I’m sure the people at King’s Fund and the Princes Trust, who collaborated on this research into innovative park careworker recruitment in this time of crisis, are good people, but this bit of the ensuing blog left me pretty startled.
From the blogpost, it’s not quite clear whether the chief executive concerned has developed a systematic process of leaving things in fridges and a rota for which children won’t go as hungry that time round, or whether he just just lobs in the odd egg & cress sandwich he got for 30p from the Coop round the corner, but the message is still the same: low pay, of the scale that doesn’t allow women in his employment to feed their children, is just one of those things in the ‘industry’, and turning the workplace into a foodbank is an acceptable way to salve his and the industry’s conscience.
To be charitable, this hot recruitment tip appears in one of those throwaway blogs that policy wonks have to do to fulfill the public engagement bit of their job description before moving on with the policy wokery, and I’m sure the author might — if he realizes what’s he done - regret making it look like King’s Fund is actually recommending this as a strategy.
Nevertheless, I do think it offers a pretty decent insight into the institutional make up of those institutions intent on reforming the utterly broken care ‘system’; in these institutions, careworkers remain an inconvenient cost and obstruction to loftier goals.
You can see a bit more of it here, from another person who basically wants good things for people but who can’t quite bring himself to, in Ece Temelkuran’s words, to choose the whole reality*.
For Neil, understandably and correctly, the system must be turned on its head, so that the person receiving care is in control, but in stressing the need to value properly those who draw on care so, he turns away from an obvious truth: that careworkers are undervalued because they are mostly women, mostly working class, often BAME, and relatively powerless to change the conditions of their own lives, never mind work with others towards the wider systems change we need.
Here’s what I think can be done about it all, for what it’s worth. Start with the whole reality of powerlessness and work out the best way for careworkers to start to exert agency. As a top tip, it doesn’t involve randomly sticking food in fridges, but it does involve as a very early point campaigning for careworkers to earn enough money to feed their children.
*Neil, of course, would lay the same failure to see the whole reality at my door, and indeed has done.