Our statement on keeping children and young people safe in Kirklees

We, Kirklees Council, have today pledged our support to the survivors of child sexual exploitation, and commissioned an independent review of its response at the time of the crimes.

In a joint statement for the council and for the Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board, Director of Children’s Services Steve Walker said:

“Firstly, I want to thank and pay tribute to the survivors in these cases. This has been a long and arduous process for them. Their courage in coming forward and giving evidence has brought these offenders to justice. I hope that the outcome today will give them some closure.

I would also like to acknowledge the professional work of West Yorkshire Police and staff within Kirklees Council Children’s Services who have worked together to achieve this outcome.

The sentences handed down to the perpetrators show that CSE will not be tolerated in Kirklees.

These are non-recent cases. It is important to reassure members of the public that these crimes took place a number of years ago at a time when – as we know from cases in other towns and cities – the issue of CSE was not well understood.

Since then, lessons have been learned. In Kirklees now, agencies, particularly Children’s Services and West Yorkshire Police, work closely together to ensure that victims and potential victims are protected and those who seek to exploit and abuse children and young people are brought to justice.

The robust arrangements that we have in place including sharing intelligence and information across all agencies, mean that there is no hiding place in Kirklees for perpetrators of abuse.

However, we would also like to reassure the public that we are in no way complacent on this issue. The safety of our children and young people is our highest priority and we are always seeking to improve our response to benefit them.

For that reason we have asked independent expert Dr Mark Peel – the former Professor of Social Work at Leicester University, to undertake a review of these non-recent cases to identify whether there are any lessons we can learn.

Through the Kirklees Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, we are also in the process of commissioning an independent review of our current policies and practices by external experts to review whether there are opportunities to improve these further.

Anybody who believes they may have witnessed or may know about CSE crime should report it to police immediately.”

How to report concerns

  • If you’re worried that a child or young person is at risk or is being abused you can contact the children’s social care team at Kirklees Council. You can choose not to give your details.
  • You can report it online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP).
  • Or you can call the NSPCC 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 for expert advice and support.
  • If a child is at immediate risk call 999, or call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed.
  • Children and young people can call Childline free on 0800 1111 where trained counsellors are available 24 hours a day.
Dennis the menace, Banana Man and Minnie the Minx

Summer reading challenge comes to Kirklees

We are excited to announce that this year’s summer reading challenge will start on Saturday 14 July 2018.

The challenge is aimed at children aged 4 – 11 years it is free to join, they can sign up at any of our libraries from 14 July onward. This year’s theme is ‘Mischief Makers’ and is based on the much loved children’s comic, The Beano – which is celebrating its 80th Anniversary.

How does the summer reading challenge work?

Children have to visit the library at least 3 times over the course of the school summer holidays and must read at least 6 books to complete the challenge.

They can be any books they like – novels, fact books, joke books, e-books or audio books, they all count.

Anyone taking part can collect a fun Beanotown Map, stickers and prizes along the way and they’ll get certificate and medal if they complete the challenge.

Some great reading ideas

If your child is not sure where to start, they might like to check out the top ten kids books borrowed over the last 12 months.

  • Billionaire boy – David Walliams
  • Picture Perfect – Rosie Banks
  • The never ending birthday –  Katie Dale
  • Fashion fun – Rosie Banks
  • Must end soon  – Jonathan Meres
  • Brilliant bake off – Rosie Banks
  • Laugh out loud – James Patterson
  • The book you’re not supposed to have – Stephan Pastis
  • The witch’s vacuum cleaner: and other stories – Terry Pratchett
  • Top of the class (nearly) – Liz Pichon

Summer events and activities

Our libraries will also be offering a range of exciting children’s events and activities during the summer holidays including Mischief Lab science workshops (which include slime making), Cartoon Capers Family Storywalks and lots of prank making activities.

The summer reading challenge takes place annually in public libraries and has been shown to effectively combat the ‘dip’ which can occur in children’s reading levels during their long break from school over the summer At the heart of the challenge is children choosing and sharing books, in any format that they like.  If your child is visually impaired or finds printed books tricky, your local Kirklees library will be able to help suggest alternatives.

 If you still need some more inspiration to take part; Sarah, Mum to Isaac aged 7 said:

“The summ

er reading challenge was the only thing – and I mean the only thing – which got Isaac reading last year. It is a great idea and we loved taking part!”

Cllr Graham Turner Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries said:

“I am pleased to announce the summer reading challenge for this year,  libraries provide a great free way for children to access a wide variety of books and develop a love of reading.  They also provide some fantastic fun events for kids and adults and I am sure that slime making and prank activities will be very popular.  I would encourage everyone with young children to get them involved.”

How to get involved

Pick up a copy of the Highlights Brochure in your local library and book free tickets online here.

