Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Change Part II - Plus-Ca-Change

Since the mid 90s I've had an allegiance for Brighton and Hove Albion FC. When I was 14 this involved getting my mum and step-dad to drive for several hours to the Goldstone ground so I could buy a signed football and a replica shirt (in the days before the internet purchases like this necessitated a big adventure) . It seems irrational. I've only ever to this day seen the first team play once and at the time had no real connections with the Brighton area. In any case the Brighton area of the mid-90s was certainly not the sanitised vision of fun, funky, Brighton-based web-designer, sushi, sexy, creativity it is today. It was still dragging itself out of a pretty painful 1980s which had earned it the nickname skidrow-on-sea. Gentrification had not yet arrived to turf the giro-playboys out of the neglected Georgian buildings turned into bedsits and the city had a nasty heroin habit.

I am however, a sucker for the underdog and that is exactly what Brighton were at that point in their history. The club were in serious financial trouble, way before it became fashionable for clubs to call in the receivers once in a while, and were about to lose the Goldstone Ground to ground-share with Gillingham in Kent giving fans a huge round trip for a 'home' game. The team unsurprisingly were getting stuffed on the pitch at one point almost dropping out of the league altogether.

During these days I have one abiding image, burned into consciousness. Watching Brighton getting thrashed on a videotaped episode of Endsleigh League Extra I remember one of the players, a defender, head hanging in helpless desperation as the opposing striker sprinted joyously, arms aloft, back to his team-mates after slotting home something like the fourth goal against them. The look was one of complete demoralization. His eyes betrayed that he had faced the horrible realisation that no matter how hard he sweated, battled and strained it would be in vain as he was just one part of a system, a system which was no longer working and could not be saved by any one of its constituent parts.

Working for a Social Services department I know how that player feels.

Only the other week my team were told of how the planned reorganisation, mentioned in my earlier post 'Change', would be affecting us; that is despite previous assurances to the contrary. We were then told many of us would need to spend a week at the other teams to help-out with the transition as the teams would take on responsibility for referrals made to Social Services by 'professionals.' The remainder of the team would stay behind and continue to deal with referrals made by the general public which equates to very roughly 50% of our current workload.

We have today been advised of a slight re-think to the plans (due to go ahead in two weeks). Whilst professionals have been told they will need to refer directly to the new teams when the switch-over takes place if they do happen to call the main switchboard (operated by Capita) instead the referral will then be dealt with by my team. If this alone doesn't have the potential for confusion there will also be the fact that on day one many of the teams will be moving to new offices, unpacking, arranging files, desks etc and some apparently plan to just put the answerphone on.

Three of us, including myself, will still be going to another team. There will be no briefing from management about what we are expected to do whilst with the teams. My own management have told me that we're not there to shift boxes and if this happens to come straight back.

I'm starting to feel like that defender again.

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