Violence in the office


4:05 pm - January 24th 2012

by Guest    


      Share on Tumblr

contribution by Nathaniel Mathews

The Law Centre is surging with people. More and more have eviction notices, court dates and tight benefit appeal deadlines. Volunteers and staff perch in every office, trying to advise the poor and the upset.

Years ago Patrick, a sad old man drinking and lost from his family was evicted from social housing for being an annoying drunk. We argued that he was vulnerable because he had a tendency to self harm.
The Authority deemed the risk low. We explained to him why this was the end of the line.

Patrick perfectly understood the legal niceties of risk assessments, and on the day of his eviction arrived at our office blind drunk and cut his wrists in the bathroom. An ambulance came and he survived. He also bled all over the donated children’s toys which forced us to throw them all away.

We have a policy that prohibits abuse of staff, racist ranting and threatening behaviour. Yet vulnerable people with severe mental health problems increasingly come to our door.

Eventually another client begins to scream. It might be something that the Council or their landlord is doing to them. It might be blame and recrimination towards our advisers who have not warded their misfortunes with legal argument sufficiently. In the end it makes little difference.

Working in this environment takes its toll. All that stress, all that shouting, the adrenaline becomes poisonous after a while. Experienced lawyers, trained to work with the worst of the worst, can’t keep on working in these conditions.

In a sense I agree with Kenneth Clarke and Jonathan Djanogli, sponsors of the Legal Aid Bill that will strip most funding from social welfare Legal Aid. If the public services worked properly, and they should, I would happily hang up my shingle, because there would be no need for a lawyer.

No need for a lawyer then? Yet cases for the Social Worker and the Therapist keep on arriving at our door. When we are gone, where will these people, these human beings, be sent to next?


Help save Legal Aid – support the Justice For All campaign

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
This is a guest post.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Law

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


1. Leon Wolfeson

The streets. And from there jail.

Really, do you always ask easy questions?

Like most right thinking people I really want Patrick to be housed and to sort himself out – and like most honest people I will admit this is as long as its nowhere near me or my family.

3. Hattie Henderson

Risk assessment is a pointless cover up. Whoever invented it probably thought it was a good idea, but when money is tight, it is used as a way to stop spending money where it is required. It would perhaps be better, to instead think of our own & other people’s Damage value, i.e. we are all damaged by our exposure to life. The more Damaged we are the more it costs all of us – financially and emotionally. The real problems begin when the people that care disappear because nobody cares about them. I care and I’m proud of it.

4. Leon Wolfeson

@2 – Like most bigots, sure. Typical Tory thinking.

@2, I hope I never have to meet you or any other so called ‘honest’ people, you sound like a poor excuse for a human being. Why bother raising a family in such a disgustingly selfish environment?

Quoting OP: “We have a policy that prohibits abuse of staff, racist ranting and threatening behaviour.”

Presumably these policies are not bigoted or selfish, whereas the wish to live away from anti-social people is wrong?

Avoiding ghettoisation and helping troubled people to live in the community is not solved by crude social engineering or wild accusations of discrimination. The “care in the community” initiative of the mid 1980s allowed people who had lived for many years in institutions to settle into a fairly normal house on a fairly normal street. That required commitment from social services teams and a lot of PR that new neighbours would be a bit different, but nothing to worry about.

Looking after people like Patrick requires commitment too. Part of that commitment is that wherever Patrick lives, his neighbours will be comfortable. Is that too much to ask?

7. So Much For Subtlety

No need for a lawyer then? Yet cases for the Social Worker and the Therapist keep on arriving at our door. When we are gone, where will these people, these human beings, be sent to next?

You give an eloquent paean to the work you do – pointing out how you make people worse. Lawyers burn out when they realise they are making things, and people, worse. You need to ask this question?

These people won’t be complaining. They won’t be swearing at you. There is no law of God that insists that they need to appeal against their landlord. You provide them with the chance to act up and so they do. Pointlessly, as you make clear, because so many of them are acting out, not actually in possession of a legal issue. If you stop providing them with a venue and a sympathetic ear that makes them think acting out will work, they will stop acting out.

If ever there is an example of making the situation worse by trying to help this is it.

Although Patrick should have gone to an asylum. A “wet house” perhaps.

The piece encapsulates one aspect of socialism that jars.

A Christian should say to Patrick “Come and live near me, I will look after you.” Very few people are that noble, for we’re all sinners.

A socialist will say “I will pass laws that enable you to live near somebody else” and they will feel very noble.

And they will mock the Christian

9. Chaise Guevara

@ 8

That’s not in the article, you just made it up to make a clumsy straw-man swipe at a political philosophy you don’t like. And does someone have a chip on their shoulder about religious issues?

Next time, read the article before you reply. Ta!

CD-13 s comment is spot on…and as for the silly ‘straw man’ comment by Chaise Guevara words fail me…socialism [and all the socio-political engineering that goes with it] is a dead duck or should that be dead parrot.

@9

An expected response.

The article is fine, if a little self-congratulatory, and that is the problem. Patrick’s predicament is not being solved, it is just being moved around, and that’s the point I’m making. So let’s spend a lot more money doing that, shall we?

I’ve never voted Tory – most of my votes since 1970 have been for Labour – but I’ve noted a growing dislike of anything that smacks of christianity on this site.

Fair enough … but don’t bother with the usual insults, I’ve heard them all before.

Bzzt! Patrick, socialism fault, ten seconds to comply. Beep!

13. the a&e charge nurse

[11] “I’ve noted a growing dislike of anything that smacks of christianity on this site”. there is an important distinction between challenging ideas which do not seem to be intellectually tenable and framing such challenges as some sort of personal attack.

