I wake up, feeling fat and not entirely ready for the world of
children’s rights, to a call from a 15-year-old boy, who is a
would-be author and bon vivante. He is keen to be involved in any
focus groups set up as part of Quality Protects. This lad is a
highly enthusiastic advocate for the young people he meets in his
unit. He believes as I do in children’s right to be heard – not
just to be nodded at.
I visit a children’s homes in my area. The manager is less than
welcoming, and the young lad I visit is so very quiet. I ask to go
to his room and I get so angry at what I see I can hardly contain
Right, into battle as “children’s rights superhero” I imagine
myself in red tights (extra large) and a lovely flowing cape.
I remember to be professional and direct a steely gaze at the
manager. He tells me that I am just a social work do-gooder. I ask
him for his last inspection report, as well as the home’s policies
in regard to this placement. I am particularly interested to hear
about the home’s procedures for leisure activities and clothing
allowances. Finally I add: “By the way shouldn’t that young
person’s bed have four legs on it?”
I visit a voluntary agency children’s home today and meet the
twins. They are in fine form. I ask them if they want to get
involved in participation groups. They look at each other and
whisper to each other. One of them asks me: “Do we need to wear a
I tell them they can if they want, to which they reply: “We only
have one suit between us.” Using my expert mediation skills I
negotiate a deal – one wears the suit, the other gets to wear the
Which outcome is that? Participation and power dressing?
Home visits today are to families requesting me to act as
advocate for their severely disabled children as their personal
care support needs are not being met – they are exhausted with
caring for them and feel ashamed they are asking. Between us we
come up with a plan of action. It wasn’t much but the parents seem
really relieved and grateful for the 50 minutes it took to read
through what was required form-filling wise.
Conferences in London – is the North on a different planet or is
it just that the ministers don’t like having dinner up here? I like
to go to conferences priced in our price bracket, under £100,
to hear people discuss the often blindingly obvious and have a nice
lunch having got up at 3am to get the train that cost £170
return – but I won’t go if I don’t get a medal for it.
Lovely letters from children and their carers I have helped. My
young would-be author has left several messages, social workers
have left some, a man in a phone box wants me to call him, and
there are several request for me to deliver workshops on rights and
related issues – choices, choices.
Call them all back, even the man in the phone box, but he had
The young person from the care home has run away – I hope he is
happier than when I last saw him. Go home and wonder where he is
and whether his rights are being offered to him – they probably
are, but in a police station now.