Mischief Makers has a dedicated website for children taking part in the challenge. As well as keeping track of their progress online, kids can have all kinds of fun here! There are games and competitions, children can send messages and even find out what to read next using the book sorter. www.mischief-makers.org.uk

 

 

 

All the images are ©DC Thomson Ltd (2018).

Jeannette and Gary Denison

Double celebration for long-time Kirklees foster carers

For Batley couple, Jeanette and Gary Denison, 2017 is a very special year. It marks 20 years since they first became foster carers and in doing so they have helped more than 50 vulnerable children in Kirklees.

In recognition of this milestone, Jeanette and Gary are to be presented with an award at a foster carer celebration event at Ponderosa Lakeside Restaurant next month, which is being held by Kirklees Council in partnership with The Kirklees Fostering Network. With a major shortage of foster carers Jeanette and Gary are also supporting the local authority’s latest drive in encouraging others to take up the role.

How did it all start?

Rewind 20 years and the couple’s life was a far cry from the one they lead now. As one-time pub landlords, the couple fell on hard times after Gary, who had sustained spinal injuries at work in the past, was also diagnosed with arthritis. This resulted in him being forced to give up work and they eventually ended up in a homeless unit. It was whilst living at the unit that the couple first realised the key to their future could lie in fostering.

Jeanette explains:

“As pub landlords the hours were long and unsociable but at the time it was everything we could have wished for and we felt content with our lot. When this was cut short because of Gary’s injuries things quickly took a turn for the worse.

“With two young children to support – our youngest was only ten months old at the time – and no income we lost the pub which was also our home. We were left with no choice but to move into a homeless unit. Those months were some of the most difficult we’d ever experienced. We’d lost everything and with no immediate solution in sight we felt desperate, like we’d hit rock bottom.

“Whilst living there we met other families in a similar situation. Some had social workers and it was during a chance conversation with one of them that we learned about the massive shortage of foster carers. This is something that stuck with me.

“Bit by bit we slowly managed to get back on our feet and were re-housed. We kept in touch with a couple of the families from the unit and we’d sometimes have their children round for sleepovers. I remember thinking how satisfying it felt being able to help someone out, even if it was just with a bit of babysitting. I then considered those words from the social worker and we asked ourselves; why not do this permanently? So we contacted Kirklees Council and things went from there.”

Having overcome so much during their own lives has undoubtedly helped Jeanette and Gary see many children through difficult times.

Now aged 49 and 56, Jeanette and Gary have watched their own children grow up and are also grandparents. But this hasn’t stopped them from continuing to help vulnerable children and they’ve looked after children of varying ages and abilities, including some with complex medical needs. As well as being long-term foster carers to one child, they also foster other children on a short-term basis.

Gary adds: “It’s difficult to remember a time when our house wasn’t filled with children. As well as having three of our own, we’d usually foster two. At one point we had seven children in the house! Thankfully our children have always been very supportive and our son and his wife, who themselves are parents, are considering becoming foster carers.

“One thing we’ve learned over the years is that, even if a child comes from the most traumatic of backgrounds, they can overcome pretty much anything if they are shown unconditional love. Even after 20 years you think you’ve seen it all but each child brings something new. For the most part we love it and although it isn’t for everyone I would say if you’re one of those people who says they’ve always wanted to do it, why not go ahead and enquire about it?”

More about becoming a foster carer

Rob Finney, Interim Fostering Service Manager at Kirklees Council, said:

“The Denison’s story tells us that people get into fostering from all walks of life, even having suffered adversity themselves, and then go on to be amongst the best in their profession.

“Right now we have 657 children in our care, 66 of whom need long-term families. We urgently need more people like the Denisons as without them it would be impossible to help the children who come into our care on a daily basis. Some come to us from the most tragic of circumstances, including neglect, abuse and even the death of a parent.

“Without a doubt fostering can be challenging but we have families who have been doing it from anything between a few weeks right up to 32 years. These people have all been unwavering in their dedication in helping these children; seeing them through thick and thin, often taking them in at short notice and during unsociable hours. Whilst there are many emotional rewards attached to helping a child it’s also important that they are recognised for their efforts. I hope next month’s event will go some way towards celebrating those achievements and thanking our foster carers for the amazing work they do.”

Interested in becoming a Foster Carer?

Anyone who would like to find out more about becoming a foster carer is encouraged to visit our fostering webpages.

 

Could you provide a home for a vulnerable child?

Allan shares his goal

A social worker is appealing to residents in Kirklees in the hope of finding long-term foster families for 60 vulnerable children in need of a stable home.

Allan Scott, who works as a children’s social worker at Kirklees Council has spoken about some of the difficulties faced by children in care, many of whom come from the most traumatic of backgrounds. Despite their need to be part of a loving family many are missing out because of a lack of long-term foster carers.

