LGBTQ Services for Youth

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Young People (YP) are specially categorized when it comes to health and social services, and there are specific qualifications and trainings that enhances practitioners’ skills and approaches when working with youth. The category itself brings up key issues regarding sensitive subjects and complex psychoemotional, cognitive and social situations and processes that young people will experience thought the youth course of life. However, a developing area of youth services, which still faces many challenges, is LGBTQ services.

It is quite common for those services not be communicated well to the potential service users if they exist. In other words, such options of support are not promoted fairly for the people who might find use for them. Even though health services are installed within institutions (e.g. colleges), the LGBTQ subject area is not “obvious” and therefore provides a miss the opportunity to engage with LGBTQ youth.

Perpetuated stereotypes in our society tend to define which services young people can access. It is not unusually for youth to desire social belong among self-socially-accepted groups absent diverse environment. Most importantly, peer groups or family dynamics often become a critical reason why youths may not use such services due to the stigma and discrimination they might experience.

As long as young people feel intimidated by such potential outcomes, LGBTQ youth will continue to face dismal outcomes as relates to homelessness and suicide. According to an article in the Huffington Post on US statistics,

On a national level, the suicide risk for gay and lesbian youth is far higher than for straight young people, according to a 2011 study by the Massachusetts-based Suicide Prevention Resource Center. The study also found that gays and lesbians between the ages of 15 and 24 are up to three times more likely to report suicidal thoughts and up to seven times more likely to report having attempted suicide than their straight counterparts. Read More

More action is needed in creating and maintaining better policies and programs to produce an environment where young people may express themselves on a non-judgmental ground. There is lack of sources and information regarding integrated support services with educational institutions, which are the main socialization environments for young people teenagehood to early adulthood. This alone should be a primary motivator to increase protective factors and reduce risks in young people lives during the early stages.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t3vfQIJ-zk

The College of Social Work Hosts First Joint Conference for Principal Social Workers

Social work leaders from across the United Kingdom are gathering together today for a major conference hosted by The College of Social Work in London.

The College of Social WorkAround 150 Principal Social Workers (PSWs), working in both adults and children and families services, will be attending the conference, which will focus on sharing best practice and evaluating how PSWs can make a positive difference to social work practice across English local authorities. PSWs are a relatively new role; they provide professional leadership in local areas, encouraging high standards of social work practice.

A conference keynote speech will be given by Maria Moran, chief executive of leadership development organisation Common Purpose, who will talk about the vital contribution of leaders and “leading beyond authority”.  Annie Hudson, Chief Executive of The College of Social Work together with Lyn Romeo (Chief Social Worker, Adults) and Isabelle Trowler (Chief Social Worker, Children and Families) will also be speaking at the event.

Mark Godfrey, chair of the Principal Social Workers for Adults network, said:  “This conference is an important event in bringing together Principal Social Workers from across the country to develop the PSW role and examine how we can learn from one another in promoting high quality social work practice.”

Marion Russell, chair of the Principal Social Workers for Children and Families network, said: “This conference represents a landmark in the development of the Principal Social Worker role, demonstrating our commitment to taking a whole family approach to supporting and helping the most vulnerable individuals and families in our society.

“We are grateful for the support of the Chief Social Workers, Department for Education, Department of Health and The College of Social Work in recognising the status of the social work profession, and leading on improvement and reform.”

Media contacts

Mark Ivory | Head of Policy and Communications |
Office: 020 8453 2922 | Mobile: 07769 265624

Jane McCormick | Senior Communications Officer |
Office: 020 8453 2924 | Mobile: 07939 592965

Press Release: Social Work Helper Magazine was not involved in the creation of this content.

Seeing Beyond the Negative: How Understanding Culture Adds Perspective

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Whilst working in local authority (Child Welfare Agency) as an auditor and conference chair, I have been involved in several child protection cases involving North Korean families. Child abuse is a complicated issue and there is much research on families in the UK from different cultural backgrounds and a lot of information can be found by looking at the Serious Case Review Biannual Analysis which is what I often do when researching issues to do with child abuse. As social workers we are often focused on some of the most difficult aspects of humanity, and our need to find out what the negatives are almost prevents us to see what the positive aspects of people’s worlds and cultures are.

Serious case reviews are a well researched government sponsored data gathering which is put into information which is easy to assimilate and not full of academic jargon based on class room discussions. The Biannual Analysis deals with real families that we as practitioners work with every day, unfortunately these reviews consist of children and families struck by tragedy. What did the Biannual Analysis tell me about North Korean families? Much in social work is based on hunches and anecdotes, my current inquiry was why are so many North Korean families being referred to children’s services and why was the nature of the child abuse so similar? I have not been able to find any information that can help me which might be a good thing bearing in mind the criteria that cases are submitted for SCR’s.

I have been involved with cases which have similar factors, they show the impact of parents who as children were abused or had harsh treatment in their past, and who may also have had recent post traumatic stress from possible torture or fear and anxiety of retribution or separation from family who may be at risk back home.

Also, I made an information request to the ICS department, ( ICS is our data capture system)which did not show huge numbers subject to child protection plans, but certainly showed significant numbers of children who are subject to child welfare services. This particular local authority has a high number of North Korean families. Other facts about their circumstances and child in need support may provide us with some interesting insights into these families who have sought refuge in a far away country.

As a social worker I am challenged to look after my wellbeing by eating healthy food, however local to where I work, there is a great Japanese street food restaurant that does fast take away orders. This is where I normally grab something to eat, served by the same familiar woman who takes my order and shouted it out in what I thought was Japanese to chefs busy cooking on open fires in a row of street kitchens.

Almost suddenly in these times of austerity in London, a new Japanese restaurant opened around the corner to my office and as I have no commitment to anyone place I tried it out and began ordering my take away from the new place. A few months later a familiar face greeted me in the new restaurant, the smiling friendly face of the lady who formally shouted out my order with limited softness of face, in the bustling open street kitchen.

She greeted me like a long lost friend and was pleased to see me in the shop that she was now working in. She seemed very much more relaxed, possibly because the restaurant was fairly new and did not have as many customers as the street stall and she could actually have a conversation with me instead of the conveyor belt like system which kept the street kitchen lively and cheap.

Mi Yung and I started talking about her journey to Britain, and I was overwhelmed by her declaration about how she did not care if she woke up and it was raining (in Britain we moan about the weather) she was happy when it rained because she had the freedom to work where she wanted and to stand up to her bosses if she felt that her rights were being impinged. She had loved working in the street kitchen but the quickness of the serving had not allowed her to talk with people and this was what she wanted to do more than ever.

Her journey to freedom was based on the need to interact with people when she wanted and to be truly happy, working in this new restaurant meant that she could grow in a way that most people who are born into less restricted societies take for granted. And although she needed a job she expressed to me the need to work somewhere that she could be free and meet and greet the world.

Now, my inquiry is much more based on the positive aspects of the North Korean society in the area; how to mobilise the positive aspects of people like Mi Yung who see the world with eyes based on growth not just on past abuse or being stuck in trauma. Understanding culture is important for social workers, but we do not always need to learn from negative occurrences of adult violence or child abuse.

