Subsidised legal abuse

Eight years ago my ex-husband was imprisoned
for the sexual abuse of my daughter and son. While still in prison he applied
for access to our nine-year- old daughter.

After being independently supported by a child psychologist
my daughter decided that she did not want to see him and asked me to oppose the
application. Three years of stress followed as a further application was made
when the first was rejected.

At a county court hearing I had to sit across a table from
my children’s abuser and give my reasons for wanting to keep my child safe from
a paedophile. Eventually, his last application was dismissed in a crown court.

My ex-husband received legal aid to support his application.
I received no financial help at all, because I earn a salary. Without the help,
advice and support of the Children’s Advocacy Service and Victim Support I
would never have been able to fight at all.

The damage to myself and my children was significant. I had
to work hard to keep them together and sane. My beautiful children suffered
even further harm and I underwent considerable distress – all funded by the
taxpayer. Victims pay in every respect and sometimes they pay too much.

Social care professionals need to know that this situation
can occur. The ones that I have told have been surprised and horrified. I have
visited my MP requesting that this issue be raised with the home secretary, to
no avail.

Name and address withheld

Youth no bar to maturity

I was astounded and appalled to read the comments of the
National Organisation of Practice Teachers co-chairperson, Konnie Lloyd,
regarding her views on the age of people coming through the new three year
DipSW programme (News Analysis, 13 June). I hope these are not the views of the

Lloyd suggests that people between 18-20 will not have the
life experience sufficient to equip them for the post.

Someone in her position should be aware, more than anyone,
that such generalisations should not be made. I myself took the four-year
degree and Certificate of Qualification in Social Work programme at 18 and
qualified at 22, and have managed, somehow, to make a career, despite my life
of ignorance up to the age of 18.

Lloyd ignores the vast amount of young people whose
experience can include being carers of family members with disabilities and
mental health problems, people who have lived through divorce and domestic
violence, people who have been in local authority care, ex-drug and alcohol
users – in fact, people aged 18-20 could indeed be well equipped to work with any
client group in social work.

Clearly the responsibility rests with the academic
institution to ensure that such life experience is sufficient. It is fortunate
for young people it is the academic institutions that select candidates for
DipSW and not Lloyd – who, it would appear, has already made up her mind.

Paul Morgan

Something to chew on

Community Care sometimes uses words that give a
different message to the one originally intended, something that your
"Write Stuff" column often warns us against. Community Care
(30 May) includes the diary of an outreach worker for an autistic charity. On
Wednesday the worker had attended a forum for professionals working with
Asperger’s syndrome. The diary entry finishes: "It’s food for thought and
something to bring up with my manager."

Is this what is meant by regurgitating information?

Richard Green
Employee development officer,
Bath & North East Somerset Council

Don’t dismiss drugs

With regards to the views of Peter Beresford (Perspectives,
11 April) and the subsequent comments of Trevor Turner (Letters, 13 June), the
value of non-drug therapies, in terms of outcome, is not necessarily in

But such therapies – counselling for example – are
intrinsically harder to monitor, as highlighted by Dr Turner. Monitoring of
drug therapies is in fact easier using standard methods and procedures.

By the time the evidence for the efficacy of non-drug
alternatives reaches the public via the tabloid press or soundbites, it is
often little more than anecdotal or misleading.

The dismissive labelling of psychoactive drugs as
"convenience chemicals" for effecting "social control" is
emotive. The reluctance of doctors to prematurely endorse alternative therapies
reflects the need to collect quality evidence so as to provide informed best
quality care.

Sam Dearman
Final year medical student
University of Manchester

An alternative is possible

Your article on relatives fighting the closure of Leslie
House (News, page 11, 20 June) is at the heart of the national debate on
funding residential care while addressing the needs and human rights of
mentally frail older people.

The Church of Scotland and the council have failed to
involve residents and relatives in active consultation. Given the extent of
bed-blocking in Fife and the dearth of alternative provision it is not good
enough for the council to offer to scatter these residents round the area.

Two private sector providers and one housing association
have expressed an interest in running Leslie House, possibly retaining staff.
The Scottish executive has recently allocated £20m to Scottish health
authorities to address bed-blocking.

As the lead authority in joint planning and commissioning we
therefore invite the local authority to convene an urgent meeting of all
partnership agencies and stakeholders including ourselves, placing the needs
and human rights of these residents at the centre of funding provision.
Together we are sure we can come up with an alternative plan.

Christine Jackson
Chairperson of the Leslie House 21 Group

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