Researching resistance in practice!

Social justice has long been recognized as a core value of social work practice, a value which only increased in importance, if one is to consider the effects of the advancing commodification of social services, the immense social consequences of the Corona-virus, and persistent inequalities.

In their practice, however, social workers are routinely faced with various barriers, which prevent them from practicing ethically. As a response, some social workers engage in acts of resistance and dissent, meaning the daily conduct, reflections, and decisions of social workers that disrupt and challenge systemic discriminatory practices. Currently, one SWAN contact in Germany is in the planning process for a research study, aiming to explore and map such practices of resistance of self-identified ‘resistant’ or ‘dissenting’ social workers.

Methodologically, this will be done by conducting interviews according to the model of the interview to the double, an in-depth structured interview technique aiming to illuminate and articulate practice. (Estimated time to complete: 1,5-2 hours)
In terms of time-scale, the interviews would ideally take place between June and July 2021. They can be also conducted via Zoom or corresponding platforms.

In case this description fits your practice, and you are willing to volunteer your time, expertise, and knowledge, you are invited to participate in this research study. Please feel free to contact SWAN on swansocialwork@gmail.com, and we will link you with the researcher.

Care Reform – The Common Weal

WHY SCOTLAND NEEDS TO REFORM THE ROLE OF SOCIAL WORKERS

Read the new paper from Colin Turbett here, from the Common Weal website. This history of social work in Scotland highlights how it has been changed, reduced, marginalised. But there is an alternative way.

Listen to the accompanying podcast here.

Why Are Care Workers So Undervalued? Sign The Petition To Improve Pay

SWAN supports the UNISON petition to properly fund the care sector.

Social Work Action Network has long promoted campaigns that highlight the devastating impact that denationalising care has had within the UK. Our new pamphlet ‘People Before Profit: The Future of Social Care Scotland’ produced in collaboration with The Jimmy Reid Foundation has just been launched – days before the Supreme Court rules against paying care workers a fair wage for sleep-in shifts.

Agencies often charge families hundreds of pounds a day for 24 hour care and yet workers remain on poverty pay. COVID has highlighted the desperate unfairness and inequality in our care system, and UNISON has launched a petition:

https://action.unison.org.uk/page/78628/petition/1?locale=en-GB

Please sign and share.

You can get a copy of the SWAN pamphlet here.

The NSPCC should drop JCB

Simon Cardy discusses the background to the call for the NSPCC to stop accepting cash donations from JCB.

SWAN has linked up with possibly its biggest collaboration with other networks and organisations to date namely: Protecting Palestinian Families Campaign, the UK–Palestine Mental Health Network, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – UK (ICAHD-UK) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign with the aim of stepping up the pressure on the NSPCC drop their partnership with J C Bamford Excavators Ltd (JCB). The coalition aims to support the efforts, led by the Protecting Palestinian Families Campaign, to persuade the NSPCC that it is incompatible with the charity’s core values to take donations from JCB, a British based company that has recently been named by the United Nations as complicit with Israel in violations of international law within the settlements/colonies in the occupied Palestinian Territories. 

Timeline:

March 2019 – Shoal Collective publishes ‘Resisting Demolitions in Palestine. A Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions Guide.

March 2019 – The NSPCC/JCB campaign is started by a group of individuals linked with Palestine Solidarity movement who formed the Protecting Palestinian Families Campaign- an offshoot of ‘Stop the Demolitions’

December 2019 – Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) launch a formal complaint against JCB, a world-leading construction equipment company headquartered in Britain. The complaint is lodged with the UK National Contact Point (a government body which is part of the Department for International Trade) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (situated in the Department of International Trade).

February 2020 – United Nations Human Rights Office issue a long-awaited report identifying 112 companies involved in business activities in settlements in the Occupied Palestine Territory in violation of International law. Among the companies identified is JCB, one of three UK companies on the list.

July 2020 – Protecting Palestinian Families launch a postcard campaign- 3000 send out to date.

August  2020 – Protecting Palestinian Families and ICAHD launch petition.

September 2020 –  ICAHD UK Workshop

October 2020 – UK National Contact Point publishes its Initial Assessment decision on the human rights complaint against JCB. The National Contact Point accept that key aspects of the LPHR complaint are “material and substantiated” and will investigate further.

