Generations of vulnerable children drowned out to headlines and
endless policy churn
of children and young people from the North West and across the UK
has suffered from policy-making that reacts to headlines and
short-term political pressures, ignoring their basic needs,
according to a major new report that has been published.
“As long as it
takes: a new politics for children”, has uniquely examined the UK’s
record of policy development affecting vulnerable children and young
people over the last 21 years - finding that politicians of all
parties have put children’s need for stability and continuity second
to political gain.
The comprehensive overview, commissioned by children’s charity
Action for Children, which runs over 100 services across the North
West region, reveals a catalogue of short-term, headline-driven
policy churn, changing priorities and funding uncertainties. During
the life time of a 21 year old there have been over 400 major
government announcements relating to children and young people, 98
separate Acts of Parliament across the UK; 82 different strategies;
77 initiatives; and over 50 new funding streams relating to the
services they use – over 69% of which no longer exist.
The report features 11 stories from 21 years olds from throughout
the UK, who have grown up in the most vulnerable circumstances under
successive governments and political agendas over the last 2
decades. Each young person tells their story, what they felt could
have gone better and their path for the future.
Talking about the help she received from an Action for Children
centre, Katie Carr says:- “My mother died of a heroin overdose
when I was 11 and I ended up in care. By the time I was 15, I was
missing school, smoking and drinking. I got pregnant when I was 18. Action for Children supported me through out my pregnancy and helped
me sort out my child care so I could go to college. Being there has
made me think about things like college and qualifications, and now
I’m working as a volunteer, as well as training to be a social
The report is also supported by public figures and celebrities who
wanted to share their own experiences of being a vulnerable child. These include award winning writer, broadcaster and poet Lemn Sissay,
who spent his childhood in Lancashire with a white foster family and
in various children’s homes.
Discussing his childhood experience in the report, Lemn says:-
"On leaving care at 18 years old, after being fostered for 11
years and in children’s homes for 7, a benevolent social worker gave
me letters from my mother. The social worker also gave me my birth
certificate. It had the name on it “Lemn Sissay”. Up
until then, I thought my name was Norman. I left the
children’s homes without a surrogate family, without a birth family
and without the knowledge of how to cook a tin of beans.
Nobody that I knew had known me for longer than 3 years. When
a child is in care, the government is the legal parent. How
the government treats its children is the most significant indicator
as to the state of government. The worst effect of my time in
care was not while in it, but while out of it. Like shock, the
devastation happens after the catastrophic event. My childhood
becomes more apparent to me as I grow older."
Reflecting on the findings of the report, Paul Moore, Strategic
Director of Children’s Services of Action for Children North says:-
"Action for Children pledges to be there for children for as
long as it takes. But this vital pledge must be shared by all those
involved in decisions that have a profound impact on children’s
lives. We simply must put children’s fundamental need for stability,
security and continuity at the centre of our political process. Enough is enough. The last 21 years have seen a massive volume
of policy. Not only that, the average life span of each initiative
is a little over 2 years. Many developments have been laudable and
Action for Children has supported them. Yet few would suggest
that an environment of such uncertainty is a healthy way of
maintaining support for some of the most vulnerable and marginalised
children and families in our society. And don’t forget, once a childhood has gone, it has gone forever."
In launching the report, Action for Children is calling for a
fundamental change in behaviour, not just from the politicians and
policy makers but also throughout wider society. The report
highlights the ways of, and approach to, working with children needs
to change so there is deliverable action and sustainable
improvements. Action for Children has 5 specific policy calls
that, if adhered to by those who make and influence policy, for as
long as it takes, will improve the lives of those most in need.
· In all 4 nations of the UK, the Children’s Minister must be a
permanent Cabinet/Executive level position to represent and speak on
behalf of children and hold all parts of government to account.
· Before the next general election, a cross-party group must
establish a 21-year vision for children and young people that all
the main parties must sign up to. Then, at the beginning of every
new government, the cross-party group must set out or reaffirm its
vision, which is binding on all parties.
· Any new initiative for children and young people must be funded
for at least 6 years, with exceptions to be granted only by
agreement with the Children’s Minister.
· Every government department and agency across the UK must examine
how its policies impact on children and young people, and report
annually on this to Parliaments and Assemblies.
· All UK media bodies and organisations with governance of media,
including Ofcom, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the
Press Complaints Commission, must establish a consultation committee
made up of children and young people.
Email us your views on this report to:-
email@example.com and let us know what you
think about this topic...
