Thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks because of a “cliff edge” in support

Thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks because of a “cliff edge” in support

Tens of thousands of older teenagers facing serious risks including child sexual exploitation and mental health issues are missing out on vital support because of a “cliff edge” in support, The Children’s Society has warned.  They said that because there is no statutory requirement for councils to support children in need when they turn 18 they are often left without any help even though they remain vulnerable.

It said that there are currently around 58,000 children and young people aged 16 to 17 designated as children in need, who are in need of support but fall below the threshold for care proceedings.

However, the charity’s report Crumbling Futures found that just three per cent of closed cases involving 16- and 17-year-old children in need are transferred to adult services for support.  Key areas of support, that drop off when they reach 18, cover issues such as child sexual exploitation (CSE), mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

The report states:

“Issues that young people referred to children’s services as 16- and 17-year-olds experience include domestic violence, mental ill health, drug or alcohol abuse and a risk of CSE, and often a combination of these issues”.

 

“In just over 50 per cent of cases of 16- and 17-year-olds referred to children’s services for support, these issues are deemed serious enough by local authorities and young people are assessed as ‘children in need’, recognising that without support from services the child’s health and development may be compromised.”

 

“Unfortunately, for many of these children the issues they struggle with are not going to improve or get resolved once they reach adulthood.”

The Children’s Society has called on government to broaden its review of children in need, which launched earlier this month, to include a focus on improving support into adulthood:

“While the review is focusing on improving how well children in need do in education, the charity wants it to look at all aspects of their lives where help is falling short”.

Other recommendations include ensuring that children in need and child protection plans for 16- and 17-year-olds last until the age of 18.  The charity’s report found that four in 10 child in need plans for the age group last for less than three months.

Councils should also be required to plan for young people’s transition from children’s services to adult services and take into account the possibility that support may be needed up to the age of 25.

Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed said:

“Approaching adulthood can be a difficult, awkward, time for many teenagers, but it can be even tougher if young people don’t get the help they need to deal with serious issues in their lives”

 

“Help for vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds who are not in care too often falls short then disappears from the age of 18 as they continue to struggle with issues including mental health, sexual exploitation, poverty and homelessness.

 

“The Children’s Society wants to see better support for children in need as they prepare for adulthood and a comprehensive package of help after they turn 18 – with councils given the additional money they need to deliver this.

 

“Only then will more young people get the vital support they need to ensure problems arising from their childhood are addressed and do not blight their chances of thriving in the future.”

Christmas feel good story

In 2013 a teenager collected hundreds of supermarket vouchers to buy £600 worth of shopping for 4p so he could give the food to families:

Jordon Cox, 16, scoured endless websites and magazines and gathered hundreds of coupons for dozens of products.  After spending hours each day searching the internet for coupons, he managed to collect 470, which he took to his local supermarket, and filled three trolleys with food and household items.  The bill came to £572.16, but once the coupons were factored in the bill was reduced to just 4p – a saving of 99.81 per cent.  The teenager, of Brentwood in Essex, donated all his food to the charity Doorstep which gives food to disadvantaged families.

He said:

“I read an article that said a thousandth of the UK population are unable to eat this Christmas because they don’t have any money.  I decided wanted to help as many people as I can, and to also show that it’s possible to shop very cheaply, if you know how.  It’s not an exact science, so you can never really work out ahead of time how much the total is going to be. I was stunned when it came up as just 4p.”

He started his Christmas shopping project on December 1 and scoured hundreds of in-store magazines and websites for money off and cash back coupons.  His shop, at Tesco Brent Cross, ended with an hour stop at the checkout to unload his items which included 200 packets of biscuits and 60 packs of butter.

He said:

“The lady at the checkout had worked at Tesco for 19 years, and she said she’d never seen anything like it before. I had a big crowd. I felt like a celebrity.  My heart was pounding and the adrenaline was pumping when we got to the till. So much could have gone wrong.  I could have left some coupons at home, or not read the terms and conditions properly. Some of them might have expired too.”

Vicky Fox, who works at Doorstep, said families who he had helped out were overwhelmed by the donation. She said:

“I’d call his gift a great and generous act of a young man and what he did made a real difference.  He’s made a really difference to families who work with us to survive on extremely low incomes and do need the help.  He made such a different to people living on the breadline.”

