ISBN-10: 1780883196
ISBN-13: 978-1780883199
True Citizenship

What is it about?

Civitas Veras True Citizenship book explores the ways in which citizens can work together to create an inclusive community. People with learning difficulties are often marginalized as citizens. Many find it hard to describe their strengths, because they are so used to everyone focusing on their limitations. While they may reside in the community, they are often not given an opportunity to be full citizens on their own terms. They are not treated as equal to the rest of society. Instead of equality, power-sharing and choice, we find that caregivers and professionals still hold most of the power and make the decisions.

Why is it important?

True Citizenship explores how we can work together to build communities that support an inclusive world, valuing individuals as equal partners, rather than imposing solutions upon them. It has been written for and in conjunction with people with learning difficulties, their parents and their carers, to call attention to what we need to do, and stop doing, to improve their rights and freedoms as equal citizens.

You can use this guide to help yourself or others think about what sort of citizen they want to be. The aim is to empower each of us to develop an individual model of citizenship, in which we are empowered to make our own choices, recognizing that everyone is equal and unique.

Those of us who are serious about helping people grow to lives of greater scope need to understand our limits
Herb Lovett

Structure of the book

True Citizenship is in four parts:

Chapter One makes the case for change. Instead of looking at how best to make a person with learning difficulties fit into existing services, we need to look at how we can assist them to achieve their dreams. This requires working together with individuals to create services that cater to individual requirements an admittedly difficult task in the context of shrinking public sector budgets. It requires limiting the influence of health and social care professionals, to ensure that individuals are able to exercise choice, and that their parents and other unpaid carers are closely involved in developing and supporting these choices. It requires working with a cross-sector of society to enable people with learning difficulties to engage in meaningful occupations, in which they are respected and are able to add real value. Learning to live as part of a community requires a range of subtle and complicated skills. We need to assist people with learning difficulties to tackle these challenges and break down the barriers to inclusion on equal footing.

Chapter Two explores what it means to be a citizen, and identifies values for citizenship and ways to live by them. These values include: support and care, respect, integrity, concern for future generations, freedom of heart and mind, hope and courage, and productive living and working.

Chapter Three is aimed at people with learning difficulties to help them review and rethink their citizenship. It provides case studies and practical exercises associated with each of the values, and encourages individuals to explore their own perceptions, experiences and preferences in respect of these values.

Chapter Four is for parents and carers, professionals, commissioners and providers, and looks at how we support and work for people with learning difficulties. We reflect that, while it is often tempting to try to change others rather than ourselves, we all need to work out how we should change for citizenship, and how we individually are contributing to or blocking the path to citizenship. The chapter provides exercises and questions to help us to explore how we support those we care for, what works well, and what might be better.

Chapter Five looks at how to assess a service for its contribution to citizenship. People with learning difficulties and those who support them work and live in organisations and structures. We need to make sure that these facilitate citizenship and empowerment. The chapter outlines three key features of the type of organisations we should be striving for, namely probity and principle; collaboration and mutual learning; and responsible sourcing and implementation of resources. The chapter provides exercises against which organisations can assess their contribution to supporting true citizenship.

Available from: www.amazon.com

Review of True Citizenship

Author: Civitas Vera

Reviewer: Dr. Simon Duffy, Centre for Welfare Reform

Date: November 16 2012

True Citizenship is a guide to exploring the meaning of citizenship from the inside out. It offers a framework of values to live by and it explores how those values can be used by individuals, families, professionals, services and commissioners in order that all of us can be better citizens. At the heart of the book is the framework for citizenship, which is rooted in a commitment to seven values:
  1. Support and care
  2. Respect
  3. Integrity
  4. For future generations
  5. Freedom of heart and mind
  6. Hope and courage
  7. Productive living and working
As is obvious, this is not a simplistic account of the point of human existence. Instead it is an attempt to provide a broad and holistic framework for reflection on the integrity of your own values - do they make sense and do you live by them?

This is a development of the approach to values that is found in Anna Eliatambys earlier book Principled Leadership for Sustainability. Instead of preaching it assumes a degree of moral awareness in the reader and it invites further reflection on the meaning of those values for the reader.

Primarily I think the book will serve people who want to organize opportunities for personal or group planning and reflection. In fact, I think this could be a good book for those people who are tired of the way in which person-centred planning has been corrupted by the consultants and professionals who have turned it into a tool to do planning to people.

Instead this book gives a framework by which citizens can think together about the quality of their own citizenship. It may inspire action - but it is action that will be rooted in authenticity, personal control and moral awareness.

In a sense the book is also in helpful opposition to books like my own Keys to Citizenship. Keys to Citizenship explores what citizenship looks like from the outside and offers lots of practical advice on how to design supports that are consistent with citizenship. But True Citizenship starts from the inside and explores how we each construct a life of citizenship for ourselves. For this reason it does not offer advice. Instead it gives food for thought, snippets from real life and lots of questions to think about.

I hope that this book will act as a seed in the process of transformation we need to begin. For too long professionals have not only controlled the lives of people with learning difficulties, but they have also tended to dictate the purpose of life. Using whatever theory or jargon that has been in mode, professionals have tended to tell people how to live and to tell them what is important.

This is wrong, but we cannot swap bullying and preaching for heartlessness and free choice as some seem to suggest. We must find ways of exploring what is important in our shared lives and we must build on what works and resist those things which damage citizenship. True citizenship starts by assuming that we are already equal, but that our responsibility to each other means we must talk, listen, think and act. We do not need to judge others from some privileged position where some people have all the answers. We must sit humbly together and explore what we can do together to advance our own true citizenship.