25th October 2010
Dear Sir or Madam.
I was sorry to hear that Obelix Mahjong was unwell on Friday 22 October. It is a pity that our meeting consequentially did not happen. I tried phoning this afternoon but there was no answer so I guess Obelix might still be unwell. I hope we can find a suitable time to rearrange the meeting at our mutual convenience.
Unfortunately the lack of a meeting on Friday has emphasised another concern for me.
Between the 3th and the 5th September some difficulty developed in Biston Hospital concerning Helen and the staff. Whatever that difficulty may have been the point is that I requested some help. Not only was that request entirely not understood by the nurses involved but it has been used against me since. Ironically it resulted in your department being notified the next day of a difficulty as if with Helen and myself. Also ironically, and at great expense, you can turn up on the following day. So the hospital was incapable of getting help at the place and time it was needed but the Children Services could arrive in less than 24 hours and embark on a program of investigation, but, significantly, with no help. I did manage to sort the problem out by requesting to see the surgeon in charge of Helen's case and between the three of us (Helen, the surgeon and myself) a resolution was easily found prior to your visit.
Since then there has been a trail of errors, incompetence, and the possibility of some deception by the Children Services.
Why should I make such a damning claim? It is because the relentless erosion caused by continuous assaults on our time, emotional energy, finances, and more is getting too much to bear. Since the outset of the divorce six years ago we have spent a vast amount of time involved in other people's issues. We stand accused of so many things that it is wasting our life and constantly contributing to the declining situation that is our life.
Talking from my perspective (as opposed to Helen's and mine) it seems to me that other people can make pejorative suggestions, insinuations, allusions and accusations and that I am somehow expected to expend my energy and resources answering these issues and failing that will suffer as a consequence. It seems that they can simply cast their problem aside by the distraction of fixing focus on me such that they appear not to be responsible for either their own problem or the consequential damage to me.
There is a pattern emerging in our involvement with the Children Services. It is a pattern that is recognisable as detrimental to our well being. I want it to be recognised, addressed, redressed and stopped.
Here is a list of our encounters to date:
Tuesday 7 September: Fi Prattle and Obelix Mahjong from Children Services turn up at the hospital and Fi was somewhat accusatory in her attitude towards me. Helen reports that both were friendly towards her. We were each individually interviewed for approximately one and a half hours.
Tuesday 21 September: With no advanced warning Obelix Mahjong turns up at 80 Haslet Road apparently with the Initial Assessment report and leaves a calling card saying we weren't in and that she will call at 4 pm on 23 September. We were in and there is no history of people failing to get attention from people inside this house. The door bell was not used.
Thursday 23 September: Obelix Mahjong and her colleague Cathy deliver the Initial Assessment report to Helen knowing it will upset her. This has been ascertained in conversation with Obelix Mahjong. The report, which should have been completed in 7 days and wasn't, was an appalling array of errors, omissions and prejudice. The door bell was used as a means to get our attention. A plan of four meetings was proposed. Those meetings would be a joint meeting (with me and Helen), an individual one with Helen, an individual one with me and finally a joint meeting before writing the "Core Assessment" report. A joint meeting with Helen and myself is arranged for Thursday 30 September at 80 Haslet Road and the individual one with Helen for Tuesday 5 October at the Children Services' family centre.
Wednesday 29 September: Obelix Mahjong's secretary phoned to cancel the joint meeting with me and Helen due on Thursday 30 September. I was told that Obelix would be back in the office on Friday.
Friday 1 October: No contact from Obelix.
Monday 4 October: Couldn't contact Obelix.
Tuesday 5 October: I eventually contacted Obelix (either 4 or 5 October) and she was working on the assumption that the individual meeting with Helen would go ahead regardless of the cancelled joint meeting. I suggested to Obelix we should have the joint meeting first. Obelix said this one (5 October) couldn't be replaced with a joint meeting because Cathy was unavailable. The apparent contradiction was resolved when Obelix explained that her meetings with Helen were just her and Helen, and that joint meetings required Cathy to be there. We arranged a joint meeting for Thursday 7 October at 2:30 pm. I also conveyed that Helen was no longer happy to go away alone with Obelix since she had read the Initial Assessment report.
