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Chris J. Perry

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Template:Multiple issues Chris J. Perry, the former Director of Social Services for South Glamorgan County Council[1] has been running Twin Oaks Guest House in the New Forest with his partner Carol since July 2007 and does a weekly radio programme on Express FM having given up his full-time job with Age Concern Hampshire in August 2012.

Early yearsEdit

Born in Wakefield (22.03.1942) his father, a head teacher, was from Northamptonshire and his mother, a teacher, from Surrey. His father died when Perry was eleven when Perry assumed responsibility for the garden, painting and decorating. Perry attended Ecclesfield Grammar School where he got a school prize for "General Excellency" at O Level and the school prize for "Outstanding Services to the School" in the upper sixth.

At the age of sixteen Perry was given special dispensation to be warranted as a Cub Master and began running Scout and Guide Socials to raise money for funds. This was in the mid fifties and the birth of "rock n’ roll" and he soon found himself managing three rock groups, a girl singer, a pianist and a conjurer; promoting pop concert / dances in three major venues and booking acts from Cleethorpes Pier in the East to the Floral Hall in Morecombe in the west and from Leeds to Newark. His top groups were Peter York and the Pontiacs and Dean Marshall and the Deputies and his claim to fame that he turned down the chance to manage Joe Cocker who played for him under the name of Vance Arnold and the Avengers. Chris continued to raise money and donate the proceeds to the Scout Group and local Community Association, of which he was a Committee Member, and raised a considerable sum towards the building of a Community Hall in the village.

It was during this time that he became aware of the adverse effect of peer group influence and labelling on behaviour during adolescence, resulting in a change of career from Aeronautical Engineering to Social Work, although his first job was to be in a Welfare Department working with older people, families with multiple problems and homelessness.

Perry married Josie in 1965 and has two children, Ian and Donna, and identical twin grand daughters Emily and Katie. Perry and Carol have been together since November 2000.

Perry qualified in social work in 1965 and obtained a Master's Degree from Brunel University, the home of "organisational analysis", in 1973. He completed a Senior Management Development Course, run by the National Institute and Local Government Training Board in 1984 and was invited to the first European Skunk Camp as a guest of the Tom Peters Group in 1989. Perry was trained in "work structuring" by Christian Schumacher, the son of the author of Small is Beautiful, in 1995.

Career in local governmentEdit

Perry's 34 years in Local Government / Social Services embraced County Boroughs, Counties and Metropolitan Boroughs in the north and south and England and Wales. For twenty of these years he was a deputy or chief officer including eight years as the Director of Social Services for South Glamorgan County Council where he had been recruited as Deputy Director in 1983 to articulate a complete set of client group related policies, develop strategies for their implementation and decentralise the department. He headed a department with 3000 employees which co-ordinated or contracted with many more. After his restructuring, South Glamorgan had fewer tiers of management and more staff in direct client contact than any other Social Services Department. Services were delivered via inter-agency teams based in a network of Family Centres (the most recent of which were integral to schools), Resource Centres for people with a physical disability, Resource Centres for people with learning disabilities, Community Mental Health Centres, Community EMI Teams and Resource Centres for Older People. There were also social workers in hospitals and primary care and an integrated youth justice system. Much of what Chris did is now being sought through legislation. And it has been said he was twenty years before his time.Template:By whom

Chris’ experience as Deputy Director of Social Services for Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, which had been the test site for SOSCIS (the ICL Social Services Package), enabled the in-house development of a comprehensive computer based record and information system in South Glamorgan. Chris had his photograph on the front cover of ICL at Work. Financial controls in South Glamorgan were praised by the Charter Mark Assessors with an out-turn within 0.1% of Cash Limit in each of the last six years for which he was Director. The department won many awards as follows:

