NaPoWriMoDay 19

Todays prompt (which you can read here) was to write a humorous rant possibly using some excellent Shakespearian insults which we were given a link to.

I did a non-humorous rant, I’m afraid.

I worked in Social Services (as it used to be called) for most of my working life, and saw the saddening move away from friendly local neighbourhood services when I started in Kentish Town in 1982 to much more rationalised, centralised services when I left in 2010 – this rant is from that year, when several area-based teams (which included me) were moved to massive hotdesking sites in cheaper suburbs to save money.

It felt so wrong to me, to no longer be approachable and have open doors to the public we were there for in the first place. So – here is my rant. And I saved my Shakespearian insult for the last verse!

Social Services?

They don’t call us social workers these days; we’re Gatekeepers, Care Managers.

Budget Advisors. Brokers. Exactly which bastard strangled our hearts and hands

with these brash financial words?

This far and no further. It’s already far too far.

Our local office closed; we were moved to huge commercial barns vacated by companies

that fell in the crisis, 2008 or 9. Our five local area offices, cheaply crammed together;

at least five miles from the homes of those we serve.

This far and no further. It’s already far too far.

Hot-desking the norm now, and a Kafka-esque rule against ornaments, photographs,

your kids’ paintings being pinned on the partitions between desks. No drawers for

your spare cardie, some knitting to do at lunch.

This far and no further. It’s already far too far.

To get in you need your lanyard, photocard, electronic pass. Reception’s run by security

who look more like bouncers. There’s no waiting room; clients are not allowed to just drop in.

Not that they’d ever be passing anymore.

This far and no further. It’s already way too far.

In this light industrial estate, there’s no nipping with your client to the CAB for fair advice

to fight an eviction; no informal links built with the Youth Centre staff in the sandwich shop.

Your neighbours are Quickfit, Carpet Warehouse.

This far and no further. It’s already way too far.

You can’t sit for hours in the interview room, mopping up tears, bringing cups and cups

of tea as you did before. There’s a digital room booking system; you’ll need a coding degree

to use it: they’ve disabled the function for booking double slots.

This far and no further. It’s already way too far.

You journey to the old district, park up. Mr Jones isn’t at home; he’s gone down to the library

where he uses a slow PC, fills in the online form with evidence of his futile job searches.

If he misses a day, he’ll be sanctioned.

This far and no further. It’s already way too far.

Sanctioned? What warped, knotty-pated nut-hook thought up using that word? Do they think

it’s a war we’re in? That we’re involved in an effing trade deal here? Do they think reducing fifty lousy quid to forty

lousy quid is ever going to enable any leap in self-esteem?

This far and no further. It’s already way too far.

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