He bought:

  • 20 packs of frozen Yorkshire puddings
  • 20 jam roly polys
  • 80 packs of butter
  • 23 packs of Quorn mince
  • Four Gressingham poussin.
  • 40 black puddings
  • 200 packets of biscuits
  • 23 blocks of hard cheese
  • 20 pots of Yeo Valley organic yoghurt
  • 19 bottles of fruit juice.
  • 10 boxes of Paxo stuffing
  • 40 bottles of Anchor whipped cream
  • 15 bags of frozen Brussels sprouts
  • 4 packs of After Eight mints
  • 15 Covent Garden Soups.
  • 10 bags of Florette Salad
  • 36 packs of Cauldron tofu, vegetarian sausages and falafel
  • Crumble mix
  • Haribo sweets

Government must invest in children’s & youth services

Leading children’s charities and local councils have called on the Government to urgently close the funding gap facing children and young people’s services as new research reveals a sharp rise in families reaching “crisis point”.

An open letter signed by five major organisations warns that children’s social care is being pushed to breaking point, with a £2bn funding gap expected to open by 2020. It urges ministers to “step up” and use the Autumn Budget to invest in vital services in order to save youngsters from serious harm.

The signatories, which include Barnardo’s, Action for Children and the Local Government Association (LGA), state that between them they have “spent years warning successive governments that a failure to invest in these vital services will have long term consequences” for the UK’s children and families.

The letter, comes as a report by three leading children’s charities reveals “crippling” central government cuts have left councils with no option but to close services designed to detect early signs of child neglect and abuse – forcing them to direct to a “crisis” fire-fighting model.

Demand for crisis support for children has risen sharply as council spending on services that are designed to spot signs of neglect and abuse early has fallen by 40 per cent between 2010/11 and 2015/16, the report shows. Central government funding for children and young people’s services has seen a real terms decrease of £2.4bn in that period, while local authority allocations for these services has fallen by £1.6bn.

At the same time, there has been a 108 per cent increase in child protection investigations, as demand for council help soars.

The research, from The Children’s Society, Action for Children and the National Children’s Bureau, also reveals stark geographical discrepancies, with the most deprived councils in England having cut spending on children’s services by almost a quarter (23 per cent) – six times as much as the least deprived councils.

The open letter to ministers reads:

“Children’s social care is being pushed to breaking point, with an unprecedented surge in demand leaving services across the public, voluntary and community sector struggling to cope.

“We believe that all children deserve the chance of a bright future. That’s why we are uniting today to urge the Government to use the Autumn Budget to close the funding gap facing children’s services, which will reach at least £2bn by 2020.”

It states that the number of children needing child protection plans has nearly doubled over the past decade, and last year saw the largest annual increase in children in care since 2013. The organisations also highlight that local authorities overspent on children’s services by £365m in 2014/15 just to keep children safe, and a huge £605m the following year.

The letter adds:

“Our children and young people deserve better than the gradual decline of services – particularly those services that help children early – that have been shown to make a real difference to their lives”

“Councils and the voluntary sector are committed to getting the best for every child. Now we need the same commitment from our government, starting with urgent action through the Budget to give local services the resources they need to help children and families thrive.”

The number of young people subject to child protection enquires increased by 140 per cent – to 170,000 – in the past decade, according to research by the LGA earlier this year.

A separate study more recently revealed that benefit cuts and increased levels of poverty across the UK were the primary cause for this “unprecedented surge” in demand for children’s services, while a lack of resources to provide universal services like children’s centres and youth clubs also played a significant part.

 

 

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying tackled in new guidance for Church schools

Guidance for the Church of England’s 4,700 schools published today aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report makes 12 recommendations for schools including ensuring schools’ Christian ethos statements offer “an inclusive vision for education” where “every child should be revered and respected as members of a community where all are known and loved by God. ”

Clear anti-bullying policies should include HBT behaviours and language, policies on how to report incidences should be accessible, staff trained on recognising bullying, curriculum and collective worship should support the vision and the wider church ensure that schools are responding well to the guidance.

In the foreword of the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.

“Central to Christian theology is the truth that every single one of us is made in the image of God. Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God.

“This guidance helps schools to offer the Christian message of love, joy and celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.”

The advice is an update on Valuing All God’s Children, guidance published in 2014 which tackled homophobic behaviour. This update covers a wider range of negative behaviours, incorporates the relevant legal and inspection frameworks and reflects the Church’s Vision for Education, whose four elements of wisdom, hope, community and dignity form the theological basis of the guidance.

 

Chief Education Officer for the Church of England, Nigel Genders, said:

“Providing an education to our 1 million children that will enable them to live life in all its fullness is a big responsibility.

“This practical and thoughtful advice is packed with templates and a comprehensive selection of resources for schools, teachers, families and young people. I hope that it will make a difference to our school communities and individual pupils too.”

The report acknowledges that it is likely that not all will agree on issues to do with human sexuality, marriage or gender identity. It goes on to say that:

“However, there needs to be a faithful and loving commitment to remain in relationship with the other and honour the dignity of their humanity without ‘back turning’, dismissing the other person, or claiming superiority.” 