October 2020 – SWAN writes letter of concern to the NSPCC Chief Executive.

November 2020 – Some 73 people, including 41 children in one day, were made homeless when their dwellings were knocked down in the Bedouin settlement of Khirbet Humsa, in the Jordan Valley, according to a UN report.

December 2020 – NSPCC respond to Protecting Palestinian Families.

February 2021 – the same Bedouin community is demolished for the fifth time in a month, with JCB and Volvo equipment in use.

March 2021 – Day of action against the NSPCC coordinated by coalition of solidarity organisations and SWAN.

Ethnic cleansing

Some people might think that the mass expulsions and atrocities that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the creation of the world’s oldest refugee population are historical events. The reality is that the state of Israel is continuing with its policy of ethnic cleansing in what is increasingly recognised as an apartheid settler-colonial state, as B’Tselem, Israel’s state’s leading human rights organisation, has recently reported.  In short, a process of ethnic cleaning continues to this day.

ICAHD says that during and after the Nakba of 1948, when the state of Israel was established, it systematically demolished about 52,000 Palestinian homes, more than 530 entire villages, towns and urban neighbourhoods. Since the beginning of the Occupation in 1967, Israel has demolished another 55,000 homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Thousands more continue to be demolished inside Israel itself.

Types of Demolitions

Punitive demolitions 3% of houses are demolished are destroyed as a punishment carried out against people associated with those houses. This policy was suspended by the Israeli army in February 2005 after it reached the conclusion that, rather than deterring attacks, punitive demolitions only inflame the people and lead to more attacks. The practice was resumed on 19 January 2009,
Administrative demolitions:   Houses are demolished for lack of a building permit. This happens in Area C and in East Jerusalem, under exclusive Israeli authority, though prior to the existence of Areas A, B & C it occurred in other areas as well.  It is important to point out that in almost all cases, Palestinians have no choice but to build “illegally” as permits will not be granted. It is also the case that, in Area B, if a house is in close proximity to a military base or a road used by the military or settlers, it may also face administrative demolition. This type of demolition accounts for approximately 20% of defined demolitions.
Land-clearing operations/Military demolitions: Houses are demolished by the IDF in the course of military operations for the purposes of clearing off a piece of land (for whatever reason), to achieve a military goal or to kill wanted persons as part of Israel’s policy of extrajudicial executions. Military demolitions characterized the massive destruction of Palestinian communities during the Naqba, and in the Occupied Territory they account for about 66% of defined demolitions carried out since 1967.
Undefined demolitions:   ICAHD is collecting information and investigating the status of many demolitions carried out between 1967-1982, when the Civil Administration begins its work. These include mainly demolitions resulting from land-clearing operations and removal of Palestinian populations.

Source: ICAHD March 2020

The evidence against JCB

A number of organisations have documented compelling video, photographic and written contemporaneous evidence that substantiates the material and prolific use of JCB products in a number of specific demolition and displacement incidents, and in settlement-related construction.

ICAHD states that the demolition policy is ‘part of Israel’s attempt to Judaize Palestine, to transform an Arab country into a Jewish one’. During and after the Nakba of 1948, when the state of Israel was established, it systematically demolished about 52,000 Palestinian homes, more than 530 entire villages, towns and urban neighborhoods. Since the beginning of the Occupation in 1967, Israel has demolished another 55,000 homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Thousands more continue to be demolished inside Israel itself.

The primary sources of evidence are the prominent Palestinian human rights organisation, Al-Haq; the leading Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem; and the UK charity, EyeWitness to Atrocities.

A key piece of video evidence submitted with the LPHR’s complaint taken on 11 September 2019 can be viewed here.

The video footage shows a JCB vehicle in the South Hebron hills identifiable as the model 3CX, demolishing structures that are likely to be the six family homes reported in the B’Tselem commentary that accompanies the video.

The primary evidence submitted by LPHR that substantiates the material use of JCB products in demolitions, relates to incidents in ten villages or areas in the occupied Palestinian territory, covering a time period of 2016 to 2019. In total, 89 homes are identified as having been demolished, resulting in the displacement of at least 484 individuals, including children and the elderly. One school (Khirbet Tana Elementary School) is among other property documented to have been demolished, as are water tanks.

