Sunday, 1 April 2012

Crime, damn lies and logistics

A recent advert for the Centre Manager’s job at David Gray House, the island’s bail hostel which is run for government by the Sally Army, not only contradicts lies told by past and present Ministers for Home Affairs but gives away other secrets.
The main lie spouted by the DHA is that, though run by a religious group, DGH services are equally available to those of all or no religious affiliations, and that attending daily acts of worship does not get you a better probation report.
All this came out a few years back when Muslim men were detained in the old Victoria Road jail because, as they would not or could not attend a daily act of Christian worship they were told was compulsory, DGH wouldn’t take them. When the Minister of Home Affairs was challenged over this he had to ask his staff if it was true.
It cannot be established if he was then misled by either the duty probation officer who told the men’s lawyer or the DGH manager (both Broadway Batshit klingons who were, as it happens, quietly trying to set up a rival operation at the time), or if the minister just decided to be ‘economical with the truth’ to his critics.
What is known is that the DGH management then got brown underpants and attendance for residents at the daily worship stopped being compulsory, though as the court reports continued to be given by folk who thought it should be those who did not attend were inevitably marked as ‘uncooperative’ with the program. One other affect was that future adverts for DGH staff stopped short of demanding applicants were Salvationists or at least Christians, and merely asked that they be prepared to work within the ‘Christian ethos’ of the project.
If that ‘Christian ethos’ phrase sounds familiar, that would be because it is a fudge term introduced by a notorious CARE workshop held at Stepford Central (Tynwald Mills) for Christian employers who only want to employ bigots and brown-nosers but are worried they might end up in court. Several known attendees hold key ‘gate-keeping’ positions in Government departments and two are now government ministers, which rather explodes the myth that government don’t go along with this flat-earth nonsense.
So it is interesting that the mid-March advert for a new DGH Centre Manager says “You will need to be a committed and practising Christian who can work with the chaplain to promote the spiritual ethos of the centre.”
As well as being illegal – even in the Isle of Man – that lets several cats out of the bag. By the way, DGH does not actually have a ‘chaplain’ - or any kind of trained/licenced minister of religion - on tap. But explaining why also allows me to explode another myth – that the Salvation Army is an independent Manx charity.
The advert helpfully directs applicants to the Northwest Divisional Headquarters of the Salvation Army, which actually manages the centre and receives the income from the Manx government, although both parties to this shady arrangement would rather you did not know that. All this last came up in the 1980s, when some old biddies left houses to the Manx Salvation Army to be used for housing vulnerable people. Against the wishes of local Salvationists, Northwest DHQ decided to cash in on the property boom, flogged them and banked the proceeds off-island.
At the same time, the local SA also had a £100K legacy, given on the understanding that they would turn their old hall into the island’s first purpose built youth centre - to be managed by a committee of influential Christians as the donor did not trust the government to do it. Problem was, the committee of influential (non-Salvationist) Christians they set up thought there was more loot in flogging the building to a brewery for a nightclub, which flatly goes against the core teetotal culture of Salvationists. They did this by placing ownership of the building into the hands of a Jersey trust, set up by the bank which brokered the deal –or to be more precise by an individual now employed by government to oversee the murky ‘Third Sector’ deals between government and churches which are gradually handing over social services to religious charities.
Because of the rows this sparked between local Salvationists, their English HQ and the bogus management committee which allows the Manx Salvation Army to be passed off as a ‘Manx charity’ some of the £100K legacy and some of the house sale money (but none of the much bigger pay-off from the sale of the old hall) was re-invested locally in the purchase of a local boarding house which became David Gray House. Up until about 2003 the DGH manager was a Salvation Army officer (i.e. a church minister) directly appointed by Northwest DHQ – a separate appointment to the minister who runs the Douglas Salvation Army worship centre. Then, due to cut-backs, Northwest DHQ dropped that arrangement and appointed a single officer with social work qualifications to (on paper) run both projects. In practice he ran the church and oversaw a DGH manager with minimal qualifications or experience in order that the DGH income continued to flow to Liverpool, thus thwarting a bid by a rival local evangelical sect to muscle in on the opportunity. He was also ‘invited’ to chair the QUANGO which set up both Manx homelessness ‘charities’, which, despite the personal fair mindedness of that officer and one or two others, resulted in the current less than satisfactory situation for any government attempt to (on paper) deal with core homelessness and rehabilitation problems.
The core problems, I would have to suggest, are not crime, poverty and social deprivation, but evangelical avarice, government disinterest, and the tendency towards flat-out porkie-telling of both guilty parties.

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