Let me assure you, there IS a positive message here; you're just going to have to read a little bit more dirge first before you get to it. I'm sure you're used to that from me by now. I’ve been coming to your team meetings with messages of doom and gloom for so long now, that I feel a bit like a Grim Reaper. Apologies for that but my motto has always been to keep you all up to date with all the developments.
I think most of us are glad to get to the end of this year. Although I’m not advocating wishing time away (that would be silly) it’s clear that we're all ready for a well deserved Christmas break.
This year has been a strange one. For Derbyshire, it's largely been business as usual for us. That is up until a few weeks ago when we found out all the services were being re-tendered. There's no doubt we shall be working hard to win all the tenders we can in the New Year. That goes for Notts too.
In Nottinghamshire, the last 12 months has felt like we've all existed in a state of limbo, preserved in amber, unable to plan ahead, all of us collectively holding our breath, waiting for the paymasters to wield the axe. Now that has happened, we're engaged in a thoroughly depressing redundancy process. This for me represents a fundamental devaluing of the work we do by the Government. When times are hard we see very clearly what is really important to those who decide our fate, whoever that is. (Goldman Sachs comes to mind)
Speaking of bankers, picture this:
Right at this moment there is a Hedge Fund Investment Banker sat at their desk, tapping their keyboard, asset stripping a care home provider or betting on failure to make their money. And, as they do this, they will have a gnawing feeling that they weren’t put on this earth to spread misery. They're wishing they could do something worthwhile so they could REALLY feel good about themselves / sleep at night / make their mum smile / whatever...
I can hear you saying "Most of them won't even think about it.. They'll be too busy making their way to the nearest Champagne bar" Maybe true. But they'll think about it eventually...everyone does.
I remember Kay Cutts, the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, once remarked, services like ours were merely "..nice to have". Well unsurprisingly, I completely disagree with that assessment. We're not cake icing, Kay, nor do we provide just tea and sympathy. The services we provide are lifelines. We are the rubber dinghy when the ship's gone down. For many people who use our services who are in dire straits, we're the last chance saloon. We're the ones at the end of the line who has kept a helping hand outstretched, when others are at a sink somewhere, washing theirs.
In short, what we do is vitally important to the lives of people who have fallen through the increasingly unforgiving cracks in our society.
I'm very grateful of the work you all do. And proud that the services we work in are as effective as they are. You should all feel good about yourselves because what you do is completely and utterly worthwhile. You have positively contributed. This is more than I can say for some sections of our society.
I've been a bit too political this year (and worse still I've used some really cheesy metaphors) so it's about time I shut up and just wish you all a Happy Christmas.