Wednesday, 20 April 2011

UKRF Wiredin Conflict

I thought I'd just put up a quick blog to provide a little clarification for those who have been following the issue of 'ownership' that we raised with Wiredin. We (first Alistair Sinclair then myself and others) simply asked; who 'owns' wiredin. For the detail on this please see this blog

generated by somebody else (and I assure you, it is someone else) with similar concerns to us. When Alistair's blog (and we don’t know who it is) in which he raised the 'ownership' question) and comments was removed and when we, with others, found ourselves censored we started using twitter and face book to continue to ask questions. This is a link to David Clark's blog on Wiredin today:

Whilst this is upsetting we will continue to seek clarity about David Clark's private company Wired In Ltd.

We will not enter into 'mud-slinging' and personal attacks. 
We attempted to resolve the questions we had with David Clark (Director Wiredin) and Michaela Jones (Editor Wiredin) and, having failed to receive a clear answer as to Wiredin's ownership, we raised the question yesterday with Wiredin Stakeholders. We were not totally comfortable with this course of action, mindful of the wider implications for the UK Recovery Community, but felt we have no other route left open to us.

We did this because, as Wiredin Community members, we felt it was reasonable to enquire as to the status of Wiredin. We cared about it.

On the 15th of March this year a new Wiredin community member (‘marcymarcymarc’) asked in a blog on Wiredin whether Wiredin was “profit making or recovery based”. Michaela Jones responded to this saying:

“Wired In is a charity so is not profit making and any funds go into running and developing the community.”

This comment concerned us as we were unclear as to whether Wiredin actually was a charity. 

So we asked for clarification. The 1st response we received from David Clarke was not clear and raised further questions. It 'appeared' from David Clark's response that Wiredin was owned by his private company. So we asked for further clarification as did others. We did not cast 'aspersions'. We continued to ask questions. We were then censored, as were others, and the blog in which we raised the question was removed from Wiredin. We continued to ask questions. This time in emails sent to David Clark and Michaela Jones. We got no response. So we wrote yesterday to the Wiredin Advisory Board and the website sponsors raising the questions with them. We thought that if Wiredin is owned by a private company (and David Clark's blog today again 'appears' to suggest that) then it should not describe itself as a charity. That is our concern, we believed it was a charity. Nothing else.     

We haven’t necessarily got a problem with private enterprise. There are many private companies that provide useful services, jobs and valuable social functions. We would just expect a private company to clearly identify itself as such. We would expect a company that grows through the contributions of unpaid community members (and asks donations of them) to be clear as to what it is. We would expect a 'recovery-oriented' company (private, voluntary or social enterprise) to be open and transparent in all its dealings. We would expect a recovery-oriented company to be open to questions and challenge. We would expect it to respond to questions and challenges without resorting to personal attacks on those who raise them. We are upset with the response we have received. It's been a tough day.
We will continue to ask questions and we'll keep you updated on where we end up.

We make the path by walking it. (some days trudging it).

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bill White interviews Me, can you believe it.

It starts off

In 2009, I had the pleasure of lecturing in London and Scotland on the New Recovery Advocacy Movement in The United States. During that trip, I met a number of professionals interested in increasing the recovery orientation of the UK treatment system, and I also met many members of a growing UK recovery advocacy community. One of the more memorable of these encounters was with Anne Marie Ward, who I suspected would develop into one of the most dynamic leaders of the UK recovery movement. In the time that has passed since my visit, that presentiment has proven to be correct. In early 2011, I interviewed Anne Marie about her advocacy activities and her thoughts on the history and future of the UK recovery movement. Please join us in what I found to be a most fascinating discussion.

Bill White: Anne Marie, perhaps we should begin by having you introduce yourself to our readers and share how you came to be involved in the recovery movement in the UK.

Anne Marie Ward: Sure, Bill. As a person in long-term recovery, I began about 9 years ago in a professional role to explore how local statutory services could be more involved in helping individuals and families who were suffering from addiction. Part of my role then was to develop a forum whereby service providers could discuss with those they were supposed to serve various issues that the statutory services felt were important. It quickly became apparent that the two groups couldn’t be further apart in what they each identified as important. The beginning of my role as an advocate began from my experience in that role, witnessing people’s voices not being heard, and the powerlessness they expressed. During my time in this role bringing various providers of services together, it was also very clear that providers worked in competition, isolation, and even in conflict with each other. They were often unaware of what each organisation provided, which was a great hindrance to people accessing the services they needed.

Please click on the link to Bills site to see the rest and other interviews, more from the UK coming soon !

Teen Rehab? Yes, Yes, Yes!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Blog removed from wiredin

Seeing as my last blog link was removed from the site it was homed in, I have provided a link to another blog where an anonymous friend, with serious computer skills has made it magically reappear, this is not an attack on wiredin. I still believe the site it has the potential to be a useful resource if the owner can get his own house in order.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A new reality for the thousands who entered the abyss on the 1st of April 2011

A new reality for the thousands who entered the abyss on the 1st of April 2011

Today I became one of the great numbers of folks swelling the ranks of the unemployment queue. I believe the next three months stats, even after doctoring, will show a very significant rise of folks who were “let go” on March 31st 2011.

To use an irritating but apt phrase - this is the perfect storm - high unemployment being merely the first ripple of the approaching front.

Over the last forty years the forces of globalisation and an incessant drive for private sector profits have seen manufacturing driven from the UK into cheaper regions. We have also seen the loss of “real” apprenticeships, declining educational standards, welfarism and many more politically sensitive factors that have eroded the employability of the indigenous workforce. We have seen a response to these conditions; a resulting jobs gap replaced by both the public sector and welfare with export earnings replaced by debt.

