Two of the most meaningless phrases in the English language are “award-winning” and “wraparound support”.
I expressed my views about awards here. Suffice to say that I’ve been involved in enough of them (though never as a recipient) to be highly sceptical. There are simply too many mediocre and even dodgy restaurants/homes/cars/wines/writers/whatever hiding behind those words “award-winning” for the term to have any cred.
Now, “wraparound support”. My antennae twitch whenever I hear the words.
I've known situations where the phrase was invoked as if it were some sort of magical incantation, the mere utterance of which would ensure resolution of whatever issue was at hand.
One case involved an elderly person in care, another a woman isolated at home with an immobilising illness. In a third instance the supposed beneficiary of the promised support was a man with a severe and chronic mental illness who should have been in a psychiatric hospital, but who was made to fend for himself under the fashionable but patently dishonest catchphrase “community care”.
All too often the so-called wraparound support resulted in what has become known as the cars-in-the-driveway syndrome: multiple do-gooder agencies turning up, compiling reports, holding meetings, filling in forms and assuring the “clients” and their families that their needs would be taken care of, but never actually achieving any demonstrable beneficial outcome – and all going to ground the moment any problems arose, as they invariably did.
I’m sure there must be instances where this thing called wraparound support genuinely works, but from my observation it more often consists of well-paid people in comfortable offices shuffling paperwork (there’s always loads of paperwork) and not enough “on the ground” helpers providing the real practical assistance that’s needed.
Now I see wraparound support being cited as the solution to Auckland’s epidemic of ram raids. Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says the teenage perpetrators will be steered away from crime by being referred to something called a social wellbeing board, which will provide that nurturing wraparound support and refer the offenders on to other agencies.
But Sepuloni doesn’t exactly encourage confidence when she talks about how effective the programme has already been. If that were the case, we surely wouldn’t have a problem – or at least, not on the scale that exists.
This is classic Labour: lots of PR spin, lots of buzzwords (“cross-agency teams”, “better pathways”) and a plethora of welfare agencies you’ve probably never heard of.
In other words, lots of cars in driveways – but don’t hold your breath waiting for a reduction in the number reversing into shop fronts.