Lest we forget

It is very much normal to want to move on, to let memories fade, to look to ‘the present’ or ‘the future’, after a period of trauma.  Sadly, we may meet new perils or dramas that consume our attention, arouse our anxiety, fuel passionate feelings - leaving our earlier wounds and vulnerabilities unaddressed.  When Kipling’s … Continue reading Lest we forget

A time for unity

There are two types of call for unity. One is recognition that it’s essential, with everyone involved doing their best to find common ground and a constructive way forward. The other is an insistence that dissenters should fall in behind the ‘party line’, one example being that the British People have decided we are leaving … Continue reading A time for unity

First among equals

Charles Walker, a  Tory MP for 17 years, spoke on Wednesday evening on the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-63320605 Among many other pertinent comments, he said “I’ve had enough of talentless people putting their tick in the right box, not because it’s in the national interest, but because it’s in their own interest to achieve ministerial position... “ … Continue reading First among equals

Silence may be golden……..

Viewers will have noticed that we haven’t posted for a very long time. Penny and Chris have both been very busy with books. Penny’s ‘Don’t Turn Away: Stories of troubled minds in fractured times’ has recently been published by Elliott and Thompson, and Chris’s co-edited book ‘Seeking Asylum and Mental Health: A practical guide for … Continue reading Silence may be golden……..

Looking forward

Everybody’s looking forward: to the data enabling the dates; to the vaccine offering protection; to families and friends meeting, playing and sporting; to businesses opening doors and tills. Optimism, despite the need for caution, appears almost realistic. But the damage that we will also face is, frankly, frightening. With countless livelihoods lost, poverty and inequality … Continue reading Looking forward

A Conspiracy?

I’ve been surprisingly preoccupied by what a man from Hull said to a Guardian reporter recently.  Unlike other angry conspiracy theorists, he fully accepts that the Coronavirus is real, but he believes that it is being deployed to kill off the poor, especially everyone on benefits. Now, as all readers will know, there has been … Continue reading A Conspiracy?

A holiday snap

Forgive the silence.  Odd as it may seem, Penny and I have been on something called a holiday. I know that many others have tried it, with mixed results, ranging from being caught by sudden quarantine restrictions, to finding bookings cancelled, through to the simpler surprise and pleasure of actually getting a break. Ours was … Continue reading A holiday snap

Beyond the first wave

It is, of course, tempting to itemise the ample downside of government strategy, advice and action, whatever they have got right. There is just so much to choose from - responding too late, inadequate supplies of PPE, putting care home staff and residents at lethal risk, the incompetent ‘contracted out’ test and trace system, and … Continue reading Beyond the first wave

It’s getting darker

While worst case predictions suggest up to 120,000 more UK Covid deaths this winter, we face a dangerous co-morbidity: the virus and politics.  Of course politics has infected our response to the virus from the start, but a new mutation is fast spreading. When every effort should be being made to learn from the last … Continue reading It’s getting darker

Social Distancing?

Let’s start with Penny’s niece, ‘A’, the in-patient nurse working in a mental health ward for older people, who she wrote about in her last post.  You’ll remember that she and her colleagues were not deemed to need testing, despite intimate work with very vulnerable, elderly patients, one of whom had tested positive for Covid-19. … Continue reading Social Distancing?

The centre cannot hold

When, in what feels like another universe, Chris Grayling awarded a contract for Brexit-related Channel ferries to a firm with no experience, or ships, there was much amusement, as well as downright despairing fury. This followed his destructive privatisation of much of the probation service: an utterly inept, and pretty catastrophic, intervention, which, in May … Continue reading The centre cannot hold

Lashing back – 2

Much debate has been evident about how long the public’s patience with lockdown rules will last. Questions are being asked about what kind of irresponsible infection-spreading behaviours may emerge as restrictions are lifted.  This is a very serious and vital concern.  We do need, though, to begin to think much more seriously about the feelings … Continue reading Lashing back – 2

Lashing back – 1

A couple of days after reading Penny’s cheering post about community and collaboration, I visited our local shop: the one she described as making such a positive contribution to our community.  Behind the counter, shielded a little by the plastic screen, was one of the staff, a young woman.  She was obviously distressed, and had … Continue reading Lashing back – 1

Following the science

The British Government have made much of the idea that all their decisions during the pandemic have been led by science.  I find this both encouraging and slightly alarming.  Encouraging because we seem, as others have pointed out, to have emerged from a period of denial of the value of ‘experts’, a time when it … Continue reading Following the science

Carers in the shadows: confronting our demons

What can we say when staff in care homes and community care organisations plead for resources and recognition?  How do we respond to the distress they are feeling, as they witness severe illness, and unprecedented numbers of deaths, among their residents and clients?  How can we do justice to and support the value of their … Continue reading Carers in the shadows: confronting our demons

A blame game

No team or group is without members who underperform, either from time to time, or consistently.  Football fans, and observers of successive Cabinets and Shadow Cabinets, will recognise this truth.  They will also attest to the fact that, when blame infects a team, collective morale, resilience and effectiveness decline rapidly.  The blamers are distracted from keeping their own … Continue reading A blame game

All in it together?

It is being said that this pandemic is a great leveller. Oh that it was so. The world waits with trepidation, anticipating the devastating effect that is likely once the virus takes hold and sweeps through countries like Syria already ruined by war, the poorest countries in Africa and Asia, and over-crowded refugee camps.  Here … Continue reading All in it together?

A communications challenge: public and professional

Communication is vital at a time of immense public anxiety, uncertainty and various positive and negative responses to guidance, strategy and delivery of services. Work to understand the various 'audiences', their cultures and preoccupations, their vulnerabilities and their resources, is urgently required. It is not enough to publish lists of 'do's and don'ts', information and … Continue reading A communications challenge: public and professional

Freeing up anxious managers to act intelligently

I’m in touch with frontline staff in different NHS Trusts through my work. The story is the same from each of them: understandable fear for themselves and their patients, amplified by the lack of PPE and ignorant or helpless bureaucratic responses when they complain about this. The virus is now prevalent on many wards, not … Continue reading Freeing up anxious managers to act intelligently


Just now, many of us are improvising – bringing established skill sets to bear on radically different, unfamiliar, situations.  This suits some types of personality more than others, yet we may all have to do it. Over many years the NHS and social care have evolved into ‘command and control’ systems.  Individual responsibility, and even sense of … Continue reading Improvisation