The evidence demonstrates that vulnerable Palestinian Bedouin communities in Area C of the occupied West Bank are frequently affected by demolitions and displacement, with associated human rights breaches that include the violation of the right to adequate housing under international human rights law.

Under the cover of Covid, with the world’s attention elsewhere and the number of international observers reduced, Israel has continued with home demolition throughout 2020.

As recently as last month, data collectedfrom the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, B’Tselem, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, recorded that, for the month of January 2021, a total of 78 demolitions took place displacing 69 people, 36 adults and 33 children.

Although other machines produced by other companies are involved, JCB plant is consistently being used.

The NSPCCs response

To date, the NSPCC’s response has been craven.

In replies to Protecting Palestinian Families, the NSPCC have shown indifference and a willingness to mirror JCB’s position.

Sheren Green from ICAHD UK and Protecting Palestinian Families explains:

 “Co-owner Lady Carole Bamford was on record as giving thousands to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Indeed, the house where abused children receive the support they desperately need is called Carole House.

So, a carefully crafted letter was sent, acknowledging her benevolence but informing her of the destruction and devastation her products wreaked on innocent families, asking her to cut the company’s ties with Israel.

She didn’t answer so then it was time to ask the NSPCC to cut ties with JCB – how could they possibly accept money earned by traumatising Palestinian children?

A protracted correspondence ensued. CEO Peter Wanless brushed the first letter aside. Then each of the trustees was approached individually.

This time the respondent at least stated the charity’s ethical policy which meant they could not take money made by slavery, human trafficking or child labour. Money made from leaving children traumatised, homeless and impoverished in Palestine was apparently all right.

Dame Esther Rantzen was approached – her life-saving initiative ChildLine is now incorporated into the NSPCC – but she did not answer.”

After lengthy correspondence, the NSPCC eventually responded in December 2020.

The NSPCC states that it is “not associated with any organisation connected with slavery, human trafficking and child labour or where a director or officer has been convicted of a sexual offence” and as JCB is not identified within these criteria, the NSPCC does not agree that JCB has a case to answer.

 The NSPCC accepts that JCB is included on a database published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, says they have challenged JCB on this point and understand that in reply “JCB have requested immediate removal from the database”.

With regard to National Contact Point’s investigation following a complaint from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, the NSPCC states that the investigation found “the claims related to JCB contributing to abuses of human rights does not merit further examination”.

 Finally, The NSPCC have been told by JCB that “that all of the products they supply to Israel are via a third-party independent distributor, Comasco. They state that they have not sold any machinery directly to the Israeli authorities. They state that once products have been sold to Comasco, JCB has no legal ownership of them and they claim, therefore, they cannot stipulate to whom their products can or cannot be sold to.”

There are a number of problems with the NSPCC’s position.

First, the NSPCC’s ethical policy is very narrow in scope.

Second, the NSPCC seem willing to believe that JCB’s request that the UN remove its name from the data base, is sufficient defence: the UN has clearly not removed JCB from the list. The charity seems to make light of the fact that according to reports, accounting for the long delay in the UN’s publication of the list – none of the 112 companies had been identified lightly and – as you might expect – only after lengthy correspondence with the each of the companies named in the report.

Third, the NSPCC are being very selective in regard to the outcome of Contact Point’s initial investigation. Whilst it is true that the Contact Point investigation concluded that the claims related to ‘JCB contributing to abuses of human rights’ did not merit further examination, the Contact Point investigation did however conclude that the JCB’s apparent breach of three key corporate human rights responsibilities under the OECD Guidelines merited further investigation. According to these criteria, businesses should:

  • Seek ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts directly linked to its business operations and products by a business relationship.
  • Have a policy commitment to respect human rights.
  • Carry out human rights’ due diligence.

In contrast to what the NSPCC would like us to believe, the Contact Point complaint is far from over. The National Contact Point is now offering the parties an opportunity to mediate. If the parties do not want to mediate or cannot reach an agreement, the agency will examine if JCB’s actions and policies are consistent with the OECD Guidelines.

