Challenging the crisis in children’s social care

Last month, there was a very important cross-party debate in the Commons about the crisis in children’s social care in England – discussing rising thresholds; cuts to local authority early support services; reductions in social care packages for disabled children; the rising numbers of children being taken into care; and the postcode lottery of spending on children’s social care.

I applaud the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children and their dogged attempts to keep this issue in the spotlight and bring this to the attention of government ministers.

Chris Mullen, Social Care Policy Advisor

Chris Mullen, Social Care Policy Advisor, National Deaf Children’s Society

The Government isn’t recognising that there is as a national emergency in social care funding, despite widespread charities, academics, parent groups and the Local Government Association saying there is.

So, during these times of austerity and Brexit, should we simply back off, do nothing and sympathise with the local authorities who are struggling to provide vital local services to deaf children, including education and social care?

Yes and no.

Yes, we do indeed sympathise with position local authorities are in – many of whom say they are simply unable to provide the statutory services they once did but are still are under a legal obligation to provide.

No, because we shouldn’t simply accept this. The law hasn’t changed, the additional support we know deaf children and young people receive hasn’t changed, and many deaf children still fall behind their hearing peers.

From my colleagues in our Policy and Campaigns team to our network of parent and deaf campaigners, our Children and Family Officers, our Helpline team and our Appeals and Disputes advisors – we all work to professionally challenge wherever services are failing in their legal duties to meet the needs of deaf children and young people. The National Deaf Children’s Society is indeed a team effort.

This includes supporting professionals working directly with deaf children. The National Deaf Children’s Society has a free social care advisory service that any professional can call for advice and support.

In these difficult times, we must not be afraid to challenge the issues when necessary but we must equally remain hopeful for this current and future generations of deaf children and young people and their families.

Deaf young people and the Access to Work scheme

What are our top 5 policy asks?

With the right support put in place, deaf young people can work in almost any job role.

Sally Etchells, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

Some deaf people rely on communication support or assistive technology in order to be able to do their jobs. This support can be funded by the Access to Work grant scheme which is run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The scheme is highly valued by deaf young people because it covers the costs of support, above what might normally be expected of an employer to provide through reasonable adjustments. However, we believe the scheme is underutilised and could work better for young deaf people who are making the crucial move from education into work.

We are working to influence the DWP at the moment, and these are the top five things we are asking for.

  1. We want awareness of Access to Work to be raised among deaf young people and the professionals who work with them. Too many people don’t know anything about Access to Work.
  2. We want it to be easier to claim Access to Work if you are a young person organising work experience for yourself.
  3. For short notice interviews and job start dates, we want the DWP to put a temporary support package in place for people, before their Access to Work grant is approved. If this isn’t put in place, it means that many deaf young people have to miss interviews or delay starting their new job.
  4. Deaf people are the biggest group of claimants of Access to Work. We think this justifies the demand for specialist assessors and advisers that understand deafness. At the moment we hear many accounts of poor customer service and a lack of deaf awareness.
  5. We want the DWP to improve data collection around Access to Work. At the moment, we only have figures on the number of deaf claimants, or young claimants, not both!

You can find out more and apply for Access to Work on the DWP website. Any questions? Contact Sally on campaigns@ndcs.org.uk

Young campaigners wanted! Become a member of UK Youth Voice

UK Youth Voice, a group of young campaigners aged 16 to 25 year olds interested in policy and sharing their views as young people, is now recruiting for new members.

Liam O’Dell, Policy and Campaigns Officer – Digital, National Deaf Children’s Society.

Do you know a deaf young person:

  • Aged 16-25?
  • Who is a member of a UK Youth member organisation
  • Who has a big interest in campaigns and representing young people?

If so, tell them about this opportunity to be a member of a UK-wide group of 28 young people representing their local area.

The two-year role will involve attending four weekend meetings a year and working on UK Youth Voice projects. You will also have the opportunity to influence UK Youth as an organisation, as well as national policy.

UK Youth Voice are currently looking for new representatives for the following regions:

  • North West
  • North East
  • Yorkshire & Humber
  • South West
  • South East
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands

They are also working with their national partners in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to find young people to represent these nations.

Do you know a deaf young person who might be interested? If you do, then they can fill out a short application form.

