Michelle Donelan’s latest column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times.
Growing up can be tough; growing up in care is much tougher, so ensuring that as many young people as possible move out of care into loving families is absolutely vital to make sure they get the best possible start to adult life and reach their full potential.
These young people, through no fault of their own, have often had a very rough time. Many children who come into care have already experienced trauma and abuse so I believe that all children in care and care leavers should be offered mental health assessments by a qualified professional to give them and then given the support to meet their needs.
That is why I was pleased that this week MPs debated the vitally important Children and Social Work Bill which I have been working on with the Education Select Committee. For those in and leaving the state’s care, the Bill makes clear that they are entitled to the kind of support that we would wish to see provided by any caring family. It also gives councils and all those working with vulnerable children the tools to act confidently to protect them properly and shape services to their needs.
Even before the Children and Social Work Bill comes into force Wiltshire is leading the way in this area as this week our county’s scheme for helping provide valuable support for children in care has been awarded an ‘Approved Provider Standard’, recognising their good work.
The Children and Social Work Bill – as part of the Government’s drive to help the most vulnerable – is a key opportunity to provide proper mental health and emotional support for this vulnerable group of people and the guarantee of somewhere safe to live.
Another group of vulnerable people that I have spoken up for this week are the many victims of domestic violence. Domestic and sexual violence is often hidden away behind closed doors, with the victim suffering in silence, meaning that accurate statistics on how wide-spread this abuse is are almost impossible to come by.
As a trustee of Helping Victims of Domestic Violence, a local domestic abuse charity, I have seen at first hand just how devastating domestic abuse and sexual offences can be. This week I invited the Home Office Minister to come and meet with me, our Police and Crime Commissioner, and those involved in protecting victims to see what more can be done to improve the service here in Wiltshire.
If we get the policies right for protecting the most vulnerable, people will flourish. Get it wrong and the chance of a bright new future can end up being darker than any of us can imagine.
This column was first published online HERE and in print in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times.