Summary

This article sets out the background to the call for the NSPCC to stop accepting donations from J C Bamford Excavators Ltd, a company named by the United Nations in February 2020 as in breach of its Human Rights obligations. The NSPCC claims that they are here for ‘every child’ but not it seems, if that child lives in Palestine. 

twitter @simoncardy

Links and articles

Call for NSPCC to stop accepting donations from JCB’ ICAHD 5 May 2020

JCB to be investigated after UK Government body accepts LPHR complaint is material and substantiated relating to involvement in Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians’ Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights October 2020.

Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories’  24 February 2020

Clearly, not every child is worth fighting for: racism, conscience and the NSPCC’ by Martin Kemp

‘Israel demolishes Palestinian Bedouin Village’ Chanel Four News 11 February 2021

How Safe Are Palestinian Children?

Along with our coalition partners, a Day of Action is planned for 4th March, the day of the NSPCC’s national conference.

“Every child has the right to grow up safely”
… say the NSPCC, in advertising their 4th March conference: HowSafe2021

Every child? Including Palestinian children, right? Apparently not.

The NSPCC take money from JCB, knowing that their equipment is sold to be used to illegally demolish Palestinian homes

We invite social workers and all concerned about child protection to join our day of action on 4th March to call on the NSPCC to stop doing this

Please do one or more of the following on 4th March

1. Tweet your call to NSPCC to refuse donations from JCB.

Suggested Tweets:

  • Ensure EVERY child has the right to grow up safely @NSPCC @JCBmachines #HowSafe2021 #HowSafeArePalestinianChildren
  • Calling on the @NSPCC to cut your ties with @JCBmachines – your role is to protect children, not to take money tainted with actions that make them homeless and traumatised #HowSafe2021 #HowSafeArePalestinianChildren
  • How can @NSPCC claim to believe in the safety of every child while taking money from @JCBmachines, who profit from the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and leave thousands of Palestinian children cruelly destitute and harmed #HowSafe2021 #HowSafeArePalestinianChildren

Tweet between 8.30am to 3.30pm and include the conference hashtag

#HowSafe2021 AND our hashtag #HowSafeArePalestinianChildren AND you could also tag @NSPCC

You could also share a photo with a placard, using our hashtag #HowSafeArePalestinianChildren

2. Write to the NSPCC

By email – Key contacts are

Chair of Trustees – neil.berkett@nspcc.org.uk

Chief Executive – peter.wanless@nspcc.org.uk

Director of Fundraising and Engagement – josephine.swinhoe@nspcc.org.uk

By post – Addressed to one or more of the above, ℅ NSPCC Head Office, Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH

There are sample letters here.

You will also find ideas in the open letters to the NSPCC from the Social Work Action Network and the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network.

3. Find out more

Clearly, not every child is worth fighting for: racism, conscience and the NSPCC is an excellent article that draws parallels with Black Lives Matter and contains links with detailed information on the issue.

4. Inform your friends and colleagues

Share on your other social media platforms – ask your union or professional association to take action.

Thank you

PAs and Care workers in UK under the new immigration system – letter for signatories from DPAC

 

Many disabled people have for as long as 30 years used PAs and Care Workers from the EU and EEA countries as well as from countries further afield. This has increased their choice and control over the care they receive and for many has been invaluable.

One of the many negative outcomes of taking back control of our borders after Brexit is the loss of freedom of movement for EU and EEA workers especially for anyone from those countries who weren’t working in the UK prior to December 31st 2020 and who aren’t able to apply therefore for pre-settled or Frontier Worker status.

At the moment the new style immigration policy appears to offer no option at all for care workers from other parts of the world to come and work here. The government has refused to class them as skilled workers or class them as a shortage occupation.

We are asking disabled people, their family, friends, DDPOs and our supporters to sign up to support the letter below asking that Care Workers and PAs are classed as a shortage occupation and/or can continue to apply to work in the UK with Frontier Workers status which basically would allow them to come here to work while primarily living in their home nations.

We will collect signatures to our letter until February 7th and then plan to send it to members of the Migration Advisory Committee which advises the government on shortage occupations plus ministers, MPs and Lords.