If you’re not sure whether your local club is a member of UK Youth, or have any questions, you can contact Hannah Graham on 07455 521883 or email hannah.graham@ukyouth.org.

The application deadline is Friday 1 February. Submissions will be assessed by current members of UK Youth Voice, and you may be invited to have an informal interview.

If successful, the first residential weekend will take place from 26 April to 28 April 2019, so be sure to keep those dates free!

Our Children and Young People Participation team can support deaf young people with their applications. If you know a young person who may be interested, you can email the team at cyp@ndcs.org.uk.

Molly needs your vote!

_K6A0997

Hi I am Molly, I was born in Wales and live in Carmathen and I am profoundly deaf and use British Sign Language. I am standing for election to the Welsh Youth Parliament because I feel passionately about showing that deaf young people can do anything with the right support in Wales. I know what it is like for deaf young people living in Wales and I want to stand up and be a voice for young people and improve deaf awareness across the Country. In the future I want to work in Parliament, help my dreams come true and vote for me!

Within my current school, I have been involved in the school council for the past two years. For the past year I have been the chair of the student council. Since 2016, I have been involved in various youth councils/groups. I am a member of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Young People’s Advisory Board. I love to support and help others like me.

As a deaf young person in Wales, travel can be really difficult. This means it can be hard to meet other deaf young people. This can make deaf young people feel alone or stressed as they cannot make many friends. I want to change this and campaign about creating more local deaf clubs in Wales.

I want to change the views people can have of deaf people, showing them that they can do any job, or activity they want to do. Deaf young people can do anything.

Also, I would use technology to connect with you to find out your views and thoughts of how to make Wales even better for us! I would do this through e-mails and using social media and make sure they are passed onto the Parliamentary group.

I am really passionate about standing up for change. As an experienced chairperson for other youth councils I have a very positive and determined attitude to help you make changes across your Country.

To read more from my manifesto, click here: https://www.youthparliament.wales/candidate-profiles/060-15-e

Please support me by voting for me in the Welsh Youth Parliament. To vote you must register by Friday 16th November 2018. It will take you two minutes to register and help change Wales for the better.

To register, click here! https://www.youthparliament.wales/candidate-profiles/060-15-e

Campaigning: working with professionals in Wales

Debbie Green, Policy & Campaigns Officer Wales

Debbie Thomas, Policy and Campaigns Officer, Wales, National Deaf Children’s Society

Whenever you meet new people, the inevitable conversation starter almost always crops up; “what do you do for a living?” I always take great pride in replying that I work as a campaigner for NDCS Cymru, but there are a lot of misconceptions about what being a campaigner involves.

At a friend’s hen party this weekend, I was asked: “So what does your job involve when you are not cheering and holding a placard?” Well, actually my job hardly involves placards at all!

While placards and demonstrations can be important and effective in some cases, my work is really about positively engaging and working collaboratively with policy makers and professionals. Those working to make new laws or to deliver services for deaf children ultimately want to see new laws and changes to services which are effective and work well. The bulk of my work is about looking at proposed changes and then meeting and working with key decision makers to suggest how these changes could be tweaked to ensure they work for deaf children, young people and their families. I like to think I work with officials rather than against them, pulling out placards and petitions only when raising concerns has not been sufficient and greater action is required.

It is quite fitting that after being asked the placard question, I spent the day with health professionals at a children’s audiology unit. I was part of an audit panel reviewing how the service was meeting standards set by the Welsh Government.

These standards first came into place in 2010 and cover a range of points from waiting times, qualifications and training of audiologists, and ensuring that families receive key information. Every year, audiology sites across Wales are asked to score how well they believe they are meeting each standard and to provide evidence for it. A panel made up of audiology practitioners from other services in Wales and an NDCS representative then review the evidence against the scores given.

For me, this is a great example of how, as a campaigner, you work with and alongside professionals as a critical friend. We support good practice, suggest areas for improvement in the interests of our members, and raise our hands when we feel something is going wrong. Essentially, we have a common aim: to ensure our services for deaf children and their families are up to standard.

Young leaders in Wales

Lorna

Lorna Langton, Gearing Up Project Officer/ Mynd Amdani Swyddog Prosiect

The quiet little seaside town of Colwyn Bay may seem like an unlikely place to invite a group of 14-18 year olds for the weekend but boy did we have a great time! As part of our Gearing Up project, Young Leaders made the most of every opportunity to have fun, learn and make some great friendships on this year’s North Wales Young Leader training course.

