Rosie, naturally, wanted to provide Gemma with some of the services the carer was failing to bestow, such as making her tea and cooking for her. Gemma was understandably delighted. Rosie then made the mistake of telling the CRT that she was helping to feed Gemma. Its reaction was horror: how could Rosie do such a thing? She was expressly forbidden from doing so. Why not, Rosie inquired. "To preserve health and safety," the officials replied. Whose health and safety would that be? It couldn't be Gemma's, Rosie told them, because she was in danger of starving due to the fact that the person supposed to prepare food for her didn't turn up. The CRT remained unmoved. If Rosie cooked Gemma some food to which she was allergic, it said, the council would be legally liable for the damage to Gemma's health. So was the CRT saying it would be better that Gemma starved? "We will address the care plan," was the only reply.
They did not; nothing changed. Rosie said she would take Gemma out to the shops so she could buy food for herself. "On no account should you do that," the CRT told her. "You have not been trained in pushing wheelchairs." At that point, Rosie simply gave up and started visiting Gemma not as a volunteer from the council but as a friend, which she had by then become. But the CRT disapproves of that as well and wants to stop it. It is "going beyond the boundaries which are set", the resources team said.
Gemma is one of hundreds, possibly thousands, of people living in Hackney who are in need of help. The council not only fails to provide it but tries to prevent citizens like Rosie Jones from stepping in to fill the gap. It would be wrong to claim that every local council is as incompetent as Hackney, but many do exhibit, if in a less extreme form, the ineptitude, bureaucratic inertia and obstructiveness that Hackney's CRT demonstrates in Gemma's case. The ability of local authorities to combine those three unlovely characteristics is very effective at stopping ordinary citizens from getting involved in the provision of local services. Who, knowing of Rosie's experience, would volunteer to help the needy in their neighbourhood through Hackney CRT?
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