Fears over chil­dren in poor ar­eas

Rochdale Observer - - FOCUS ON PUBS - Rochda­le­ob­[email protected]­media.co.uk

FEARS have been raised for Rochdale’s poor­est chil­dren af­ter it emerged that not enough has been done to pro­tect those most at risk of ne­glect.

Safe­guard­ing chiefs ad­mit that there have been short­com­ings in spot­ting and act­ing on signs of ne­glect in the bor­ough, de­spite the is­sue be­ing flagged as a pri­or­ity.

The find­ing was in­cluded in Rochdale Bor­ough Safe­guard­ing Board’s an­nual re­port, which went be­fore the coun­cil’s health, schools and care scru­tiny com­mit­tee.

The re­port says, ‘it is fair to say that we have not seen the progress we hoped for to date and ne­glect re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant con­cern’.

Shock­ingly, the re­port adds nearly a third of Rochdale res­i­dents live in ar­eas that are among the most de­prived in the coun­try while, at 27 pc, the level of child poverty in the bor­ough is worse than the Eng­land av­er­age.

Jean Hornby said that the is­sue of poverty had to be tack­led in or­der to ad­dress ne­glect, as the two were in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked.

Jane Booth, chair of Rochdale Bor­ough Safe­guard­ing Boards agreed that, while not al­ways the case, there tends to be more ne­glect in ar­eas with the high­est lev­els of de­pri­va­tion. She said: “It’s not just to do with money, it’s do with life op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“It’s to do with par­ents’ sup­port and skills.

“If you’re liv­ing a pretty mis­er­able life it’s quite dif­fi­cult to be a good par­ent.”

Ms Booth, who ad­mit­ted that the board, coun­cil and other agen­cies were ‘still strug­gling to see a big im­pact’ on ne­glect in the bor­ough, de­spite their best ef­forts.

“We are still see­ing quite a lot of fam­i­lies need­ing to be sup­ported by child pro­tec­tion plans, be­cause of ne­glect,” she said.

And she added that tack­ling the prob­lem was go­ing to re­quire a ‘re­ally broad ap­proach’.

Ms Booth said: “There will be peo­ple liv­ing in poverty who know how to ac­cess a food bank or cook a meal.

“And there are peo­ple who won’t and they will still be spend­ing money they don’t have on take­away piz­zas and get­ting into debt.”

She said it was ‘frus­trat­ing’ as there was lit­tle that safe­guard­ing agen­cies could do to change lev­els of de­pri­va­tion in a com­mu­nity.

But added that child pro­tec­tion plans could work where par­ents could be helped to make a dif­fer­ence.

She said: “We are talking about cases where it’s a lack of parental skill or will­ing­ness, or a lack of ca­pac­ity to un­der­stand the needs of their child.

“They might not have had good role mod­els them­selves, or be liv­ing in quite iso­lated com­mu­ni­ties with­out a grand­par­ent or friendly neigh­bour to sup­port them.”

The com­mit­tee was also told that many ne­glect cases in­volved is­sues around drug and al­co­hol abuse and men­tal health prob­lems, cre­at­ing a ‘com­plex pic­ture’.

The bor­ough’s strat­egy for tack­ling ne­glect has re­cently been over­hauled and the safe­guard­ing boards will mon­i­tor the progress be­ing made.

●●Rochdale’s child poverty lev­els are worse than the na­tional av­er­age. Pic­ture posed by model.

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