08:10 Thursday 4th April 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[P]AUL STAINTON: The Government has announced that 16,000 of the most disadvantaged new mums and dads in the country will be offered tailored help and support from a specialist nurse by 2015. The large extension of the Family Nurse Partnership Programme will give young and disadvantaged mothers one-to-one support to bring up their babies. The idea is for more vulnerable children to get a better start in life. Well the Family Nurse Partnership Programme is already being run in Cambridgeshire, helps parents that are 19 and younger. Earlier, we heard from Lynn Frith. She’s a Family Nurse Partnership supervisor, and she explained how it all works and who gets help. (TAPE)
LYNNE FRITH: The Government have chosen the most disadvantaged who they feel they can make the biggest difference for, and teenagers who’ve had very little support, who found it very difficult in school, who’ve had lots of other issues and can’t support themselves really, as a target group. There’s lots of evidence from America that actually supports this programme.
PAUL STAINTON: Well Lynette Burrows is a social commentator, writer and broadcaster, lives in Cambridge. Morning Lynette.
LYNETTE BURROWS: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: So, this is going to make all the difference, isn’t it?
LYNETTE BURROWS: Oh yeah. Rather! Like all the other Government initiatives on this kind of business. No, I think it’s an absolute waste of money. Of course it’s nice to have help, and it’s not criticising the target group at all. It’s just that their targets never work at all, not in anything. It’s just more bureaucrats that it always ends up as. And of course actually putting more people with access to your home, when you’re vulnerable, and you’ve got a child, I just don’t think it’s a very good idea. I wouldn’t trust the Government officials not to take it upon themselves to remove your child, because they didn’t think you were a good enough mother. They’re doing it at an unprecedented rate of nearly 1,000 a month, and a lot of those are very very cruel and unnecessary. And I think there’s an awful lot of people who are disadvantaged that actually fear and loathe the social services, and one wouldn’t want anybody else to have access to your home that would have access to them and put you in their group.
PAUL STAINTON: But to be honest, when I had a new baby nine years ago, that first night, I could have done with somewhere to turn. I could have done with a bit of help, a bit of advice. Don’t you think the other people in that boat who are frantically searching through the leaflets they give you as to why this baby’s crying their eyes out, and panicking.
LYNETTE BURROWS: Yes of course. Can you think of any area in life where at some point or other you couldn’t do with a bit of help?
PAUL STAINTON: But surely this will help, won’t it?
LYNETTE BURROWS: Yes but at what cost? It’s not somebody that’s just going to materialise off a Christmas tree and come and see you and give you help. It’s going to be an office block of bureaucrats working away, all being paid out of public funds. And at the end of the day, they’re not going to produce anything worthwhile. And they might well be just another intrusive force within the family.
PAUL STAINTON: Well Lynn Frith was on earlier saying the current system works. They’ve helped many many people.
LYNETTE BURROWS: Well of course she would, wouldn’t she? What else would she say? No I’m not doing anything very important that couldn’t be done by family members or anybody else? They’re bound to say that. They’re bureaucrats.
PAUL STAINTON: And you think people are going to be scared of letting the big social monster into their house?
LYNETTE BURROWS: I think they would, with very good reason. It’s very alarming, the things that one sees that happen in this area, where people who are just not competent just lose their children. And there’s no publicity because it’s secret courts. It’s all done very secretively. And it will only be thirty years later like in Australia in the last week, I think, where they publicly apologised for their social policies with regards to unmarried mothers and children that was thirty years ago. And I thought, how ironic. They’ll be doing that in thirty years from now.
PAUL STAINTON: You’ve got a very apocalyptic view of it all.
LYNETTE BURROWS: No. It’s just that .. you referred to it as a monster. It’s a growing monster, tentacles everywhere. They’re never there to come in and smash your family, are they? They’re always there to help. But, when they’ve got the power to come into your house, and you welcome them in, and then you find that they’re there, they actively can judge you and decide that you’re not good enough. You don’t meet their criteria, whatever that is. And without any by your leave, your child is taken away. You can’t get a public hearing for what’s happened. And you’re on your own then.
PAUL STAINTON: Lynette, thank you for your point of view this morning. Lynette Burrows, social commentator, writer and broadcaster from Cambridge.