The brilliant Steve Broach, or Stevie B as he’s always been known in the #JusticeforLB Justice Shed, tweeted this morning. I jumped in to RT his wisdom and offer him a pic of the stitched version I made and stuck up on the railings outside Oxfordshire County Council when LBInquest was happening:
— GeorgeJulian (@GeorgeJulian) April 10, 2018
The original source for the Lord Justice Munby quote was a judgement he made in the Family Court in May 2010. You can read the whole judgement here, but the direct quote is from Para 52 which states:
Moreover, the assertion or assumption, however formulated, betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the relationship between a local authority and those, like A and C and their carers, who it is tasked to support – a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the State and the citizen. People in the situation of A and C, together with their carers, look to the State – to a local authority – for the support, the assistance and the provision of the services to which the law, giving effect to the underlying principles of the Welfare State, entitles them. They do not seek to be “controlled” by the State or by the local authority. And it is not for the State in the guise of a local authority to seek to exercise such control. The State, the local authority, is the servant of those in need of its support and assistance, not their master. As Ms Ball put it on behalf of the Official Solicitor in relation to someone in C’s position, and in my judgment the same applies to someone like A, while the local authority performs important monitoring and safeguarding roles, its major function in relation to C and others like her is to assess needs and provide services. I agree.
I stitched this little craftivism banner 2.5 years ago and now can’t find the original source of the quote, but this source on the Merseyside and Cheshire Family Justice Forum refers to a speech given by Lord Justice Munby the same year with the exact quote:
The local authority is a servant not a master, a truth which on occasions is too easily overlooked
Bringing us back to today Stevie B responded suggesting:
I’d like it stitched on every town hall door… https://t.co/bM0NI8M10H
— Steve Broach (@SteveBroach) April 10, 2018
So, in a fit of optimism I offered to try and make that happen. Except of course I can’t possibly do that on my own. There are 152 local authorities who would need a version of this banner, anyone know if there’s the same number of town halls?
This is where you come in, would you like to stitch a banner to hang on a lamppost, fence, piece of street furniture, town hall door with the Munby quote on it? Our discussion continued this morning and we thought aiming to have one per area by Human Rights Day in December might feel realistic. We need people who can stitch (I’m a big believer that nearly anyone can stitch even if you don’t think you can), people who can spread the word, people to hang the banners, and local people to draw attention to the concerns that they have locally, if they wish.
I’m not sure of the best way to organise this but I’ve created a google sheet with a list of all councils here. There are 36 metropolitan councils, 32 London boroughs, City of London, 55 unitary authorities, Isles of Scilly and 27 county councils. Anyone can add comments to the document and bagsy their council, I’ll update it periodically so its possible to see which ones are still vacant.
There aren’t really any rules. You could make huge banners out of bed sheets, or tiny ones with scrap fabric. You could stitch or paint or knit, whatever you like really. Whatever works for you. You could work as an individual or in groups.
What I love most about this idea is that amazing as it would be to have a banner for every authority, it similarly would be fine if we only ended up with four or five. Let’s start by aiming high though. So add a comment to the spreadsheet if you’d like to adopt your council (or any other, if yours has already gone I’m sure there will be others still available).
Please also add any questions or concerns and I’ll try and crowdsource answers to them. If you’d like to know a little more about craftivism then check out Sarah Corbett’s great book for sale on her website here.