Guerilla Policy: Our top bloggers

Chris Sherwood /   June 29, 2015 at 8:33 PM 1,947 views

We were interested to see which bloggers we’ve published most since we started the new site in November, so here they are. We’d like to thank those people who have allowed us to re-publish their posts – for their insight and commitment, and of course for their support. Jim Brown at On Probation Blog “Meanwhile Payment by Results, the wonder mechanism by which privatisation of probation will supposedly be delivered, continues to attract scorn and scepticism. …It just won’t work guys! It’s just not worth the hassle. Instead, now would be a good time for aspirational civil servants to come up with a Gove-type reason why going down a slightly different avenue would be much more sensible. Not a u-turn obviously. More a smarter, nuanced, multi-agency, partnership, Big Society sort-of-approach. You know the sort of thing!” A self-confessed “grumpy, disillusioned, CQSW trained, generic, main grade probation officer based in a small English town”, Jim has recently been critiquing the Government plans to ‘reform’ (privatise) probation services, and how this agenda is being pushed by certain think tanks and private business interests. His posts have also looked back to the origins of the service – and warned about what is to come. Steve Hilditch at Red Brick “As welfare ‘reform’ and housing cuts bite ever harder, when do we reach the point where the government concedes that the hardship caused is an inevitable consequence of rebalancing the public finances and reducing the deficit?  So far, they seem to be in deep denial. This contrasts with the Thatcher era, because when she increased unemployment as a tool of economic policy, she at least admitted that the growth in joblessness was a price which was (on her reasoning) worth paying.” Red Brick, a “superb blog analysing social housing policy” according to the Guardian, is edited by Tony Clements and Steve Hilditch as a forum open to anyone interested in progressive debate about homes, housing and communities. It is linked to the Labour Housing Group but the views expressed of the blog are those of individual authors and are not necessarily LHG. Steve worked as a housing consultant for 20 years, having previously been assistant director of housing for a London borough and head of policy for Shelter. Thomas Neumark at Dream Housing “We are not building enough houses to keep up with the number of new households being formed. We are not building anywhere near enough houses. The longer we build too few houses the harder it will be to build enough houses for these households. The irony is that if policy makers could come up with a clever investment vehicle to fund the building of these new homes it would be exactly the kind of thing that non-financial corporations would be interest in investing in, and this in turn would be exactly the kind of thing that would stimulate growth in the economy.” Thomas Neumark writes Dream Housing, a “housing blog on people not property.” Thomas was formerly a councillor in the London Borough of Camden, where he chaired the Town Planning Committee and the Mental Health Service Users Forum. He is in the process of starting up a new charity called Dream House, aimed at helping homeless people in Washington D.C. grow and develop their social networks. Ermintrude2 on The Not So Big Society “Let us speak for ourselves and find more ways of doing so. Social Work is a profession to be proud of – we just need to make sure more people know about it – and we need to put some more fight into it. Fight politically, fight against cuts which affect those whom we work with, challenge within the organisations in which we work and remember that we need to create and build a profession to be proud of for ourselves – because no one else will.” Ermintrude – who has now moved away from frontline practice – works in health and social care, and is a registered social worker, ex-AMHP and ex-BIA. She has a particular interest in older adults, dementia, mental health and mental capacity. She remains a champion for her profession. Michael Brown at Mental Health Cop “It is against this philosophical background and practical reality, that I argue we must learn how to reach for the least worst option, measured in terms of potential and actual consequences for the well-being of other human beings. The opposing philosophical position …just doesn’t cut it for me and can’t be easily applied to operational policing which is, by necessity, pragmatic. Notwithstanding that ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ in various mental health related situations, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a rationale, intuitive framework for assessing how to act in ambiguous circumstances.” The award-winning Michael Brown is a serving 24/7 police inspector blogging in a personal capacity. As Michael says, he’s had more than his fair share of policing and mental health incidents and continues to get them daily on the frontline of British policing. Michael’s blog is about the “venn diagram of policing, mental health and criminal justice” – one part professional resource for police officers, one part awareness raising for service users, their families and other professionals about the role of the police as ‘street corner psychiatrists’, and one part polemic that we could all contribute to doing this better. Mark Parker at Southwark OrganisingCommunity organising is all about developing the collective power of citizens to determine their own way to fulfilment and well-being. Politics is an everyday matter. It is the shared endeavour of community members to find an inclusive and participatory future and deliberately shifts power toward broad, democratic, open and accountable grass-roots organisations. I have been involved in community organising for about three years now and have a longer history of over ten years in management of a national community sector organisation.” Mark Parker, a community organiser in the London Borough of Southwark, writes on Southwark Organising. Mark is motivated from first hand experience of “how many citizens feel cut off from decisions about their community and family life.” He sees community organising as a way “to help create a sense of everyday politics for those who are often ignored by powerful interests.” He writes about his journey towards becoming an effective organiser and uses Southwark Organising to reflect on the experience and what is he is learning about. Zarathustra on The

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