We can learn by understanding and interacting more with people who have come through adversity attempting to catch glimpses of how they remain resilient and what aspects of their positive worlds can aid those who are not so able to let go of their past. In terms of child protection the local authority should talk to people like Mi Yung to gain an understanding or what support can be put in place to aid and support North Korean families. With regard to social workers intervening with families of similar backgrounds, this lively discussion seems to have been missing in the past decade of social work transformation.

Sketty Productions: Tackling Mental Illness Through Sport and Theatre

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Every two hours, someone in England takes their own life. Suicide is a leading cause of death amongst young men in the UK and it is estimated that 90% of people who commit or attempt suicide suffer from mental health problems. 850,000 children and young people in the UK currently have a diagnosed mental health problem. However, mental illness amongst young people is still, sadly, somewhat of a taboo subject. Research shows that 75% of the people who successfully commit suicide were not receiving support from a mental health service prior to their death.

Result is a new theatre production from Sketty which hopes to get young people talking about mental health. It focuses on the lives and experiences of six young men training in a Football academy and documents the emotional impact of their consequent successes and failures. Sketty is an English theatre company co-founded back in 2005 by brothers Alex and Toby Clarke. Football is not an area commonly associated with vulnerability and so I was intrigued as to how it could be used as a means to discuss mental health stigma. I met up with Sketty’s co-founders, Alex and Toby, to find out more.

Rebecca: What was the purpose of creating Result and how did it come about?

Toby: Our older brother has a little girl. I have a little boy and we all get together some weekends. One weekend, whilst the kids were upstairs cooking fake food, he began telling me about his new job as Consultant Sports Psychologist for under 18s at a Premier League Football club… He gave me an overview of the kind of training process youngsters are put through in youth training academies and how important his role was in supporting them throughout the two years they are in the academy. I got goose-bumps as he told me about the lack of mental health provision there was in the game (but reassuringly not in the club he is based in).

He shared his concerns at the youngsters lack of a plan B and how part of his role was preparing them to deal with success as well as failure, how to approach the game mentally as well as physically and how to channel criticism in to something more positive. The more he spoke, the more I wanted to write this play.

Alex and I then went away and did a bit of research on the game… and came across stories of depression, stress and suicide with some cases directly linked to the surmounted pressure that is placed on players at such a ripe age. We knew from the first sharing that we were creating a vital play that will raise awareness of the strain that is put on youngsters. It is set in the world of football but it chimes with all adolescent pressures.

Rebecca: What do you hope to achieve from this production?

Alex: We hope to produce a show that encapsulates and informs. Our aim is to take this accessible play in to schools and colleges in order to begin a debate on how to prepare yourself for the future. I spent three years working in the youth sector and have experienced first hand the transformative nature of theatre and its ability to challenge opinion and perception. Football is such an accessible subject matter. We could use it to stir discussion around ideas of racism, homophobia (still not a single player has come out in the game), peer pressure and ambition.

Rebecca: What are the central themes of Result?

Toby: Communication. I started to look for a common theme in all the boys’ stories and the word ‘communication’ came up each time. David who sustains the injury can’t talk to anyone and is suffering alone, Lofty can’t have it out with his Dad about his affair and relies on the game to hide away from it. The Coach is too proud to ask the Psychologist for help and the Psychologist is trying to communicate and connect with the boys through terminology only he understands.

Alex: The only suicide in the piece comes from the person you least expect since he is Bi-polar and a master of disguising his real emotions. We are working with a young actor who has had first hand experience of this illness and we hope to capture it with honesty. Ultimately, the message of the play is ‘Got a problem? F*****g talk to someone.’

Rebecca: Who do you hope will come to see the production?

Toby: We hope the appeal will be universal. We intend to generate a young audience who can relate to the themes and stories in the hope that it informs their own lives and choices.

Theatre holds up a mirror to the world. In my opinion, it can do two things. Firstly it can transport you to places that thankfully you’ll never have to go to so you get to experience trauma and suffering without actually having to go there but still finally helps you consider others’ plight.

Secondly, it can reflect your own life and here’s where I believe theatre is at its most powerful; when it creates enough truth for its audience to associate with the narrative: “That’s me.” Or, more importantly: “That could be me if I don’t…” The best plays I’ve seen or read have helped me to make sense of my own small world even if it was dealing with a much bigger one.

Rebecca: Why do you think mental health is a difficult discussion for young boys?

Alex: I think mental health is difficult to discuss no matter what age you are. If you discover, for instance, that you suffer from depression then it doesn’t matter at what age since, that moment, the discovery is still the same.

Toby: Young boys (and girls) have great lives these days. They go on cool holidays, have the best friends, the most loving boy friends and girlfriends and go to the most amazing parties. But then once you log off Facebook, once the self promotion is taken away you’re still left with reality. Sometimes that reality consists of having to pick up your sister after school everyday because your mum has to work/can’t work/can’t be bothered to work. Often reality is struggling to make it in to school on time because your EMA has been cut and now you have to run because you can either afford the bus or lunch that day.

Reality for some young people is sleeping with someone or stealing for someone because that’s the only form of love and attention they can rely on. For others, it’s simply that horrendous feeling of not fitting in since deep down you know you’re different. But all their Facebook statuses show them having a wonderful time and they tweet about how awesome their lives are. So after maintaining the charade on social media…where and when do they get the chance to tell someone “I’m not coping.” Everybody else is, I saw the pictures, I read the statuses so why am I the only one struggling? Why am I the only one who’s different?

I recognize there are charities and individuals out there doing invaluable work with youngsters and I’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked with some of them. But talking about mental health issues is scary and sometimes it needs sugar coating or camouflaging. Sometimes it doesn’t need the words ‘therapy’ or ‘seminar’ attached to it. I believe a ‘silly play’ is sometimes enough to get people engaging with their own inner conflicts, and even sharing them with complete strangers in a safe and creative environment; a first step towards coping before they’ve even realized it. We need more creative platforms for young people to talk.

Result is due to be shown at the Pleasance Theatre London in October 2014. To find out more about the show and Company please visit Sketty Productions or email info@skettyproductions.co.uk.

Motivational Interviewing: An Evidence-Based Approach to Working with Families

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a form of strengths-based counseling originally developed by Miller and Rollnick with the aim of helping people to change. Miller and Rollnick defined motivational interviewing as “a collaborative, person-centered form of guiding to elicit and strengthen motivation for change”.

Proponents of MI tend to argue that it is more than a set of techniques to help strengthen a person’s motivation for change as it also encompasses a particular ‘way of being’ as a practitioner, based on collaboration rather than confrontation, evocation rather than the provision of advice, and on the promotion of individual autonomy rather than a reliance on authority. In the field of substance and alcohol misuse, MI has a good evidence base as being an effective way to help and there has been in recent years an increasing interest in the use of MI techniques and principles in the field of child protection social work, particularly in the UK.

In addition, MI has many philosophical similarities with strengths-based approaches more generally. A recent systematic comparison between MI and strengths-based practice found that MI practitioners tend to focus on the goals to be achieved (rather than on any problems that may exist), on service users’ current strengths and how to utilise these for future change, on the employment of service users’ own resources, on the development of a positive and collaborative relationship between the practitioner and the service user, and on the provision of meaningful choices.

