When the furore occurred a few months ago about the impending death of Ash trees I read an article which contained the following extract from an essay by William Fiennes, “Why the Ash Has Black Buds”. It made quite an impression on me so thought I would share it with you…
ISP Editorials.Although I joined ISP in 1999 I didn’t take responsibility for the newsletter until 2001, following some momentous changes in the company.
The newsletter was already well established. I didn’t want it to die so I became more directly involved.
I tried to make my editorials a mixture of the light-hearted and serious - I might comment on the dynamics within ISP, a personal happening, something I’d read or promoting some aspect of therapeutic childcare which seemed appropriate at the time.
Looking back at the editorials, I think they provide an interesting account of my own development within ISP and the evolution of ISP itself.
Here are some extracts from those newsletters.
The highlight of the last few weeks was surely hosting a day’s training from Dan Hughes on the 10th February at Bridgewood Manor Hotel. This was the first event celebrating ISP’s 25th year. Dan Hughes is a world famous psychologist who is a recognised expert in working with parents/carers and young people with attachment problems. I spent two days with him in Finland last October and invited him for a day with ISP in 2012.
February At a personal and professional level I have had to deal with the announcement that the Cotswold Community will be closing this summer. I worked there for 27 years, so it has been a big part of my life. I learnt everything I know about therapeutic child carer there. It was one of only […]
ISP regularly receives the YoungMinds magazine . The latest issue has some particularly good articles in it. The one I especially like is “Scaled-down Approach” by Derren Hayes. It is about the work of James Wetz, a retired headteacher, who has committed his life to researching why, during a period when increasing numbers of young people are getting top marks in GCSEs, the gap between those who achieve academically and those who don’t is widening. In 2006 he wrote a report “Holding Children in Mind over Time” which concluded there is a compelling case to reconsider the design and organisation of secondary schools if we are to help the most vulnerable young people.
February During the Christmas holiday there was an interesting article about Camila Batmanghelidjh the founder of Kids Company in The Independent’s magazine. One of the points in the article that interested me in particular was the assertion that persistent neglect is more damaging to a child’s emotional development than abuse. Batmanghelidjh shows me [Deborah Orr] […]
During the period that I have been with ISP I have occasionally written about the death of someone who taught me a great deal during my working life. One such person is Isabel Menzies Lyth, who died on the 13 January, aged 90. I got to know her in the 1970s when I joined the staff of the Cotswold Community. She would spend 2 or 3 days at the Cotswold Community every few months and then produce a working Note for us all to work on. Her primary focus was the organisation as a whole and she facilitated change in the management structure as well as day-to-day practical matters, eg, transferring the responsibility for producing meals to the household the children lived in from an institutional central kitchen. She was a remarkable person and I was somewhat in awe of this powerful, cigar-smoking woman. Her obituary appeared in The Scotsman.
On 7 March in The Times, I was fascinated by an article by Daniel Finkelstein – “Sorry, your idea about litter belongs in the bin.” He explained how Jeremy Paxman’s recent rant about the amount of litter thrown from car windows was counter-productive.
One of my Christmas presents was the latest book by Alan Bennett, “Untold Stories”. I heard him read an extract from it a few weeks before on Radio 4. Here is a small part of that extract. I hope it encourages you to read more.
During the Christmas holiday I came across a description of the creative process which I liked very much. It gave me some reassurance that a period of confusion and not knowing is an important stage before the moment of inspiration. It is from a paper by Rosemary Gordon entitled “Death and Creativity: A Jungian Approach”
I was in Singapore and Bali for Christmas and New Year. The things that stick in my mind aren’t all the beautiful sights but the unusual things that happen. I was reminded of Sam Field’s articles about North Africa. The pollution, chaos, unfinished buildings were one set of impressions. The amount of traffic was a surprise, especially the vast number of mopeds belching out blue smoke. I wondered how on earth we would be able to tackle pollution globally. Twenty years ago most of the people would have been on bikes. The Balinise drivers have taken bumper-to-bumper driving to an art form. The M25 on-your-tail drivers seem quite civilised in comparison. We saw whole families riding on a moped, Mum, Dad and three kids, with one of them asleep resting on the handlebars. Occasionally we saw a moving haystack on the road, only to realise this was piled high on a moped.
As you may know, Jayne and I are working towards presenting a day’s training in Therapeutic Childcare, which will be first offered in March. In preparing for this I sometimes stumble across something that I haven’t read in a long time, which I remember made an impact when I first read it. One such is a booklet, “Routines, Limits and Anchor Points” by John Brown, who was the founder of Browndale, a Canadian childcare organisation, operating in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. It’s not rocket science but what Bettelheim called “common sense organised”. We are being asked to think about everyday activities from the perspective of the emotionally damaged child. This is the section on “Waking Up”.
I am writing this editorial on Saturday 26 January 2002 and this afternoon I went to the Mulberry Bush School’s AGM. As well as the formal business of the AGM they had a guest speaker, Bruce Irvine, a Consultant Psychologist who works for Young Minds and is Chair of the Committee that manages the Tavistock Mulberry Bush Day Unit. The title of his talk was, “Sustaining Aliveness – Encounters Between Children And Adults In Therapeutic Environments”. I didn’t take notes but a few things have stayed with me.
This newsletter is being produced in the context of important and difficult times for ISP, although as I write this, I am aware that some people will feel this more acutely than others. The fact that the founder of ISP, Brigidin Gorman, suddenly stopped working, as a result of the Board’s decision on the 11th December, is a major event, which has and will shake the organisation to its foundations. The period after a sudden loss is not necessarily the best time to evaluate the long-term implications, but in time one thing will become clear and that is to what extent the working practices, values and principles of ISP have been internalised by individuals and the organisation as a whole, and how much is reliant on the presence of the founder. Those organisations that put loyalty to a leader before a commitment to the primary task of the organisation don’t tend to survive in the long run. I guess that’s the struggle we are engaged in.