View from the House: Social services and schools must have what they need to prioritise children’s wellbeing
- Credit: PA
One of the privileges of being an MP and Shadow Children’s Minister is the opportunity to speak to young people on a regular basis about the challenges they are facing.
This is particularly important at the moment, as we know that children have faced significantly increased risks during lockdown, from domestic abuse to online grooming.
I recently had an insightful conversation with a group of children and young people about their experiences of lockdown in a call organised by the children’s charity Barnardo’s. They told me about the isolation and difficulties they’ve had in recent months, and we discussed the need to improve and join up mental health and other services.
One of the key difficulties in this crisis when it comes to children’s wellbeing is the fact that so many problems have been hidden from view. With the vast majority of children at home rather than in school, it has not been possible for teachers to identify and report problems. The consequence is that there have been reductions in referrals for child protection and mental health services at a time when we know from the research done by children’s charities that need is rising.
I have been warning for months that there could be a sharp rise in referrals to children’s services as pupils return to school this month and the problems are discovered by teachers. It is vital that schools and social services are given the support they need to prioritise children’s wellbeing and meet the expected rise in demand for specialist help. I will keep pressing the government on this.