The full report can be found here.

Hampshire Constabulary Launches Firearms Surrender

The surrender is giving people the chance to hand in any firearms or ammunition which have come into their possession for whatever reason.

The surrender runs from today (November 13) until Sunday, November 26 and is part of national initiative run by the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS). It aims to reduce the number of illegally held firearms within our communities.

Each firearm handed into the Police is one less that could fall into the hands of criminals.  Whether it is an old family heirloom that has been stored away for years, a former military weapon or an unwanted firearm which was previously legally owned – all can be handed in to your local police station, safe in the knowledge that they will be disposed of safely.

Hampshire Constabulary will also accept replica firearms, air weapons, BB guns, imitation firearms, antique guns, component parts and other ballistic items.

During the fortnight firearms licence holders are also being encouraged to consider the surrender of weapons they no longer have any use for.

 

During the two-week campaign, those surrendering firearms will not face prosecution for the illegal possession upon surrender and can remain anonymous.  However, this is not an amnesty and if further examination of a surrendered firearm reveals a link to a crime, this will be investigated.

Hampshire Constabulary are asking anyone who is unsure about an item they have to call them on 101 to get advice on what they should do.  Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Historic ordnance should not be moved or handed in to any stations, if you think you have any items like this, please call Hampshire Constabulary on 101 for advice.

Please click here for a list of which stations will be taking part in the surrender.

Oxford college banned Christian group from freshers’ fair

As the university academic year kicks off, once again, we see a Christian Union having their activities on campus restricted.  Balliol Christian Union (CU) was banned from attending the Freshers’ Fair by the JCR over concerns at the “potential for harm to freshers” and because they wanted the freshers’ fair to be a “secular space”, according to Oxford’s student newspaper Cherwell.

Eventually the CU was told that a single multi-faith stall would be allowed to display leaflets, though no representatives would be allowed to staff it, according to leaked emails. Balliol CU boycotted this option.

The decision has caused anger at Balliol, where a motion was reportedly passed unanimously accusing the JCR committee of “barring the participation of specific faith-based organisations” and describing the step as “a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom”. The motion prohibited the barring of official religious societies from future freshers’ fairs.

In an email exchange, JCR vice-president Freddy Potts, on behalf of the JCR committee, reportedly told a CU representative:

“We recognise the wonderful advantages in having CU representatives at the freshers’ fair, but are concerned that there is potential for harm to freshers who are already struggling to feel welcome in Oxford.”

“Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice, and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.”

In a Facebook post, JCR president Hubert Au said the decision to have a multi-faith stall rather than a specific CU stall, was reached “in light of both concerns raised by members [of the Welfare sub committee] and by an undergraduate survey conducted last term, which indicated a lack of familiarity as to where non-Christian societies, events and services were located”, the paper reported.  “We didn’t want to monopolise the presence of any individual faith/belief society at the Balliol freshers’ fair.”

The Rev Nigel Genders, the Church of England’s chief education officer, said:

“Freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental principle that underpins our country and its great institutions and universities.

“Christian Unions represent some of the largest student led organisations in many universities across the country and to exclude them in this way is to misunderstand the nature of debate and dialogue and at odds with the kind of society we are all seeking to promote.”

The Rev Richard Cunningham (Director of UCCF) said:

“We are however concerned that the current desire to provide safe spaces on campus does not infringe on the core liberties of freedom of speech and freedom of association which are surely foundational to the university experience and indeed to basic human flourishing.”

Six people charged with criminal offences over Hillsborough disaster

Liverpool City Council light up 96 lanterns and illuminate St Georgeís Hall on Lime Street in red along with a banner which names those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Disaster .(Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Match commander David Duckenfield and Norman Bettison are among six people charged with criminal offences over the Hillsborough disaster.

The Crown Prosecution Service revealed its intentions in a meeting with the victims relatives at 11am this morning.

Last year it was concluded that the 96 fans that lost their lives at Hillsborough in the 1989 stadium disaster had been unlawfully killed.

Following a six month investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service, today six people have been charged for their roles in the Hillsborough disaster, including match commander David Duckenfield and Norman Bettison, who was heavily involved with coordinating the response of the South Yorkshire Police following the dissaster.

Others charged are Graham Henry Mackrell, Sheffield Wednesday’s safety officer; Peter Metcalf, a South Yorkshire Police solicitor; and Donald Denton and Alan Foster, both members of the South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster.

 

Head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime and CounterTerrorism Division, Sue Hemming, announced the charges in relation to the Hillsborough Stadium disaster.