To sign up to the letter please email us at mail@dpac.uk.net

We would like to keep your details so that we can contact you further about supporting changes to the current guidelines as we’re sure we will need to exert further pressure on the government to get the changes needed.

 Letter

As disabled people who use care workers and personal assistants (PAs) from both the UK and many other parts of the globe including from EU countries, we are concerned that we appear to no longer have the opportunity to employ new staff from outside of the UK. 

We are urging you to include care workers as a shortage occupation as well as extending the Frontier Worker scheme to include new employed and self-employed care workers both from EU and EEA countries and extending this to care workers from outside of the EU.

As service users, their family. Friends, and supporters we know from many years of personal experience that it is vital to have every path open to enable the recruitment and retention of staff with the key values, behaviours, personality, client synergy and skill set to deliver high quality, safe, and value-for-money services. As recipients of social care, we know that it is not possible for just anyone to become a satisfactory care worker/PA.

Figures show there is already a dramatic shortage of skilled care workers and PAs in the UK, and these changes will exacerbate the overwhelming pressures our care system already faces. The provision of quality care is important to the mental and physical wellbeing of a vast swathe of the UK’s disabled and older people – who are often denied rights and opportunities many take for granted.

The majority of this industry workforce do not wish to relocate to reside in the UK permanently and come here to work for a fixed period of time and then return home. They contribute to the GDP through taxation and purchasing goods and services. Loss of such workers will exacerbate the overwhelming pressures our care system already faces.

Many of these workers perform skilled tasks similar to Nursing and Health Care Assistants who are able to continue working in the UK.

ONS figures estimate there are 112,000 unfilled vacancies at any one time in the Adult Social Care sector – a rate of 8% – compared to an overall vacancy rate of 2.7% across the UK economy as a whole.

In 2019-2020, 143,000 care workers and PAs left the industry, and the retention rate is worryingly low, particularly during the first year of working.

27 per cent of Adult Social Care Workers are aged over 55 and will need to be replaced in the future as they age or become unable to continue with physically demanding work.

Skills for Care estimates that 56 percent of the adult social care workforce are non-UK workers coming to the UK from abroad to work. PA Pool, an organisation set up to help disabled and older people recruit PAs, has an almost 50 per cent split between UK and non-UK staff. This means they could lose up to half of their potential workforce due to the current changes. Independent Living Alternatives, another PA agency, say that for traditional live-in staff 60 per cent of their workers are from the EU and only 28 per cent from the UK.

While it appears any EU and EEA staff working in the UK by December 31st, 2020 have the option to apply for pre-settled status, or for Frontier Worker status if they do not wish to later apply to settle here until June 30th 2021, there is at present no option for these schemes to be extended to new staff who weren’t working in the UK by December 31st 2020 which we feel it is vital to have. Due to all the factors outlined above, we feel this is essential to prevent a social care ticking time bomb, which will result in a devastating shortage of skilled, qualified care workers, increasing pressure on our already crumbling social care system and putting disabled people’s lives at risk as well as increasing both pressure and avoidable expense on our NHS.

Limiting the employment opportunities in social care poses a grave danger that many disabled people who have spent over 12 months shielding will end up losing their freedom, independence and quality of life which has been the sole factor keeping them going through the past months. Ensuring disabled people have the right to continue employing the skilled care workers they rely on must be a priority.

In conclusion we are urging you to make care work a shortage occupation and extend the Frontier Worker scheme to include new self-employed staff from inside the EU and EEA areas as well as from outside of the EU.

Disability, Vulnerability, and the Pandemic

Written by Bob Williams-Findlay of Reclaim Social Care

It is widely acknowledged that we are living through difficult and uncertain times. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to over 80,000 deaths in the United Kingdom, with many more likely to face long-term implications of having the virus. Given this, and the fact that a large percentage of those affected come from older generations and people with pre-existing health conditions, it is not surprising people within ‘at risk’ groups are feeling vulnerable. There is however a real danger in taking a ‘common-sense’ approach towards understanding this situation.

