Collective guilt

The disgraceful jailing of Patricia Amos should at least
be consistently applied to parents across the board.

research has shown that children who have been in care are 80 per cent more
likely to truant.

assume this means that social work managers, directors of social services and
ultimately Jacqui Smith, minster of state for health with responsibility for
social care, will also serve their time as irresponsible "corporate
parents" of such children.

National co-ordinator
ATD Fourth World

Money to fund a buddy

is another potential source of European funding, in addition to those mentioned
by Brian Munday ("Europe’s largesse", 25 April). This is the European
Voluntary Service Programme, run by the European Union Youth Commission.

provides funding to enable intermediary organisations, which can include social
services departments, to host young adult volunteers who then work alongside
paid staff in appropriate settings, or to send them to placements elsewhere in
the EU or pre-accession countries for anything between three weeks and 12

social services have been participating since 1997 and we now specialise in
hosting up to eight "disadvantaged" volunteers (in Brussels
terminology), meaning those who need additional support throughout their
placements because of poor self-confidence or a physical disability, are
matched with eight more confident "buddies".

EVS manager
Somerset County Council social services department

More evidence needed

share the dislike of Tony Blair’s proposals for docking child benefit expressed
by the contributors to "Behind the Headlines" (9 May). However, we
will have to have this argument over and over again, starting with Frank
Field’s bill for docking housing benefit.

reasoning behind it is entrenched in the Prime Minister’s thinking, and can be
traced back to his Amsterdam speech of February 1997, if not before.

win such an argument, both sides will require evidence. We need to know what
degree of hardship is caused by depriving people of benefit. We need also to
know the behavioural effects, in terms of whether they are a greater incentive
to compliance or to crime.

long series of answers, written and oral, dating back to the disentitlement of 16
to 17-year-olds to income support in 1988, shows that government has remained
in studious ignorance of the effects of such hardship on those subjected to it.

take one example among many, Lady Hollis of Heigham, in a written answer of 19
October 2001, told me that information is not available on the subsequent
history of those refused loans from the social fund because of sanctions.

we have such information we will take it into account in deciding what to do
about any such proposals in future.

Liberal Democrat spokesman in the House of Lords on social security

Charges deter treatment

Turner makes some pertinent points about the care and support of cystic
fibrosis patients (This Life, 25 April). However, since 1989, when the family
and adult support services of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust were established, the
development of professional teams within the NHS and social services have
become a reality.

families now get a great deal of information from their clinical teams and from
social workers. The adult cystic fibrosis unit at the Northern General Hospital
in Sheffield, where I am the specialist social worker, has a multi-disciplinary
team. We are also fortunate in having a CF Trust advocate based within our unit
who represents the voice of the patients.

Sally Turner is correct in her assumption that CF issues need to be well
understood by social workers, particularly with regard to maximising welfare
rights entitlement. Disability living allowance is a case in point, where
well-presented, knowledgeable application forms make a difference.

social workers are contracted in from general hospital teams and often do not
have the welfare rights and advocacy background to process applications.
Welfare rights work can also be time-consuming and there is clearly a need to
fund social work posts to work within this often neglected area.

major blow for CF patients is the imposition of prescription charges. It is
clearly not in the patients’ best interests if they cannot afford to pay for
prescriptions, which are essential to maintain their health.

hardship often means patients neglect their medication, which exacerbates their


Advocacy open to all

director of an advocacy service that has been running for over 10 years, I feel
I can endorse the value of advocacy ("Spoken for", 18 April), both in
securing clients rights and looking at alternative and innovative approaches to
overcoming problems.

Association of Independent Living Advocates has recently been formed to promote
the concept of independent living within advocacy, while maintaining standards
among its members.

promotes standards of practice and ethical procedure within the independent
living advocacy field and allows for the dissemination of information and
sharing of good practice among members.

addition, training opportunities in a number of areas are available, including
a training in advocacy course, accredited and awarded by the University of
Essex. The association is open to any type of advocate providing they subscribe
to the concept and principles of independent living.

Advocate manager
Independent Living Advocacy

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