As such, in my view, MI is both potentially of practical use for social workers in many different fields, wherever the aim is to help people to change, but it also fits well with the broader value base of the social work profession in its’ recognition of autonomy, of expertise by experience and its’ focus on collaboration.

In practice, MI involves changing the way we speak to service users as a way of putting these principles into practice. For example, by asking the permission of the service user to either discuss certain topics or before giving advice, affirming the control of the service user and their ability to make choices, by supporting and encouraging their efforts so far and by asking open questions and reflecting on what they have said.

One would also seek to avoid confronting the service user or directing them as to what they should do. Rollnick, one of the principal founders and developers of MI, provides the following examples of how one might engage with someone about smoking, with the first being an example of ‘the righting reflex’ (the desire to advise and direct solutions) and the second being an example of a more MI-consistent approach. I’ve added some comments in brackets to highlight where the doctor in these examples is either using or failing to use the principles of MI:

EXAMPLE 1:

You: Are you a smoker? (closed question)

Patient: Well, sort of yes.

You: How much do you smoke each day? (closed question)

Patient: I don’t know, about 15-20 years?

You: With that chest, I must tell you, it’s going to get worse if you smoke like this (confronting)

Patient: Yes, I know but you see it helps with the stress, if you knew what I go through with that truck and the long roads, it’s enough just to get through the day.

You: But if you carry on like this you might lose even more time at work (confronting and not listening to the patient’s reasons for smoking)

Patient: yes, I am cutting back you see.

You: Well we’ve got some good aids to quitting if you are interested? (advising, directing)

Patient: yes thanks, I’ll give it some thought thank you doctor.

EXAMPLE 2:

You: would you mind if we talked about your smoking? (asking permission)

Patient: Well, OK.

You: How do you really feel about it? (open question)

Patient: I’m trying to cut back, but I can’t say it’s easy with my job, you know it’s stressful driving a truck.

You: It’s not easy for you yet you’d like to smoke less (reflecting, highlighting the patient’s possible motivation to change)

Patient: Oh if I could, definitely, I know it’s not good for my chest for a start.

You: You can feel the effect for yourself and it’s not pleasant (reflecting, highlighting the patient’s possible motivation to change)

Patient: That right, but it’s such a stress reliever it’s hard to let go.

You: It’s difficult for you to imagine being without smoking (reflecting)

Patient: yes, that’s exactly right, you got me.

You: I don’t want to give you a lecture or hassle you about this, but I’m wondering what would be helpful for you? (emphasising patient’s control, seeking their opinion on what might help)

Patient: I just don’t know Doc.

You: Tell me, deep down, how important is this for you right now? (open question, emphasising the patient’s option to seek help or not)

Patient: I feel sick and I’m tired, and this smoking wears me down…

The difference between these two conversations is quite stark and I can easily imagine how the patient in the first example might leave feeling under pressure but without any real motivation to change, whereas in the second example, the patient would (hopefully) feel listened to and may leave thinking about why they do actually smoke and perhaps even thinking about what it might be like if they could stop.

I would suggest, and there is evidence to support this, that the patient in the second example is much more likely to come back to the doctor for further help and support, whereas the patient in the first example may not and may even actively avoid getting into a discussion about smoking again with their doctor.

One very simple technique for seeing how well one can put these ideas and principles into practice – of asking open questions, seeking permission, emphasising the service user’s control and choice, reflecting on what has been said and seeking to highlight potential ambiguity regarding the possibility of change – is to record a conversation with a service user (with their permission, of course) and simply listen back, noting down when you have asked open or closed questions, when you have advised without permission, confronted or directed and where you have been able to reflect and emphasise the service user’s autonomy.

Personally, I have found this to be a powerful learning technique in my own practice and this, in turn, has allowed me to develop my own skills of MI, which I believe has made a difference for how productive my conversations and discussions are with services users.

For More Information

Miller, W. and Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change. Second edition. London: The Guilford Press.

Miller, W. and Rollnick, S. (2009). Ten things that Motivational Interviewing is not. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 37(2), 129-140.

Forrester, D., Westlake, D. and Glynn, G. (2012). Parental resistance and social worker skills: towards a theory of motivational social work. Child and Family Social Work, 17(2), 118-129.

Manthey, T., Knowles, B., Asher, D. and Wahab, S. (2011). Strengths-Based Practice and Motivational Interviewing. Advances in Social Work, 12(2), 126-151.

University Conference to Debate Latest Issues around FGM

Anti-FGM campaigners Leyla Hussein and Ifrah Ahmed will be amongst a host of speakers set to talk about the challenges presented by female genital mutilation at a London conference organised by Coventry University.

Home Office minister Norman Baker, who is leading the UK government’s campaign to eradicate FGM, is also set to deliver a video address to the conference.

The conference – which comes as the Crown Prosecution Service announced the first ever prosecutions under the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003) last week – will take place on Friday 11th April at the University’s London Campus near Liverpool Street.

Prevention or Prosecution? The Behaviour Change Approach to Tackling FGM in the EU will discuss research carried out by Coventry University and its partners in the European Commission-funded REPLACE 2 project – which was set up to combat FGM.

Leyla Hussein, who co-founded the ‘Daughters of Eve’ organisation which works to protect girls and young women at risk from FGM, will talk about the importance of preventing the practice amid widespread discussion around achieving prosecutions.

Dublin-based, Somali-born Ifrah Ahmed – an FGM survivor – will discuss the crucial role community engagement has to play in putting an end to female genital mutilation.

Workshop sessions in the afternoon aim to delve down into some of the deeper challenges surrounding FGM, and will involve the discussion of forthcoming academic papers on the issue – including those addressing ethical, legal and economic concerns.

The UK government’s latest statement on the matter of female genital mutilation followed the signing by senior ministers of a Home Office ‘declaration to end FGM’ on February 6th – the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation – and underlined the “serious criminal” nature of FGM.

Professor Hazel Barrett from Coventry University said:

“We’re seeing the issue of FGM being taken very seriously across government, but there’s still a considerable amount to be done at a community level to work towards preventing the practice in the first place. A lot of high-level discussion on the matter focuses on legislative concerns and achieving the first prosecution in the UK, but through our research we’ve been finding that there are far more complex factors at play which put the onus for long-term solutions on changing attitudes amongst communities affected by FGM.

“This cannot happen overnight, but with the right approach we can do a lot to influence current and future generations into recognising and acknowledging the harmful effects that FGM can bring about.

“It is these issues and concerns that will be at the forefront of discussions at our conference, and we will benefit from the insight of some key figures and campaigners, including those who have experienced FGM and have been fortunate enough to have survived to help prevent others suffering from its consequences.”

The all-day conference – entitled Prevention or Prosecution? The Behaviour Change Approach to Tackling FGM in the EU – will take place at Coventry University’s London Campus on Middlesex Street (map).

For more information, visit www.replacefgm2.eu.

Press Release: Social Work Helper Magazine was not involved in the creation of this content.

UK’s First Female Genital Mutilation Prosecutions: A Triumph for Human Rights campaigners

Yesterday, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service announced that it will be prosecuting two men over allegations of female genital mutilation (FGM). Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, 31, and Hasan Mohamed, 40, both from London, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on the 15th April and it will mark the first prosecutions of its kind.

