Friday 19 July 2024
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Campaigner fears council is ‘playing party politics over lives of children in care’

A campaigner who was moved around more than 100 times while in care fears  Nottinghamshire County Council is ‘playing party politics’ over the best interests of children and young people who, he thinks, are today in a similar position as he once was.

Terry Galloway runs a housing association in Nottingham and campaigns for better rights for those who have lived experience in the care system.

He has been attempting to get local authorities across the country to adopt better protections.

Ashfield District Council recently passed a motion to make being care-experienced a ‘protected characteristic’.

This means the council has a responsibility to ensure their lives are not impacted by their circumstances, with former looked-after children previously having trouble finding homes, jobs and opportunities later in life.

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He has been attempting to get Nottinghamshire County Council to pass a similar motion, but he says the authority has devised its own motion which is “toothless” and would not give people who are care-experienced protected status.

Mr Galloway said: “The reason why they put their own motion in was possibly because they were frightened someone else, or another party, was going to put their own motion in before them.”

“I’m going to write an open letter to every councillor asking them to vote for this amendment,” he added, hoping to get the amendment written in before Full Council on November 24, when this will be debated.

“I’d like the parties to remove the whips and remove party politics because this has no place when it comes to our children in care and care leavers.

“I’ll be asking for volunteers to propose and second this amendment; the Nottinghamshire constitution does not allow for public speaking at council meetings which is why I’ve had to do it this way.

“Put simply, a vote for a motion without adding care experience as if it were a protected characteristic within it is a vote against systemic change in the care system.

“Every child in care costs the state £1.2m during their lifetimes, until councils, Government and the wider community work together for the sake of our children countless lives will continue to be destroyed.”

Mr Galloway wishes to amend the motion so the council “will add ‘Care Experienced’ as an additional protected characteristic in the council’s Integrated Impact Assessments”.

He also wishes to change the use of the word ‘vulnerable’ to ‘care-experienced’ in the motion wording.

The move would mean a set of objectives will be written to protect residents who have experienced the care system, with special consideration given to their circumstances when council policies are written.

Race and disability are just two of many protected characteristics written into law, but Mr Galloway wishes for councils to adopt being care-experienced off their own volition before it is passed at a higher level later down the line.

Nottinghamshire Labour Group leader, Cllr Kate Foale, said her party would support Mr Galloway’s motion and any amendments.

She said: “Nottinghamshire Labour will always stand up for and protect those who face discrimination and disadvantage, including those who have lived experience in care.

“We welcome a motion that recognises them.

“We have listened very carefully to Terry as a wonderful champion for those with experience of care.

“Rest assured the Nottinghamshire Labour Group will give his amendment our full consideration prior to the Full Council meeting on Thursday.”

Responding to the concerns, when the Nottinghamshire County Council was approached for comment, a Conservative spokeswoman said:

“As a result of conversations with Mr Galloway, with whom we work closely and have done so for a number of years, members have taken the unusual step to bring a motion to discuss at Full Council, something that this administration would not normally do.

“We are the only group who sought to bring a motion on this issue to Full Council next Thursday (Nov 24), and it will be debated fully then by members from across the council.”

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