EDITORIAL 9 : It’s not the despair, it’s the hope

By the editors

Date Posted: Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Things are not too great just now in the world of bringing up our children and young people. More families with children are in poverty. Housing benefits for low earning families with children are being cut while the government’s predictions that this would cause rents to fall have not proved accurate. Many education services to children excluded from school are being scrapped. One of the new “free” schools championed by the United Kingdom’s coalition government is set to refuse admission to children from a local council housing estate.  Our students are impoverished and discouraged because we have demanded that they pay university fees. Food and fuel prices are going up and the mother, who lives on her own bringing up two kids while holding down a cleaning job at the local school that brings in £8,000 a year, struggles on. At the same time senior managers in local authorities are paid well in excess of £100,000 per annum. It’s all relative for after all we haven’t considered financial sector executives ; very wealthy people they are. We are told it’s a bit old hat to complain about their wealth but please communicate with us if you think anyone does deserve to earn 10 times more than the school cleaner not to mention in excess of 200 times more. We will publish every response.

Even beacons of light have been doused. A local authority in the southeast of England, which over many years has gained a deserved reputation for training the staff in its children’s homes to high standards in therapeutic care and in social pedagogy, is to close seven of its children’s homes. Nationally what remains is a residential child care service, which is under-resourced, under-trained and under-valued. In Scotland the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care is to be renamed and have a new wider role and will no longer focus solely on residential child care. Last year in England the New Labour government withdrew its funding for the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care.

Politically many of the people who work to support troubled children and families look to the left centre of politics to champion their cause but now they are left bereft. The New Labour government was responsible for the growth in the private sector of social care and health services. The decision to charge students tuition fees was a New Labour initiative and now the Liberal Democrats, our other “radical” political party, has jumped into the Conservative hutch. It is an interesting paradox that of the three major parties, it is only with the Conservative Party that we know where we stand. For there is no doubt that its long term project is to place all care services in the hands of the private sector with the hope that the voluntary sector will mop up those services which are not attractive to commercial organisations.

There is cause for celebration too. There are thousands upon thousands of generous, unselfish, thoughtful, reflective, altruistic and caring adults throughout the United Kingdom and throughout the world who, parent, support,  educate and care for all children and young people. Much of the writing in the goodenoughcaring Journal has echoed this and our current issue is no different.

In the introduction to her article Marie Tree writes, “I have the firm belief that people’s lives do change, and in a time which sometimes feels quite despairing, we can find hope if we search hard enough for it.  I hold to the conviction that all of us particularly in the caring professions have a duty morally, socially and politically to support, and care for, and do all we can to help those who are on the margins of society. They must be humanity’s principal concern.”

Taking a lead from Marie we take the liberty to misinterpret the remark of the desperate Head Teacher played by John Cleese in the film Clockwise, “It’s not the despair, it’s the hope.”

We think there is a great deal of hope in the articles you will find here.

In this issue :

Viki Bird and Gabriel Eichsteller consider the relevance of social pedagogy.

Lorea Boneke thinks about adolescence, parents and growing up.

In “The Kerelaw Papers”, with a foreword by Mark Smith, Bob Forrest takes a “Yes Minister” approach to portray unresolved issues in the aftermath of investigations into residential child care in Scotland.

Simon Hammond finds out what young people in residential care think about the relevance and the uses of social networks.

Kate Lawrence examines the consequences of the disrupted lives of children who are looked after in the care system.

Linnet McMahon writes about the significance of encouraging children to play and the need to provide a “facilitating environment” in which it can take place.

Dave Roberts advocates reflective training for child care workers.

Hans Kornerup gives us his thoughts on theory and practice in residential child care.

John Stein’s personal recollections of scenes from his childhood put us in touch with the importance of our Mums. Jennie Thomas examines the meaning and merits of a liberal education for our children, and,

Marie Tree  analyses her ethics, ethos, practice and aspirations following her post-qualifying social work programme.

Ariola Vishnja Zjarri, Evelyn Daniel, Jane Kenny, Mark Smith, Siobain Degregorio and Charles Sharpe

The editorial group