The Social Services Two-Step
It’s only been a few months but the story keeps changing and mutating around all those caught up in it.
Sadly I’m more convinced than ever that it doesn’t have a happy ending, North Yorkshire Social Services are understaffed, outgunned and have the law against them. They can’t effect entry into the house unless they can prove physical abuse.
This puts my relationship with them into a category marked ‘strained to non-existent’.
Despite them telling me nothing, fobbing me off with OfficialSpeak (more to come on this), I’m still ahead of them in terms of what’s going on in Middleham, who’s involved and what weird and wonderful things they’ve done or tried to do.
I take a step forward, they take a step back and fall over themselves, all while vulnerable adults live in a house that the neighbours have come to abhor.
How Did We Get Here?
Once again, it’s all here.
In chronological order
And when I left things last time, they had disappeared completely.
Or as far as the family was concerned anyway.
Social Services had an address via her brother Francis and our best guess was that a friend had moved them as it wasn’t a taxi.
2020 update. They had gone to Cambridge to stay with the lovely Lionel Bowden.
When in Doubt – Attack.
So I did, I wrote a letter to the Chief Executive of North Yorkshire Council – Richard Flinton, I sent it to his publicly available email address
and the text of this is below:
‘Dear Mr Flinton,
RE: Arthur and Shirley Hodge
Thank you for your email dated 9th July 2018, of which I acknowledge receipt, in regard to the above matter. I have passed this onto my colleagues in Health and Adult Services, in order that they can investigate and respond to the points that you have raised.
And then nothing happened – this shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was in a way, I was starting to see the scope of the problem here and unless a law has clearly been broken, Social Services have no right of access.
And I don’t think I want them to have.
As painful as this is, the idea of well meaning idiots having access to your home without a warrant is terrifying.
I couldn’t sit back and passively wait for nothing to happen for weeks more.
So I consulted with friends and we put a credible plan in place to try to track them down, we had a list of criteria for towns that they might be in and another list of volunteers who would try to see what we could shake loose.
I printed dozens of photos of Arthur and put them in my car along with business cards and other details ready for when we visited the towns.
THANK YOU ALL
The Twitter response was extraordinary and a few people were incredibly supportive in trying to keep awareness up of their disappearance and my Direct Messages were often incredibly moving. I can’t thank you all enough, you know who you are…
On the 14th July, they turned up again in the same Kia that they had left in, so I notified Social Services (again) receiving a ‘Thank You’ on the 16th.
And nothing happened.
Nothing at all .
There’s a pattern here and it’s mostly filled with blank spaces.
The neighbours saw Social Services drive past without stopping on the 16th July and shouting and bawling was heard from the house that night.
But the neighbours were and are starting to feel the pressure.
The place stinks, adult diapers are bulging from the bin, but the bin-men won’t take it. Calls to environmental health haven’t really helped.
And Susan has taken to standing in the garden to glare at the neighbours opposite, she’s slowly wearing them all down.
I spoke to one of the neighbours at length and decided that a visit wouldn’t hurt, it’s a lovely area anyway and I could combine tourism with a little checking up.
So on the 21st July, I was back in Middleham, I took tea with both sets of neighbours and offered to buy them beers in the local hotel in the evening. They gave me some more details on the driver of the Kia, I still don’t know exactly who he is, but now think that I could track him down in less than a day if need be.
They also told me a grim little story of how Susan had been bellowing at her mother the night before.
A Daughter’s Love
Susan’s mum, is incontinent, as is my Aunt.
It’s an age and infirmity thing and I can only imagine that it’s embarrassing, uncomfortable and a source of constant worry.
Quite why she feels the need to move them around the country at a moment’s notice in cramped cars is beyond me.
As is this.
On Friday 20th July, Susan was screaming at her mother who had soiled herself again, a stream of invective telling her how foul and filthy she was.
When her mother argued back that she was indeed her mother and entitled to a little respect; Susan screamed ‘YOU SHOULD HAVE RESPECT FOR ME…. FOR ME..’
Sadly, the neighbours didn’t call the police that night.
