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Issue:- 15July 2010

City honours innovative organisation that changes lives

LIVERPOOL Personal Service Society is to receive the Freedom of the City in recognition of its longstanding record of pioneering social and health care services to the city.

The organisation, better known as PSS, which was the forerunner for organisations such as Age Concern, Relate and the Citizens Advice Bureaux, will receive the honour at a special ceremony at St George’s Hall on Thursday.  The organisation was set up during the 1st World War.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Hazel Williams said:- “I’m delighted this wonderful organisation is receiving the highest honour the city can bestow during my term of office.  As First Citizen I would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of PSS in promoting philanthropy and a thriving voluntary and community sector for nearly 100 years. They have set an example to others by providing an extensive range of essential services which really do benefit our communities.”

PSS has a rich history being championed by two of the Liverpool’s most well known citizens, social reformers Eleanor Rathbone and Dorothy Keeling. Their principles are still evident today and PSS remains an innovative, empowering charity with the ethos of pioneering new ways of delivering services. The organisation has also recently won two awards for its work in the field of dementia.

Lesley Dixon, PSS chief executive, said:- “PSS was set up in Liverpool as the First World War was drawing to a close to deal with crushing deprivation and poverty in the city. We set up Britain’s first ever citizen’s advice and marriage guidance bureaux, the first Age Concern and the forerunner of legal aid, all of which put Liverpool on the map.\  Our emphasis has always been about helping people stay independent and out of institutions and helping them gain control of their own situations. This honour pays tribute to the staff, clients and volunteers who’ve been involved in those ninety years of caring for some of the most needy people in the country.”

Jill O’Rourke who helps care for her father who has Alzheimer’s has had help and advice from PSS’s dementia centre. She said:- “Most of the time I feel like a complete failure with my dad and don’t feel like I’m doing any good. But a lot of people feel like that.  PSS run training courses to help carers see things from the point of view of the person with dementia and understand why they behave the way they do. This has made a real difference – dementia is a problem for the whole family and the solutions need to involve us all.   PSS also offer equipment and support to help people with dementia stay as independent as possible for as long as possible. I just wish more people knew about them - they’re marvellous.”

Councillor Joe Anderson Leader of Liverpool City Council said:- “I’m delighted we are celebrating PSS’s success. They have been providing services since WWI. The innovative nature of the organisation mean they helped put Liverpool on the map for radical social reform. Yet still to this day provide wonderful help and support to citizens in need in Liverpool.”

Opposition leader Councillor Warren Bradley said:- “The admission to the Freedom Roll of Associations is the highest honour the city can give to an association or institution. I am immensely proud of the service PSS give to the city. They provide essential services to numerous people and are a very worthy recipient of the accolade.”


A new Dog Control Bill designed to deal with the other end of the lead, the dog owners themselves, has successfully passed its second stage in the House of Lords.  Liberal Democrat Peer Rupert Redesdale outlined before the Lords his intention to introduce major changes to current dangerous dog legislation, which is widely considered to be one of the most ineffective pieces of government legislation ever brought into force.

These changes include:-

More emphasis on the owner’s responsibilities – the Bill supports the principle that it is the owner who has the potential to make a dog either well-behaved or badly-behaved. It gives authorised officers the powers to place Dog Control Notices on irresponsible owners at the first signs of dog aggression.

Legislation will no longer be breed specific – since the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, public money and resources have been wasted by already overstretched police authorities seizing dogs simply for being of a particular breed or type. Research now overwhelmingly supports the principle of ‘deed not breed’, and proves that genetics (breed) play only a limited part in the temperament of an individual dog, with environment and training having a far greater effect.

Attacks which take place on private property would also become a criminal offence – a large number of dog attack incidents occur within the home and on private property. The Bill includes various exemptions such as being attacked by another animal, provocation, and attacks on individuals committing an offence for which they could be imprisoned.

Regarding the second reading, Lord Redesdale commented:- “the Control of Dogs Bill has had a successful second stage and is now going to Committee in the House of Lords. A number of issues were raised which will have to be dealt with in Committee but all contributions in the debate stressed the need for responsibility on the other end of the lead – with owners”.

Lord Redesdale’s work on the Bill has been supported by the Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group, which is made up of animal welfare organisations, veterinary professionals and local authorities. The DDASG has lobbied against the inadequacies of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 for many years and believes that current legislation has failed to protect the public and instead caused a significant welfare issue whilst creating the problem of status dogs.

DDASG Chairman and Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, Chris Laurence said:- “Contrary to the comments of Lord Grantchester in this afternoon’s speech, Dogs Trust wholeheartedly supports the work of the DDASG, at which we Chair, and Lord Redesdale’s Dog Control Bill.  The Bill focuses on prevention rather than cure, better protects the public and emphasises responsible dog ownership and all members of DDASG are delighted that it has passed its next stage through Parliament”.

Existing legislation has failed to reduce the number of dog bite incidents in the UK, which have risen in the past 5 years by 79% in London and 43% nationally. Meanwhile costs have continued to rise; it was revealed that £10 million has been spent by the Metropolitan Police alone in the past 3 years simply to implement Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act, relating to the seizure, kennelling and euthanasia of banned breeds.  The Dangerous Dogs Act Study Group has also launched a petition supporting Lord Redesdale’s Dog Control Bill which already has almost 10,000 signatures. The petition can be found online.

For more information on DDASG, Lord Redesdale’s Dog Control Bill and current ‘dangerous dog’ legislation visit:-

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