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The Open University launches scholarship fund to support carers

Source: The Open University published on this site Friday 14th June 2019 by Jill Powell

The Open University has this week launched The Carers Scholarships Fund, which will provide 50 UK-based carers with a full fee-waiver scholarship of up to £18,000 to study an OU course of their choice. To ensure young adult carers are encouraged to apply, 15 places have been reserved for those between the ages of 18-28.

As we mark Carers Week (10-16 June), it is reported that there are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers, providing unpaid support for a family member or friend with an illness, disability, mental health condition or addiction. The tasks that they perform can be unexpected and difficult to plan around; disrupting everyday life, from relationships and health to finances and work. The practicalities of studying can be difficult for carers of any age, who often feel guilty about going to university or find it difficult to commit to a timetable because of their responsibilities.

The OU is the ideal place for carers to study, it has an open access entry policy and a distance learning model that provides the most flexible way to study. Online assignment submission, discussion groups and contact with tutors ensures that those who cannot attend face-to-face tutorials do not miss out. Registered carers are also able to access tailored advice from the OU’s Student Support Team, who have a distinct understanding of the challenges that carers may face.

The Carers Scholarships Fund is supported by the Carers Trust and Carers UK, and Dame Philippa Russell DBE, Vice President of Carers UK, is acting as an ambassador of the scheme.

Ex-youth football coach jailed for over 24 years for abusing boys

Source: Crown Prosecution Service published on this site Thursday 13th June 2019 by Jill Powell

An ex-youth football coach who carried out a 20 year campaign of sexual abuse while working at two major English football clubs has been sentenced to 24 years and 3 months imprisonment today at Winchester Crown Court  for the abuse of boys.

Bob Higgins, 66, abused youngsters who crossed his path while he was coaching at Southampton Football Club and Peterborough United between 1971 and 1996.

He was famous for spotting and nurturing a number of talented players who went on to achieve significant success in the game, both nationally and internationally.  

Claire Booth of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Many young boys dream of becoming a footballer and training for a prestigious team.

“Bob Higgins preyed on and abused young boys – some of who adored him – and in doing so tainted and shattered the dreams of many.

“Being scouted by such a talented renowned coach was not something you would have turned down. Sadly it meant some had to grow up with this terrible secret, which for some was all-consuming.”

The jury at Bournemouth Crown Court heard how Higgins used his notoriety and the power that came with his coaching role to gain their trust as well as exploiting the trust of their parents.

When some of the boys challenged Higgins he told them that if they spoke up, no one would believe them and their future would be in jeopardy.

The CPS was able to present evidence of how some of the victims, now adults, have been affected by Bob Higgins’ criminal behaviour. One victim, Billy Seymour, tragically died before this prosecution but whose evidence was still used in this trial.

Claire Booth added: “We would like to thank all the victims who came forward and who had the courage to face Bob Higgins, as well as their families and all the witnesses.

“We now hope that with this sentence all of the victims in this case will be able to find some closure.”

Claire Booth of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The Crown Prosecution Service demonstrated to the jury that Bob Higgins was a predatory paedophile who applied a systematic and pervasive pattern of behaviour on each victim.

“More than 20 victims gave evidence and told the jury a similar account of him touching them while he was driving them to or from a match, touching their legs and/or their groins and abusing them at his home.

“This could not be a coincidence and as most of the victims did not know each other or had not spoken for years since their footballing days, there could be no suggestion of collusion.

“Many calls were made to the NSPCC helpline following ex-footballer Andy Woodward’s revelation of childhood abuse* on television. They were all investigated and gave a clear picture of the nature and extent of Bob Higgins’ offending.

“Bob Higgins denied throughout this case any wrongdoing.  Thanks to this prosecution we have been able to prove that his actions were criminal.”

Concerns under-fives are becoming addicted to social media

Source: Barnardo’s published on this site Tuesday 11th June 2019 by Jill Powell

Concerns under-fives are becoming addicted to social media and the impact of cyberbullying are highlighted in a new report published by Barnardo’s.

‘Left to their Own Devices’, which assesses the impact of social media on children’s mental health makes for disturbing reading, while also recognising the many positives the online world can offer.

The children’s charity surveyed some of its children’s services practitioners to build a picture of how the vulnerable children and young people it supports are affected by social media.

Their insights indicate some children start looking at social media as early as two-years-old. Half of service practitioners responding said they had worked with children aged five to 10 who had been exposed to unsuitable or harmful materials online, and more than one third said children in that age group had been victims of cyberbullying.