I don’t think anyone would argue that the last Conservative government (and then Labour) decimated our heavy industry and replaced factory jobs with retail, IT, banking and welfare. More recently the never ending pursuit for profit has resulted in the off-shoring of even these jobs. I have witnessed my generation becoming reliant on a debt-fuelled retail and property boom. Both of these sectors were always unsustainable and I believe we have a great deal further to fall. What we are left with is a hollowed out economy, leaving scant remains.

Even for people who have the abilities, intelligence and entrepreneurship that a skills and service-based economy requires there is little in the way of real or secure jobs about. Our young folks are facing high unemployment and student loan hell and they, like me, are never likely to be able to pay off their student debt and, unlike me, for them an affordable home looks increasingly unattainable. I’m currently mortgaged to the tune of £135K, and owe around 12k on my student loan. I didn’t do credit cards or any other kind of debt as the latter terrified the life out of me. Scant comfort in these challenging times.

We are told the nation is bankrupt. We have seen the cuts to spending result in demonstrations and civil unrest and this has only just started. We have reached a rubicon of taxation beyond which any more tax raising measures on ‘ordinary’ folks will actually reduce revenue and damage the economy further. The Government will not tax where the real profit is. The vital small business sector is held back by lending inertia and inflation has eroded profits.  The pound in my pocket buys me about a third less than it did at the weekly shop two years ago. Meanwhile, with more and more folks like me signing on, the deficit and welfare bills are rising inexorably.

We are continually being told that the public sector needs to shed hundreds of thousands of jobs and demonstrate value for money. Notions of ‘public service’ are under sustained attack. Multi national corporations sacrifice all for profit. Governments are bought by vested interests and forces of chaos, both natural and political, are at large - their cadence growing faster by the week. A looming oil crisis may well bring about the £10 gallon.

It would appear there are few options available and none are palatable. I suspect it will not be long before there is a mandatory work-for-welfare scheme seen as a return to the workhouse or new forms of slave labour.

The one major thing which bugs me about our government and the political and media classes is their apparent supposition that this is a temporary glitch and that in a few years we'll be up and running again.

We're in for a precipitous decline in living standards and there is no way of knowing how far down the bottom is or when we'll reach it.

The Economists who plan the way things are run are held up to be scientific gurus instead of right-wing snake oil salesmen. The media try (and do a pretty good job) to tell us that our interests are the same as the corporations and that eternal growth is sustainable and will eventually trickle down to us. The main political parties are all agreed this is the only way whilst the compliant media never (or hardly ever) present any alternatives as rational or achievable.

What do we need to do then? Well, some of us will continue to take to the streets in huge numbers. It is not wise to just stall and hope the economy recovers. It can’t in this system. The system is broke.

Human beings are problem-solving social animals. We need other people, and we need the self-esteem that flows from contributing something of value to the community in which we live. To create is to express who one truly is. The tragedy is (as Marx made clear) capitalism alienates us from the fountain of self-respect. When we farmed or made things for our families and friends and sold the surplus we could literally enjoy the fruits of our labour. The kind of work people are offered today denies them the dignity and joy of creation and so, all too often, it degrades self-esteem rather than enhancing it.

Modern society and its memes have hooked into instincts we barely understand and we are left addicted to consumerism. As with alcohol and drugs consumerism offers us a kind of fake comfort. We are lured down dead ends in our desperate search for something, anything, to fill the hole in the Soul.

Alcohol and drugs and brand-led consumerism are the opiate of the masses.

Freud said that human beings need love and work. Without the latter we find it hard to have real love for ourselves. Narcissistic obsessions yes, love and respect no.

Meaningful work makes you free and not working will, eventually, send you into an abyss of self-loathing, usually deepened by the AOD people use to stave off the utter despair generated by lives without ‘meaning’. This is what capitalism offers you; shiny toys in exchange for your soul.
Choose life.

Tolstoy, in a letter to Valerya Aresenyev, (November 9, 1856) said, "One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love…" (Troyat, 1967, p. 158). Freud is purported to have said that the goal of psychotherapy is to allow the patient to love and to work (Erikson, 1963). The themes of love and work are central to some of the most influential theories of psychological well-being (e.g., Erikson, 1963; Maslow, 1954; Rogers, 1961). There importance for healthy functioning has been empirically documented (e.g., Baruch, Barnett, & Rivers, 1983; Gurin, Veroff, & Feld, 1960; Lee & Kanungo, 1984; Vaillant, 1977). Study after study has shown that satisfaction in one domain is associated with satisfaction in the other. But how are love and work related? What is the nature of the connection?

I am left concluding that there is absolutely nothing any the world’s governments (or the ‘free markets’) can do about this state of affairs as long as we remain wedded to free market policies and more nationalist, autarkist solutions have their own severe drawbacks. Resources will only get scarcer. This is inevitable. So our buying power, even if there is economic growth at some time in the future, will only go one way and that is down.

We are all going to have to become more versatile, as communities and as individuals.  As a matter of biological history, the greatest cause of extinction is over-specialization. This new time, this new ‘recovery’, will belong to the agile, to the Jacks-of-All-Trades, to the generalists.

Some ideas worth of exploring are

I’m left today with hope despite the blackness. The phrase ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’ is prominent in my thoughts.

We have no other options. We have to keep learning, keep organising, stay creative. We have to step up and take the challenge. We, as individuals and communities, will be engaged in recovery for as long as we have the heart and the will. We are not alone. We are many. If we open our eyes we can see. The need for recovery is everywhere.