A couple of tweets from @woolleyandco alerted me to some interesting posts on their blog: Andrew Woolley has it spot on about Baroness Deech’s curiously reality-detached approach to humiliating divorce settlements (I think she means demeaning, but anyway). “You say humiliating, I say equality…”. Doesn’t scan but you get the point. And as for the post on Baroness Deech’s remarks about grandparents’ entitlement to financial recompense for their gratis childcare – well I’ve posted previously about the political expediency of pandering to grandparents rights organisations, and all I have to add is this observation: do we really want to go down this road? If grandparents are entitled to claim maintenance from their children who ‘take advantage’ of free childcare, will the parents be able to recoup that in later years for the care they will give the elderly grandparents? Or perhaps parents should be able to recoup their childcare costs from their children’s earnings in years to come? We could all do with acknowledging how much grandparents offer their children and their grandchildren, but their contribution is more than one dimensional – financial support, childcare, time and love. And isn’t the essence of (grand)parental love that it is voluntary?
My own parents routinely take our son for a day a week, but whilst for them they are pleased to feel they have helped us out with childcare, we are pleased to ensure that they have some quality time with their grandson. We try not to rely on it as failsafe childcare, being sensitive to when they have something else they need to do that day, but we would want to keep up this special time with grandma and granddad even when we aren’t at work. For my son Monday is Ga-mma day. It’s not a transaction we could quantify with money. That would be demeaning. I do see the arguments for being able to claim working tax credits childcare element if a grandparent is giving up a large chunk of their week and is prevented from earning money through other work (although I also see the difficulties with it), but to create maintenance obligations between different tiers of family members just undercuts the whole notion of family helping family – politicians are obsessed with trying to strengthen the family and ‘mend’ society, reducing the family to a set of financial obligations or contracts is not going to help cement our society together or make our children happier.
As a footnote, its heartening to see that what I would call a ‘marketing blog’ can still be an interesting read, and can contain some real and insightful opinion. If a blog is worth doing it has to contain some human input and not just be an endless stream of advertorial. Whilst Woolley and Co have clearly invested heavily in their online media marketing strategy, they are doing it well. So many other firms are doing it badly.
…and I am. Just. Although a number of things have conspired against me to leave Pink Tape less than in the pink – I am now (finally) back in the country, back in reach of a reliable internet connection and determined to get back into the swing of things. Even if not everybody will be pleased about it. Dammit – especially because not everybody will be pleased about it. Those who know me well will know that the surest way to ensure I keep on talkin’ is to tell me to shut up or to tell me I am wrong. So I’m sorry to disappoint anyone out there, but I’m not going away.
I return to find that our local CAFCASS has a backlog of 155 cases (largely private cases) which is proposes to clear by Mar 2010. Pigs might fly, but then if my other half can get back from far flung states in economy class complete with unexpected new crutches, maybe anything really is possible. Hope springs eternal. As a colleague recently noted – CAFCASS have recently relieved themselves of the services of 70 staff owing to resource difficulties, of which but two were managers. SIGHS…
I also return with a renewed conviction about how important it is to ensure kids know both sides of their extended family, even if they are kooky and even if they are far far away. It’s pretty tough to make this happen when oceans divide but watching my boy careering round the farm with his little cousins and being fed deer jerky by mommaw and seeing for first hand where his daddy grew up was worth the trip, even if it was quite possibly the most stressful holiday I have ever had. For the boy it was nothing but a great big adventure. An adventure punctuated with lashings of chocolate milk and as much spaghetti as a boy can eat.
And finally I return with a unavoidable bump. It is at least 10% baby and only 90% blueberry pancakes. Time flies eh?
The NSPCC has seen a dramatic increase in calls about suspected child abuse since Baby P – referrals from the NSPCC to the police or social services are up by a third in two years. I was astonished to read that between April 2008 and March 2009 the NSPCC passed on 11,243 suspected child protection cases, up 3,063 on the previous year. Action in response was taken in 98% of those cases (although I would guess that in many of those cases ‘action’ might be as limited as a quick house call and then NFA). But that is almost 1,000 cases per month that the NSPCC has taken seriously enough to pass on to the authorities and according to the information I have read a large proportion of those cases relate to children not otherwise known to social services – so children that had been falling through the net. Its good to hear that something positive has come from Baby P – perhaps people are feeling the weight of their own social responsibility more and making that call where in the past they might have just considered it someone else’s business. But it’s also frightening to think of the numbers of cases of unseen abuse and unprotected children that these statistics hint at.