Too often ‘common-sense’ draws upon existing stereotypes, assumptions, and cultural values which reinforce ageism and disablism. Stereotyping usually falls into one of two camps where people are viewed as either tragic or brave – failing to conform to expectations or exceeding them. The portrayal of older and disabled people as ‘burdensome’, ‘helpless’, ‘childlike’, and ‘pitiful’, all underpin the notion of ‘vulnerable people’. Disabled people since the 1970s have challenged how they are both seen and treated. Employing a social interpretation of disability, Disabled people challenged the root causes of why they encounter social restrictions; this involved shifting the focus away from ‘blaming’ the person’s impairment for their disadvantages towards appraising how society responds to people who have impairments or chronic illnesses. In recent years, we have seen an undermining of this social approach as governments have sought to dismantle the welfare state and shift the responsibility for well-being back onto individuals. The rhetoric of neo-liberal social policies has reintroduced ideas linked with eugenics and encourages euthanasia.

Many older and Disabled people are deeply concerned not only about the inadequate and irresponsible manner in which the Johnson government has approached the pandemic, but also the language and narratives associated with it. What we have witnessed is the government, the mass media, and health professionals all presenting people within ‘at risk’ groups as being ‘the vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerable people’ (sic). These labels imply the characteristics of individuals –their age, impairments, and chronic illnesses – are the direct cause of their vulnerability. We would argue this is a false and dangerous presentation, one that panders to outdated ideas found within Social Darwinism. The disgraceful way ‘social value’ is measured by the likes of Lord Sumption acts as testimony to this way of thinking. Social Darwinists held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by “survival of the fittest,”

It is not our aim to deny that age, impairments, and chronic illnesses are factors that are likely to put some groups of people at greater risk; what we are challenging are the assumptions that are made and the perceived causes of the vulnerability. It is not age, impairments, or chronic illnesses that predetermines vulnerability; but the ways in which society sees and treats older and Disabled people create both the conditions and situations where people within ‘at risk’ groups made vulnerable.

Let us consider the definition of vulnerability; it is viewed as: ‘the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally’. Key here are the words: being exposed to the possibility of’ which acknowledges that it is external to the person. We nevertheless live in an ageist and disablist society that socially constructs ‘vulnerable people’ as being: ‘a person over the age of 18 who is unable to take care of themself. It can also refer to one who is unable to protect themself against significant harm or exploitation.’

Consider this for a moment, especially within the context of the pandemic. Consider this also in the context of the crisis within social care and the reduction in the means to live independent lives based upon choice and control. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how co-dependent we are on other people, the value of mutual support, and the need for community. Being isolated, unsupported, and without access to basic needs harms everyone not just older and Disabled people. Our society ‘blames’ older and Disabled people for not being self-reliant and brands them as ‘vulnerable’ to legitimise this view and subsequent treatment. Now it is time to consider what really makes up older and Disabled people’s vulnerability, not just during the pandemic, but also in its aftermath. We believe it is:

  • The ageist and disablist stereotyping that impacts on how we are seen and treated;-
  • The underfunding and privatisation of the NHS;-
  • The absence of a fully funded National Care, Support, and Independent Living Service;-
  • The existence of a market driven private care sector;-
  • The lack of protection from the virus due to cuts in services, resources, the lack of provision of PPE, discharging patients with Covid-19 into care homes, lack of policies to support families and friends;-
  • The failure of the existing benefits system;-
  • Not adequately addressing the climate crisis

The list could go on. Our priority short term is to ensure that people in ‘at risk’ groups are protected and empowered to speak for themselves. We must continue to challenge ageist and disablist narratives and the harmful use of language. To slate judgemental labels and promote a better understanding of why certain groups are ‘at risk’ during the pandemic. Above all, our long term aim is to remove the inequalities and barriers that maintain older and Disabled people’s vulnerable status.

Wed 9th: Coronavirus, Mental Distress and Social Work

Join us for what promises to be an outstanding webinar on mental distress during COVID. The social work profession has largely gone unnoticed in trying to respond to the broad welfare needs of those heavily impacted by COVID. Equally unnoticed is the impact of that work upon practitioners. Join us in solidarity for a fascinating discussion. Share with your colleagues.

