letting it out …

Sometimes all you need is a damn good cry. I finished a rubbish day of work, a day when I had feelings as down as if they weighed with concrete. At times I just felt like breaking down in tears which is very unlike me. If it’s time of the month then I don’t like how hormones have the ability to alter your mood by that much. It was beyond control.

So when I went into the changing rooms to get my biker gear on, before I put my helmet on I had a good cry. It worked. Then when I got on the bike I twisted the throttle, lifted the visor and let the rush of wind blast my tears away. Then the tune ‘wings’ from Brokeback Mountain started to play on my phone I was set off again.

This emotional state was not good considering I was about to meet up with the social worker for my independent visitor assessment and I knew she would ask me questions about my childhood. When I talked about the issues I had with my Dad, although I love him to bits, I had to swallow down the temptation to cry. But as I talked to the SW I got happier because I was offloading to her for a positive reason – to help kids in care experience happiness and a break from their situation.

Hopefully I will get approved by panel and look forward to helping.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

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A boy killed by society’s neglect

On the BBC News at Ten this evening the headline news story featured a picture of a beautiful blonde boy smiling happily at the camera looking very smart in his school uniform. Staring at this picture, it was very hard to believe that the boy had been tortured and beaten to death by his mother and stepfather. Details of the catalogue of offences leading up to his death must have made parents the nation and world over sick to the stomach. Drownings, beatings, poisoning, starvation, the list of torture this 4 year old boy suffered was endless. Social workers and teachers were all aware of these separate incidents but had not pieced the puzzle of neglect together. How they must shoulder the responsibility of his fate now must be anybody’s guess but I am glad I am not in their shoes. Apparently the mother was very good at keeping the authorities at arms length and giving them what they needed to hear. The outcome of the enquiry into the Baby P case recommended that social workers adopt a compassion combined with scepticism approach to enquiries. Read the full story on the death of Daniel Pelka here.

Having also watched tonight’s ‘Neighbourhood Force’, a programme following the staff of Birmingham City Council as they deal with the day-to-day issues of council tenants, it is clear that the system is still not right. The most memorable incident in tonight’s programme was the housing officer who was called to a flat after receiving a message about an abandoned dog. It turned out to be a serious child protection issue as the flat had a mother and newborn baby living with a boyfriend and his staffie dog in an environment where dog poo and wee littered the floor, even in the kitchen where they were preparing food and the baby’s bottles. I know from having children myself that within a day or two of giving birth a midwife visits your home followed a few days later by the health visitor. The baby in the programme looked at least a couple of months old so why had it taken an enquiry from the public about a totally unrelated incident to raise the alarm?

It is easy to point fingers at the social workers and individuals working for the authorities but it is the system as a whole that needs to be seriously examined. I suspect the root of all the problems can be found at Government cuts and an understaffed and overstretched care system. 

A finger also needs to be pointed at society as a whole. Going back to Daniel Pelka who was killed by his parents, he lived in a terraced house with neighbours either side. Did they not hear his screams night after night? The teachers reported several occasions when he was raiding the school bins for scraps of food to eat and the mother explained it away with the excuse of an ‘eating disorder’. Too often we believe what we want to hear because the truth is too difficult and disturbing to comprehend. But when the truth concerns the safety and wellbeing of a child, there isn’t one adult that does not have a duty of care towards a child,  whether they are a neighbour, teacher, social worker or passer by. 

The housing officer in ‘Neighbourhood Force’ questioned whether she should still be doing that job as she approached 65 because society wasn’t getting any better, in fact she thought it was getting worse and found it depressing to witness. 

It is a depressing conclusion to another awful day in British Society’s history. In remembrance of the little boy who died at the hands of someone who should have loved him the most, this blog is dedicated today to the NSPCC. So if you feel able to support their campaign to put an end to cases such as these please donate now.

Thanks for reading.

A workhouse heritage

In the Victorian period the UK had the most delightful institutions called ‘workhouses’ for the ‘deserving’ poor. Inevitably it was filled with the elderly, the young and the ill.Today’s post was inspired by a documentary on ITV entitled ‘Secrets of the Workhouse’ showing celebrities uncovering their links with the workhouses of the Victorian era. Inevitably the stories as to how their great great grandfather or mother or uncle came to be in a workhouse were heart-wrenching. The saddest being the illegitimate offspring of mothers ‘adopted’ by the state and all parental rights taken away. Felicity Kendal’s relative pleaded with the authorities to return Albert to her but they would have none of it. Touchingly Albert made the link with his natural mother and father in a public record of his marriage and children (following a successful career in the army, surviving the Great War and receiving a Medal of Honour). Yet another child from the same mother died aged 18 months of diarrhoea, a common cause of infant death in workhouses. A death that is still claiming thousands of children’s lives in third world countries today. 

In the programme novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford discovers a letter written by her mother to the charity Barnardo’s pleading for them to return her sister from Australia. Her auntie was forced to emigrate to Australia during a period that dated right up to the late 60’s when Barnardo’s and the authorities thought it best to send children who could not be cared for by their natural parents to Australia with no hope of return. In the reply back from Barnardo’s, her mother is told that they cannot do this as it would be too expensive, unless she was willing to pay between £34 and £36 to cover her travel expenses – a very expensive amount in those days. Needless to say Barbara’s mother could not afford that and she never saw her sister again. It was Gordon Brown who apologised, on behalf of the state, for this cruel policy of sending children abroad on a compulsory basis, effectively severing their roots and family ties.

When you hear of these accounts of authorities over the years getting it so badly wrong with mistakes that ‘echo in the halls of eternity’, it is now wonder that it now takes so long to go through the adoption process. It is also understandable why social workers now insist that adopted children are fully aware of their past and given the opportunity, albeit supervised, to meet with their natural parents. 

To see the programme, click on this link.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – see more on my Unicef page.

Thanks for reading.