£1.9 million to keep older people safe at home
to massively increase the use of technology which assists older
people to live at home safely. Telecare uses special wireless
heat and movement sensors and a pendant which can detect if a person
falls, doesn’t get up by a certain time or if the house gets too
cold. If the system notices something is wrong, it triggers a
phone call to check the person is okay. If it can’t get an answer it
alerts a relative or carer.
Over the next 3 years, the state of the art monitoring equipment is
set to be installed in more than 900 homes across the city using
£1.9 million of funding from the city council and Liverpool PCT.
Councillor Ron Gould, Executive Member for health and social care,
said:- “One of the biggest fears elderly people have about
getting old is being uprooted and moved into a care home. The
aim is to give people help and support to live in their own homes
for as long as possible. But what we don’t want to do is make
them feel as if they’re under attack from technology, and the
sensors and equipment are hardly detectable. This scheme
allows them to stay safe in their home for as long as possible, in
an environment in which they feel comfortable. It also
provides extra support and peace of mind for relatives and carers.”
It is hoped the scheme will reduce the number of people admitted to
residential and nursing care, support the early discharge of
patients from hospital and also provide an early warning of people
who are experiencing difficulties living at home.
Gideon Ben-Tovim, Chair of Liverpool PCT said:- “We know from
experience that older people want to stay in their homes for as long
as possible and the telecare system enables them to do this safely
and removes a lot of the worry for family members. Hundreds of
older people in Liverpool are admitted to hospital or die each year
because they become too cold or have a trip or fall. Many of these
incidents are avoidable or their severity could be reduced if the
person was reached more swiftly and this system will ensure that any
person, who has the system installed in their home, will be
responded to quickly. This initiative will make a difference
to the lives of hundreds of older people and their families across
Currently, similar equipment is fitted in around 100 properties
across the city, including the home of Lillian Grace, who lives in
Anfield. She had heat, movement, gas, smoke, carbon monoxide
and hypothermia sensors fitted in March. The 79 year old has
sight problems and suffers from osteoarthritis and a history of
falls, but didn’t want to move into sheltered accommodation.
She likes the space she has in her home, which she has lived in for
the past 70 years.
Lillian said:- “I’ve got the pendant and that’s for
emergencies if I fall or if anything untoward happens, I just press
the button and speak to somebody at the call centre from wherever I
am in the house. The movement sensor is timed so it goes off
by half past nine every morning if I’m not downstairs, and they call
to check that I am ok. It is like having another person in the
house who you can’t see, and I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Examples where Telecare has helped provide assistance to people
A 78 year old man with dementia and a history of leaving the gas
turned on. The gas sensor was triggered and alerted the call centre
who rang Transco. They found a leak from the cooker pipe and made it
A 76 year old man with a history of falls brought about by bouts of
unconsciousness. He fell and his wife managed to catch him but could
not get to the phone. She pressed the button on his falls pendant
and was able to alert the calls centre who sent an ambulance.
A report recommending the funding be approved will be considered by
the city council’s Executive Board on Friday 26 September.
doctor's uniforms to help in the fight against infection
visitors to Ormskirk or Southport Hospitals may well have seen a new
uniform on the wards since August. For the latest intake of junior
doctors we have issued new purple coloured short-sleeved tunics
which are starting to be worn when on duty.
Over the coming months, all our junior doctors will be issued with
these tunics and they will be available to our consultants in a
bottle green colour to distinguish them from other doctors.
These are part of our drive to maintain our record on cleanliness by
ensuring doctors do not wear anything below the elbow to make it
easier for them to wash their hands regularly.
The latest figures for bloodstream infections caused by MRSA
released by the Health Protection Agency, show that for the second
quarter running (April to June 2008) we have reported no cases of
Martin Kiernan, Nurse Consultant for the Infection Prevention and
Control Team, commented:- "Because we have such low numbers of
bloodstream infections, it is inevitable that we will have the
occasional period that is low and others that seem to be higher. Unfortunately after 2/4 during which no cases were recorded the 3rd
quarter will be not as low, as 4 cases will be reported. After
rigorous analysis of these cases we have determined that 1 of these
was acquired within the hospital. Even with these 4 cases we
remain below our target for the year but this target however is not
an endpoint as we strive to achieve a state of 'No avoidable
infections'. We will continue to investigate each case thoroughly so
that lessons can be learned to help us further reduce the number of
occasions when patients who may carry MRSA from becoming infected."