JOIN THE RECLAIM SOCIAL CARE PUBLIC ZOOM MEETING: Co-production: what it is and how it can be employed

19th November 2020 at 3pm – 5pm

You are invited to attend our next public zoom event, details below. 

If you wish to attend, please register in advance by clicking the link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMod-GhrDMpGteZY1tWBnTpYkK7ThVIol5d

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Co-production: what it is and how it can be employed

What is transformational co-production?

People’s contribution is only looked for if it is helping to deliver services. Transformational co-production means that the power and control changes, so that people who use services are actively involved in all aspects of designing, commissioning, and delivering services.

Moving forward

Disabled people are sick and tired of holding the Cinderella role within society where they are either excluded from or marginalised within mainstream social activity. Disabled people’s human rights are being denied as detailed under Article Nineteen of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. Disabled people’s right to self-determine – Nothing About Us, Without Us – is not reflected in the practice of policy development and co-production of service delivery as much as it should be. 

In this open meeting a number of perspectives will be outlined based upon the experiences of service users engaging with service professionals. 

  •  Kevin Caulfield, one of the Strategic Leads for Co-production, will speak on the way co-producing has been developed in Hammersmith and Fulham where eight strategic recommendations for change in decision making / policy development were put forward in November 2017. 
  • Since 2018 Haringey Council along with its users, carers and community representatives has begun to build in co-production seriously in its review of adult social care and support. Gordon Peters, Chair of Haringey Over50s Forum, will give an overview of the changes to date, and Liz Ciakajlo, whose mother lived and died in Osborne Grove, will describe the re-investment and re-design of that home.
  • We have approached Andrew Lee, People First, to talk about how learning disabled people have been involved in co-producing a project around the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Sandra Daniels, acting chair of RSC, will chair the meeting as well as giving an insight into her role as an advocate working for People First Birmingham, supporting learning disabled people on the Learning Disability Partnership Board and local authority user involvement group. 

 Any queries about the event please email reclaimsocialcare@gmail.com

NSPCC DISMISSES THE CONCERNS OF SOCIAL WORK PROFESSIONALS, IN THEIR DISAPPOINTING RESPONSE TO OUR LETTER

The NSPCC sent an immediate response to our JCB campaign letter, submitted to them on Monday 12th October and demanding an explanation of why they felt it was ok to accept a massive donation from a company renting out their equipment for the destruction of West Bank homes. Our concerns are not new to them, their reply clearly highlights that they have spent time considering just how serious and damaging taking this money from JCB would be. The reply is below:

Dear [SWAN],

The NSPCC’s mission is to prevent cruelty to children, fighting child abuse in the UK and providing support and advice to both victims and professionals.

In line with Charity Commission guidance the NSPCC has produced ethical corporate fundraising guidelines reflecting its values in relation to this goal and undertakes due diligence based on criteria approved by its Trustees in relation to corporate partners.

The purpose of the above due diligence is to ensure that the NSPCC is not associated with any organisation connected with slavery, human trafficking and child labour or where a director or officer has been convicted of a sexual offence.   

The export activities of a corporate do not form part of our ethical checks unless there is demonstrable evidence that there is an association between such corporate and a country on which the UK Government/Department of Trade has formally imposed trade restrictions. 

The issues which your letter raised were discussed by the Board of Trustees and having also considered our Complaints Policy further, it appears that your allegations relate directly to JCB’s activities rather than the NSPCC’s.  Therefore, in accordance with this policy, I suggest that you contact JCB direct.

We are grateful for the employees of JCB who continue to fundraise for our work with and for children in the UK.

Yours sincerely,

Josephine Swinhoe

Executive Director of Income Generation

Yet the worries are serious – and the public are concerned. The Guardian on Friday saw numerous letters submitted expressing dismay at JCB’s actions, and SWAN are responding publicly. Watch this space. Do contact the press and join our campaign.

