Castle Pillock 10
Do you know how much it costs to keep two cats in nibbles, kibbles and toilet requisites for a month? About the same as it costs me for everything else from Morrisons online. I worked it out, and about half the monthly outlay is on them. Okay, so there’s two of them, but I don’t also have veterinary insurance and Frontline.
Such things are now dear to my heart because Castle Pillock is retiring. Castle Pillock has had it up to here with social services restructures and bloody hubs. Everything’s a hub. No-one works out of a building any more. We all work out of hubs. Within each hub there’s a Single Point of Access. Or sometimes a Single Access Point. But you must know your SPAs from your SAPs because if you put a SPA rather than a SAP in your case notes you’ll confuse the CPN attached to the CRT that used to be the FRT and the ICT (not the ICT that plays with computers, the other ICT with the District Nurses) before they were combined and the CCG decided it would all be one sodding buggering hub.
I remember when it was all One Stop Shops. This was a little difficult for our local authority because we didn’t have one stop. We didn’t have a Town Hall. We had a beautiful medieval Guildhall which held the council chamber and a few offices, and then we rented dingy premises in various parts of the city. That’s right. A city that got its Royal Charter in 1212 had its Housing and Social Services sandwiched between Jumbo’s Chinese All You Can Eat Buffet and Karachi Select Pakistani Cuisine. The Karachi burned down and the Health Inspectors did for Jumbo’s, but we soldiered on amidst the ruins until we finally got our Town Hall. Not called a Town Hall. Nor, thankfully, a hub. Called…West Offices. Inspiring.
At the same time that the universe was going to be saved by One Stop Shops, there was another phrase doing the rounds: The Customer Is Never In The Wrong Place. The sheer bloody absurdity of this slogan used to reduce me to tears of hilarity or despair, depending on the kind of day I was having.
‘I want to put in a planning application.’
‘I’m sorry, you’re in Child Protection, but you’re not in the wrong place.’
‘Planning is here?’
‘No, Planning is round the corner, but you’re not in the wrong place.’
‘What the fuck are you talking about, you silly bitch?’
‘I have no idea, but you’re not in the wrong place.’
Now, indeed, nobody is in the wrong place. We are a One Stop Shop. Unless you want Learning Disabilities, who are in the middle of the retail park on the ring road. But apart from that, we’re all pretty much in the one place.
And now they want to farm us all out to community hubs.
Well, not us exactly. The services. Well, not the services. The computers that people will have to use to self-assess for the services that will be provided by Our Service Partners. Our Service Partners who will be instrumental in Engaging The Community. The Community that is You, shaped by You and fully responsive to Your needs.
In other words, if you want a service, talk to yourself.
It helps if you’re a volunteer, because then you can actually provide your own service as well. Otherwise you will have to rely on other volunteers – you know, those chaps who are already on their knees because the statutory agencies are engaging with the community at the rate of knots, as budgets are slashed and senior management notice an icy chill in the air and start counting the lifeboats. I moved to Adult Services a couple of years ago, and I don’t think any of our Heads of Service have lasted longer than six months. They all loved working with us, were inspired by our dedication and commitment, and one even sent his secretary round with a tin of Roses as he disappeared into the sunset. It was quite a big tin too.
So Castle Pillock has decided to retire. Castle Pillock has been banging on about retiring for about a year, to the point where other battlements in the area have been pulling up their drawbridges and closing up their window slits and putting out signs reading, ‘For God’s Sake Get On With It Or We’re Coming To Put Your Head On A Spike’. Castle Pillock did shed a few tears when the online Pension Calculator thingy advised that moneys due wouldn’t even keep a cat in kibble, but the following day Castle Pillock was invited to a meeting in a Pod, a Pod, and Castle Pillock thought, no. I might as well go to sea in a sieve.
And I have a feeling the water’s going to be lovely.