Monday, March 05, 2007

Notes of disquiet

Our guests got off to an early start to get their Easyjet flight back to Geneva from Bristol, which robbed me of the vital Monday morning lie-in which I find essential to enable to recover from my four service Sunday. It was just as well, however since had to rendezvous with a couple of teachers and sixty year ten youngsters from Corsham Comprehensive school near Bath at St John's.

This GCSE year group does a visit to our city centre church, a mosque and the Millennium stadium in a quest to wrap some experience around the RE curriculum items that are concerned with the social functions of different religious gathering places - sport here is regarded as a kind of alternate religious activity I guess. Heaven knows what the kids make of this. I gave them a ten minute introduction to the history and contemporary function of the building including as many curricular buzzwords as I could muster, then allows them to wander around and take photos for another ten minutes before they left to get on a bus to go to one of the two mosques in Bute Street.

Notably, this group was comprised almost entirely of white English students. Credit to their teachers for trying to open up their students' eyes to how others live and socialise. Another group of the same size will visit at the same time tomorrow.

After lunch, God on Mondays re-started at Tredegarville school. Numbers of people attending are perhaps half those when we moved over from church. It's not the sort of commitment that many find easy to sustain. Still, it was pleasing to hear from several parents of their delight that the older of their offspring have been offered places at St Teilo's church high school, to which they had hopefully applied. Having to respond on their behalf to the school admissions officer's enquiry forms was just a bit different this year, since the closure of St James which some parents would have conscientiously attended with their kids (albeit in support of their high school applications), introduced a measure of uncertainty. It meant that I had to explain in each form what 'God on Mondays' was. I don't know what the admissions officer made of it, but the kids have their places, where their parents and peers want them to be for next September.

Glenys, the Head Teacher is worrying over budget cuts which have come swiftly due to crisis management of the County Council budget on the one hand, exacerbated by the sudden departure of eleven Czech Roma children, whose accommodation was condemned. Instead of keeping them together, so that the children and parents can get language support, and properly managed social inclusion, the families have been dispersed in small groups between three different local authorities outside Cardiff. Nobody is happy about this, even if their new accommodation is superior. The school's very caring community of teachers of support workers are distressed because they are aware of the impact of this disruption and dispersion upon the children's education and social acceptance in new communities far apart from each other - and they've all been here in Adamsdown because they are from the same area, and belonged to the same social network, which led to the migration of these families in the first place.

It's now nearly a week since Vincent died. Still, nobody has managed to find out any information about next of kin or will executors, even though its quite likely that all the information is locked up in the house from which he was taken by ambulance, two weeks before he died in hospital. Whoever locked his front door behind them when he was stretchered out must know where the keys are, but that information has not yet been obtained by the hospital social workers. People ring me to ask when the funeral is to be and I have to explain to them that nobody seems to be willing to take the authority to go back to his house and find out. If no information is forthcoming by Wednesday, the hospital social services will hand the case to hospital bereavement, who in the absence of any information will proceed to arrange a paupers' funeral for him - something that none of his friends would want to see happen. It's as if nobody is willing to take responsibility for the simple procedure that will resolve this case. Still his surviving next of kin, a sister in law in Australia has not been informed of his death. It's very difficult not to be able to do anything about this other than nag the people involved to get on with sorting it all out.

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