On the subject of children

This week has been very much about children: the sickening revelations of the abuse Baby P suffered at the hands of adults, the babies stabbed to death by their crazed Mother, the heart-wrenching pleas for help on Children in Need night. All of this has left me deeply uneasy, and helpless. Despite doing my bit cash-wise for Children in Need, I felt that I would probably be far more useful if I were to be practical.

I have already begun the process of applying to become a Samaritan’s counsellor, a service that still acts as a very practical port in often a torrid storm; and I was looking for a children’s charity that was established, well-respected and perhaps mainly ignored as it has become so much a part of society that we no longer see it as charity, but a service (and that takes care of that little piece of community guilt).

Spookily, I was asked by Barnado’s if I would like to come to hear their CEO speak about their latest work and campaign: Children in trouble. I had found my other way of helping.

Baby P to Teenage P

Equally as bizarre, I had been thinking about the outrage and out-pouring of sympathy and grief over Baby P and wondering at what point this becomes hatred for the teenager Baby P was sure to become. Therefore the following film not only rocked me to the core, but destroyed any belief I had that I could continue not doing anything about this.

Barnado’s: what it does and why it is important that everyone knows this

Barnardo’s vision is that the lives of all children and young people should be free from poverty, abuse and discrimination. We believe in the abused, the vulnerable, the forgotten and the neglected. We will support them, stand up for them and bring out the best in every child. As one of the UK’s leading children’s charities this is our pledge.

Their Children in trouble campaign has come about after an extensive piece of research that clearly relates the state of disaffected youth: boredom, family problems, lack of cash, peer pressure and to a lesser degree drugs and alcohol to the kinds of behaviour we see and judge. It has also proven time and again that early intervention, continued support and tireless work – grunt work, not fun – educating, creating, advising, supporting and generally not giving up, can turn around the lives of these families and children. (I shan’t repeat the stats and research stuff here, but if you like you can download and read the PDFs):

Download the Breaking the cycle report (PDF) published by Barnardo’s

Download a survey conducted amongst Barnardo’s young people (PDF) – just over half of whom have been in trouble – found that most of them thought that young people get into trouble because of boredom and peer pressure.

Mentoring and other stuff I know is happening and successfully

I know that the current trend is mentoring young children. This is a noble and successful thing, but depends entirely on the right people being free and willing to invest the right attention in the child – and also is hugely limited by the fact that by its very nature it requires one adult per child – leaving many children desperate to be mentored, but without enough adults to go around.

This post could not be published without me mentioning the sterling work being done by the mentors for Channel 4’s Battlefront:

Battlefront is a friendly army of 20 young campaigners. We’ve got causes instead of cannons and big ideas instead of bombs, and we’re out to change the world.

I am blessed that my tireless and glorious friend: Michelle Acton-Bond is a mentor on this programme, I have met her mentee: Al, who is as fabulous as she is and I am very excited about their personal campaign to address and prevent cyber-bullying.


I feel as if I want to try to understand more, work harder at my own attitudes and then look to see where my skills, (or even just being an extra person), can be most effective.

I have posted about this because firstly if I do it will force my hand and stop me prevaricating any longer; secondly, I want you all to be aware of the Barnado’s campaign; and finally, perhaps I might trigger something in you lot that would help children around you.

’nuff said