Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Richard Parry Bursary.

The big news story on the canal is the treatment that 'Maggie' the evicted boater received. The real problem within this issue is that there was no one who was 'Maggie's Friend'. By friend I don't mean a friend in the traditional way. What I mean is a nominated friend, someone within the trust. Someone who has an overview view of the situation and an in depth awareness of all the issues. As  Peter Humphreys (Explaining Maggie) clearly points out Maggie has problems that even she is not aware of. But the bottom line is Maggie has feelings and is much more vulnerable than most. We all should be dealing with her, with dignity.

Even to a crusty old curmudgeon like myself, the issues surrounding Maggie and her choice of lifestyle is obviously a very complex one. I don't actually know whether Maggie is still suffering from a mental breakdown, or in recovery from a breakdown. Maybe her situation is developing as a result of some other illness. However from her reported behaviour it was apparent that Maggie is very much at some risk. This should have been ringing alarm bells and alerting the trust. Here was someone who requires special handling. Not a section 8 seizure of her home and her only place where she feels safe. This sort of action might well send her deeper into stress and what remains of her to spiral into much deeper depression. I feel outraged that she is just left standing on the towpath for someone else to pick up the pieces or possibly a far worse outcome.

The trust is now seen to have an uncompromising attitude and strict adherence to a set of formal rules. The social services who are seemingly unwilling or unable to step-in and make a formal assessment of her state of mind. There are all sorts of formalities and hoops for Maggie to jump through even if she wanted to help herself. But it seems that she is obviously very frightened and understandably confused. When in such a state of mind, through illness or otherwise. Maggie and her behaviour in such circumstances is perfectly understandable. Maggie sees no one as a friend in her current mindset everyone is a threat. Maggie should be considered for sectioning and her treatment assessed by competent people. These are isolated, frightened, vulnerable and possibly bewildered boaters who are in fact our neighbours. Yet they are seemingly invisible in our community. 

I am going to offer another one of my out of the box solutions. I would like to see the establishment of the Canal and River Trust 'Richard Parry Bursary'. Available in times of need to those unfortunate few who have fallen through societies safety nets. The trust should not be adding to the problems but setting an example of the best kind. The welfare officer when appointed should be able to call upon the funds in the bursary in times of need. The bursary would give the vulnerable person some piece of mind and also give the trust additional time to address the complicated issues. The trust needs to learn the valuable lessons from this situation.

The trust's Chief Executive Richard Parry has stated that he will now be personally involved in reviewing all future cases involving illness prior to action being taken to evict boaters from the waterways. I commend Richard for his actions on this occasion, I am actually cock-a-hoop that someone has grasped the nettle.  However, the Canal and River Trust has still not agreed that it will meet its legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 not to apply its enforcement procedures in a way that discriminates against people.  As Pam Pickett has already said (Maggie - warts and all) Trustee Lynne Berry's has all the credentials needed with regard to the General Social Care Council and the Equal Opportunities Commission at her elbow. That is something for the Trustees under the chairmanship of Lynne Berry to address. The mantra of certain waterways mangers 'we are not social workers' just to conveniently absolve themselves from any notion of responsibility is no longer acceptable. I know that anyone with a scintilla of compassion would want to see the trust coming to aid the vulnerable, not adding to their problems. 

We don't know who will be next to have similar health problems to Maggie. It could be me, it could be you.  It could be someone we hold dear, it could be one of our boating friends. More than likley it will be a complete stranger, someone we have never met, but we still owe it to them to get it right. I hope that Maggie can get the much needed help she so desperately needs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please put your name to your comment. Comments without a name may automatically be treated as spam and might not be included.

If you do not wish your comment to be published say so in your comment. If you have a tip or sensitive information you’d prefer to share anonymously, you may do so. I will delete the comment after reading.