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The Children’s Society wins national EVCOM Screen Award for film on child sexual abuse

A hard-hitting film aimed at training health professionals about the signs of child sexual abuse and exploitation has won a prestigious award. Seen and Heard by the national charity, The Children’s Society, won Gold in the Training category last week on Friday 23 June at the 2017 Evcom Screen Awards, known in the industry as the Oscars of specialist videos.

The film is part of a powerful campaign and e-learning package created by The Children’s Society which was commissioned by The Department of Health and supported by NHS England to help all health care professionals to spot the signs of child sexual abuse and know how to encourage young people to talk about it.

The film centres on the story of a young teen called Tyler who has been sexually abused by a member of his family for many years and is worried his younger brother may be next. We see Tyler coming into contact with a number of potential professionals who could help him but time and again they fail to spot the signs. It is the actions of a kind and patient radiographer who eventually gives Tyler the time and opportunity to tell his story.

Seen and Heard launched in July last year and has already trained thousands of health staff to detect child sexual abuse and continues to be rolled out to healthcare locations across the country. Although the hour-long learning programme focuses on staff working in the health service, it is relevant to anyone who works with children and is freely available to all.

The Children’s Society appointed White Boat TV to produce the film which was developed with the help of over 100 young people, some of whom were victims of sexual abuse. Last year the film also won Best Commissioned Film at the Haelo Film Festival Awards, which recognise the best in public sector films.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “We are delighted that our film won Gold in the Training category at the Evcom Screen Awards. One in 20 children in the UK has been sexually abused and many do not feel able to report their abuse or it goes unnoticed or misunderstood.

“We’re pleased that our film and training is helping healthcare professionals including receptionists, doctors, nurses and anyone who works with children to help them recognise the signs of abuse so children are seen and heard and they get the protection and support they deserve.”

Catherine Davies, Team Leader for tackling child sexual abuse at the Department of Health, said: ‘I would like to congratulate The Children’s Society for their award winning film, which is a really useable learning resource to raise awareness of child sexual abuse.’

Lisa Cooper, Regional Lead for Safeguarding for NHS England North, said: ‘We are delighted to have been a partner in the development and promotion of this work to all health staff. This film is helping all health staff to recognise and support children and young people at risk of or experiencing child sexual abuse, so as to provide support, advice and protection.’

‘Truly dreadful’ poverty rise must prompt Government action

Responding to official statistics showing 200,000 more children are now living in poverty, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

‘These figures are truly dreadful. The Government was repeatedly warned of the likely consequences of reducing support for the poorest people in the country and now we can see the results. Austerity has bitten hard, with an additional 200,000 children living below the poverty line. More children face missing out on hot meals, sleeping in cold bedrooms and being bullied at school. In the longer term, too many young people risk being denied a fair start and left behind, with life-changing consequences.

‘The Government promotes getting families back to work as the best way of tackling child poverty, but the reality is that two thirds of children in poverty now live in working families. The four-year freeze to tax credits already in the pipeline will only make things worse. It is crucial that the Government recognises the importance of income to make sure that when parents move into work they move out of poverty.

‘The situation is made even more stark by the economic uncertainty that the country faces after last Thursday’s referendum result. Children did not have a role in that decision and their interests must be safeguarded first and foremost when deciding what happens next.

‘The publication of these figures must prompt urgent action to protect the well-being of children. Whoever ends up leading the Government must rule out further welfare cuts in another emergency budget that would punish the poorest families and inevitably drag more children into poverty.’

Campaign leads to new pledge for children in care

Campaign leads to new pledge for children in careHundreds of children in care who are moved outside their local communities are set to benefit from improved support from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority following a campaign by The Children’s Society.

After launching its Handle with Care campaign last year, The Children’s Society made recommendations to councils aimed at ensuring these young people received the best possible support – and following constructive talks a package of measures has been agreed.

Of around 5,200 young people in care in Greater Manchester as of March 31, 2015, 2,060 – nearly four in ten – were in a placement outside the boundaries of their local council. These include placements with foster carers, in children’s homes, with family or friends, or for adoption. Around one-fifth of those placed outside their local council area had been moved to placements more than 20 miles away.

The Children’s Society’s research into this issue, including focus groups with young people who had been placed outside their local council area, highlighted that moves could be difficult.

Young people explained how they had been asked to move at very short notice, or felt isolated from family and friends, while others found it difficult to settle in their new community or school and said they did not have as much contact with support staff following their move.

The campaign urged that young people should only be moved out of their local community where absolutely necessary, or in the best interests of the young person, for example where they would otherwise be at risk of abuse or neglect, where there is a suitable placement available with a relative or friend, or where there is an appropriate opportunity for adoption.

The charity’s recommendations aimed to address some of the concerns raised and focused upon ensuring young people received as much support as possible ahead of, during, and following a move out of their local council area.

Over the summer, staff from The Children’s Society and campaigners gathered more than 2,300 signatures for a petition in support of the proposals, including during a day of action across Greater Manchester.