The secular/religious divide emerges when religions other than christianity come under the spotlight.

For what it’s worth I think your comment @8 is a fair point to make.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 11

“An expected response.”

So? Predictable isn’t the same as wrong.

“The article is fine, if a little self-congratulatory, and that is the problem. Patrick’s predicament is not being solved, it is just being moved around, and that’s the point I’m making. So let’s spend a lot more money doing that, shall we? ”

I’m not sure what you’re doing here: blaming the author for the very thing the author is trying to fight, or saying that the problem is a waste of money because the proposed solution isn’t perfect. Or something else.

“I’ve never voted Tory – most of my votes since 1970 have been for Labour – but I’ve noted a growing dislike of anything that smacks of christianity on this site. ”

This site is fairly anti-Christian, I agree. But it’s a bit odd to bring it up in this context. Total non-sequitur.

“Fair enough … but don’t bother with the usual insults, I’ve heard them all before.”

I didn’t insult you. I gave what I think was a pretty fair criticism based on your contribution.

BTW, I am honestly unsure if you are the same person as the troll @ 10 and 12: your names are similar, but he turned up after you. If it IS you, kindly stop. If not, apologies.

Ernesto: “I didn’t insult you. I gave what I think was a pretty fair criticism based on your contribution.”

That’s correct and a fair point to make. I was trying to stop a “predictable” future set of insults. Mention Christianity on this and other left-wing websites and it’s usually the reponse.

BTW, Why Chaise?

OK, enough is enough and I’ve only got the one web name.

16. Chaise Guevara

@ 15

“That’s correct and a fair point to make. I was trying to stop a “predictable” future set of insults. Mention Christianity on this and other left-wing websites and it’s usually the reponse.”

Fair enough.

“BTW, Why Chaise?”

“Chaise” means “chair”, e.g. chaise longue. “Chaise Guevara” = “Armchair Revolutionary”. It’s just a joke, one that probably isn’t funny to begin with and certainly becomes less so with the explaining. If you’re asking because you suspect it means I’m a big Che Guevara fan, the answer is no, I’m not.

17. Flowerpower

Chaise

I think you are being a bit rough on the bloke @8. The Christian responsibility thing may not have been in the OP, but was implicit in dave’s comment @2.

Besides, it’s not necessarily a religious point so much as a cultural one. Our country is nominally and notionally “Christian” in culture and tradition. Our ethical system is broadly based on the Christian ethical tradition … and part of that tradition is to’ love thy neighbour’. But it is also true that we do tend not to want the Patricks as our own neighbour (in the literal sense), preferring the State to make him someone else’s neighbour.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 17 Flowerpower

“I think you are being a bit rough on the bloke @8. The Christian responsibility thing may not have been in the OP, but was implicit in dave’s comment @2.”

1) He specifically said he was raising an issue with “the piece”, which I assume means the article itself.
2) I don’t see how it’s implicit in dave’s comment anyway.

“Besides, it’s not necessarily a religious point so much as a cultural one.”

The only people making it into a religious thing here in the first place are you and CD13!

Thanks for reading and the usual (very) spirited debate.

7- Actually most clients we get are quite reasonable, even if they are often quite desperate. And usually we can get some kind of result. As someone with a mentally ill person in the family I know people with these conditions can be self centred and manipulative (just like anyone else), but equally they sometimes simply can’t help “acting out.” It’s the illness.

8. I’m not sure I see this is always true- what about the strong Christian tradition of socialism for example? I found the comment amusing though, thanks. You won’t have me having a go for being a Christian or any other religion- it’s the truth and accuracy of what is being said that counts.

11. “self congratulatory” LOL. Being pompous is I’m afraid an occupational disease for lawyers (we’re also mostly arses). I think the work “A Law Centre” does can achieve wonderful transformative results, and make no apology for taking pride in that. I guess I was trying to convey how mind numbing the work can also be sometimes. On balance still very rewarding.

I guess the point I was making was that demand for our services goes up and up even as our resources go down, and people with mental health problems and such

Nathaniel,

Thank you for a very reasonable reply. You’re right about the Christian Socialist tradition and that’s why it’s so disappointing nowadays to have to wear a tin hat whenever you mention the “C” word on a left wing blog. For some, it’s a red rag to a bull, and there seems almost a hatred of any mention of Christianity.

Anyway, best of luck with your work in the future.

@5 – I am selfish, thats the point made about honesty.

I am selfish in that i dont want annoying drunks bothering me, my girlfriend or our children.

Its all very well presenting yourself as a paragon of virtue on line, but i actually live in a shithole estate at the minute and its full of drunks and drug addicts.

Give me your address and Ill let a couple know your willing to take them in and help them out.

Why should everyone else have to accomadate patrick and his anti social behaviour? wouldnt it be easier for Patrick to accomodate others.

Anyway Dave my comment stands, prove your not selfish by inviting Patrick to live with you.

@4 of course im bigoted against annoying people, you silly twat.

Can we not descriminate against people based on their behaviour now?

@8 – Thats my point.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Violence in the office http://t.co/zYqUx4E9

  2. Jennifer Hynes

    Violence in the office http://t.co/zYqUx4E9

  3. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Violence in the office http://t.co/Qdd6QZOz

  4. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Violence in the office http://t.co/08ZnEgqM

  5. John D Clare

    Liberal Conspiracy – Violence in the office http://t.co/Qdd6QZOz

  6. debbie bricker

    #UK : Violence in the office http://t.co/08ZnEgqM

  7. Nathaniel Mathews

    RT @libcon: Violence in the office http://t.co/lQpCFkrm And now in Technicolour Vision

  8. Violence in the office | My Blog

    [...] Violence in a office [...]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.