FGM-Anti-FGMIn England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 was replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. The 2003 Act raised the maximum penalty for FGM from five to 14 years in prison and made it illegal for UK nationals to carry out FGM abroad even in countries where it is legal.

FGM, also known as ‘female circumcision’ or ‘female genital cutting’ (FGC) is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as”all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

It is estimated that approximately 100-140 million African women have undergone FGM worldwide. Journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of the book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, continue to campaign tirelessly to end gender-based violence. Their book documents numerous true horror stories of women who have been subjected to FGM around the world and the subsequent physical and psychological trauma that they have to overcome. The physical ramifications include severe pain, heavy bleeding, infections, cysts, difficulty in menstruating, sexual dysfunction, complications in pregnancy and fatal haemorrhaging. In addition to this are the social and psychological implications for the woman.

However, this is no longer an African problem as today’s announcement recognizes. FORWARD, an African Diaspora charity which campaigns to eliminate FGM, estimates that 6,500 girls are now at risk in the UK. The majority of those at risk are from African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities. Despite it being outlawed in the 1980s, it is precisely because of the ethnicity of those affected that the law has been so slow to prosecute. Lack of understanding around new, incoming communities, and a fear of demonstrating cultural superiority, rather than embracing multi-culturalism, has left FGM unaddressed. However, thanks to the hard work of campaigners from the African and Asian British communities, the nation is finally realizing that abuse is abuse and torture is torture, regardless of your culture.

Recognizing the universality of abuse is a huge success for Human Rights campaigners. However, there is another factor that needs to be acknowledged if we are to see an end to FGM. For too long, FGM has been referred to as a “Women’s issue”, much in the same way that rape and sex trafficking previously were. Of course, like rape and sex trafficking, this is not a “Women’s issue” but rather a Human Rights issue that not only affects all people, but should really matter to all people. Describing it as a “Women’s issue” confines it to the responsibility of women to sort out; as if the many male perpetrators have no role to play in its prevention and eradication. It also separates the woman from her integral place in the fabric of society; as a Daughter to a Father, a Sister to a Brother, a Mother to a Son. The systematic mutilation of women simply does not only affect women. It is a “Men’s issue” too.

Hopefully these two prosecutions will mark the end of this horrific practice in the UK and place even greater pressure on its acceptability internationally.

UK Budget 2014: An Insult To ‘Hardworking’ People

Chancellor George Osborne yesterday announced the UK’s Budget for 2014. In a country plagued by recession, those on middle and lower-income wages have been struggling with the impact of this government’s cuts. By the time we reach the next General Election in 2015, estimates state that the average family will range from being £1,600 worse off to £3,500 worse off a year.

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Chancellor George Osborne

After yesterday’s announcement, Grant Shapps, the Conservative Chairman, tweeted an advert highlighting the cutting of Bingo Tax and Beer Duty as part of this year’s Budget. The online advert said the 1p cut in beer duty and the halving of bingo duty to 10% would help “hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy.”

The government’s understanding of working class Britain is both patronizing and insulting if they truly believe that a cut in beer and bingo tax will assist in making life less difficult. If they want to help ‘hardworking people’ do more of the things they enjoy then they have to make the price of living affordable.

Cuts to council budgets have seen hundreds of vital services taken away from those that need them most and it is no coincidence that London has seen a 62% rise in rough sleeping from 2010 to 2013. What ‘hardworking people’ need is affordable housing, affordable child care, free health care, money invested in schools and job-creation. And yet the welfare budget for child benefit, incapacity benefit, winter fuel payment and income support is to be capped for the next two years. And whilst the Help to Buy equity scheme for new-build homes has been extended to 2020, that has little noticeable impact on the majority of us who cannot afford to have a savings account to raise the initial deposit, due to paying extortionate rates for rent.

We have a Political Class comprised of multi-millionaires who have no experience or understanding of what it is like to be poor, or even to live from pay-cheque to pay-cheque. Those deciding the nation’s budget are part of the ‘haves’ and therefore Britain’s widening gap between rich and poor is of no consequence to them.

On Monday, Oxfam revealed that Britain’s five richest families are worth more than the poorest 20% of all families. The inequality in this country is farcical and yet as Wilkinson and Pickett document so brilliantly in The Spirit Level, with increased inequality comes a barrage of social problems.

This peace offering from the Conservatives is what Paulo Friere describes as ‘false charity’ in his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. “True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity.” We do not need cheaper alcohol and bigger bingo prizes; we need wealth to be distributed fairly so that half a million British people are not reliant on food banks.

Grant Shapps justified the cuts by saying that the Beer and Bingo Industry employ thousands of people and therefore the cuts will ensure job retention. However, the more cynical amongst us are worried that there is a more sinister aspect to this. As I was writing this article on the bus, a woman looked over my shoulder and told me that she believed this was an attempt to wipe out the working class. She stated that this tax was aimed at working class families like hers where both her and her Mother have full-time jobs and yet they still sometimes have to choose between keeping the heating on and eating.

There is a moving speech from the character Furious Styles in the film Boys in the Hood where he points out to his son just how poor communities are being left to rot:

“There’s a liquor store on almost every corner in the black community. Why?” They want us to kill ourselves. You go out to Beverly Hills, you don’t see (them). But they want us to kill ourselves. Yea, the best way you can destroy a people, you take away their ability to reproduce themselves.”

The Conservative’s announcement that the freezing of the duty on alcoholic Spirits is aimed at Scotland, makes me concerned at the rationale behind this decision. Scotland has twice the number of alcohol-related deaths as England or Wales and a man in Glasgow can expect to live fifteen years less than a man in London. With all this considered, the government’s Budget plan is at best insulting and at worst hateful.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y13OHEsio3Q[/youtube]

Tony Benn: A Political Inspiration Dies at Age 88

There was a time when the British people believed in the power of Politics. They believed that through engagement in the political system, they could change and better the lives of the disadvantaged and have their voices not only heard but also listened to. The idea of trust and optimism in British Politics is long gone and, I think it is fair to say, that for those of my generation, it is an entirely alien concept. Today, the veteran Labour politician and campaigner, Tony Benn has died at age 88.

TonybennTony Benn had a prolific career including working as a cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan and was President of the Stop the War Coalition from 2003. He was a fierce defender of the voiceless and believed that those in power should be held accountable. He was never afraid to stand up for what he truly believed in, even though his beliefs were not always popular or fashionable. Benn was involved in politics at the time when believing change was possible was not seen as naivety.

I saw Tony Benn speak at the London Professional Assembly in the autumn of last year. As he walked on to the stage, it was clear that he was very frail and possibly in some discomfort. As he slowly progressed to his seat and sat down centre stage, the whole auditorium gave him a ten minute standing ovation. The applause he received was greater than any I have heard.

It made me realize that we are not an apathetic society, as many would like to see us portrayed. We crave Politician’s with conviction. We care about the development of our society but have not been given a political system in which we can believe and have hope. Tony Benn astutely stated that the “idea that politics is all about charisma and spin is rubbish. It is trust that matters.”

Benn will be mourned both as a loved Grandfather and as an icon of radical left-wing politics. However, when I heard the news of his death this morning, it aroused in me a sadness at what feels like the death of truly democratic politics. Those who are willing to follow their conviction and do what they believe is right, rather than what is expedient, are no longer attracted to a life as a Member of Parliament.