  • A review of Local Authority Inspection Units, carried out by the Welsh Office during 1994/95, revealed that South Glamorgan was one of only three Local Authorities in Wales that met its statutory responsibilities in this respect;
  • Highly Commended by the Charter Mark Assessors 1993;
  • The Play Wales Cup (1993) – for involving users and providers in the Sec 19 Review;
  • Joint Investigation of Child Abuse highlighted as best practice by Oxford University and Channel Four following The Cleveland Enquiry;
  • South Glamorgan had the most comprehensive Youth Justice System – NACRO (1993)
  • 7 of the 22 examples of alternatives to secure accommodation in a Social Information Systems’ survey commissioned by the Welsh Office were drawn from South Glamorgan;
  • Strategy for Children with Challenging Behaviour included as best practice by the Audit Commission in “Seen But Not Heard” (1994);
  • "Leaving Care Strategy" featured best practice in collaboration between social services and housing by CHAR (1994)
  • Adolescent Complex – Care Home of the Year Award (Community Care 1990)
  • Gabalfa Workshop – first prize Community Care Awards (1989)
  • Rumney Computer Workshop – runner up (Community Care Awards 1990)
  • Delegations from Germany, Spain and Japan to look at NIMROD
  • New Technology award (1995)
  • Won two and came second in a third of five categories in respect of the implementation of the 1990 National Health and Community Care Act awarded by The Welsh Office.
  • During his time as Deputy Director of Social Services for Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, between 1975 and 1982, the number of children in care was reduced from 660 to 487 and those in residential care from 286 to 107.
  • Similar policies in South Glamorgan, between 1983 and 1995 reduced the number of children in care (legal status – including those “looked after” and home “charge and control”) from 986 to 274 and those in residential care from 386 to 87.
  • South Glamorgan hosted NIMROD which was to the vanguard of the All Wales Mental Handicap Strategy and forerunner of the community care reforms.
  • By 1995 South Glamorgan had the lowest number of older people in residential care as a percentage of the total population of any authority in Wales and the 6th lowest in Great Britain (he subsequently discovered that Wales counted "self funders" where as England did not). The number of residential homes directly managed by the County Council was reduced from 27 to 7. The local multi-disciplinary / inter-agency teams were based in resource centres providing day care and other centre based activities mornings, afternoons and evenings, seven days a week. Latterly these were based in "Very (or extra care) Sheltered Housing Schemes". Earlier developments, when he was in Bolton, demonstrated the merits of such schemes, of 122 people who prior to 1982 would have entered residential care during an emergency and remained there only 33 were admitted of whom 21 later returned home.
  • Only Gwynedd, out of all Social Services Departments in England and Wales supported more people with a physical disability in their own home.
  • A life time campaigner for the reform of the Criminal Justice System - Chris was a strong advocate, and successful implementer, of policies of diversion and alternatives to custody - working tirelessly to reduce delay. As a consequence reported crime went up less steeply in South Glamorgan, than the National Average, and fell on five occasions. The number of offences associated with juveniles fell by 34.3% between 1983 and 1993 and by a further 8% in 1994. In 1983 there were 94 children placed out-County in high cost Community Homes with Education on the premises: by 1995 there had been none for several years.

End of careerEdit

Perry got caught in the political crossfire of local government re-organisation in Wales which resulted in him being charged with criminal negligence some two years after he had taken early retirement and which had allegedly occurred some ten years previously. When the case went to court some two years later the Judge directed the jury to bring in a verdict of "not guilty" at the end of the prosecution case - there being "no case to answer". However this effectively ended his local government career.

After taking early retirement he worked for two years as a Consultant / Trainer, at Chief Executive and Director level, alongside some Gurus, before accepting the post of Director of Age Concern Hampshire in August 1997 two months prior to being charged.

The come back and third career Edit

Perry took the job of Director of Age Concern Hampshire initially to try to do something about age discrimination in the work place and poverty in retirement and with the abolition of the default retirement age, restoration of the earnings link to the State Pension, with the triple guarantee, and promise to move toward a universal State Pension, he felt the time was right in 2012 to retire and help Carol with their Guest House.

When Perry joined Age Concern Hampshire in 1997 it had a turnover of £604,578 and employed 81 people: when he left in 2012 it had a turn-over of £2.7m and employed 181 people with a further 452 people who regularly gave of their services in a voluntary capacity.

Perry raised the profile of Age Concern Hampshire considerably; doing three or four television and four of five radio interviews per month and regularly spoke at conferences. Age Concern Hampshire obtained “Investors In People” and ISO 9001. Its "Information and Advice Service" level three Community Legal Service accreditation ("General Help" and "General Help with telephone"), its computer centres UK online recognition, its trading became regulated by the Financial Service Authority, and Age Concern Hampshire was one of the first batch of 100 employers (across manufacturing, retail and service industries in the private, statutory and voluntary sectors) to be awarded "Age Positive Champion" status. Its Annual Conferences attracted some three hundred delegates with speakers and frequent ministerial keynote addresses.

Perry edited Age Concern Hampshire’s newspaper, there’s more to LIFE which peaked at a 35,000 circulation and since March 2007 has been presenting a weekly radio programme on Express FM, choosing and researching his topics, writing the script, selecting and interviewing his guests (which have included Cabinet Ministers, Chairman, Chief Executives and Celebrities), choosing the music, researching the artists presenting and recording the show with on going campaigns coinciding with those of Age Concern Hampshire. He won the award for Best Specialist Speech Based Programme in 2008 and again in 2011. Having not missed a week for six and a half years he negotiated to have July and August off in 2013.

Towards the end of his time with Age Concern Hampshire he was involved as a director of Interhelp Ltd, trading as "advant-AGE" in setting up a new national trading company jointly owned with Age Concern Birmingham, Age Concern Liverpool and Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East to provide a complete range of products to replace the income from Age Concern Enterprises, as a consequence of the decision of the Trustees of Age Concern Hampshire not to re-brand as Age UK.