The Children’s Society wins award for film on child sexual abuse

The Children’s Society has received a prestigious award for producing a hard-hitting film aimed at training three quarters of a million staff across the NHS to recognise the signs of child sexual abuse or exploitation.

The charity film entitled ‘See. Hear. Stop the Abuse’ won Best Commissioned Film at the Haelo Film Festival Awards, which recognise the best in public sector films. The film is part of a powerful campaign called Seen and Heard to help health professionals spot the signs of child abuse and know how to make children feel able to speak about what is happening to them.

One in 20 children in the UK has been sexually abused. Many do not feel able to report their abuse and too often it goes unnoticed or the signs are misunderstood. The Government has declared child sexual abuse one of the greatest threats facing the UK today.

The Department of Health commissioned The Children’s Society to make the video and e-learning course based on the powerful story of a young boy called Tyler, which launched in July this year.

The charity appointed White Boat TV to produce the film following Tyler who is ready to disclose the seven years of abuse he has suffered from a close family member. We see Tyler coming into contact with a number of potential people who could help him but time and again they fail to spot the signs. It is the actions of a kind and patient radiographer who eventually gives Tyler the time and opportunity to tell his story. The film and hour-long learning programme was developed with the help of over 100 young people, some of whom are victims of sexual abuse.

Celebrities back Christmas single to fight child poverty

A host of Coronation Street celebrities are supporting a campaign by a sixth form college and schools in the Blackpool area who are releasing a Christmas single today that highlights the issue of child poverty and aims to raise money for charity.

Famous faces from the soap world including Tina O’Brien, Alan Halsall and Oliver Farnworth have backed the Christmas song entitled ‘A Christmas Miracle’ that is released on Friday 2nd December on iTunes for 79p, as well as on other platforms, with all proceeds being donated to The Children’s Society.

Teachers and students at The Blackpool Sixth Form College have composed and produced the song. Ten schools from across the Fylde coast of Lancashire joined up with Blackpool Sixth Form students and a number of community music groups and local companies to record the single.

The song makes use of the Christmas story to deliver a hopeful message about how people can act together to ‘turn the world around’. The focus on child poverty has a particular relevance in Blackpool where the percentage of children living in poverty is 30.6% (against a national average of 21.4% and a North West average of 19.2%*).

Schools across the UK are also being sent the sheet music and have been asked to get involved on social media tweeting their versions of the song along with the #BeTheMiracle hashtag so raise awareness nationally.

The Children’s Society campaigns on many issues that affect disadvantaged children and the money raised will support the charity’s work to improve the lives of the most vulnerable 10-18 year olds across the county. The charity also runs services in Lancashire and across the country for and children on the streets affected by sexual exploitation, those missing from home and advocacy services and early family support.

The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Matthew Reed, said:

“We’re absolutely thrilled that The Blackpool Sixth Form College and so many schools and community groups in Lancashire have teamed up to launch this this uplifting song to raise awareness and support vulnerable children this festive season.

“Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for so many young people and we are truly grateful to everyone involved in putting this single together and also those who buy it. Funds raised from this single will help us continue our vital work with children and young people who have nowhere left to turn.”

Blackpool Sixth music teachers Ash Goodinson and John Stevens teamed up with English teacher, Steve Spencer, to create the song.

June Brown supports campaign to make vulnerable children’s voices heard this Christmas

One of Britain’s best-loved actresses, June Brown, is launching The Children’s Society’s annual Christingle campaign, to help raise £1.2 million for the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people this Advent and Christmas season.

June, whose TV acting career spans almost 60 years, is launching the Christingle campaign which is raising awareness of the issues that affect disadvantaged children. Funds raised will go towards providing life-changing support to vulnerable children, and making sure their voices are heard.

In the UK there are almost 4 million children and young people dealing with hardship, abuse and neglect which are ruining childhoods and future prospects. June’s support will encourage people to attend one of the family-friendly Christingle fundraising events in schools and churches in their local area.

The celebrations, which have been held across the country for almost half a century, include singing and storytelling for both children and adults and revolve around children creating Christingles – a decorated orange with red ribbon, cocktail sticks and sweets. These, as well as a candle, highlight different parts of the Christian story.

Last year, the charity was able to work with more than 18,000 children with the help of the generous donations made at Christingle services. The charity works with children who are affected by issues such as child sexual exploitation, those leaving the care system, those struggling with mental health issues, those running away from care, young carers, refugees and migrants.

On supporting the campaign June said, “I love Christmas. It’s a time of such blessing and a reminder of God’s love for us and the hope we have in the birth of Jesus. It also offers a chance to remember those who are less fortunate, children and young people whose voices aren’t being listened to and whose problems are being ignored.

