Socialist Party
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27 June 2012

Cuts ignore immense needs

Jane Ellwood

After the 1950s, a network of child and adolescent services, staffed by highly trained, skilful social workers, specialist teachers, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and psychologists, was gradually established in specialist centres.

As a consultant child psychotherapist I have seen how a child or young person can have their life transformed by the chance to be heard by someone who can make sense of what's going on, or by family therapy or group work, art or music therapy.

Unfortunately Labour-controlled Waltham Forest council, among many others, seems to be dismantling this vital service in the name of Tory and Lib Dem-imposed cuts. The borough's 5-19 year olds have had services hit with an axe.

Educational welfare has been cut from 24 to five posts. Behavioural support will be scrapped, community safety will lose five posts.

The careers service will be cut by a third, the youth offending team by a half. The Connexions Team will be decimated. The youth service will be cut and will rely on volunteers. Social work teams that help children and families will suffer cuts and face an increased workload.

It makes sense to work with children and young people rather than leaving them to withdraw into unhappiness, depression or mental illness. Or, as often happens with boys, become truants with all the risks of street life not to mention the sense of failure and lack of achievement that these young people are burdened with.

Why would anyone in their senses cut back on help to this section of the community? The alternative is vastly more expensive - a life on benefit, in and out of hospital or prison.

I mention the cost because that seems to be the measure by which Waltham Forest council judges services, not the immense need, nor the long term benefits to the young person, their family and to society, which are also immense.