Our Young Leaders came from all across Wales, from as far as Cardiff to just a few train stops down the line at Bangor. After everyone had registered we headed off to a fantastic dinner at The Station restaurant just a short walk from where we were staying. This was a lovely chance to enjoy some good food and all get to know each other. By the end of the meal one member of staff, who we discovered is doing his Level 2 BSL at the moment, even treated us to a little magic show!

Saturday morning started with breakfast at our training venue Porth Eirias, what a fab location and the staff were so helpful, it really couldn’t be faulted. The amazing bacon butties and pastries that were waiting for us as we arrived really helped give us all the brain power needed for the day ahead.

The Young Leader programme aims to build deaf young people’s confidence, develop valuable life skills and give them an opportunity to make new deaf friends who have similar experiences to them. This weekend we started with a workshop to establish what the group thought the definition of a young leader was and then we took advantage of the great location on the beach to get out and do some team building activities. The group were really engaged and really added their own spin on their idea of leadership and the people in their lives who they looked up to as role models.

That afternoon we had Pete from the Wales Ambulance Service join us to train the
young people in CPR. They all got stuck in and learned a valuable life saving skill that everyone agreed was really important and helped them build confidence in tcpr-WalesBlog2016heir ability to act in an emergency situation in the future. The young people brought up some interesting views around being young and deaf and having the confidence to take charge in an emergency situation. Then it was time to grab our things and head off to the ski slope for snowboarding training. We were so lucky with the weather and our coaches at Llandudno Ski Centre we’re supportive and made it so much fun. It was great to see the group grow in confidence and ability over the 2 days.

Sunday started with an inspiring and thought provoking deaf role model talk from Dr Andrew Davies of Bangor University. He spoke about the young people finding whatever they were passionate about and taking control of their own education making decisions that would ensure they achieved their aspirations as he had done.

After that stirring session, the young people were all fired up and sparking with ideas when it came to the workshop on our bursary scheme; the Pay it Forward Fund. They came up with ideas that would develop them as individuals, support their communities and help them give back and be role models for younger deaf children and young people in Wales. A few of the Young Leaders submitted applications to the fund in the days after this event.at the beach- WalesBlogJune2016

I’m also delighted that so many of the young people who are involved with the Gearing Up project have already been inspired to use their new skills, interest and confidence to support our young campaigners network in Wales. Any deaf young person who wants to know more about what we campaign on, or who would like to get involved in campaigning can email  campaigns.wales@ndcs.org for more information.

I’m so excited to see how the Pay it Forward Fund develops and I look forward to updating you all in my next blog.

Bye for now,

Lorna Langton

Gearing Up Project Officer/ Mynd Amdani Swyddog Prosiect

5 days to save the world! Ofsted and CQC inspections.

Sophia-James-cropped

Sophia James, Policy and Campaigns Officer, National Deaf Children’s Society

After a long period of waiting, the moment has finally arrived. Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have begun inspecting special educational needs services across England.

It was all hands on deck last week when notice of two inspections landed in our inboxes. If you are lucky enough to live in Bolton or Brighton and Hove, you may have been aware that deaf young people and parents in that area have been asked to contribute. For the first two inspections, the method of choice has been online webinars. A webinar is an online meeting anyone can join where the lead inspector will give an overview of why these inspections are taking place and ask a series of questions about how children’s needs are being met and identified in that area.

When notice hits you have five days to take action. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to feedback about services for deaf children and young people in your area. In my opinion, this is your five days to save the world. Your feedback could be crucial at highlighting failings in local services. It could put pressure on local authorities and health services to bring about the changes needed to improve support for deaf children and young people.

We still have our reservations about the process and accessibility but we’ll be working with Ofsted over the coming weeks to ensure that these inspections are as open and effective as possible.

So when that email lands in your inbox, please attend the webinar or ask the lead contact at your local council to pass on your feedback to the lead inspector. You can contact us if you like but please, please take action. After all, doesn’t everyone want to be a hero?!

giphy (2)

Click here for more information on the Inspect the Uninspected campaign or if you discover an inspection in your area, you can tell us about it here.