Housing for young people must be more secure

Home is where the heart is or so they say. How we would feel not to have a base? How would we feel to live in one where we were exposed to drugs, violence and misery? Report of Barnardo's, No Fixed Abode illustrated how a lack of co-ordination and leadership from central government has meant that children are confronted with a postcode lottery when it comes to securing a safe roof over their heads.

But it is not just young people coming out of custody who are struggling to find safe accommodation. Children who are sexually exploited are often being placed in accommodation without trained staff who understand the impact of such abuse or feel confident managing those risks. When girls under the age of 18 need to flee domestic violence, we cannot offer them a place in a refuge, as these have historically catered for adult women. Yet national campaigns such as Is This Abuse run by the Home Office last year, highlighted that young women under 18 also experience extreme domestic violence, particularly if they do not live in the family home.

At present there is nowhere to house them, apart from secure children's homes or other forms of residential care, which do not specialize in domestic abuse or partner violence between young people.

While I was working with children affected by gang violence, "foyers" (a form of supported housing for vulnerable children and young people, and mother and baby units) would contact me, concerned for the safety and wellbeing of residents who were being coerced and exploited by gangs to store drugs and weapons, through threats of sexual or physical violence. Once again, staff is not trained to respond to those risks or know where to refer these young people on to for further support, and the children, some of the most vulnerable in society, continue to face danger and victimisation on a daily basis.

In extreme situations, young women in dangerous relationships can be placed in secure accommodation. These settings rarely have staff that are trained in domestic or sexual violence, and services for under-18s are often mixed gender.

Local authorities all have a statutory duty to house a child. What we have failed to ensure is that this housing is always suitable or safe. At a time of financial cuts we have to invest in children to avoid long-term costs to the public purse and to public safety the Barnardo's report demonstrated that it costs an extra £67,000 per child when we fail to provide them with suitable accommodation upon leaving custody. Investing in welfare will mean that we reduce the bill for punishing offenders and supporting victims.

If we want the "rehabilitation revolution", we need to invest in children by providing the basics of accommodation, healthcare and education in order to keep them safe and secure. We have a choice pay for the offending and victimisation of children, or pay for their safety and security and I know where I would rather put my money.


The mental health strategy needs more family focus

The coalition's plan for making psychological therapies more widely available to different groups, including children and young people, is a welcome step forwards in mental health.

However, given the new mental health strategy's encouraging focus on early intervention for children and young people, it should offer more in the way of a family-focused vision.

Up to 450,000 adults with mental health difficulties are also parents. Parental and child mental health are closely linked. As well as being at increased risk of child poverty and being taken into care, the children of parents with mental health difficulties are twice as likely to experience a psychiatric disorder.

While adults may succeed in obtaining treatment for mental health difficulties, health and social services often fail to consider the impact upon their family members - and often don't want to pay for family-focused support.

Both a large body of clinical evidence and the experience of Family Action shows that parents with mental health difficulties can be great parents providing they get support to manage their condition, run their household and care for their children.

The prevention of children's mental health difficulties, therefore, starts more often than not with integrated health and social services support for their parents.

Services like Family Action's support families in their own homes. We work with the parent to create a healthy lifestyle that stabilises their condition. As problems with poor housing and finances can cause and exacerbate mental health difficulties, we help people to secure more appropriate accommodation, and claim any benefits they should be receiving.

We also work with parents to improve their relationship with their children, to support their children's learning and to set boundaries and routines for them. As local support networks make parents and children happier we will also get them involved in their communities, whether that means a swimming club for mum or dad or a Sure Start place for their child. We also support parents to volunteer or enter training or work.

But too many parents with mental health problems don't get these integrated services, because at £4000 a family many commissioners deem them too expensive. They are also at the mercy of an unsympathetic and inadequate welfare system. They and their children are left to struggle against the odds without support, and this is getting worse with cuts and welfare reform. Hence, our Against All Odds campaign calls for improvements to family-focused services and welfare provision.

Worryingly, the starting point of the new mental health strategy's main initiative for families is not the safety and well-being of children, but helping families with multiple problems gain access to work.

On website Harrison says: "Every family will have their own 'Emma' able to use every existing resource to help them get going, face up to and sort out their problems ... it will involve helping people into meaningful employment"

There's no mention of the mental health strategy and whether the "family Emma" will prevent children's mental health problems developing is not something she's guaranteeing.



Elizabethan era

Elizabethan era, also known as the golden age, is most famous for its virgin Queen Elizabeth I. Off course that is not the only reason why it's called the golden age. The culture, music, clothing, food, customs, literature, not to mention the famous people such as William Shakespeare and explorers like Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake, have each contributed to make this era very special and memorable in the European history.

Elizabethan Era Life. It was the age of the Renaissance so lots of new ideas pertaining to literature, science, education and religion began affecting the way people lived their lives. But mostly, the life of the people in the Elizabethan era depended on the class they belonged to. Family ties were very strong among the village people and professions were passed on from one generation to another. The women were considered inferior to men, both in lower classes as well as upper classes and depended on men for all kinds of support. For entertainment, people looked towards theater and sports. Gambling, hunting, hawking, archery, dog and cock fights, wrestling, skittles, bear and bull baiting, and hammer-throwing, were the most popular sports of the Elizabethan era. Many new types of theater flourished which produced some of the best plays in English Language. Some of the popular theaters of the Elizabethan era were the Globe, the Curtain Elizabethan Theatre, the Bull Ring and the Hope Elizabethan Theatre, the Swan Theatre, Newington Butts and the Boars Head.

Elizabethan Era Clothing. The clothing in Elizabethan era was very elaborate. Both men and women of the Elizabethan era were very fashion-conscious. They went to great lengths, such as importing fabrics from all over the world, to use in their clothing. The commonly used fabrics were silk, velvet and fur. However, the lower classes could only wear clothes in fabrics like linen, wool and sheepskin.
The kind of clothing one could opt for depended a lot on the Sumptuary Laws passed by Queen Elizabeth. According to them, only the queen and her relatives could wear clothing in which golden embellishments were used. Some of the popular ornaments and embellishments used in the Elizabethan era were brocades, laces, embroidery, velvets, ribbons, buttons and cords.

Elizabethan Era Music. As Queen Elizabeth herself was a music lover, she greatly patronized musicians in her court. Religious church music, dance music and ballads were often played at the court. In addition, it was not just the elites; people belonging to all the classes became interested in singing and performing. While the lower classes preferred to sing themselves during family dinners, the rich people who could afford more, hired musicians to play Elizabethan music for them during parties and get-together.

Some other forms of music that became popular during this era were street music and theater music. William Shakespeare's plays of this era, usually had poems accompanied by music, which were very aptly used to express all kinds of emotions. Some of the famous musical instruments of this era were - virginal, lute, trumpet, hautboy, big clarions, harp, sackbuts and viol.

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