 

Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities in the UK

Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities, at a loss to the UK of more than £1 billion, between 2012 and 2015, the latest figures from the ONS show.

In fact, there has been a general decline in the time that the UK’s unsung heroes and heroines spend volunteering since 2005, according to ONS analysis.

Despite the value of the voluntary sector to the UK, there has been a 15.4% decline in the total number of frequent hours1 volunteered, between 2005 and 2015 – a drop from 2.28 billion hours to 1.93 billion, figures from the Community Life Survey (CLS) show.

Latest figures from 2014 show volunteering represented 2% of the total value of unpaid work, and was worth £23 billion.2

Total frequent hours of formal volunteering, billion hours, 2005 to 2014

Overall, there was a decline in the amount of time put into volunteering. Between 2000 and 2015 it dropped from an average (mean) of 14.5 minutes per volunteer, per day to 13.7 minutes.

This equates to a drop from a weekly average of one hour and 42 minutes to one hour and 36 minutes per volunteer.

Young people and volunteering

The statistics suggest that those in the youngest age group of 16 to 24 have increased the time they devote to volunteering while those in the 25 to 34 age category have decreased their volunteering time.

In 2015 average time and participation in volunteering was higher for those aged between 16 and 24 (17 minutes per day and 51% participation) and was a noticeable rise as compared to those in the same age group in 2000 (nine minutes per day and 40 % participation).

It could be that, as younger people try and secure employment, they undertake voluntary work in order to enhance their CVs, but as they embed themselves in their careers, at an older age, their focus turns to building their careers.

Also, younger people have more free time, with participation rates for students rising the most – by 12 percentage points between 2000 and 2015 – from 46% to 58%.

 

Prince William has a stark warning about the stigma surrounding mental health

Prince William has spoken out about his desire to “normalise” the “great taboo” of mental health in a powerful speech.

He said that until recently, people with anxiety were considered to be “weak,” and those who were struggling to cope were deemed to be “failing.”:

“Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they.  But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it”

He said that his interest in mental health began with his work as an Air Ambulance pilot.

“It was suicide, a subject that is so often hidden. The suicide rate among young men in this country is an appalling stain on our society.  Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in this country. Not cancer, not knife crime, not road deaths – suicide.”

The prince said if any one of the aforementioned issues caused so many deaths, there would be a “national outcry.”

“But there has only ever been silence. And this has to stop. This silence is killing good people,” the prince said.

The prince said that in his work as in Search and Rescue and as an Air Ambulance pilot, he has been encouraged — along with his colleagues — to admit when they feel “overwhelmed or unable to cope”.

“This should be the norm,” he said.

Young Carer’s Day: the stress of juggling multiple responsibilities

A group of young carers have made a hard-hitting film showing how stressful it can be juggling responsibilities both at home and in school.

The film, which was made by Fixers, the charity which gives young people a voice, is being launched today on Young Carer’s Day.

You can watch it here:

Jade Dyer, 17, has been the primary carer for her mum for the past four years and takes the lead role in the film.  It shows her being reprimanded by a teacher for failing to get an essay in on time as she struggles to look after her mum who has Grave’s disease – an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the body.

Jade, from Bourne End, Bucks, says:

‘Her illness means her moods can be very up and down – when she’s down I need to be there to console her and give her support.  She might not be able to get out of bed if she’s feeling like that, so I’ll need to do household tasks like cooking dinner.  If she doesn’t take her medication or is particularly unwell she becomes quite immobile, so if she collapses I need to be there to help her up.’

There were times when the teenager struggled to cope with school.  She says:

‘My secondary school attendance was very low, and the teachers didn’t realise what I was going through so there was a huge lack of understanding.  My grades were affected and teachers could be quite harsh about it.’

Jade, who is now studying for her A-levels at Henley College, plans to show the film at teacher training events.  She says:

‘We hope the film will show teachers just how much we have to do – we have a lot more on our plates than the average student and getting some leniency when it comes to things like essay deadlines could really help us.

‘Anyone can be in a caring role and it’s important that teachers are patient and understanding so they can help them. There are a lot of intelligent people who could miss out otherwise.  Focus on what that child’s needs are and help them in any way you can.’

 

Reports from the UK government on Domestic Violence

The Home Office have launched a range of papers recently on the theme of domestic violence and abuse.

The changes to the definition of domestic raise awareness that young people in the 16 to 17 age group can also be victims of domestic violence and abuse.

By including this age group the government hopes to encourage young people to come forward and get the support they need, through a helpline or specialist service.

A young people’s panel will be set up by the NSPCC. The panel will consist of up to 5 members between the age of 16 and 22, who will work with the government on domestic violence policy and wider work to fight violence against women and girls.

Here are some of the key recent publications: