Care Workers And Disabled Activists: Better Together

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Diddy-D's picture
Diddy-D
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May 12 2012 12:48
Care Workers And Disabled Activists: Better Together

I was wondering what comrades think about social care workers, and disabled activists, working together.

I attend a forum of mental health service users. It meets monthly in a large community centre, but has its own offices, with social rooms, a 'hub' with computers, and meeting rooms.

Some of the peeps who attend the forum are carers of the mentally ill, Governor Members of the local NHS Trust (elected by the body of patients who have joined the Trust), representatives from other forums, voluntary sector organizations (like Mind, for example), and the mental health charity Together.

NHS officials who co-ordinate heath and social-care services, come to speak to us. And sometimes even a psychiatrist will show his/her face hehe. I am one of the more militant activists, and tend to be critical of, if not, anti-psychiatry. So it's pretty good stuff all round.

But I know now, that many peeps who work in the health and social care services, are facing austerity measures. They have given years of their lives to caring for the sick, and are now being shit on by the bosses for their efforts.

And the mentally ill and peeps in other disbaled categories, are having their benefits 'reassessed', in other words, arbitrarily cut to reduce the benefits bill. Many of these peeps are now in a real mess, and are frightened to death, so much so, that I have a colleague forum member, who knows of two suicides among his wider network due to this.

I think that militant disability activists and militant care workers, are all in this together. We should work collaboratively, to tell the bosses to fuck off.

Leave off the health workers, no redundancies. And no cutbacks in the social wage.

The only way to do this, is ultimately via insurrection and revolution, with all productive means and services, held in common, under collective workers control, whether we have jobs, or whether we receive the social wage.

We are all under attack now, and we are all in it together smile pink black star

vanilla.ice.baby
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May 12 2012 14:52

There is a really interesting new international initiative coming out of Canada but with a strong presence in the UK that seeks to bring care-workers and "service users" together as equal partners in opposing austerity...

I've forgotten the name off the top of my head but I'll have a look next week and get back to you.

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Diddy-D
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May 12 2012 15:35
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
There is a really interesting new international initiative coming out of Canada but with a strong presence in the UK that seeks to bring care-workers and "service users" together as equal partners in opposing austerity...

I've forgotten the name off the top of my head but I'll have a look next week and get back to you.

Cheers smile pink black star

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madashell
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May 13 2012 13:16

Thanks for starting this thread, Diddy.

Out of curiosity, are you familiar with Black Triangle? They're a group of disabled activists with a presence in the North West.

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May 13 2012 16:16

I can see why this could be beneficial, but especially in the case of mental health, I think it's more worth while to work with other service users because it's hard to trust psychiatrists.

Diddy-D's picture
Diddy-D
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May 13 2012 19:13
Konsequent wrote:
I can see why this could be beneficial, but especially in the case of mental health, I think it's more worth while to work with other service users because it's hard to trust psychiatrists.

Comrade, that's not an issue, cos plenty of service-userd don't trust psychiatrists themselves. I myself am anti-psychiatry.

What is it that you don't trust about psychiatrists, if you don't mind me asking?

And also, many service-users are not involved too closely with a psychiatrist, if at all. I know peeps who attend the forum I mentioned, who are not under psychiatric review.

And many are "well" enough to do their own thing anyway, irrespective of what soem bollocks-talking head doctor has to say about anything lol smile pink black star

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Diddy-D
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May 13 2012 19:15
madashell wrote:
Thanks for starting this thread, Diddy.

Out of curiosity, are you familiar with Black Triangle? They're a group of disabled activists with a presence in the North West.

No I hadn't heard of them. But I will check them out.

Thanks MAS smile pink black star

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May 14 2012 02:19

This is just an anecdote, but I think it says something about care worker and service user cooperation.

So last week I had a vist from my mental health care worker. During that visit she said some fairly unpleasant, run of the mill racist, stuff about travellers. Now, any friend or almost anyone else I would have called them out on that quick as fuck. But in this case I tried to change the subject as fast as possible. And that's because she has huge amounts of power over me. I need her to give me references to voluntary organisations, benefits offices and so on just so I can participate in society/live.

And that, to me, is the problematic in the service user-service worker colaberation project. In theory, it really ought to work. But I'm constantly scared when talking to mental health workers that saying the wrong thing will make them fuck me over. For example, I've told mental health workers I don't really care about strikes because I didn't know what they though and wanted to make sure they didn't screw me over for having the 'wrong' opinion.

Yes, mental health workers share the interests of service users in many, many ways, but also, they have a huge amount of arbitrary, fucked up power over us. And at this point in time I am not willing to co-operate with anyone who has that much power over me that they can use on a whim.

That may be my mistrust and cowardice talking, but, fuck it, I've been threatened with sectioning, I fucking need to to be able to pass a CRB check for most of the jobs I want to apply for and I can't be having with the possibility half the people in the room can ruin my life with one form. So I won't be organising with mental health workers. I'll turn up to their pickets (already have), but I'll not be in a decision making place with them. They have too much power over me for that to be at all meaningfull.

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Chilli Sauce
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May 14 2012 11:55

That sounds like interesting stuff you've got going on DD. Do keep us informed.

RedEd, that was a really interesting post. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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May 14 2012 22:18
Diddy-D wrote:

What is it that you don't trust about psychiatrists, if you don't mind me asking?

It's not that I don't trust psychiatrists as people, I just mean that in the experience of many service users it's difficult to be open with them, as RedEd's post demonstrated. I didn't mean they can't be trusted in the sense they'll do something terrible just that a certain level of trust might be needed for service users to organise and that the power dynamic in psychiatry isn't really conducive to that. That's my experience of mental health services at least but I think there's also good reasons why this is the case.

The problem as I see it, is that when your using mental health services you're officially the insane one and the person dealing with you is officially the sane one (at least in the sense that, irrespective of their own mental health problems, their job is to be the sane one in your interactions). So although things go fine as long as you agree with them or you defer to their officially healthy mind, as soon as there is a clear difference in opinion, yours is automatically less valid. Obviously doctors in general will think they know better than you about your illness even if you've just got a cold, but at least when you go to you GP with a cold it's just the fact that they've studied these things that makes their opinion worth more, and not additionally the fact that they think you having a cold directly impacts your ability to understand your cold, to decide what medicine to take for it, or to establish whether or not it's gone, not to mention the validity of your views on everything else from current events to what you're doing with your life.

I used to be involved in a group called the radical mental health group. It was just for mental health service users (or would-be service users who avoided using services). Interests varied from wanting to take collective action against psychiatry, to developing alternatives to mental health services like co-counselling, to just ranting to each other about what kinds of shit we were having to put up with. We also had a reading group for Foucault's History of Madness which kind of came out of the group. Although I can see that when fighting austerity measures it might be a bit different, I think most of us really wouldn't have felt comfortable in a group where psychiatrists were welcome as psychiatrists. Psychiatrists who are also service users, no problem. But not ones who are there in their official capacity as sane person. If we were going to try and work together against austerity then I'd rather it was as separate groups which co-ordinated activity.