Reports Action, television’s way of boosting voluntary action in the community. Sadly of the initial 100,000 people who were interested, only about a third persisted. But as the story said, it was a “very popular programme enjoyed by a large audience andappeared to have conveyed to them a greater understanding of voluntary work.” So plaudits allround.


One man who most probably should have retired and spent more time with his family was Alan Clark MP. As employment minister, Clark was supposed to help increase the chances of people finding a job, although given that unemployment was well over three million and Big Margaret believed the state had no role to play in generating employment, we are left wondering what Clark got up to. Then we read his diaries and know, fast cars, fast women getting drunk in the House of Commons. Anyway he did make it the hallowed pages of Community Care for his support for a company that made go karts for disabled children. (pictured)


Fed up of he bad press social workers get? Well Jonathan Dimbleby introduced a three-part series on social workers, called Witness, which took a still quite revolutionary fly-on-the-wall documentary.

The series was based in Bradford and featured a team of social workers dealing with problems such as older people refusing help, teenage mums and violent partners, and support for people with learning disabilities. One programme followed two social workers as they took a child from violent parents, while another took on the format of professional discussing a real live anonymised case of child abuse from a different authority.

Dimbleby launched the series by saying that the term social work had become almost a sneer: “their work is crucial but much maligned, which is why the series was made.”

Hopefully, 20 years ago, it made a few people think. Sad thing is with all the reality TV (which according to one study I have seen recently accounts or 70% or more of al output) and overpaid celebrities and their star-struck programme a bit of serious and worthy TV wouldn’t get made.


The Tory war on single parent families was in full flight. Just the time for Community Care to come up with some cutting facts: there was no evidence that young mums get pregnant to obtain council houses or give birth for the “generous” benefits or are responsible for the crime in the country.

So all the Tory shibboleths went out of the window and health secretary Virginia Bottomley was forced to bring in the sensible Adoption white paper.

However, Backchat’s venerable predecessor Offload did raise why Tory cabinet ministers persisted in retelling these myths – afterall they were starting more than their fair share of single parent families.

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