Thursday 7 October: At 2:15 pm I phoned to confirm the meeting and the availability of a suitable room in 80 Haslet Road. Obelix was due in 15 minutes and confirmed her intention to be there. At 3:05 pm I phoned Obelix's office as she had not arrived and her secretary told me she had left for the meeting. At 3:15 pm a note was found in the door:
Dear Mr Hook + Helen,
Apologies - I called today as arranged slightly late due to a road traffic accident. I attempted to get your attention for several minutes but got no responses. I am now going on to other visits - please contact me to rearrange and (sic) your convenience.
At some point (I don't recall the date) I contacted Obelix regarding another meeting. Obelix expressed a view that there was no door bell or at least it was not obvious and she suggested that to avoid future difficulties Helen and I should attend her office. I declined this offer as there should be no difficulty in getting our attention especially now that she knew there was a door bell. Another meeting was arranged for Tuesday 12 October.
Tuesday 12 October: Obelix and Cathy turn up for the meeting and use the door bell. Another meeting with Helen alone is arranged for Friday 15 October at noon.
Friday 15 October: Obelix arrives 10 minutes early to see Helen. Another individual meeting with Helen is arranged for Tuesday 19 October at 11:30 am.
Tuesday 19 October: Obelix turns up for the meeting with Helen and afterwards says she will write the report with no individual meeting with me or a last joint meeting. I request an individual meeting which is arranged for Friday 22 October. Because Obelix expressed serious concern about her schedule and how difficult it would be to fit it in I offered to attend her office if that would help. Obelix agreed and thanked me for the help.
Friday 22 October: I arrive for the meeting with Obelix at the Children Services' office and am informed that Obelix is off sick.
There is a pattern forming of enthusiastic interest in the child and dismissal of the parent. Just as pseudo psychoanalysis with no presented evidence can be aimed at us such as "separation anxiety" so interpretations, based on evidence in this case, could be made about the emerging pattern in the behaviour of the Children Services.
There are unresolved questions about the events described above. Why did I get the impression that Obelix was coming alone to the meeting on the 7 October? Was it because she only referred to "I" on the phone? I don't recall but the note she left certainly gives no clue that there were two people attempting to get our attention on the doorstep in fact it strongly suggests Obelix was alone. Was Cathy with her or not? How come she could not get our attention on the first visit to 80 Haslet Road but her and Cathy had no problem using the bell two days later? Why then on 7 October, 14 days later, had the bell mysteriously disappeared from view again? Why could the individual meeting with Helen not be simply replaced with a joint meeting? Is it true that Cathy has to be in attendance for all meetings other than individual one's with the child? Why was it deemed acceptable to dismiss the first joint meeting on account of Obelix's inability to attend on
the grounds of not being able to get our attention and to continue regardless with the planned meeting with Helen alone? Why was a second meeting arranged with Helen with no consideration of or referral to me? Why was an individual meeting with me deemed not important enough to hold? Why was it proposed that the report was to be written with no final joint meeting? I suspected that the meeting with Obelix might not happen on 22 October and I would not be so harsh as to lay any culpability on Obelix for being ill. But that is not the point. I was asked three times at the reception desk if it was a prearranged meeting. This was during some discussion between the receptionist and Children Services on the internal phone. The strong indication was that this meeting was not in Obelix's diary. Was the meeting in Obelix's diary? Why was I not informed that she was off sick and the meeting cancelled as with the first cancelled meeting of the 30 September? Why
did nobody from the Children Services speak to me about this. Was I not important enough for a courteous trip down the stairs to apologize for the inconvenience? At least the receptionist said I could talk to someone in the department and showed me a little booth with a phone in it reminiscent of those prison phones in American movies. I didn't feel like compounding the insult and so I left the letter I had for Obelix and went home.
