Children’s authors back independent taskforce on children’s mental health services

Children’s authors back independent taskforce on children’s mental health services

A number of esteemed children’s authors have signed a letter addressing the current state of protection and mental health provisions available to children in the UK, saying that “society needs to stop failing vulnerable children”.

Writing in support of Kids Company’s launch of their See the Child. Change the System campaign, a group of children’s writers, including Philip Pullman, Lauren Child, Meg Rossof and Pippa Goodhart have expressed their concern regarding the recent Ofsted report which found that “one in seven councils in England fail vulnerable children”.

“As writers for children, our job includes inspiring our readers and encouraging them to understand the potency of imagination and thought, in the hope that when they grow up they can use them to help improve the real world. As taxpayers and adults committed to the welfare of children, we are saddened by the lack of political imagination which has led to millions of children in this country who are abused, neglected and/or suffering from mental health difficulties being denied appropriate care.”

Having been alarmed by reports on child protection issues from such bodies as the NSPCC and Young Minds, the authors are supporting Kids Company’s independent taskforce to initiate a “fundamental redesign of child mental health and social service systems”.

Following our previous report on the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) uncovering “abhorrent” child protection failures and calling for a royal commission to oversee a “radical redesign” in the system, CEO and founder of children’s charity Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh, believes that waiting for a royal commission would take “too long” and prefers to set up an independent taskforce.

“There is an unspoken understanding between central government and local authorities not to identify the real number of children in need of child protection because if you don’t capture the data, you don’t have to spend money to protect them,” said Batmanghelidjh. Adding: “Kids Company has been going 18 years and in that time repeated governments have made promises to change things for vulnerable kids. Nobody holds them to account.”

The taskforce will be chaired by former director of public prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer and the board shall also include children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson, former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and NSPCC director of strategy Lisa Harker.