More about Olivia

12 year-old Olivia (not her real name) is one of the children under Allan’s care and remains one of the borough’s most urgent cases. Her early years, spent living on the south coast of England, were marred by neglect and she witnessed domestic violence and drug misuse. She also became a mother figure to her younger brother, often taking charge of the cooking and cleaning.

After being placed into care five years ago she eventually went to live with extended family in Kirklees but through no fault of her own they were unable to look after her long-term and she has since had a number of short-term placements. Having overseen her care over the past year Allan is now the only constant in Olivia’s life and she needs to remain in Kirklees in order to maintain that continuity of care.

Olivia wants more than anything to settle into a loving, permanent family. But because of the shortage of local long-term foster carers she is faced with spending the rest of her childhood in residential care or in multiple short-term placements, possibly in a different area.

Allan says:

“In many ways Olivia is much like any other 12 year-old in that she’s dealing with the all the usual issues that come with adolescence. But with every new placement she thinks she’s found her forever home and when she realises this isn’t the case it chips away at her. She sees every move as a rejection.

“Understandably Olivia’s experiences have left her with some emotional issues. But given everything she’s been through you’d expect her to have all sorts of problems but this isn’t the case at all. I’ve got to know Olivia well over the past year and she’s a joy to be around; she’s extremely bright, funny and loves life. Put simply, she’s beyond resilient.

“She used to play for an under 12’s football league team and she has dreams of becoming a vet one day. I’ve seen many children defy the odds and go on to succeed both in life and academically and I’ve no doubt that Olivia has the potential to do the same. But to help her achieve this she needs the support that only a permanent, loving family can offer.

“Olivia would benefit most from being part of a two-parent family in or around Kirklees. She loves being around other children so a bigger family, where she’d be the oldest child, would be ideal for her. For the right family we would provide a full package of ongoing training and support.”

 

During his seven years at the local authority, Allan has advocated on behalf of numerous children in care, ensuring that they remain at the heart of his role.

What are foster children like?

He adds: “Children in care are some of the most vulnerable you’ll ever meet. They’ve usually experienced cruelty or neglect from the people they should have been able to trust the most. They often feel alone so need someone who’ll really believe in them. As a social worker I can help provide some of that hope and reassurance but this is just a starting point and no substitute for being part of a permanent family unit.

“Our short-term foster carers do an amazing job however finding a long-term foster family for a child is a process. As in Olivia’s case a child is usually placed with a short-term family until long-term arrangements can be made but there simply aren’t enough long-term carers. Just imagine how any child would feel in this situation as everything and everyone they’ve ever known keeps changing. This why we urgently need more people who care enough to invest in a child’s future to come forward. If anyone thinks they can help Olivia, or one of the other 59 children in our care, please get in touch.”

Want to find out more about long-term fostering?

To speak to Kirklees Council’s fostering team call 0800 389 0086 or visit http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/fostering/about-the-children.aspx where you can read about Olivia and some of the children who are waiting for a long-term foster family.

 

A fox in a field - half term activities

Half-term activity day at Bagshaw Museum

Children can get ready for next month’s World Book Day with storytelling and craft activities at Bagshaw Museum, Batley, on Tuesday, 21 February.

The museum is using its half term activity day to get children in the mood for World Book Day on 2 March. There will be crafts inspired by children’s favourites ‘The Snail and the Whale’ and ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’, with the stories told by some very special museum residents.

The event runs from 12noon until 3.30pm and costs £1 per child; there is no need to book.

For further information contact Bagshaw Museum, Wilton Park, Batley, tel: 01924 324765.

More Information on half term activities

For further information contact Linda Levick, Heritage Manager Bagshaw Museum, tel: 01924 324765, email: linda.levick@kirklees.gov.uk

Early Help consultation

Early Help proposals – your top 5 questions answered

Early Help consultationWe’re currently asking people to tell us what they think about our plans for what we’re calling Early Help. It’s a new way of providing support to children, young people and families across the district.

Naturally it’s a topic that’s got people talking, so here we’ve answered the top 5 questions you’ve been asking. If you’re not sure what Early Help is or why you should care, scroll down to watch our video.

Please head to www.kirkleestalk.org to find out more and take part in the survey.

1.Why are you changing?
Just like you, we have to make choices about how we spend money . And, with our budgets reducing, we have to think differently. We need to do the things that make the biggest difference and make sure that we support the most vulnerable people. And that’s what we think our plans for Early Help will do.

2. Is it just about saving money?
Reducing costs plays a big part but there’s also a need for us change how we work. Early Help would be more targeted; we plan to focus on areas where people have a lower income, children are less likely to be ready to start school, more children live in families where no one works and where a higher number enter the care system. By giving targeted help to these families through a single keyworker instead of lots of different agencies, Early Help should offer a better service not just a more cost effective one

3. What about Children’s Centres?
It’s no secret that the plans include a smaller number of buildings and this includes less Youth and Children’s Centres. Fewer buildings mean that we can respond more flexibly and deliver services to people most in need when and where they need it. Obviously it will save money too and it will also mean that we’ll not be offering universal services like Stay and Play and open access youth clubs. Instead, as we’ve said above, we will target our support towards the families most in need of support.

