News

Child care system “failing vulnerable teenagers”

MPs have warned that England’s care system is in urgent need of review as it continually fails teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18.

A report by the Education Select Committee concluded that social workers are failing to recognise the signs of abuse and neglect in teens, leading to what it described as a “worrying picture” of the support available to young adults in care.

Although local authorities legally have a duty to protect all those under the age of 18, the committee said it feared that younger children were taking precedence over teens and that procedures need to be put in place to ensure that all under-18s are safeguarded effectively.

Politician Graham Stuart, who chaired the committee, said: “Care for older children is not good enough. They are let down too often, frequently ignored or not listened to, can be pushed out of care too young and insufficiently prepared and supported. This has to change.”

Recommendations from the committee included more education about the many forms of abuse, and encouragement for teenagers to report cases themselves.

After finding evidence that children are being left in dangerous situations for extended periods of time, the committee also highlighted the need for better training for social workers about the risks of neglect and abuse.

Many have praised the committee for highlighting issues that children in care are facing. Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, Matthew Reed, said:

“This is a very welcome and important report, which highlights that far too often children are treated as the problem … It is crucial children’s needs come first at all times — regardless of how old they are, where they come from or what circumstances they face.”

Labour spokeswoman for children and young people, Lisa Nandy, agreed that the report is important and that the government needs to take action.

She said: “Today’s report … shows that power relationships are still exploited and young people, particularly girls, are too often ignored or disbelieved when they report abuse. It underlines why the government is wrong to resist a public inquiry into recent allegations.”

                                                                     Article by Abbie Cavendish

November 7, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

MP backs campaign for the living wage in Wigan

Low-paid council workers could get a £7.20 ‘living wage’ if Wigan Council chiefs support a new campaign, backed by MP Lisa Nandy.

Councillor Damian Edwardson, who is also a Local Ambassador for Save the Children, launched the campaign, calling for the Council to adopt a wage that provides a basic standard of living for workers and their families.

Campaigners say applying a ‘living wage’ could mean an extra £40 a week in the pockets of low-paid workers, and is likely to be spent in the local area, providing a boost to the economy.

Wigan MP Lisa said: “In such tough economic times it’s a big ask for councils to pay the ‘living wage’ to employees, but councils who have done it have found it boosts the local economy, and improves staff retention, productivity and morale.”

More than one in five local authorities now pays a ‘living wage’, which is independently set and calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

Employers voluntarily choose to pay the £7.20 per hour (£8.30 in London) wage compared to the National Minimum Wage, which is currently set at £6.16 per hour.

Councillor Edwardson said: “I was honoured to be asked by Save the Children to be their Local Ambassador for the ‘living wage’. “ I hope our campaign begins the process for Wigan Council to follow other North West local authorities in establishing a ‘living wage’ which will help to support our low paid families and tackle child poverty.”

A report by accountants KPMG this week revealed that 22% of workers in the North West are paid less than the ‘living wage’, with five million UK-wide employees falling below the threshold.

The news comes in time for the first Living Wage Week, which takes place from November 4-10, to celebrate employers who have already adopted the policy and to encourage more to do so.

Lisa added: “I am delighted to back this campaign, which will have substantial benefits for Wigan.”

Pictured left to right back: Cllr. Lawrence Hunt, Cllr. Paul Collins, Cllr. Jo Platt, Cllr Mike Crosby, Cllr. Mike McLoughlin.

Front: Chair of Shevington Community Centre, John Ball, Cllr. Damian Edwardson, Lisa Nandy MP.

November 3, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Victim support must mean we listen to all the victims

The Jimmy Savile allegations are growing daily. Scotland Yard says that 300 people have come forward as part of Operation Yewtree. If proven, the allegations would make Savile one of the most prolific sex offenders Britain has ever seen.

The BBC, like other public institutions, has serious questions to answer about a powerful culture of protection that appears to have existed, where people were afraid to speak out and those who did were ignored.

A most disturbing aspect of the ensuing public debate has been the many voices arguing that something like this couldn’t happen today.

It is true that, since the 1970s, there have been huge advances in law, policy and practice. The 1989 Children Act created a comprehensive legal framework to protect children. Since then, the duty to keep children safe has been extended to a range of agencies that come into contact with children. Partly as a result of this, public understanding of child abuse is much greater.

But there is a striking, and worrying, similarity between the Savile case and more recent child abuse cases which repeat the too-familiar pattern of power relationships which are exploited, and young people – particularly girls – who are ignored when they ask for help.

Take the recent case in Rochdale, where nine men were eventually convicted of abusing up to 47 young girls over several years. Cries for help were ignored, or disbelieved, and warning signs were repeatedly overlooked. The public debate that followed focused – unhelpfully – on race, disguising similarities with other comparable child abuse cases involving white men, and indeed similarities with the Savile case.

