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KidsOut at House of Lords calling for a Magna Carta for Children

800 years to the day since the signing of the original Magna Carta, KidsOut Chairman of Trustees, Helen Pitcher OBE, and KidsOut CEO, Gordon Moulds CBE, were joined by Peers, Ministers, MPs and invited business leaders in the House of Lords to launch a new report “Supporting Children – a time for coherence, continuity and consistency”.  The Report calls upon Government to deliver a step change in the way that it provides protection for the most vulnerable members of society by formulating, effectively, a Magna Carta for Children. 

Introducing Helen at the event was Baroness McDonagh.  In launching the Report, Helen Pitcher said that: “We need to take a fresh look at how policymakers can encourage consistency and continuity in children’s services.  Without it, children are being left at mercy of the tides of Government change.”  She added: “Government must seize the opportunity to deliver a comprehensive and lasting initiative to protect children from physical and sexual abuse. We need to fundamentally re-address the way we formulate and deliver policy in this regard, and that requires a common approach from children’s services and the charities sector.”

In the audience, alongside a number of senior business leaders, were: Baroness Pinnock, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Children; Lord Russell; Lord Kennedy; Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Children and Childcare, Tristram Hunt MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education; Andrew Selous MP, Local MP to KidsOut Headquarters; and, Joan Ryan MP                                                                                            

Recent research revealed that 48,000 children in Britain needed protection from abuse in 2014. While there were some valuable initiatives to protect disadvantaged children, as well as children suffering from abuse, there is often a lack of traction caused by an absence of joined-up thinking. Policy in the children’s services and charities sector has to be consistent as Government initiatives and schemes to help children run on average for just four years. Children’s projects are given barely enough time to be set up and delivered before staff had to plan for reconfiguration, or even closure.

KidsOut has been supporting disadvantaged children and those at risk from domestic violence for 25 years, touching the lives of over 500,000 children in the process.  Since KidsOut was founded in 1990, there have been hundreds of different initiatives, strategies, funding streams, legislative acts and structural changes to services affecting children and young people across the UK, including around 100 Acts of Parliament. Despite considerable effort, most of the work by Government and children’s charities lacks cohesion and too many initiatives are set up in isolation. This results in children being surrounded by well-meaning initiatives without a clear authority that ensures consistency and coherence of approach. KidsOut calls on other child-protection charities to encourage the Government to draw up a ‘Magna Carta’ for Children’ as a blueprint for providing consistent and continuous support for children in general and, particularly, for those at risk.

In closing, Helen Pitcher added that: “Children’s services must be the safety net for those most vulnerable and prevent them from slipping through the gaps, but it’s time to end the flurry of well-meant campaigns as we are merely playing catch-up when what we need is leadership.”

A copy of the Report, “Supporting Children – a time for coherence, continuity and consistency” can be downloaded here.

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