• Remember homes for key workers? It appears to have inspired the Lucky Voice karaoke bar, where key workers can hire out a room for two hours to sing their favourite songs – and the blurb specifically mentions social workers. There are branches in London, Cardiff and Manchester, so perhaps a team night out is in order. Singing is great therapy – Lucky Voice says 99% of people feel better after a karaoke session (what did the other 1% sing, Leonard Cohen?). So go along – hopefully you will be luckier than those social workers who never obtained a key home.
Fit for purpose?
• In the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth, it is only right and proper that we should discuss his theory of evolution. The National Sheltered and Supported Housing Congress (CSHS) is holding its annual conference with the theme “Arrival of the Fittest”. Kriss Akubusi will be addressing the closing plenary. Kriss is known for being an Olympic athlete, a motivational speaker and someone with an infectious laugh. Christine Walker, CSHS director, says: “Kriss is a well-known, charismatic personality whom everyone loves. I am certain Kriss will send our delegates away with new enthusiasm.” We are sure he will. But launching the conference is Ann Widdecombe, who is perhaps not as well loved. Will the former Tory minister be “sending delegates away with new enthusiasm”?
• Continuing the Darwin theme, a recent report on the snappily-named Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care programme seems to have been inspired by a BBC Wildlife series. Children on the programme, who have challenging behaviour, are placed under the watchful eye of foster carers and professionals 24/7. If they are good, they are given opportunities to “practise appropriate skills and behaviours in a more naturalistic setting”. Will the feral youth be let out into the countryside to have their bellies tickled by David Attenborough? The report also includes the Children’s Global Assessment Scale, which asks professionals to rate children’s “functioning” – from “superior” to “variable.” Isn’t superior functioning the sort of thing that one associates with Daleks?
The wonder of Woolies
• “Old Woolworths shops could be used to house homeless under Lib Dem plans” says a recent news story in The Guardian. The Lib Dems were often accused of woolly thinking.
Pitching ideas – or tents?
• The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo) e-mailed Backchat with news that there is going to be a festival of ideas in Leeds. Now what do people associate with festivals: thousands of young people enjoying themselves, music, bands, tents and associated goings-on, even the whiff of illegal substances drifting through the air. Our hopes are raised further: Acevo is jointly running the festival with Headshift, a name that sounds like a 1960s psychedelic band. But we are soon brought crashing to the ground by the following: “Festivals of ideas build alliances around ideas and create tangible next stepsIf you have a fledgling proposal or an innovative projectthe very best ideas will receive a festival invitation. Let us know your solution to the issue of young people’s challenging behaviour.” We suggest leaving out the ideas and just have a festival but would Backchat receive an invitation to the “alliance building” for that idea?
Are Doms just a load of bull?
• Finally, one we picked up from Private Eye. The National Offender Management Service (Noms) has been reformed. There is no longer talk of Regional Offender Management Service (Roms), but of shiny, new directors of offender management (Doms) – civil servants are already jostling to be boss of one of 10 Doms. Except perhaps in Wales, where Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd informs us that Dom is “Welsh for cowshit”. Now I wonder what Cafcass means in Welsh.