‘That’s why I’m supporting The Children’s Society’s Christingle celebrations, as money raised will go to support children and young people in this country who are suffering from terrible hardship, abuse and neglect. It’s why Christingle is so important, as it reminds us of the hope we can bring to thousands of children and young people in desperate need, especially at a time of year that often highlights their loneliness, and lack of loved ones to support and protect them.

‘I think of God as a force of love, and there’s no better time than Christmas to share his love by supporting the work of The Children’s Society. Please help them to bring hope out of despair, to listen and act at this special time of year to transform the lives of children and young people who have nowhere else to turn.’

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: ‘We are delighted that June, with her profile and genuine compassion for our causes, is supporting our Christingle campaign this year and helping to spread awareness of the work we do to support disadvantaged children.

‘So many vulnerable children and young people feel ignored and we want to make sure they are listened to so they can have the best possible chance in life. These Christingle events make it possible for us to carry on our vital work and transform the lives of more children in need of our help.’

2.6 million poor children miss out on crucial fuel poverty support

Only 1 in 3 of UK’s poorest children are benefitting from the government’s Warm Home Discount, leaving as many as 2.6 million children out in the cold, new analysis from The Children’s Society has found.

As temperatures plummeted as low as -10c in part of England and Wales this winter, the Children’s Society estimates that two thirds of the UK’s 3.9 million children living in poverty are missing out on help from the Warm Home Discount.

Although all low-income pensioners automatically get a £140 discount on winter fuel bills, poor families with children have to apply to energy suppliers, with no guarantee that they will receive the support they need.

Analysis from The Children’s Society found that families with children spend around £1550 per year on average on their fuel bills – around £300 per year more on average than households without children. Ensuring low income families with children receive the Warm Home Discount would be a start in addressing this gap.

The Children’s Society has found that many poor families simply don’t know they may be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, and that many of the most vulnerable families aren’t getting the help they need. The charity is calling for the government to automatically entitle low-income families with children to the extra support with heating costs.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Living in a cold home puts children’s health at risk. Parents are doing the best they can on stretched incomes but all too often they simply can’t afford to put the heating on.

“The government should be doing all it can to ensure that children have warm, dry homes. As energy costs rise, this support is needed more than ever.”

Odds still stacked against struggling families following Budget

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Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

‘The Chancellor said today he wanted to show ordinary families that the dice weren’t loaded against them, but this Budget has failed to shift the odds in their favour.

‘Today’s OBR forecast shows inflation is set to rise to 3.9% this year, in contrast child benefit has increased by just 40p since 2010. The four year freeze to family benefits coupled with rising inflation already means that parents’ incomes are buying less and less each month; the Chancellor has offered them little to bridge that gap today.

‘In the UK 5 million children are expected to be living in poverty by 2020. Two thirds of children already in poverty are from the ‘ordinary working’ families the government says it is making a priority. But the increases to the National Living Wage and personal tax allowances announced mean little in the face of steep rises in inflation, the freeze to family benefits and cuts to tax credits for those with three or more children.

‘The Chancellor says he doesn’t want to burden our children’s futures, but today he missed a crucial opportunity to improve the lives of millions of children.’

Children’s well-being must be priority in new Government and Brexit talks

The Prime Minister today spoke of the need for certainty going forward – and certainty is crucial for families and children whose lives have been harmed by successive cuts in welfare support.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

Now the Prime Minister has announced her intention to seek to form a new minority administration we want to ensure the well-being of children is high on the agenda of new ministers and MPs of all political persuasions. Children’s needs must be prioritised not compromised in discussions aimed at supporting the new Government.

The crucial Brexit talks which will start soon should include a commitment to continue to retain or replace provision for children in disadvantaged communities which is currently funded through the European Social Fund.

EU children living in the UK also need assurance that decisions about where they can live will be based on their best interests, not just their parents’ employment history.

In order to maintain and improve safeguarding for children on and offline, the Government must ensure that the UK has continued membership of Europol and Eurojust, or that an agreement is in place for cooperation with these bodies and with the EU Commission.

Child poverty

At home, urgent action is needed to tackle the shocking rise in child poverty, which is on course to affect five million children by 2020. It will be vital that ministers follow through on the welcome Conservative manifesto commitment to introduce a ‘Breathing Space’ scheme for families in problem debt following our campaigning. This will give them the time they need to agree an affordable repayment plan without the worry of enforcement action or additional charges.

However, if the Government wants to really address child poverty it also needs a fundamental re-think of policies which affect parents’ ability to provide for their children – like the current four year benefits freeze, and the two-child limit for Tax Credits and Universal Credit.

We are also deeply concerned that many children in poverty will be affected by the plans to withdraw free school lunches for all infant children and we would urge the Government to commit to free lunches for all primary and secondary school children whose families receive Universal Credit.

Children in poverty are among those most likely to suffer from mental health disorders and that is why we want to see a commitment to fund counselling in all schools to ensure pupils get the vital early support needed to help address issues before they escalate.

Over the next few weeks there will be tough policy negotiations both here and in Brussels – but we owe it to our children to ensure their welfare is a top priority.