Children & Social Work Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Helen Macfarlane (CSWB 35)

1. Following a career in education, I now volunteer as an advocate for children, on behalf of Barnardo’s. I meet with children prior to meetings held to discuss their future and their protection, to ascertain their feelings and how life is for them. My role was created as a result of Serious Case Reviews where the common element was that no-one asked the child.

2. As a head teacher I used to attend many Child Protection conferences but the voice of the child was absent or, at best, guessed at. Children need an independent person to speak with as many have difficult relationships with and perceptions of family and professionals who arrive in the family home to alter the situation and often to challenge their parents.

3. When I support a young person at a meeting, or present the child’s words at the official meeting (which would often be too daunting for them to attend), it often has a dramatic impact. Professionals and family had often not fully realised how the child felt and what life was like for them. Having an advocate makes a real difference with a lasting impact.

4. Our common aim is to support young people into becoming responsible, caring, well-adjusted adults. The earlier direct support is available for them, the higher the chance that this goal will be achieved.

5. I therefore implore parliament not to allow the exemption clauses to be re-instated. I believe it is vital that all local authorities have the same statutory duties in children’s social care, ensuring appropriate support is in place for our young and vulnerable citizens.

Helen Macfarlane
Retired head teacher

January 2017

 

Prepared 5th January 2017