Anthony Douglas CBE, from the Children & Family Court and Advisory & Support Service (Cafcass) has submitted his report on Services to Vulnerable Children and Adults on St Helena. This follows his visit to the Island in June to review how services across all parts of St Helena support the welfare and safety of vulnerable children and adults living on the Island. This visit was also used to determine how the UK Government can support the Overseas Territories in their commitment to ensuring the highest possible standards of protection for children.
Below is a summary of the report.
Services to Vulnerable Children
The report says that Services to vulnerable children have improved greatly since the time of adverse media coverage about care standards and practices on St Helena in 2014, which was one of the factors which led to the Wass Inquiry. The Inquiry report was published in December 2015. Following investment prior to and after the report’s publication, and stronger local leadership, over the last year especially, children are now being properly protected. Social work practice, police practice and support from other agencies have reached a good safe standard. The Governor; the Administration through the Chief Secretary, and Elected Members on St Helena have each prioritised child safeguarding and are showing collegiate leadership and long-term commitment. This is commendable considering the numerous other priorities which Island leaders are grappling with.
Services to Vulnerable Adults
services to those individual vulnerable adults, whose desperate living situations were highlighted in the Wass report, have also improved considerably. A model of person-centred care is being developed. However, further work is needed to bring adult social care services up to an acceptable standard. A similar level of investment and leadership to that in children’s services is needed over the next few years to improve services and to provide a safety net for vulnerable people. The ageing population on St Helena is an added demographic reason for Island leaders to take adult safeguarding as seriously as child safeguarding. The report contains a number of recommendations which Anthony has discussed with SHG and the FCO as to how these might be most constructively taken forward over the next three to five years.
One of the main recommendations arising from the report is combining the functions of the Safeguarding Children’s Board, Adult Safeguarding Board, multi-agency risk assessment conferences and multi-agency public protection arrangements into a single St Helena Safeguarding Board to encourage more shared working.
SHG will discuss with relevant stakeholders how to take forward these recommendations. The UK Government will continue to support St Helena’s work in this area.
Anthony and Michael Cotterall, from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spent a week on-Island between 23 and 30 June 2018 and met with all Elected Members, the Chief Secretary, SHG’s Core Leadership Group, and a range of professionals from the Health, Police, Education, and Safeguarding Directorates as well as the Attorney General’s Chambers. Most importantly, Anthony met with children who have experienced services for additional needs and parents who have worked with Children’s Services.
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17 August 2018