The fact that the men were Pakistani and the girls were white provoked much more comment than the fact that the gang’s leader was also abusing a young Asian girl, exerting the same power over her by virtue of age and social standing as Savile and others appear to have done to teenage girls decades before. Ignoring young girls is not new. At least seven of Savile’s victims say they spoke out while he was still alive.

There are many things that can and should be done immediately to break this pattern.

The Labour Party would support legal changes to protect children in the entertainment industry and ensure that all agencies are reminded of their responsibilities by restoring a new, streamlined set of guidance, previously dismissed by Tory ministers as “red tape”.

At the same time and as a matter of urgency, children’s voices need greater prominence in the child protection system.

Reducing social workers’ caseloads and providing more administrative support would address burnout in the social work profession, while enabling social workers to spend time with the children they are tasked with protecting and giving them more opportunity to detect abuse.

We must also consider the ongoing and serious implications of the imbalance of power in society. In Rochdale, police assumed that the young girls were involved in prostitution, while social services made what The Guardian called “an equally contemptuous and class-bound assumption that these young women from the bottom of the heap had freely made a lifestyle choice”.

Child abuse happens across all races, cultures, classes and age groups. But should be willing to confront the fact that young victims may also be dismissed more easily because of their class or background when they ask for help.

This is why Ed Miliband was right to call for a public inquiry into the Savile allegations, to provide answers for the victims and lessons for society.

The police have called Operation Yewtree a “watershed moment for child abuse investigations and… a landmark investigation”. It would be a fitting tribute to the brave young people, who have come forward over many decades to confront their abusers, if the attention prompted by the Savile case ensured that, in future, we listen.

This article was originally published in Tribune Magazine.

November 2, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Kicks It Out With Latics

Captain of the Latics Development Squad Tim Chow and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy presented trophies and medals to the winners of the Latics Kick It Out Cup 2012 before Saturday’s home win against West Ham

Over 100 young people from across Wigan took part in the football tournament organised by Wigan Athletic Community Trust as part of the Club’s support for the Kick It Out campaign’s One Game One Community week of action.

Everyone who took part in the competition at the Soccerdome was also given the chance to watch the 2-1 victory over West Ham at the DW Stadium.

The young people who were involved in the tournament were all participants in weekly community cohesion sessions organised by Latics in the Community and in the Midnight League competition which is organised by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust.

Lisa Nandy MP said: “I’m a big fan of the work that Wigan Athletic does in the community and it was great to see so many young people from different parts of Wigan playing football against each other.”

In support of football’s Kick It Out initiative the club has launched ‘Together’ its own campaign to support equality, inclusivity and respect.

The Club is currently working towards the Kick It Out Equality Standard Preliminary Level. The Equality Standard is a framework which encourages and supports the development of equality practises and professional clubs, across England and Wales and highlights key areas of diversity, race, religion, age, gender disability and sexual orientation.

The Standard looks at how the club recruits employees and young players fairly, as well as the delivery of activities and projects to under-represented groups in the community.

For more information on Kick It Out please visit www.kickitout.org.

November 1, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Wigan MP Backs Charity Call

Local MP Lisa Nandy celebrates local charity trustees.

In the run-up to this year’s National Trustees’ Week Wigan MP Lisa Nandy is thanking local charity trustees for their dedicated work in running local charities, and highlighting the benefits of becoming a charity trustee.

Charities in Wigan cover a wide range of activities and services but all depend on the trustees that oversee their work, most of whom are volunteers. Trustees’ Week also raises awareness of how people can become trustees themselves, gaining valuable experience and skills.

Lisa said: “Local charities in Wigan do really important work in our society, but they need trustees in order to function. As we approach national Trustees’ Week I want to pay tribute to their tireless work to make our local community an even better place.

“I strongly encourage people to consider becoming a trustee. I know from doing it myself that being a charity trustee is a great way of learning new skills, meeting new people and gaining valuable experience. It can also lead to new opportunities and employment. Lots of charities are in need of trustees, so I encourage anyone to get involved in this great form of volunteering.”

Trustees Week runs between 5-11 November 2012. To learn more about Trustees’ Week and trusteeship, visit  http://trusteesweek.blogspot.co.uk/  the website includes trustees’ stories, details of local events being held during Trustees’ Week and links to trustee matching services for those who want to become a trustee.

For more information on Trustees’ Week 2012, contact the Charity Commission press office on 020 7674 2366

October 31, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Wigan’s Lisa back Labour’s call for people to switch

Wigan’s MP Lisa has backed calls from colleague Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, commenting on the Independent on Sunday’s investigation into the Great British Energy Rip-Off, which showed that the big six energy companies still have a stranglehold in their former monopoly areas, the MP said: “It’s no wonder the energy giants are so shame-faced about hiking up energy bills when they have a stranglehold over the energy market. People talk about the big six, but in most parts of the country there’s only one big supplier in town.

“It cannot be right that customers who have stuck with their old supplier pay a premium for their loyalty.

