Saturday, 17 January 2009

Rough deal for children and families in Kent

Troubles don’t come singly

Smiley Steps is a project of Cerebral Palsy Care, a Medway-based charity, offering conductive services to young children and their families, and since 2005 to adults with Parkinson‘s too. There is an extensive website at:

Catastrophe strikes

Smiley Steps' Conductive Education program is likely to be reduced as there is an overdraft that needs to be reduced. One of the staff is pregnant and the opportunity is being taken not to replace her while she is off on maternity leave.

Read about this and more on the parental blog Jamie. Thus: ‘Conductors receive 3-4 years training but the trustees want volunteers to step in.’

Double whammy

Now the local Child Development Centre that Jamie attends has been uprooted to make way for bigger plans at the local hospital.

What can one say?


-- (2009) Do disabled children come last this year? Jamie, 16 January

-- (2009) Child development centre at Medway Maritime Hospital closed, This is Kent, 15 January

Cox, L. (2009) Children's centre moved to help hospital meet patient demand, Medway Messenger, 16 January


  1. I, too, thought to post something on this story Andrew. But as you write, "What can one say?"

    The only thought I have is that if we only had a greater sense of ourselves (we bloggers or we in CE), we could at least agree to write individually to the person who is taking these decisions - and to announce that we have done so on the internet - reporting any follow-up responses.

    I do not know that such an action will have any material effect on any decision (we are not yet a large enough group, perhaps) but such an action would have this much effect:
    1. the person making decisions would know that 'the world is watching' - and on the internet too (however, I believe I have some personal circumstantial evidence that announcing that an issue is being made public on the internet has focused minds);
    2. the people (in this case) in Kent, would know they are not alone.

    Any one any comment?

  2. Nornan,

    I do hope that I am not becoming mellow or even tolerant in my old age. I have to admit, though, to having a sneaking sympathy for the individual suits who process such a 'decision', which is in fact made by no single person but by a whole, huge, blame-concealing, budget-chasing, job-protecting structure.

    I suspect that little free will or personal responsibility was exercised by anyone involved at the hospital level, simply the collective, self-preserving, head-down response of people trapped in any alienating, dehumanising bureaucracy.

    They are probably (most of them, anyway) individually nice people whom you'd be pleased to have as neighbours.

    There, as I said, I'm mellowing. I do still think more and more, however, of the staff of the old Deutsche Reichsbahn and of other Continental rail services. Surely they knew...?

    What though can one person do against the might of the administrative machine? It is easy enough for me to be smug. I ducked burn-out more than twenty years ago when I found the direction in which the public services were going unbearably repugnant. I jumped ship (into Conductive Education). My resulting pension testifies to why some people choose to stay and to... After all, as they will be clearly told, they are not employed to exercise their personal consciences. They thenhave a simple option.

    Just as individuals in 'the health' (and 'the education', and 'the social') are impotent to effect change from within, so too are mere individuals from without. Changing the structure, so that things like have happened in Medway are no longer possible, not even conceivable, would take colossal political and moral force. Even of people in Conductive Education were capable of effective co-operative political effort (and you know better than do most that they are patently not) all the power that they could muster would be trivial and impotent in the context of changes required here.

    This is a job for the big batallions in the fields of child, family and disabled welfare. To pluck just an obvious one out of the air, what about Scope? As soon as one says this it becomes obvious that organisations like Scope are also too small-fry to have much if any real power in changing something like the culture and workings of Government funding and management of the health service. Maybe if Scope, and Mencap and the upteen other large charitable bodies with apparent responsibilities here could act together...

    Please don't add to the problems of our health service by holding your breath until they do.

    I'm sure that the folk in Medway already know that they are not alone. They probably also already know that the public sector's sometimes seemingly mindless ignorance of the human lives of its 'clients' (ultimately its wage-payers, though one might not think so) is not something unique to this specific 'decision' in Medway. Their children, I guess, are mainly still young. They have yet fully to experience the dehumanising and degrading excesses of 'statementing' and of an education system that talks and talks (and sends a fortune around) 'special educational needs', whilst year after year incomprehensibly refusing to maintain a school workforce with practical training to do anything relevant to meeting their disablrd chldren's developmental and educational needs.

    Still, I hard needly tell you this!