Friday, September 30, 2005

work life balance on way to being restored....

I am feeling the benefit of -
a) being off work again for a week
b) going to T'ai Chi once a week (been twice so far)
c) doing some Molly dancing (a style of Morris dancing) and accordion playing once a week (been three times now) with Black Dog Molly
d) eating dark chocolate covered ricecakes (what I am addicted to and had run out of and now have 2 wholesale boxes of )
e) having some long lie-ins
f) knowing that we are off to Cornwall soon...
g) knowing that my manager is ok about me putting in an application to go down to 4 days a week - she thinks we can make it happen and is willing to discuss how....

I think my ideal would be working a 3 day week with time to do more unpaid work getting froom up and running and helping support the development of Write-on. I could also use the time to perhaps do some sessional University teaching on regeneration/ community development/ social studies/ advice work/ counselling eventually, if I could get some hours.

I am a late bird, not an early one - and as a result am seen as lazy and a misfit. Why is the standard working day 9-5? Most people seem to prefer either 8-4 or maybe even 7-3, or a minority of us who prefer 10-6, 11-7 or even 12-8. I really need a job that is based around a working day that runs from 11am to 7pm - those are my natural peak hours.

But going down to 4 days will be a good start and should help me build up my energy levels and resilience.

My doctor told me that the dizziness I've been getting is probably not a balance/ inner ear problem. It could have been a virus thingy. It also could be a side effect of the St John's Wort. So, as I am no longer depressed I have stopped taking it and will wait and see how I feel.
I am not going to know if the dizziness was related to it if I am not dizzy again. But if I am dizzy again I will know it was not due to the medication. A bit of detective work will be needed to see what the cause is. I will probably assume it's fatigue/ stress.

The 4 day a week thing is an interesting one......
it feels like such a luxury. I am so lucky that I can afford it.

I also have struggled to get my head sorted about being a part-time worker - I had always imagined myself working full-time and climbing up the career ladder. I have now realised that I have a choice and life isn't all about career. I need to feel like I am influencing decisions that affect the bigger picture - the way services are delivered, the priorities that are set in public service, the tackling of the causes of inequalities and prevention/ reduction of them. I assumed this meant I had to be managing big budgets or lots of people or writing high level strategies.
I actually don't like do those things and have started to feel like my contribution to those things will not effect the sort of changes I want to see. I have come full circle back to the belief that is it grassroots social action that can make the biggest impact.

T and I were talking about this yesterday (again - it's a common topic in our home) and we are of the view that due to the lack of clear political principles all that government departments can do is "manage" - and that means create change to structures and systems and move people around a bit. The work that gets done is always the same. The effect on the people who are served by the services (local govt and nhs) is at best no change, at worst severe disruption to services during the upheaval and changes in personnel with reduction in trust.

For example - the cycle that the library service has gone through in the last 10 years is 5 changes of deparment each costing thousands in public money to re-brand, re-structure re-organise internally, with less to spend on changing the outfacing service.

The nhs has gone from a Family Health Service Authority monitoring the work of independent GPs, to a Health Authority, then with fund holding powers passed to GPs as individuals and groups. After that GPs formed Primary Care Groups, and then became Trusts if they were big enough. Those Trusts were told they were too small and some had to merge and the Health Authorities role shrank and so they also merged to cover larger regions. Now there is a another round of mergers and GPs will have to engage in practice based commissioning of care and services from next September. What goes around comes around.

The amount of time and money that is spent on this could be spent on managing stasis instead of managing change - and that would allow organisations to put efforts into building long-term meaningful relationships with their communities and "customers". But then the election campaigns would have nothing to put in their manifestos about changes to public services..... or is that just too cynical????

Also - back to the part-time working thing...... I have doubts about justifying it when again I am lucky enough to have a job that is not putting life and limb at risk every day. Nor is it illegal - unlike the work that some people are forced to do - having read this Guardian article about women trafficked into the sex trade, I almost cannot imagine a worse way to be made to earn money. Women and girls as young as 10 are encouraged to come to Western Europe to make money and once here are raped until they become submissive and then forced to work as prostitutes and pay their "debt" - the "cost" of bringing them to the country - back to their "owner".

As Bianca Jagger writes -
"On one level, the UK government recognises the problem. A few years ago, Home Office research estimated that 1,420 women were trafficked into the UK in 1998 in order to be forcibly prostituted. The expert consensus is that the scale has significantly increased since then. There are now certainly thousands of women and girls trapped in a horror-filled existence. Desperately poor women and girls are typically stripped of their passports and other documents by their new "employers", and taken to secure flats and beaten and raped by their "owners" to "break them in". After that, it's a soul-destroying treadmill of dehumanising servitude, providing sex for 20 to 30 men a day, according to the Metropolitan police.

Scared and abused... many lacking a good command of the language, and told by their traffickers that what they are doing is illegal and could lead to imprisonment, they are truly caught in a web. Even if they escape the imprisonment of their owners, the route home is often barred anyway, as traffickers will threaten to expose them to shame there or even threaten their lives or the lives of their families. Britain needs to stop treating women forced into prostitution as criminals. They are automatically criminalised.
In May, a new European treaty established fresh guidelines for this. The European Convention Against Trafficking, the world's first international law specifically for protecting trafficked people's rights, puts victims first. Organisations such as Amnesty International are backing the convention and calling on the UK to sign up to it, but the government is stalling. Why, when Home Office minister Paul Goggins has said that the government "fully supports" the aims of the convention? Could it be that the government is afraid of criticism from anti-immigration lobbyists that the convention extends rights to women and girls who could fabricate a story of sexual slavery to gain access to the country? You could be forgiven for thinking that protecting some of the world's most terrorised and vulnerable people ought to cancel out these peripheral concerns."


birdychirp said...

I love working part time although like you I have intermittent anxiety about Not Doing Enough, and not romping up the ladder. But balance is the name of the game round here too...

yclepta said...

Thanks Birdy - that really helps me to know I'm not the only one....

Naiades said...


I'm awful at getting up, and even if i manage getting in at n ine, i'm pretty useless untill half ten.

Your definately not the only one.