Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Somebody else’s child – everybody’s responsibility

Leeds City Council is urging people in the Leeds area to help ensure the safety and well being of children who are being cared for by someone who is not a direct relative.

The call to action is part of an initiative called Somebody Else’s Child, which is run by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), as part of Private Fostering Week 21 – 27 March. It aims to reduce the number of children in un-notified private fostering arrangements in England.

Private fostering describes an arrangement when someone, who is not a close relative, cares for another person’s child for 28 days or more. Although this is done by private arrangement, legally the parent and the carer must notify the local authority where the child is going to live so that the local authority can ensure that the child is being properly looked after.

Nobody knows exactly how many children are privately fostered but in 2001 the Department of Health estimated that there could be as many as 10,000 in England and Wales. It is feared that some of these ’invisible’ children could be at risk of abuse, or victims of trafficking.

In the year to March 2010 there were 1,950 notifications of private fostering arrangements in England. However, experts believe there could be many more.

Leeds City Council is supporting the BAAF campaign by asking people who work with children and the general public in Leeds to be aware of private fostering and notify them if they suspect such an arrangement.

The council has recently provided information on private fostering across Leeds to community groups and organisations, libraries, schools and child care professionals in order to raise awareness about the campaign.

Nigel Richardson, director of Leeds City Council’s children’s services said:
“Everybody has a role in keeping our children safe – whether you are a teacher, youth worker, neighbour or you just chat to other parents at the school gate. If you hear about a child who you think may be privately fostered please let us know so we can ensure the child is being kept safe.”

More information on private fostering can be found at the BAAF camapign website www.somebodyelseschild.org.uk, Leeds City Council’s website leeds.gov.uk/fostering or by contacting Leeds City Council’s private fostering service on (0113) 224 3990.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Public to have say on new powers to control sex entertainment venues

Local residents are being given the opportunity to share their views on a new policy which would give the council more control over sexual entertainment venues in Leeds.

Leeds City Council has drawn up the new policy to ensure that sex establishments in the area operate in a safe, fair and discreet manner and are sensitive to the local area.

The draft policy pays particular attention to advertising, staff welfare and the external appearance of the premises.

The council’s licensing committee this week agreed for the public consultation to go ahead. Members of the public are being asked for their views on the draft policy which seeks to regulate sex establishments, including sexual entertainment venues like lap-dancing clubs and strip clubs, sex shops and sex cinemas.

As part of the public consultation, which begins on Monday 4 April until 24 June 2011, the council will seek the views of trade and support groups, local religious groups, ward members and local MPs. Members of the public will also be invited to take part in the consultation through an online questionnaire at leeds.gov.uk.

Councillor Suzi Armitage, chair of the licensing committee said:
“This is the opportunity for Leeds residents to have their say on how we deal with the licensing of new and existing sexual entertainment venues. If it gets the go ahead our new policy would help us control such venues and where they can be located, preventing them from opening up in inappropriate areas. But we also want to ensure they operate in a safe and discreet way so the policy also looks at how we can best protect staff welfare and control advertising and external appearance.”

If the policy gets the go ahead it is expected to come into effect in October 2011. Operators of existing venues will then need to apply for a new sex establishment licence.

Earlier this year the council’s licensing committee agreed to adopt amendments to the Policing and Crime Act 2009, which introduced a new classifications of sex establishments, bringing lap dancing, pole dancing and other forms of sexual entertainment under a new licensing regime. This gives local authorities more power to determine the number and location of strip clubs and similar venues in the area.

People wanting to take part in the consultation should contact the council’s entertainment licensing section on 0113 2474095, visit leeds.gov.uk/spc, or email entertainment.licensing@leeds.gov.uk.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Telling us about your concerns – it’s not making a fuss

Over 5000 older or disabled people in Leeds will receive a letter and information card this week, advising them of what to do and who to tell if they are unhappy or worried about the care or support that they receive in their own homes.

The council’s adult social care team are sending the information out to advise people that if they are unhappy with, or worried about any help they receive at home, there are ways for them to have their issues looked into promptly and sensitively. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect and the card gives details about who people can contact to raise their concerns.

Older people especially can sometimes find themselves putting up with situations that they are not comfortable or happy with because they don’t want to ‘make a fuss’. The information card points out that everyone has the right to expect high quality support and care from the people who help them at home – no matter who provides that help. It’s not making a fuss – it’s their right. And it’s really important that the council, and other organisations that provide care services in Leeds, are aware of any problems so that they can be addressed quickly and improvements made.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult health and social care in Leeds said:
“It is really important that people are supported well so that they can remain living independently in their own homes for as long as they wish to do so.

“I hope that this information card will reassure older people in particular that there is a way for them to raise concerns with us if they are unhappy about the care they are receiving.”

Sandie Keene, director of adult social services said:
“Every older or disabled person who gets help or support in their own homes has the right to be treated with dignity and respect – and to know that, if there’s a problem, their concerns will be taken seriously and dealt with promptly.

“This is the case regardless of who provides that care - whether they are paid care workers, or unpaid volunteers or family members.

“We don’t want anyone to worry that we will think they are making a fuss if they call us with their concerns. We need to know about any problems so that we can make sure that care in Leeds is safe for everyone and of the quality that we all expect.”

So what should someone do if they feel that they are not being cared for properly? If they don’t feel that they are in any immediate danger they should speak directly to the person or organisation providing the help first to see if they can put things right. If this doesn’t help, or if someone feels uncomfortable, afraid or that they might be in danger they should contact adult social care services on Leeds 222 4401. They will be able to speak to a customer services advisor who will arrange for their concern to be looked into. A friend or family member can call on someone’s behalf if they have their agreement.

If someone is being deliberately harmed or frightened then this is abuse and is against the law. People should contact West Yorkshire Police on 0845 606 0606 – or dial 999 in an emergency.

People have the right to ask for their care provider to be changed if they are not happy, regardless of whether this support is paid for or provided on a voluntary basis.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk