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Issue:- 10 March 2010

Penny Marathon for Conference Team during Tourism Week

SEFTON Council and Southport Conferences will be showing their support for the annual British Tourism Week 12 March to 20 March 2011, to highlight the value of meetings and events to Southport, whilst raising money for a good cause. This year’s campaign has a coastal theme and teams from the conference bureau, alongside a local charity will be embracing a great seaside tradition by taking part in a sponsored ‘slotathon’ on Sunday, 13 March 2011 in Southport’s Penny Arcade Museum. Located in the Pier Pavilion at the end of Southport Pier, the Museum houses one of the largest collections of antique penny slot machines in the country, with some machines being more than one hundred years old. Money raised from the event will go to Freshfield Animal Rescue, a local independent charity which works hard to re-home abandoned, mistreated and unwanted animals.  The ‘slotathon’ will be a particularly representative of one of Southport’s key messages and most attractive quality in the business tourism market, its affordable, high quality conference offering.  Mike Booth, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, Sefton Council, commented;- “The activities that the team will be taking part in during British Tourism Week, will not only help raise money for a great cause, but will also significantly help in raising the profile and the value of the events and conferences that Southport hosts each year.”  During British Tourism Week, the Southport Theatre & Convention Centre will play host to the Aglow International Leaders & Members conference. The 2 day event is expected to attract around 600 people and generate an estimated half a million pounds of revenue for the town.   Events such as this are responsible for generating tens of million of pounds of economic benefit to Southport each year and support hundreds of jobs. Southport also has a dedicated business tourism steering group, and with its recent investment in its venues and services, the area is now fully recognised as one of the premier conference destinations in the North West. For those wishing to sponsor the participants or to make a donation to Freshfield Animal Rescue, please visit the charity's website.  Alternatively, come along to watch the team in action on Sunday, 13 March 2011, where there will be representatives from the charity collecting donations on site.

ChildLine counsels more than 3,000 children in care

1 in 26 looked after children contact ChildLine about failings and weaknesses in the care system, a new ChildLine report reveals.  The report calls on local authorities to ensure fostered and other looked after children always have an adult to speak up for them when they need help. At present, children only have a right to an ‘advocate’ if they want to make a formal complaint about their care.  There were over 83,000 children in foster, residential or other forms of care in 2009, including 2,485 in Merseyside.  In all, 3,196 looked after children – some as young as five - contacted ChildLine over 2009 to 2010 with problems about being in care. ChildLine North West, based in Manchester and Liverpool, received 238 calls from children in care (of those 53 were taken by counsellors in Liverpool). Many were suffering physical and sexual abuse and neglect and felt lost and helpless in the care system.  Some children were deeply unsettled and traumatised after being moved several times a year, some as many as 15 times while in care. Others complained of emotionally abusive or uncaring carers and being bullied by other children. Many looked after children had to be counselled about self-harming or running away. They talked about being ‘sick of life’ and wanting to ‘give up and die’.  Local authorities are looking after more children since the case of Baby Peter Connolly two years ago. Official figures show that the number of children who were taken into care in England grew from 60,900 in 2009 to 64,400 in 2010. Applications to place children in care remain at unprecedented levels.  Over the last 5 years, the number of ‘looked after children’ contacting ChildLine has increased by over 30% from 2,415 to 3,196.

Christine Mellor, assistant director for ChildLine North West, said:- “Most children in care are well looked after by dedicated carers and professionals. But a minority continue to be failed by the care system. When this happens, children need to know there is someone there to speak up for them who is independent from the local authority.  Every day, looked after children talk to us about lives filled with pain and hurt. After the trauma they’ve been through, children need a special quality of care - at least as good as a good parent can offer.  Instead, we hear from children who have been beaten or sexually assaulted while in care. Others feel abandoned in care or unloved by their new carers. Some are intimidated by other children. Many have reached crisis point.  ChildLine highlighted the plight of these children in a report published 16 years ago and some of the same issues persist. These failings go back at least a generation.”

James, 12, told ChildLine:- “I’ve been in and out of care all my life. I’ve been in various foster placements, but no-one wants me. I’m now living in a care home where there is lots of bullying. I get punched lots but the staff ignore it.”

14 year old Sarah said:- “I am in care because I was sexually abused by my step dad. My carer has hit me and touched me up. I’ve reported it but they are not taking my accusation seriously.”

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