Beer And Comfort
I bought the neighbours a few drinks that night and also managed to bump into the area Police Commander to give him some glowing feedback on his team. He couldn’t really comment but promised to make sure that the officers concerned would get the praise in their files.
I think that the neighbours now understand that they’re in a fight whether they like it or not, Susan will complain to the Police every chance she gets. it’s her way. They need to play by the same rules; move away or suffer the pain every day until something bad happens.
Nothing else happened that night, I didn’t go anywhere near the house as I didn’t want Susan to know I was in the area.
A Walk In The Sun
On Sunday afternoon, I parked my car in full view of their house and took a walk to the river that flows less than a quarter of a mile from the bottom of the road, I took a few photos and basically enjoyed the walk.
I enjoyed the curtains almost being ripped from the poles as I walked back to the car more though.
I think that Susan may have one or two anger issues but I can’t be sure.
I drove home and had a few beers, happy that I had at least made sure that I had thanked the people most affected by this mess and that I had probably jarred her equilibrium for a day.
I Don’t Like Mondays
Quite a lot of things happened on the Monday, I’ll note them in the order that they occurred.
I received a letter from Joseph Smith of North Yorkshire Social Services, remember that name, he’s going to pop up again in this and subsequent posts.
Here it is:
My reply was to the point and indicated mild dissatisfaction
I then received a text from the neighbours at 15:50 to say that the usual woman from Social Services had turned up with a man that they hadn’t seen before.
They were silly enough to ask the neighbours if they were OK and then received the full benefit of months of frustration, they were taken aback by this as it was the first time that they had actually talked to a neighbour.
After this encounter, they tried to knock at Arthur’s door but all the curtains were now closed and they were denied entry.
And then at 18:30 Susan’s Brother, Francis Auckland arrived and they filled the boot of his car with items from the house before he drove off.
A Series of Unconnected Events.
Late on Tuesday night, real actual screaming could be heard from the house and then Arthur could be heard shouting to ‘Call the Police’
Lots of shouting about a break-in could be heard and after a while somebody turned up in a car, looked around the perimeter of the house with a torch and said that they couldn’t see any intruders, any sign of intruders or any sign of a break-in.
On Wednesday, Nobby the cab driver turned up along with Susan’s brother and all four people got into the cab with luggage and they drove off at 14:15.
At 14:30, I informed the Police and Social Services about the three unconnected events, making sure that I mentioned the loading of the car on Monday.
At 14:45, her Brother returned to the house to check the windows, I again informed all parties.
At 15:09 the usual social worker and another ‘official looking woman’ talked to Susan’s Brother on the drive of Arthur’s house.
At 20:48 they returned home.
And that’s where they are now.
Letters From The Past
The wider family have been writing to Arthur, but only one ‘Signed For’ letter has got through so far – it’s from his cousin Vera and was signed for by ‘S Auckland’, all other letters have been turned away or the door hasn’t been answered.
The Postwoman isn’t happy at all.
People will continue to write and we’ll see if Arthur actually got that letter.
Vera went to Mencap to see if they could help with the situation.
They contacted North Yorkshire and then got back to Vera to say that they’d made contact but couldn’t help any further.
She then received a call from Joseph Smith (remember him) who told her that there were no signs of abuse. He did ask if she knew me though, I guess I’m becoming a bit of a irritant.
She told him that I was a wonderful caring Nephew who was trying to help his Uncle while the state ignore him.
And then Vera tore him a new orifice and pointed out to him that coercion was indeed abuse, that she believed that Arthur was being controlled and that her letter had been received but she’d had no reply.
Joseph had to agree the coercion point, which once again makes me wonder if they just have a script to fob relatives off with?
Because, there are actually official guidelines for this stuff.
Just look at them.
I’ve been writing about this since May and have started to do some real digging on this, and if this is available to the public, there MUST be better information available for those entrusted by the state to look after the vulnerable.
So why the fobbing off ?
I suspect that they’re at an impasse and unless they ask the police to look into fraudulent activities, that they don’t know what to do next.
But Joseph Smith has stated to Vera that he’d go to the house (possibly today) to talk to Arthur to see if he’d got the letter – which Susan signed for.
More letters are due for redelivery this week too.
We’re not holding our collective breath.
But we’re watching you now Joseph