Swan statement on the Amnesty International report “As If Expendable”

As social workers, service users and carers we welcome the publication of Amnesty International’s report which exposes the government’s criminal failure to protect elderly and vulnerable people in care homes during the pandemic. The report makes very difficult reading as it lays out the statistical evidence for deaths in care homes during the pandemic. 18,562 deaths from Covid in care homes from December 2019 to June 2020 , the vast majority of these people over the age of 65. This represents 40% of the total number of Covid deaths. 13,884 (76%) died in care homes the remainder in hospital after leaving care homes. The actual number of Covid deaths likely to be much higher as the number of Covid “excess deaths” was 28,186 a 46% increase on the number of deaths in care homes for the same period last year. These are shocking statistics and it needs to be remembered that each number represents a human life lost and the devastating effect this has on family and carers.

Amnesty International rightly challenge Matt Hancock’s assertion that the government placed a ring of steel around care homes to protect their residence. The government knew that the UKs 400,000 care home residents were particularly vulnerable to the Covid virus.

Amnesty cites the following as the evidence of the governments failure to discharge its Article 2 and Article 3 towards UK citizens with regard its positive duty to protect life and protect its citizens from inhumane and degrading treatment:

Mass discharges from hospital into care homes of patients infected or possibly infected with COVID-19 and advice that “[n]egative tests are not required prior to transfers / admissions into the care home”.

Advice to care homes that “no personal protective equipment (PPE) is required if the worker and the resident are not symptomatic,” and a failure to ensure adequate provisions of PPE to care homes.

 A failure to assess care homes’ capability to cope with and isolate infected or possibly infected patients discharged from hospitals, and failure to put in place adequate emergency mechanisms to help care homes respond to additional needs and diminished resources.

A failure to ensure regular testing of care home workers and residents.

Imposition of blanket Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) orders on residents of many care homes around the country and restrictions on residents’ access to hospital.

 Suspension of regular oversight procedures for care homes by the statutory regulating body, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

SWAN supports the demands of Amnesty International including a full and independent public inquiry.

We are now entering the second wave of the pandemic and this criminal negligence must not be repeated. We support the immediate demands of Amnesty International:

Equal access for care home residents, staff, and visitors to regular testing.

Adequate representation and involvement of the social care and care home sector in the decision-making processes related to matters which impact care home residents at all levels.

 Adequate and continued supply of PPE for care homes to enable them to comply with national guidance and ensure all staff have undertaken training on its purpose and correct use.

Adequate mechanism to assess and build the capacity of care homes to deliver appropriate infection prevention and control, including in regard to their ability to isolate new or returning residents effectively and limiting the movement of staff as much as possible between care homes; and to provide adequate care for residents with COVID-19 and other residents.

Full access for care home residents to the NHS services to which they are entitled.

A thorough review of DNAR forms that have been added to care home residents’ care plans and medical files since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure they have been completed with the full knowledge, consideration and consultation of the resident and/or their family or independent advocate where they do not have mental capacity, according to the terms set out in the Mental Capacity Act. Ensure all staff working in the home understand when and how DNARs apply and that they do not in themselves indicate that a patient does not want to be taken to hospital or does not want to receive (non-CPR) medical treatment.

 Empowerment of care homes to develop visiting policies which respect and fulfil residents’ human rights and which give voice and agency to them, their families, and/or their legal guardian, while ensuring their safety and that of their fellow residents.

Full transparency in the collection and publication of all relevant data related to the deaths of older people in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The balancing of human rights is complex, peoples right to life needs to be protected and we understand that social distancing and shielding the vulnerable are necessary steps to protect infection. But the protection from abuse and the right to contact with our families are also important. Adequate funding for ongoing testing in care homes and for local authority staff could ensure that safe visiting takes place. Social workers, healthcare professionals, families and representatives could safely have “eyes on” visits to ensure residents wellbeing and undertake statutory protection of the vulnerable.

SWAN believes that this was an avoidable tragedy and the blame for what has happened lays firmly with the current Conservative government. 40 years of neo liberal policies in social care and public health have undermined the capacity of public services to protect the most vulnerable in our society which has been compounded by over a decade of austerity. The government’s negligence, belief in herd immunity and prioritising the handing of contracts to private firms is further evidence that concern for profits overrides concern for human life.

We ask our members and supporters to read the full report from Amnesty, share this statement and ask our trade unions and professional bodies to do the same.

SWAN believes that these tragedies will continue until we have fully funded national care service that is accountable to service users, carers and the public.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/care-homes-report