4. How have you decided which buildings to keep?
We’ve used all sorts of data to create a picture of where people need the most help. These include places where a high percentage of children live in deprivation, with parents/carers who are out of work and where they are most at risk of being taken into care. We’ve also looked at how each of the current Children’s Centres is used. As a result, 84% of households in the 10% most deprived parts of Kirklees live within walking distance of a proposed Early Help delivery site. As we’ve said in the previous question, we’ll be able to be more flexible with fewer buildings too.

5. How can you afford to support the HD-ONE Development when you can’t afford to support Children’s Centres?
Along with keeping families safe and healthy, one of our biggest priorities is making sure we have a strong local economy. Making Huddersfield a regional leisure destination would increase jobs, attract visitors (to spend their money here) and revitalise the town. The support we’ve agreed in principle is a loan with commercial interest rates. When the loan is repaid the interest will help us to afford other aspects of council work and we’ll also get around £2 million a year from business rates once it’s up and running.

Please take the time to find out more about our Early Help plans and don’t miss out on your chance to influence the outcome of the consultation.

 

SAFEGUARDING WEEK

Kirklees Safeguarding Week

Our Safeguarding Boards (adults and childrens) and Community Safety Partnership are coming together for Kirklees’ first ever Safeguarding Week – Monday 17 October – Friday 21 October

SAFEGUARDING WEEK

It is hoped this will be an annual awareness raising event.

The week is an opportunity to strengthen the professional work already taking place to keep children, young people and adults safe.

The week will also raise awareness about the work the teams carry out.  The team want to help people to keep safe, speak up if they have any concerns, and are keen to break down any stigmas and fears around safeguarding.

During the week there will be  a series of drop-in events, workshops, lectures, and training opportunities.

There will also be theatre performances.

More about Safeguarding Week

More information about the events is available from the local organisations webpages

Group Of Smiling Children Relaxing In Park - foster care fortnight

Foster Care Fortnight – do you have time to foster?

Get involved with foster care fortnight 16 – 29 May 2016.  Our fostering team are encouraging people to consider fostering and help provide vulnerable children with a stable and loving home.

This year’s Foster Care Fortnight message is that for many prospective foster carers ‘now’ is the time to care and ‘now’ is the time to foster.

Group Of Smiling Children Relaxing In Park - foster care fortnight

Did you know?

Every 20 minutes across the UK a child comes into care in need of a foster family. This means that during Foster Care Fortnight over 1,000 children will require a foster family.

Who are we looking for?

Carly Speechley, Kirklees Council’s Assistant Director of Family Support and Child Protection, said: “Last year we successfully matched over 50 children with long-term foster families, but every year the number of children entering the care system continues to rise locally and nationally.

“There is no one size fits all in fostering and what is right for one foster child might not be right for another. That is why we’d like people from all backgrounds and all walks of life to consider fostering.

“We are always looking for good, caring people who can offer a safe and secure home to a child or young person.

“There are many myths about who can become a foster carer, but what really matters is that someone has the commitment, skills and ability to look after children separated from their own families. We need all types of foster carers for our children in care, but we’re particularly looking for people who could care for older children, sibling groups, or on a long term basis.”

“It is often an emotional and confusing time for children when they come into the care system. These children, through no fault of their own, find themselves uprooted from everything they know and need the stability that only a loving foster family can provide.”

“During Foster Care Fortnight we are urging people to think about the difference they can make to a child’s life. Although it can be challenging, foster caring is also fun, fulfilling and hugely rewarding.”

Could you foster Adam?

We need families to foster across Kirklees,  but we are also specifically looking for a family to look after a little boy called Adam.

If you live in and around the Cleckheaton area please consider fostering Adam*, to give him the love and stability he so desperately needs in his life.

Adam is an affectionate, sensitive and talkative 7 year old boy. He likes playing on his Xbox and tablet, riding his bike, playing at the park and watching TV, like most boys his age.

More information about Adam.

Find out more about foster care

Come along to one of our information events. Enjoy a cuppa and find out what it’s really like to be a foster carer. You can talk to existing foster carers about their experiences, and the rewards fostering brings.

Events:

  • Tuesday 17 May, 12pm to 3pm at Dewsbury Museum, Crow Nest Park
  • Tuesday 24 May, 12pm to 3pm at Tolson Museum, Huddersfield.

If you can’t make it to the events you can talk to one of our friendly fostering team by calling 0800 389 0086.

You can also visit the fostering web pages