“The time has come to create a tough new regulator to police the energy market properly and force the energy companies to pass on price cuts to the public.”

Lisa said: “Until the next Labour Government can introduce a fairer system for energy regulation people should take advantage of Labour’s switch together scheme and force the energy monopolies to lower prices.”

Details of Labour’s SwitchTogether scheme to help lower energy bills can be found here: http://www.switchtogether.org.uk/

October 29, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

As child poverty increases, social workers must be supported

Relationships are vital for children and most will look first to their family. For others, though, it might be their social worker, teacher, independent reviewing officer, nurse or any other member of the diverse children’s workforce to whom they turn. That is why I believe that we fail children if we fail to support the people who work with them.

Yet for some time these frontline workers have been under significant and increasing pressure, so that now, in places, the system is creaking at the seams. With rising numbers of children in care, nearly eight in every 10 social workers say their caseloads are unmanageable. Teachers report more and more children turning up for school hungry and unready to learn, while charities such as the NSPCC report that neglect is going unnoticed.

The government has failed to acknowledge that what happens outside schools has a huge impact on children’s ability to do well within them. Since the coalition took office, out-of-school support for children has taken above-average cuts through the early intervention grant and local authority budget settlements, youth services have shrunk or disappeared, and financial support for low-income families has diminished. It is hardly surprising, then, that child poverty is projected to rise and frontline workers are under more pressure.

Immediate action is a moral imperative. Ministers need to remind other agencies of their responsibilities to children so that the crucial job of keeping children safe does not revert simply to social workers and teachers. Despite supporting the adoption reforms, pressures on social workers must not be allowed to increase further, which is why I have urged caution in applying new targets. Speed is important, but it should never be at the expense of the quality and sustainability of child placements.

Finally, we must take seriously requests from frontline social workers for more help with paperwork – reducing it when it is unnecessary and offering support when it is essential. By doing that, they can spend more time with children to better understand their priorities; putting young people’s voices at the heart of the decisions taken with and for them.

There is much that can be done immediately, but there are no quick fixes. In the long term, reshaping public services so that they are preventive and not solely crisis management will make the biggest difference for frontline staff and for children.

This article was originally published in The Guardian on 24 October 2012

October 25, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa blasts Government inaction on youth unemployment

Young people in Wigan are paying the price for this government’s economic failure as long term youth unemployment in our area continues to soar

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, Lisa Nandy MP said: “These figures offer no let up for young people in Wigan who are increasingly shut out of the jobs market because of this Government’s economic failure.

“Long term youth unemployment here in Wigan is up  159% in the last year, but ministers still refuse to take decisive action.

“Labour’s not waiting for the election to take action. Our Youth Jobs Taskforce is pulling together the best ideas from across the country to take action now, such as Wigan Council’s apprenticeship programme.  

Lisa continued: “This Government’s disastrous economic plan continues to have damaging implications for Wigan. Ministers should be making youth unemployment their top priority and I will continue to challenge them on this.”

October 25, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

Lisa Nandy MP backs Guide Dogs’ Safe and Sound campaign

MP Lisa sets blistering lap time on Scalextric track at party conference. Wigan MP Lisa Nandy is supporting a Guide Dogs campaign (www.guidedogs.org.uk/campaigns) which highlights the potential danger that quiet electric and hybrid vehicles present to visually impaired people.

Lisa showed her support for the Safe and Sound campaign when visiting the Guide Dogs’ stand at the recent Labour Party Conference. The imaginative stand featured a large Scalextric track, complete with Guide Stig dressed in a white racing suit and helmet, and conference delegates were invited to post their best times on a leader board.

After achieving a respectable lap time of 3.2 seconds, Lisa said: “I’m pleased to support Guide Dogs’ Safe and Sound campaign, because quiet vehicles pose a real danger to all pedestrians, especially those living with sight loss.

“I think Guide Dogs did a great job of raising awareness of a serious issue in a fun way.”

October 18, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment

MP Lisa on the right line

BT has agreed to clean up a Pemberton eyesore in response to a campaign led by Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and local Councillor Paul Prescott. Residents had raised serious issues of anti social behaviour, vandalism and graffiti linked to the BT phone box situated on Banks Avenue Pemberton, which has caused concern and disturbance to the local community for several years.

Lisa wrote to the Chief Executive of BT raising concerns over graffiti and the inappropriate advertising of junk food on the phone box. Lisa and Cllr Prescott pointed out to BT, that the phone box no longer served any function as, due to the vandalism, it was inoperable.

In response BT have now agreed to repair the phone box, clean up the graffiti, take down the advertising and seek permission from Wigan Council to remove the kiosk permanently.

Lisa said: “I am delighted that BT have agreed to deal with this eyesore. The kiosk has been a magnet for anti-social behaviour for some time and finally residents have got the action they deserve.”

October 17, 2012 By : Category : News 0 Comment