Social workers get a bad name. Do I want to contribute to the gutter press making them scapegoats for what goes wrong? No, I do not. Can I protect them while simultaneously defending my own interests? This is not going to be easy. I am going to have to make criticisms, but will do my best not to blame individuals, some of whom I like and know want to do their job to the best of their ability, whose integrity is not in question – not as far as I am concerned. While the competence of some of these individuals may be cast in doubt, there remain powerful mitigating factors for those failings and I am more than happy to offer corroboration of that fact. Failings may be institutional, rather than personal. I am going to do my utmost to see that no individual who I have had to deal with gets the blame when there remains a doubt as to whether they followed the procedures adequately, whether they were as much a victim of bureaucratic red tape as I have been. Because I want to protect social workers I have dealt with I will not be mentioning them by name (hope I don’t forget to keep that promise). I will be making clear that any failings are likely to be due to my having done more than I should have in the past to protect social workers as well as myself, something that seems to have worked out a whole lot better for them than it has for me.
In order to protect my own interests from here on in, Renfrewshire Council social workers are going to have to change the way they deal with me. I need considerably greater protection from now on, protection from the council, protection from the social workers themselves. To justify this I have no choice but to spell out in considerable detail what has gone wrong, and why this can’t be allowed to happen again. Let’s start with a definition:
Agoraphobia is defined within the DSM-IV TR as a subset of panic disorder, involving the fear of incurring a panic attack in those environments. The sufferer may go to great lengths to avoid those situations, in severe cases becoming unable to leave their home or safe haven. [from wikipedia]
Only since leaving Dykebar Hospital about a month ago have I decided I probably do now suffer from some form of agoraphobia. In the last month I have left my flat a mere three times, only to get groceries. I never suffered from this condition prior to being moved (against my will almost eight years ago) from the town I had lived in my entire life to another town which will remain nameless. I guess I need to face up to the fact that in addition to dyslexia and adhd (possibly a form of autism too), I now also suffer from some varient of agarophobia. How crippling it’s going to prove I can’t say. I hope I can get treatment for this, and soon. But whose fault is it that I’ve now got it? I point the finger fairly and squarely in the direction of Renfrewshire Council and those they paid to offer me support for my attention deficit disorder, a group calling themselves Scottish Autism.
I told Renfrewshire Council as far back as 2001 that I was no longer prepared to speak to anyone who worked for them other than in the presence of a lawyer. A point came when Renfrewshire Council decided to ignore my rights on this, and they used those they subsidise at Scottish Autism as a trojan horse forcing me to speak to them without legal representation. I insisted that all our meetings must be tape recorded but Renfrewshire Council social workers and Scottish Autism workers refused. I felt betrayed by them both for denying me legal representation and the right to tape record our meetings to prove exactly what we spoke about. But I was effectively threatened with sanctions unless I abandoned my legal rights. I was effectively battered into submission.
Now I have no tape recording of any of this, thanks to Renfrewshire Council social workers and Scottish Autism workers. I have no proof of anything I said in these meetings or what I was told. This reduces everything to a potentially bitter he-said-she-said dispute. But whose fault is that? Not mine. Had the others agreed to uphold my legal rights I’d could upload written transcripts and/or our actual voices onto the internet of all these meetings. So there is going to be dispute as to what happened at these meetings. And I am anxious that social workers will challenge what I say in order to protect their jobs. Given the lack of corroboration thus far what I am going to do is reaffirm my longstanding insistance that in the future all meetings involving any staff member from Renfrewshire Council allow me to either tape record our exchanges, be entitled to legal representation, or both.
If social workers challenge my account of events of what has happened in the past (and I know they will, as this rewriting of history at Renfrewshire Council has been going on for over a decade), that will add weight to my case for the absolute need for taping these meetings. With or without permission I intend to post onto the internet all future exchanges between me and employees of Renfrewshire Council. If I’m denied permission to tape record these meetings I will have to rely on my memory, which I admit is not perfect. I will also feel free from any obligation to maintain anonymity for those who deny me corroboration. I am no longer willing to let them pretend this is the first time they have heard things that I know for an absolute fact that I told them not on a single previous occasion, but dozens of such occasions.