Belonging in the UK

My contribution to Al Etmanski’s annual What Am I Skating Towards? compilation is about belonging in the UK.

For some time now, social care in the UK has been all about independent living: helping younger disabled people to move into their own homes; helping older people to stay in their own homes. That’s going brilliantly (people who would have been written off and locked away are now living in their own places, employing their own staff and even setting up enterprises) and badly (new bureaucracies dressed up as transformation, ever-increasing expectations upon families, support reserved for the most needy).

It’s a very mixed and complex picture, but if I were to nominate just one test for success, it would be whether people find not only independence but also, a sense of belonging. A system which once warehoused people now recognizes individuals’ rights, dreams and destinies. The systems designed to drive ‘personalisation’ don’t always work, but the goal remains right.

However, to be treated and to live as an individual is necessary, rather than sufficient, for a good life. We are a consumerist society, so it’s not surprising that we’ve seen individual purchasing rights as the key to self-determination. But is it coincidence that, alongside consumerism, we also have an epidemic of loneliness?

Read the rest:

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