Whilst Champions of the left do exist amongst younger generations, in the form of people such as Owen Jones and Russell Brand, these people have chosen not to engage themselves in a system that is so plagued by elitism that it is no longer a viable option for creating positive change for the working class. We need a political system in Britain that ensures politician’s like Tony Benn are the rule, rather than the exception.

Healing Our Most Dangerous Communities: Putting the ‘Social’ back in to Social Work

Last week, a British Court heard how Police Officer Keith Blakelock died in an estate in North London which was identified by Scotland Yard as being “impossible to police.” The Broadwater Farm estate was described by the Chief Superintendent Colin Couch, as a “working-class, multi-ethnic area” with a notoriety for the sale and use of drugs, and PC Blakelock died in October 1985 after riots broke out across Tottenham.

Keith Blakelock
Officer Keith Blakelock

Thirty years later, the problem of “impossible to police neighbourhoods” is still as prevalent as ever. In almost every country in the world, there are inner-city neighbourhoods where crime, drugs and prostitution plague the community. Cities across Jamaica, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States are all well-known for their troubled areas. And yet, there are hundreds more cities across the world, whilst they may have lower murder rates, which still suffer from the effects of poverty, drug addiction and unemployment. We all know those places where it is not safe to walk or where you would not want to raise your children.

When you actually take the time to not just look at, but really see and understand these communities, you immediately discover the inherent potential and beauty within them. This is no more evident than in the photography of Chris Arnade, who has taken thousands of photos of homeless people and sex workers in Hunts Point in the Bronx, one of New York City’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Through his photography, Chris states how he aims to “capture conventional snapshots of unconventional people.” However, what the photographs do best, is capture the humanity of even the most excluded and berated individuals; a humanity that we all share.

As a student Social Worker I undertook my first placement in an area of Sheffield that was notorious for gangs, shootings, violence and drugs. It was an area, I admit, that I had previously avoided and it would be dishonest to say that I was not a little nervous about working there. However, within the first few weeks, I found myself in love, not only with the eclectic an exciting range of people but also with the general sense of comradery and community that can only be found in neighbourhoods where there is a shared concern. The passion and involvment of individuals manifested itself in to local groups and charities who worked tirelessly to support and improve their community. Behind the poor reputation of the neighbourhood lay numerous individuals and families who were fighting for a better world. There was so much intelligence, compassion and dilligence waiting to be utilized even in this, the most “broken” of communities.

I believe that in the UK, we have lost the ‘social’ in Social Work. The true value of Social Work would be in immersing ourselves fully in these communities. Energy needs to be focussed on getting to know these neighbourhoods and then, not only supporting people on an individual basis around issues of health and housing, but also advocating for better resources and support for those living in poverty. We need to lobby at a political level and act as a voice for the voiceless.

Radical Social Work is not a new idea, but it is certainly one that has fallen by the wayside since the spread of neoliberalism which has pushed privatization, the centrality of the market and crucially, the individual as separate from the whole. As Social Workers we must draw on Critical and Radical Social Work to identify oppressive functions in society and analyze them to create social change. “No man is an island” and we must accept that a profession which seeks to heal social problems, such as child abuse, addiction and prostitution, will not be successful as long as we continue to work on a one-to-one basis with people.

No neighbourhood should remain a no-go area or indeed a complete ‘write-off’. Social Work, if utilized correctly, has the potential to heal these damaged communities. However, the key lies in ensuring that neighbours know and care for each other; that inequality does not go unchallenged and that people are never seen as less than the sum of all their parts. There is no such thing as a neighbourhood full of ‘junkies’ or ‘criminals’; there are only neighbourhoods full of varied, fascinating and important human beings.

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) London UK: Interview with Dan Morton

In the wake of austerity, there appears to be a resurgence of a social work movement to address the increasing inequities being forced upon vulnerable populations. Social Workers around the global are revisiting and taking notes from generations passed in how they responded in the onset of the civil rights movement.

Recently, I interviewed Dan Morton who is on the steering committee for the Social Work Action Network (SWAN) in London, United Kingdom. We discussed how austerity policies by global governments are causing social workers to become more involved in politics. Here is our discussion:

SWH: What is SWAN, and What types of issues do SWAN focus on?

DAN: The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) is a radical campaigning social work organisation which was formed in the UK in 2004, and it sees itself in the tradition of 60’s/70’s radical social work movement and the magazine ‘Case Con’.

What makes SWAN different from those days, is that we are a partnership of practitioners, service users, educators and students. While SWAN still has a large membership in the UK and rotates its national conferences here, it has a strong international focus – there are SWAN groups or similar organisations elsewhere in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.

SWAN sees the value in both collective practice and good relationship based individual social work, but understands that social workers must analyse and act upon the social problems they encounter with a close eye on structural and cultural influences on people’s lives. In the present international context, that means understanding austerity as a project of neoliberalism and opposing its levers in social policy – managerialisation, marketisation and privatisation. We understand the links between capitalism, crisis and the inequality and social devastation it causes. Instead we are broadly in favour of a model of human rights and partnership based practice, radical community work and a comprehensive, progressive social security system. The notion of linking ‘private troubles to public issues’ is a touchstone for SWAN.

SWH:  What is the mission and vision for SWAN in the wake of Global Austerity?

DAN: SWAN has strong links to progressive global social movements, for instance Occupy and the wider anti-capitalist movement. We are keen to support those involved in social action such as colleagues in Greece and more recently Turkey. We also have also run defence campaigns when social workers are attacked or vilified, such as Norbert Ferencz a Hungarian social worker who was arrested for speaking out against a law to criminalise rough sleepers. Likewise, in the wake of the Baby Peter tragedy in the UK some years ago, SWAN defended practitioners against the British tabloid The Sun‘s witch hunt against social workers, by highlighting unbearably high case loads, lack of resources and support experienced by many practitioners.

SWAN has often reconfigured the anti-capitalist phrase ‘another world is possible’ to ‘another social work is possible’ – we live out our methods for practice while we work towards that world through respectful alliances between practitioners, trade unions, grassroots movements, user lead organisations and pressure groups.

SWH: What are SWAN’s highest priorities?

DAN: At present to continue to build our networks and encourage practitioners and those who use services to work collectively against inequality and oppression. This means working with trade unions and service user movements to avoid divide and rule. While imperfect, we need to defend what system of social support we have left while envisaging something better. While we are under a sustained attack in the UK which is resulting in a marked increase in poverty, in Greece we have seen people turning their children into social services, as they have no way to buy the necessities of life for them.SWAN has a network of regional groups in the UK and in Eire and they will have their own particular priorities.

At the moment anti-racist social work is especially important in the wake of increased far-right activity in the UK (the rise of the English Defence League and Islamophobia in the UK, the brutal attacks on Roma in Eastern Europe). We must continue to work with disabled people to refute attacks dividing them as either ‘lazy scroungers’ or ‘worthy strivers’.

SWH: If someone wants to become more familiar or collaborate with SWAN, where would they found you on the web, and what key points do you want them know?

