By Debbie le Quesne

Spicing up care with the ultimate curry club

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Interim Assistant Director at Dudley MBC Matt Bowsher has written a piece for The Guardian’s Social Care Network which is guaranteed to spice up your day.

Along with George Julian, a freelance knowledge transfer consultant, he reveals the growing appetite for the ultra-informal Social Care Curry Club – formed after a chance exchange on Twitter.

As networking goes it’s unusual but truly believe its potential for good is probably much better than corridor meetings and snatched conversations at care conferences.

The basic premise is very simple. If you love curry and love social care, then you’re in, so says the online article.

There are no issues of ‘rank’ or status, it really doesn’t matter if you know plenty or little of social care and it really doesn’t matter what field of social care you are in.

The only rule: No selling.

According to the article: “People come as themselves, they are not representing their organisation, there are no pitches or presentations, no PowerPoints, prezzis or podcasts. This is quite simply curry and chat.”

The piece goes on the say that despite budget cuts and low morale, people are spending their own cash to attend these meetings.

There’s no clever answer to answer why these 12 ‘eat-ups’ across the country (and one in Canada) are so successful and why they have attracted the director general for social care, no less.

Access, as the article points out is easy and I would agree that a lack of structure could also be key.

So far, supported by a Twitter account, a blog and an Eventbrite page, a network of 700 people has been built.

I believe this is a remarkable organic response to a social care crisis primarily caused by the withdrawal of central government funding. It doesn’t matter what the politics are or who is to blame. What concerns these people, I’m sure, is how to continue to deliver credible care in the face of such austerity.

There is an odd comfort found in meeting likeminded professionals struggling with the same kind of business issues.

But social care is like no other business model with many providers doing what they do because simply, it’s their Raison D’etre. Yes, they want profit – all business does – but over and over again I hear they just want to be able to maintain excellence in caring.

There has been poor leadership from successive government on the issues of caring and funding. This current one is no different and I can’t decide whether they should be shamed or encouraged by the Social Care Curry Club gatherings.

Oddly, I’m reminded of an inscription on the Statue of Liberty, which reads:

Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free . . .

Among the korma, masala, Rogan josh, the aloo gobi and byriani, are these the ‘tired’ and ‘huddles masses, yearning to breath free’?

Perhaps they are and just maybe, from this unusual groundswell, some common sense will decant to Parliament, to the financial movers and shakers who really do hold the keys to what history will write of this difficult social care period.

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