Age Concern Hampshire had a 13 year campaign, Worthy Of Work and pensions. Meridian Television first helped Perry bring Gwen Girdwood's search for employment to the attention of the public in 1998. In all he highlighted some 38 people who had experienced age discrimination on television, radio and in the press with Dinah Warnock (2003), Enterprise Rent-a-Car (2007) and Anna John’s (2007 and 2008) receiving national coverage. In 2002 Age Concern Hampshire launched its "WOW 50plus experience" kite mark which it was able to award to four employers in the County. This was superseded two years later by the Government’s own "Age Positive Champion" kite mark. And Perry was awarded an individual Age Positive Award in 2004 in recognition of his campaigning against age discrimination in the workplace. Consequent upon the legal challenge to the default retirement age of 65, contained in the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, Perry represented 26 people at Employment Tribunal whose cases were stayed pending the decision of the High Court on the advice of the European Court. Anna John’s whose case was initially struck out made legal history when she firstly won on appeal and then had that decision upheld in the Royal Courts of Justice resulting in a directive to all Employment Tribunals in England and Wales.

Perry had a petition on the Number 10 Website, during the passage of the Equality Bill through Parliament and in the run up to the General Election in 2010, calling upon the Prime Minister to "end discrimination against, and poverty amongst, older people" which reached number 8 out of 293 in the economics and finance section and 154 out of 4,665 petitions over all despite being up for the shortest permissible time. A response was received from all three of the major political parties and published in there’s more to LIFE. One of the first things the incoming Coalition Government did was to abolish the default retirement age, so that people could no longer be refused employment purely on grounds of age or forced to give up their jobs and in many cases be condemned to spending the rest of their lives in poverty, and restore the earnings link to the state pension.

Perry was particularly proud that during his last year with Age Concern Hampshire and despite the recession he was able to increase the turn over, increase the number of people employed, obtain "Investors In People GOLD”, retain ISO9001 and the quality standard for "Information and Advice" whilst turning in a surplus.

For five of the years he was with Age Concern Hampshire he was also a Governor of Fareham College and was a Non-Executive Director of the Winchester and Eastleigh Health Care NHS Trust for three years. Both of which he gave up in 2007 to present his radio programme on Express FM and which he continues today.

Other interestsEdit

During his lengthy career Perry was invited on three occasions to events at Buckingham Palace and met the Queen, Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Princess Anne on a number of occasions.Template:Citation needed He has also published articles to his name and had two articles written about his work in Bolton which were published in Social Work Today ("The Shocking Case of a Successful Department" 19/5/81) and Community Care ("Nothing Succeeds Like Success" 1/10/81).

Branch Secretary and Council Member of two of BASW’s predecessor organisations Perry was the convenor of the Sheffield SCOSW (Standing Conference on the Organisations of Social Workers) group, which was subsequently recognised as the first branch of the British Association of Social Workers and went on to serve on National Council, Chair three branches and become Vice Chair of the Professional Practice Divisional Committee. In 2012 Perry was elected an Honorary Member of the British Association of Social Workers in recognition of a lifetime's contribution to social work.

Perry has also been a Trustee of the National Children’s Bureau, Vice Chair of Children in Wales, chair of the Welsh Early Years Unit, a member of the Young Offenders Committee of NACRO, Vice President of South Wales Relate, Chair of a CAB and Money Advice Bureau, a Lord Chancellor's appointee to an Area Criminal Justice Committee, and an advisor to the Association of County Councils. The lead Director in Wales on Child Care he was, for a while, the Association of Directors of Social Services spokesperson on Youth Justice and served on the advisory group to the Audit Commission on "seen but not heard".

He has played competitive chess and cricket and enjoys gardening and travel.

Fourth careerEdit

Perry and Carol have a Four Star, Silver Accolade Guest House, with a Visit Britain Breakfast Award, and get excellent reviews on Trip Adviser winning the Trip Adviser Excellence Award in 2013 and again in 2014,Template:Citation needed have a grade five food hygiene rating and Good Hotel Guide and Les Routier listings.Template:Citation needed In addition to Bed and Breakfast they run photography workshops and a cruise service whereby people stay the night before their cruise, leave their car and are driven to, and collected from, the cruise terminal.

ReferencesEdit

  • Minutes of Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council (1975 to 1981)
  • "The Shocking Case Of Successful Department" - Social Work Today - 19.5.1981
  • "Nothing Succeeds Like Success" - Community Care - 1.10.1981
  • Minutes of South Glamorgan County Council (1982 - 1995)
  • "Director’s Commentary and Strategic Planning Statement 1994/95 - approved by South Glamorgan County Council.
  • Annual Review Age Concern Hampshire 2011/12 as approved by the Trustees and submitted to the Charity Commission.


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