DAN: SWAN has an English language website – www.socialworkfuture.org – and a Facebook site. Our twitter handle is @swansocialwork. We gladly welcome written contributions on radical practice both in the UK and internationally- email swansocialwork@gmail.com. We would also be delighted to have more folk in the US and Canada link up with us, though we do have connections already in some cities and states. In terms of key points, we would ask practitioners to look at the global neoliberal project over the last 30 years and the attendant rise in inequality and social problems. What do you feel the priorities of a social worker should be?

Here is a video SWAN created:

Social Work Action Network (SWAN)

Samuel L. Jackson Will Host the Fifth Annual Shooting Stars Gala to Benefit the Alzheimer’s Association

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Former social worker and Django Unchained actor, Samuel L. Jackson, has announced that he will be hosting for five years running the Fifth Annual Shooting Stars Gala 2013 with this year’s donations benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association. Mr. Jackson’s decision to continue hosting the event each year in its five year existence shows his commitment to lending his celebrity to promoting worthy causes. The Samuel L. Jackson Foundation is responsible for organizing the event in order to raise donations for various worthy causes.

This year’s event is especially important to Mr. Jackson due to the tragic loss of his mother in 2012 after a long battle with the disease. The goal of the Samuel L. Jackson Foundation is to raise money that will be put towards research for Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Mr. Jackson makes a passionate plea to help him raise donations and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. There are only 12 days left to make a donation before the event, and Mr. Jackson is asking for donations of $3.00 or more. Let’s show this fellow social worker turned celebrity that we got his back on this, and you can make a donation using this link.  I guess that I should mention that a $3 dollar donation will also enter you to win tickets and a plane trip to the UK to attend the event. For more information on the shooting stars event, you can visit http://www.shootingstarsbenefit.com

Affinity Real Estate was chosen to be the event’s primary sponsor, and it will be held on June 14th and 15th at the The Grove luxury resort in London, United Kingdom. The Shooting Star’s event is a charity golf tournament packed with other compassionate celebrities willing to lend their personas to help raise awareness for important causes. Here is an excerpt from the Alzheimer’s Association website to help you become familiar with the good work they do in fighting this incurable disease:

The Association is the leading voice for Alzheimer’s disease advocacy, fighting for critical Alzheimer’s research, prevention and care initiatives at the state and federal level.  We diligently work to make Alzheimer’s a national priority.  Join our effort.

  • We develop policy resources, including Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures and Changing the Trajectory of Alzheimer’s Disease, to educate decision makers on the economic and emotional toll that Alzheimer’s takes on families and the nation.
  • Our advocates engage elected officials at all levels of government and participate in our annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum, a march on Capitol Hill to meet with elected representatives.
  • With our chapters, we work to pass legislation at the federal, state and local level.  Learn More

View Mr. Jackson’s video explain why this is a cause near and dear to his heart:


Make a Donation Today!
Photo Credit: Freedom Bay St. Lucia

Obesity And A Cooking Lesson With Jamie Oliver! Double Whammy!

by Sunita Patmanathan

I always get asked the same question again and again, “Where does all the food you eat go to?” I must admit I am lucky when it comes to having high metabolism but don’t get me wrong, I don’t just sit and eat all day long and. I exercise every day, cook almost all my meals and never binge eat! There must always be a balance as too much of anything is no good.

This got me thinking about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. It was such a huge thing last year. Basically, Jamie Oliver was on a mission to change the way Americans eat and also reduce obesity in America. Then, he moved on to Australia, UK and the EU. Among other things, he was trying to change the unhealthy meals given to kids in school and inspire people to cook more healthy food at home. Lots of people out there want to learn how to eat better, and if he is providing a way for it, then I think it’s great! You can check out more here

These are the key facts about obesity in the world according to WHO (taken from *updated march 2013

Facts about overweight and obesity
Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. In addition, 44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischaemic heart disease burden and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity.

Some WHO global estimates from 2008 follow.
• More than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight.
• Of these overweight adults, over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese.
• Overall, more than 10% of the world’s adult population was obese.

In 2011, more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight. Once considered a high-income country problem, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. More than 30 million overweight children are living in developing countries and 10 million in developed countries.

Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight. For example, 65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight (this includes all high-income and most middle-income countries).

40 million kids overweight!! How is that even possible?! Well I guess it is possible with the amount of rubbish that food manufacturers put into all these preserved food. We as consumers need to be aware of all the things we put into our stomach and learn to eat healthy. I am not saying let’s all become vegetarians, all I am saying is that instead of buying that disgusting premade burger, just get some mince and make your own. By this at least you know what is in that dish. And if you change, your kid will as well.

Have a look at his website (the link above). So much information, simple recipes and ways to help with obesity. Now not only you will learn a whole range of things about food, you and a friend might also be the lucky one to win a cooking lesson with Jamie Oliver. He will fly you to London, throw in £1K spending money and 4 nights hotel stay!! Now who wouldn’t want that right??!! More information on that here :

I also wanted to share with you a simple yet yummy lunch box treat that I often do. Its absolutely delicious and healthy!

http://spatman365.blogspot.co.uk/

All you need is:

250g raw jumbo prawns
½ teaspoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of sweet chili sauce
1 small shallot – finely chopped
3 basil leaves – chopped
1 teaspoon of olive oil
2 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 ripe mango – cubed
1 ripe avocado – cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Marinate the prawns with garlic, sweet chili, shallots, basil and olive oil. Dry fry the prawns.
2) Once the prawns are cooked, turn heat off, add lemon juice, mango, avocado, salt and pepper.
3) EAT!
More information on the recipe here

Let’s try and beat obesity one step at a time! and try and win that date, I mean cooking lesson with the fabulous Jamie Oliver itself!!

Got Supervision? Part 2 Inspiration in the Process of Educational Supervision

by David L. Bastin

What is the relationship between inspiration and educational supervision? In my opinion, the role of inspiration is creativity. Finding the medium between experimental-existential supervision and the didactic approach is essential when searching for inspiration and creativity toward educational supervision. The supervisor must find a way to educate through a mixture of understanding the supervisee’s feelings and their tasks.

Supervision is described as the empowerment of the supervised and giving them the ability ‘to practice as professionals in spite of organizational barriers.’ The strengths perspective may be one of the best ways to empower (Sanborn, 2012). If the supervisor can creatively build on the supervisee’s strengths, then perspective, on all levels, will improve. Being informed and creative may make for a well-structured interactive. Ming-sum Tsui’s book ‘Social Work Supervision’ (2005) references the responsibility of the supervisor to be ‘kind, honest, and culturally-competent.’ Tsui also reminds us of how these details lead to extended trust and respect between the supervisor and the ‘worker.’ At this point, supervision becomes more than just a task oriented assignment.

The parallel process, as described by numerous authors including Kadushin & Harkness (2002), has a significant role in educational supervision. This process is represented by the ‘tendency for patterns to repeat at different levels of the system’ (Kadushin & Harkness, 2002). This all revolves around the fact the supervisor’s interaction with the client and worker’s interaction with the client all affect each other. In theory, this positioning can be somewhat manipulated by the supervisor if they are aware of the feelings or thoughts between the worker and the client. In my opinion, differentiation between parallel process and other situations that seem similar but are not parallel takes a great deal of creativity and inspiration.

