Sunday, 29 June 2014

Story One Hundred & Three - Goodbye Whistler's Mother

The social worker (aka Whistler's Mother) finally left our lives in July 2011. We first met her in November 2007 when she was appointed Steven's transition manager. Its fair to say that it was four and a half years of carnage.

I remember the first meeting well. After meeting Steven just once, she was pushing for him to go to the positive behaviour unit. She talked about one of Steven's classmates who had recently been in the Unit and described it as "one of my big successes". Not " our" success, or "the units" success, but "my" success. I said to Julie after she left that we are dealing with a massive ego here. And I think its fair to say that her narcissism was the driver for many things that happened over the next four years.

In 2008 after Steven had been assaulted at the Unit by one of the staff, she tried to cover it up by leading us to believe it was one of the residents. From the time of the assault until the trial, she distanced herself and was no support whatsoever.

In May 2009 she visited me and told me that she would be taking Steven into care if Julie and I stayed together. It is true that Julie's mental health problems were causing lots of problems with Steven's care, but is it okay for a social worker to deliver that sort of ultimatum. I had to make the most dreadful choice and that is how Steven and I came to move to the flat in Uxbridge. I think the consequences of the social worker's ultimatum continued right up to Julie's death last month - she never got over losing her family.

And then of course, five months after Steven and I moved to Uxbridge, the social worker was the driving force behind the whole year that Steven was kept away from his home. Once again, I believe her ego played a big part in how the year unfurled. I could see that she couldn't stand me because I challenged her authority, which was very important to her. I didn't, and couldn't acknowledge her brilliance. The longer the year went on, the more entrenched and angry she became.

She managed to avoid both the initial December court hearing and the week long inquiry. I could see that Hillingdon didn't dare let her loose in the witness box but I also found it terribly weak that she couldn't face the consequences of her actions.

We now have a new social worker who couldn't be more different. She is down to earth and she is interested in Steven. She is prepared to fight his corner and I think she respects me. I said to her the other week that if we'd had her from the start, the events of 2010 would never have happened.

I bump into Whistler's Mother occasionally. We don't talk. I was in a pub with the H Man last year and we saw her sitting in an alcove with some colleagues. Next to her was a shelf with a large candelabra on. As we were leaving, the H Man said: "It was Colonel Neary, in the Slug & Lettuce, with the candlestick".

But I still find myself asking - " how can one person tear a family apart, leave a vulnerable young man traumatised, act unlawfully (as the court judged) and not have any consequences?"

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