I have expressed some concern over the Initial Assessment report and the fact that many negative implications and allusions as well as erroneous and unsupportable "facts" can be presented in an official document on the Integrated Children System (ICS) with no reasonable counter balance. It is not acceptable that the negative content was not addressed and clarified in the report. It is seriously dubious that such a document should be on an integrated system anyway. The explanation I was given was that it is not seen by anyone else on the system so it doesn't matter. That is irrational and unacceptable. If it doesn't matter then it shouldn't be there.
I am seriously concerned that the emphasis appears to be on the positive attributes and the vulnerabilities of the child with a scant disregard for the parent where it is not otherwise negative. This is not paranoia nor is it a concern for what you might think of me. My concern is for Helen's well being. If your department approaches Helen with an unfair negative attitude towards me the net effect will be detrimental to her. Consider what she has been through to date. Not only was her mother extremely divisive, deceptive, manipulative and cruel in her attempts to harm me and to take Helen away but for several years Helen was grilled, interviewed, interrogated, questioned by all sorts of official organisations in our community all of whom had varying degrees of assumption based on Marion's lies and projections of a warped, drunk, violent, perverse father. Helen has been deeply wounded by the assault on her security by her mother and all these organisations. If you doubt the substance for my concern then re-read the Initial Assessment and notice the positive (but needy) image being created for the child and the negative one being created for the parent.
Under the section titled REASONS FOR INITIAL ASSESSMENT, INCLUDING VIEWS OF CHILD/YOUNG PERSON AND PARENT/CARERS there is a clearly questionable image of me presented and no reference to the 3 hours in total of interviews with Helen and myself in spite of the fact that the title requires it.
Under SOURCES OF INFORMATION there is no reference to the nurse or "nurses" who were cited as sources for the information above and later in the report. There is a reference to Helen and no reference to me. It is sloppy if not downright incompetent. And apparently Helen was interviewed more than a year earlier than the date of this report! There is only mention of Obelix Mahjong and no mention of Fi Prattle who was essentially the interviewer whilst Obelix took notes.
The sections under the main title CHILD/YOUNG PERSON'S DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS are all split into two parts one titled Child's needs: Please give details including strengths and current needs and the other Parenting Capacity: Please give details including strengths and current needs. Although there are some mentions of strengths and needs (albeit erroneous in many cases) in the Child subsections there are neither any strengths nor needs mentioned in any of the sub sections for the parent. All that appears there are scant negative references if anything at all.
Overall there is a strong feeling that Obelix has a pre-formed model in her head and is basically responding to that. Her interaction with us, and certainly with me, seems only to cherry pick choice comments that support her prejudicial view with no attempt to "learn" anything about the reality of our position. Her disregard of procedure and her disrespect for me is tangible and offensive. It cannot lend itself to actually helping us and so far has caused significant additional damage to us. I am writing this now because Obelix has already expressed the intent to write the Core Assessment Report without completing the proposed meetings and she has now avoided by fate or intent the meeting with me. If that report is written with the same disregard for anything learnt from us as the Initial Assessment was then it will compound the problems.
We are the victims here. Neither Helen nor myself appreciate the apparent need for the Children Services' to pre-emptively justify their position by casting doubt on my role as parent as some sort of justification for their feeble attempt to help us. Neither do we appreciate the ridiculous and ill founded interpretation of Helen as somehow overly dependent and incapable of future development in her own right. Helen is a perfectly well functioning human being who is suffering as a consequence of a significant series of bad behaviours from other human beings. She has been deprived of a secure home, a familiar environment, consistent values, pro-active support from any of the 'official' agencies, her education and now her health. These are not my failings and they are not Helen's failings. We have done very well to date to survive at all and IF the Children Services are serious about their remit to assist in getting Helen appropriate assistance in her journey to self reliance and healthy functioning in what is appearing to be a collapsing culture then please let that benevolent intent be visible in your dealings with us.
I look forward to your response.
B.A. M.Sc. MBCS CITP