Acknowledging or being open to aesthetics (nature, creation, perceived beauty) and effective influence, predicted creativity of an idea. Temperament balanced the relationship between creativity and inspiration. Inspiration predicted efficiency and productivity (Thrash, Maruskin, Cassidy, Fryer, Ryan, 2010). Developmental, experimental, and constructivist epistemology may be key forces when developing methods for teaching counseling educators (Chiari, 2011). And, recognizing the resistance, teacher isolation, and the ‘role of leadership in developing relationships’ are also important to inspiration and challenges in ‘guiding the professional learning community’ (Browne, 2010). Therefore, in order to, combine all these thoughts, theories, philosophies, and approaches, educational supervision takes a great deal of creativity to find inspiration for the supervisor, the supervisee, and the client, so the feelings and the tasks, at-hand, evolve.

[Contributed by David L. Bastin (2012) [David Lee Bastin studies social work as a graduate student at Tennessee State University. David’s interest in social work stems from his work as a therapist for the Tennessee state mental institution. David plans to continue working with those suffering from serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Follow David on Twitter @DAVIDBASTIN2]

References

Browne, Evelyn Gallagher (2010). Mentoring & tutoring: Partnership in learning. Vol 18(3). Pp. 321-325.
Chiari, Gabriele (2011). Journal of constructivist psychology. Vol 24(4). Pp. 351-354.
Kadushin & Harkness (2002). Supervision in social work: 4th edition. Columbia University Press.
Sanborn, John; (2012). ‘ Social work supervision.’ Middle Tennessee State University.
Thrash, Todd M.; Maruskin, Laura A.; Cassidy, Scott E.; Fryer, James W.; Ryan, Richard M. (2010). Journal of personality and social psychology. Vol 98(3). Pp. 469-487.
Tsui, Ming-sum (2005). Social work supervision: Contexts and concepts. Thousand Oaks, London; New Delhi, Sage.

 

Human Rights in the LGBTQ Community of Malaysia

Malaysian law, policies, and practices violate the internationally protected human rights of LGBTQ individuals within societies. The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has raised multiple issues in the past, and since its running, regarding awareness of human rights-related issues. Additionally, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has contributed significantly for the fighting for human rights in general, but also in particular, the human rights of LGBTQ individualsin an international level.

Prime Minister Najib, in Malaysia, in July, 2012, gave public speeches regarding new policies and measures that will aim to the social coherence of the community. Within those speeches he claimed for discrimination against LGBTQs, while at the same time he contradicts himself to his self-proclaimed profile as a ‘global moderate’ leader.

The policies and government actions that discriminate agaist the LGBTQ community in Malaysia right now, amongst other concepts, include: the shutdown, by the government, November 2011 Seksualiti Merdeka (Sexual Diversity) Festival; the program promoted by the government which trains volunteers to “convert gays”; and a recent public recommendation by the Deputy Education Minister Dr. Zarkashi.

In his recommendation he stated that educating parents in how to recognize the “symptoms” of ‘gayness’ will be very effective in fighting increase of an “unhealthy environment” for the other children in schools, such as having gay or lesbian peers. This recommendation has been taken into consideration and discussions are taking place.

The LGBTQ community in Malaysia is currently facing numerous of challenges, while they are oppressed in a moderate and indirect way. However, this still depicts discriminatory policies and oppressive actions by decision-makers. There are indications that sexual orientation or preference highlights a disease.

Based on that “problematic justification”, wouldn’t being straight be a disease as well? If we think of a parallel here, take cancer. Breast cancer is worth curing, but lung cancer seems more out of the waters and away from my temper, so let’s discriminate against it and labelize it for the sake of ignorance that we embrace!!

Human Rights go above and beyond every governmental practice, and it is, on a theoretical base, considered “hate crime” to neglect certain parts of the population of a community, as there is the potential for emotional and psychological abuse; in many cases other forms as well (e.g. riots for LGBTQ rights in Iran).

Top 5 Tools to Help Protect Against Cyber Bullying

I will be sharing with you a few useful tools and recommendations to help protect yourself and/or your children from cyber bullying both online and offline. Although social media and the internet has revolutionized the way our society communicates, it also presents many dangers that both children and adults must navigate in order to protect themselves from harm.

Those who wreak havoc on others primarily rely on either one of two factors in which to inflict damage on their intended target:  1) anonymity or 2) position or status that by virtue give them credibility over their victim. Their predatory actions depend on the silence of their victim, the inability of their victim to prove the harm being inflicted upon them, and/or the powerless feelings by the victim to stop future behavior.

One of the best examples of this psychology is in the movie “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” where a state’s guardian/worker uses his authority to impose his will on the main character, Lisbeth. Click here to View Trailer.  This post in no way serves as legal advice, but hopefully it may help you to access your situation from a strategic point of view.

What victims and potential victims should realize is that your tormentor’s psychology is obsessed with maintaining their public persona in order to conceal their private activities. Your silence is their best weapon, but I must caution you that any attempts to expose their evil side without a strategic approach will catapult them into defensive mode. Your tormentor will intensify his or her efforts in order to further undermine your credibility.

By recognizing your tormentor’s psychology, you can turn your silence into your best strategic advantage. Without them being in defensive mode, your tormentor conducts business as usual which is being the devil to you, but a saint in front of everyone else.

Why not use this period of time to document their behavior? Other than in person harassment, the most commonly used means to harass or threaten is either via computer or via phone. Here are few tools and recommendations to help support your accounting of events, but keep in mind these tools are double edged sword. Don’t send anything that you don’t want archived or saved.

  1. Screenshot– Provides  users the ability to capture a time stamped photo of whatever appears on their computer screen as well as available on android and apple phones. For more information view “Screen Capture Tools: 40+ Free Tools and Techniques”
  2. Find IP Address in Emails– Some may think creating an another email account will maintain anonymity by protecting their identity.  However, this is not the case. Email accounts provide the IP address for the computer being used to access the email account. For more information view “How to Find the Location in the Header of Gmail”, this article also gives information on other email account types.
  3. Youmail  and Google Voice-Are harassing phone calls a problem? Do you feel the need to log your incoming, outgoing calls, and text messaging….then you need to add these two apps to your phone ASAP. Youmail is unique because it can track and catalog hangups, incoming calls, and voicemails to your phone. In addition, you can call block and ditch calls with a no longer in service message. Additionally, it will act as a caller id even when someone tries to block their number and when your phone is off. Google Voice gives you the ability to add a second line to your phone with a new number without having to give out your carrier cell phone number. Also, it provides a recording option for your phone calls. Caution In the same way you may use these tools to protect yourself, don’t engage in behavior that will allow these same tools to be used against you. Often times with bullying, their tactic is to strike, but catch you in the act of retaliating.
  4. Reporting Harassment and Threats- For Information on reporting to Twitter view “How to document harassment and cyberstalking on Twitter”, for Information on reporting to Facebook view “Track Your Facebook Abuse, Bullying and Spam Reports”, and for information on general reporting view “Cyber bullying, School Bullying, and Bullycide”
  5. Social Media Monitoring-Some parents maybe ambivalent on whether to monitor or not monitor their kids behavior. This resource provides several resources to parents of children being bullied and parent’s of the bullying child. Most importantly, it provides a comprehensive tool to monitor all of your child’s social media and cell phone usage in order to provide a comprehensive picture of your child’s activity both incoming and outgoing.