When it comes to 11-15 year olds, almost 8 in 10 (79%) practitioners said children they work with have experienced cyberbullying and 58% in the 16+ age group which has led to self-harm and suicide attempts.

Almost fourth fifths of practitioners surveyed (78%) also said they had worked with children in this age group who had been groomed online and 78% also said they'd worked with children in this age group who had accessed unsuitable/harmful content.

One 11-year-old was supported by Barnardo’s after being driven to try and take her own life after being cyberbullied by children who discovered her dad had been jailed and was on the sex offenders’ register.

She said: “I got horrible messages from children saying ‘Your dad’s a pervert Grace, you might as well just kill yourself now’.

“I couldn’t tell my mum because some of them said horrifying things about her too and I didn’t want her to be upset and crying all the time again.

“Due to the comments, I began to hate myself and felt ‘outside’ of everything so then I tried to kill myself.”

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “Although the internet offers incredible opportunities to learn and play, it also carries serious new risks from cyberbullying to online grooming.

“And, as our new report shows, these risks can have a devastating impact on the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children.

“Recently, the Government has proposed welcome changes that would help regulate the internet and make it safer for children. It’s vital that the next Prime Minister keeps up the momentum and focuses specifically on protecting the most vulnerable.

“Our new report also calls for more research to help us understand the impact of social media on children’s mental health; high quality education for children, parents and professionals; and a focus on wellbeing in every school. 

“Children today see the internet as a natural part of their world. Our job as a society is to make sure children are protected online just as they are offline.”

Charity Commission reports on inquiry into Oxfam GB:

Source: Charity Commission published on this site Wednesday 12th June 2019 by Jill Powell

Charity Commission publishes critical report on Oxfam GB, finding that aspects of the charity’s past record on safeguarding amount to mismanagement, and takes regulatory action.

Charities are being warned that no charity is more important than the people it serves or the mission it pursues, and that all are judged on their actions, not their words.

It comes as the regulator publishes a critical report on Oxfam GB, and finds that the charity repeatedly fell below standards expected, had a culture of tolerating poor behaviour, and concludes that it failed to meet promises made on safeguarding, ultimately letting everyone down.

The inquiry finds the charity failed to heed warnings, including from its own staff, that its culture and response around keeping people safe was inadequate, and made commitments to safeguarding that were not matched by its actions.

The report, which takes into account over 7,000 items of evidence, examines the charity’s handling of events in Haiti, and separately its more recent record on protecting people, including its beneficiaries, volunteers and staff, from harm.

It concludes that some of the charity’s failings and shortcomings amount to mismanagement, and the Commission has used its powers to issue Oxfam GB with an Official Warning, and Directions under Section 84 of the Charities Act 2011.

“Missed opportunities and a flawed response” – Oxfam GB and Haiti 2011

The regulator finds that the then executive of Oxfam GB mishandled aspects of its response to allegations of misconduct in Haiti in 2011.

Overall, the Commission concludes that there had been a “culture of poor behaviour” and poor accountability among staff in Haiti at the time, of which individuals took advantage.

The Commission also finds that the charity’s reports to donors and the Commission itself were “not as full and frank about the nature and seriousness of the incidents and problems in Haiti as they should have been”. The inquiry’s view is that Oxfam GB’s approach to disclosure and reporting was marked, at times, by a desire to protect the charity’s reputation and donor relationships.

Specifically, the inquiry found that the charity:

did not adequately follow-up whether victims of sexual misconduct in Haiti were minors

did not report allegations of child abuse by Oxfam GB staff in Haiti, failing to take the risks to alleged victims seriously enough

dealt with staff members implicated in sexual misconduct in Haiti inconsistently, notably by appearing to treat senior staff more leniently than junior staff

missed opportunities to identify and tackle early warnings before the events in Haiti in 2011

“Repeatedly failed to meet promises made”– Oxfam GB’s wider record on safeguarding

The inquiry also examined Oxfam GB’s wider approach to safeguarding, historically, and more recently, and concluded that the charity’s own commitments and promises in the past were not always matched by its actions.

Carers Week 10th - 16th June 2019

Source: carersweek.org published on this site Monday 10th June 2019 by Jill Powell

 This Carers Week 2019, we're coming together to help carers get connected. There are 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers. They will be looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness or who needs extra help as they grow older.

To find out more go to https://www.carersweek.org/about-us

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