Tag Archives: cyp

Should charities be propping up statutory services?

In the past few days, the closure of Kids Company has dominated the news. To an outsider, their rapid demise has come out of the blue. There were undoubtedly financial issues as Kids Company struggled to keep up with the volume of self-referrals from young people, operating an open door policy. I have a lot of sympathy for all those affected. Kids Company was a life line for an incredible amount of children and young people, many of whom had been failed by statutory services. The staff, who were paramount in delivering the services and support that these young people so desperately needed, are equally as dismayed.

The situation has made me reflect on the role of charities as opposed to statutory services. As someone who receives support from both CAMHS and a charity it raised some questions for me. Are charities picking up the slack? We know that there is a real issue when it comes to funding health and social care services. I was horrified to read an article in the Guardian which mentioned that only 1 in 9 children in need can be supported by social services. That isn’t right. It’s imperative to look out for the most vulnerable young people in order to give them the best chance of getting on in life. How much of that is the job of charities and how much of that is a job for statutory agencies? In an ideal world, I’d say that it’s a job for both. When agencies such as CAMHS and social services have the capacity to work with young people in need, the voluntary sector can compliment the work. However, when the burden of care falls almost entirely on a charity as local agencies cannot cope, it’s a risky position. Many of the young people who turned to Kids Company did so as they were not able to receive help from anywhere else. Now who will they turn to? If statutory services were unable to pick them up initially, will they be able to now?

The voluntary sector is amazing. I am a firm believer in the brilliant change that charities can bring about. If the government will not commit to spending what is needed for statutory services to do their job, then they would do well in not reducing their contracts and grants to charities. Is it any surprise then, that that’s exactly what they’re doing? Between 2010-2013 government funding for all charities fell by 11%, but funding for children and young people’s charities fell by 18%. When you couple that with the gaps in statutory agencies, it doesn’t paint a picture of a society run by those who particularly care whether or not the most vulnerable are protected.

Camila Batmanghelidjh has said that she feels silenced by the government as they felt she was too outspoken and raised issues around child protection which they’d rather keep quiet. I wouldn’t be surprised. The reality is though, that thousands of young people who desperately need support will be left without. Those who never reached Kids Company’s doors, who have never reached the case load of social services and most likely never will, are still in need. The issues that young people face are still just as prominent, the only difference being that we have now lost one thread of hope. I sincerely hope that the government finds a shred of humanity and starts to look out for those who need it.

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“Future in mind” report and the promise of £££?!

Today marks the launch of the “Future in mind” report, setting out recommendations in the hope of improving children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

Now, I do a lot of campaigning. I am also a CAMHS service user and so getting CYP mental health up the agenda makes me a very happy person! However my issue comes when I perceive what others see as concern and positive change as tokenism. Unfortunately, this is how I saw the launch of the taskforce report and Clegg’s recent ‘pledge’ to allocate £1.25bn of the Budget to mental health services.

I’m sure that many politicians do care about improving mental health services, Norman Lamb being one, but there is a “too little, too late” vibe around the entire thing. We could have put our energy into attempting to secure decent CAMHS services for our young people 5 years ago. Instead, our funding has been cut (in 2008/09 £758m spent was on CAMHS in real terms, compared to the £717m in 2012/13, the last year for which figures are available) resulting in a shortage of beds, resources and staff. 

“But, Stella!! We know this! It’s better late than never!” I hear you say. That’s very true, but – call me cynical – I fail to see how the money will make a substantial impact. It will make an impact, yes, and it is better than nothing, yes. But once it’s broken down over 5 years and into CCGs (of which there are 211) and further than that, into the CAMHS services that each individual CCG provides, it doesn’t leave a lot. I fear that a large chunk of the money will be used to replenish services and get them back to the levels that they were at before the majority of the cuts were made, before we can see any real improvement. 

As for the report, I have read it and I agree with the majority of recommendations made, but I’m sure that all the suggestions are ideas that staff and service users have been requesting since the beginning. Should all of the changes be implemented, CAMHS would be getting a pretty major facelift! Even in fairly ‘structural’ terms, with a recommendation for scrapping the tiered model and introducing another such as the Thrive model, on which I have reservations. 

As the pressure of the election rises – along with my cynicism(!) – so do the election promises. Politicians need to cover all bases and make as many people as they can willing to vote for them. Making CYP mental health an interest serves well, as not often has it been an issue of much concern. Without meaning to sound condescending, it almost seems like a niche issue to cover.