“Christmas Gift” to the Ugandans

Not long ago, less than a year, was when the anti-homosexuality bill was opposed in Uganda and withdrawn by the Parliament discourse. Uganda is now reconsidering the bill as a “Christmas gift” to the Ugandans!! Rebecca Kadaga, Ugandan Parliament speaker, is convinced that the whole nation wants that Bill to pass and become effective by the end of 2012, which is a month away.

“Ugandans want that law as a Christmas gift. They have asked for it and we’ll give them that gift,” quoted as said by Ms Kadaga.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but with this Bill, homosexual acts are now banned!! Severe penalties will apply to the “criminals”, or in other words people who are homosexual, including life sentences for gay men!!!

Additionally, death penalty will be applied for people found guilty for “AGGRAVATED HOMOSEXUALITY”!!!!! Who even knows what that means!!! “Aggravated homosexuality”!! Is it an epidemic now?? So that heterosexuality is the cure? Within the Bill, they define the term as when one is a minor, HIV positive, or disabled.

It is very hard for me as an individual with personal and professional beliefs values, who absolutely supports human rights and the well being of the systems, to verbalize or put in a paper or a blog my exact thoughts, and do it delicately!

I recently met with a previous colleague of mine, whose youngest brother is gay and lives in Uganda currently. My colleague’s concerns about the situation were over the ceiling. One could tell how upset he was, because his brother has been born HIV positive, and is still a minor right now. Quoting him, “I cannot stand the idea that something might happen to M….”. I can only imagine the stress this former colleague might be feeling at the moment and the emotional wreck he feels like.

If there is even one social worker, who acknowledges and respects the values and principles of the profession and science, and who does not understand the unfairness of the policy making right now in Uganda, then this is the wrong profession for that person. I have personally lived in Uganda, in 2007, for a short time, and have a few friends there, some of them gay. I am devastated every time I talk to them and they tell me all those upsetting stories about how they are bullied by the government because of their sexual orientation.

Homosexuality is not an identity that opposes other identities a nation has, or does not conflict with cultural values. It is only a bid of “normality” among other bids!

Signing Petition:

10 Years in Prison for Same Sex Relationships

A bill which suggests 10 years in prison for living with someone of the same sex, 10 years in prison for supporting the idea of a pride march, and 14 years in prison for trying to have a wedding, one would expect that it addresses a crime. However it only refers to someone being gay.

In 2007, the Pew Research Center conducted a study in Nigerian attitudes towards LGBTQs. Based on that study, 97% of the Nigerians in Nigeria supported the idea that homosexuality is and should be a non acceptable behavior.

Regardless the facts though, there are still individuals who are NOT BEHAVING HOMOSEXUAL, but instead of having a heterosexual orientation, they have a homosexual orientation; same thing, different route! What about those individuals then? Where are the potentials for well-being? What is the answer from the social work profession in Nigeria, in Africa, and Internationally? How are those policies and changes in the social world communicated through education to the newly qualified fellow social workers? How empathetic are professionals in order to care a bit more? What kind of strategies have been followed to such issues?

The questions here could be endless, as when associated to the social work profession, one should remind thy self, that such policies step over human rights, and majority of the social work principles and values that social workers take a vow for.

I hear colleagues of mine saying that they conduct international affairs and practice!! That is another bit to be added in our education. Taking action does not always mean to physically present yourself in the crisis, but to support the cause in any given circumstances.

Also see: www.allout.org/nigeria-veto

Hate Crimes in Greece: Are you afraid to be gay?

Hate crimes in Greece have increased drastically over the last year. The political group named after “Golden Dawn” has introduced a vast variety of new ideas on how and why the social world should be functioning nowadays in Greece. I will explain myself in just a minute!

“Gays, you are the next ones” is the message on the flyers that were distributed in the streets of Gazi, the most well known gay friendly area in Athens. The flyers were made and distributed by the “Golden Dawn” only three months ago, while irregular migrants have been facing same treatment for over a year back. Regardless the developing world, the developing relationships, knowledge freely allocated on the internet, resourceful communities, we still have not found the way to awake the “sleeping minds.”

My nationality is Greek, thus I have some friends there. Recently I have received a phone call from a friend of mine. She takes a deep breath over the phone and tells me: “I am moving out.” The length of the meaning of this sentence is tremendous to me.

As a social worker I would like to see improvements, I would like to experience acceptance, and envision dreams. One to be thrown out of thy own roots is incredibly unacceptable. The psycho-social and emotional stressing factors are of worse impact to the individual, as well, when imposed turn into a hate crime.

Initially I said hate crime increases in Greece. It does. People are bushed more often these days in the streets of Athens, than they were in the 1980s! Gay men have been threatened to death and have been beaten hatefully because of their sexual identity.

Social work is a science of social change and well-being, but talking about it is not going to bring that change. Active action and international policy practice are crucial at this moment for social systems in Greece.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFEeS2OXpoI

Gay Widowers: A Social Role that Lacks Attention

Loss of a loved one, especially a spouse or a partner, is a unique experience that leads individuals into social roles that they are not prepared for; they have had no specific directions on how to become widows and widowers.

51fs6RfThuL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Being gay and a widower is a determinant indicator for disenfranchised grief which is also a grief that is not usually recognized by the social world. Let me elaborate on this with an example. Just a year ago I started a project to examine how gay men become widowers; how does that experience deliver for their lives and what the meanings and social supports are.

During this journey, of listening to grieving individuals, someone told me that he cannot fill out the social services’ forms anymore. It is unbearable. Why? Because he is a widower, but he was told that as long as there is no legal proof for that, he is just unmarried.

Experiencing a disenfranchised grief indicates three main things. One is lack of recognition of the relationship that existed, so two gay men being together and being married. Secondly, lack of recognition of the loss that is experienced. and finally, lack of recognition of the new social roles that the loss has brought. It is self-explanatory how these three core determinants interconnect and overlap; one becomes the extension of the other.

Gay men are experiencing grief and loss differently than their heterosexual counterparts. Gay grief may lack recognition based on the given society, and when it does the individual moves towards a complicated process of grieving which may lead social work practitioners in clinical practice (as well as other professionals) to interpret certain behaviors as “abnormal” (for lack of a better word) or pathological.

Gay men are struggling with issues of survival after the death of their spouse or partner. Was the marriage recognized? Is the loss recognized? Is there social support system for the person left behind? How important becomes the social recognition of the grief and the loss per se, in order for the individual to follow through a healthy process of bereavement as opposed to be dwelling in the lack of opportunities that he faces in his community/society?

Social workers work with gay people in any setting, and they can make a difference, starting from understanding the concepts and the meanings of those concepts, that their client-systems deal with. Awareness of possible scenarios may raise skills and knowledge which are crucial in social work practice.

Bereavement should be a free matter, not a socially constructed fashion! One should be able to grieve and mourn for thy loved one, and not hide it behind the social norms that cannot be fair at the time. I will close this post with something that a very close friend of mine in the US told me recently, as he is a gay widower himself.

“Losing my husband was one unbearable thing. But realizing how unwanted I am in my city, made this experience just the worse” – Gay Widower

Billy and Alan: In life, love & death, equality matters.

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