All posts by Caroline Page

Lib Dem County Councillor for Woodbridge, Suffolk; Elected 2008, 2009,2013; LD spokesman, Transport; Vice-Chair Education Transport Appeals; Speed Limit Panel member ; Campaigns for Rural Transport, Buses, Rail, Cycling, Young People, Libraries, Disability, Epilepsy & Carers

Change a Suffolk Child’s Life Chances

Suffolk Adoption Agency is urgently appealing for more people to  consider adoption, and provide a permanent family for Suffolk’s looked-after children.

At the moment there are 27 children in Suffolk who need  to be adopted if they are going to have the same chances in life as their peers. 

Why is this?

Simply, we mean well by ‘care’ , we do our best, but right across the UK ‘looked-after’ children remain the most vulnerable  in society.  And although they need the most support, nationally the outcome for such children is dreadful.  35% of children in residential care leave at 16 and 56% before they turn 18. Almost half of those leaving care at 16 are not in education, employment or training when they reach 19. Nationally, children  in care are more likely to end up with worse exam results, to have poor mental and physical health, to be convicted of crimes, and unemployed or out of education.

All for the want of a family.

And this is simply because a ‘corporate parent’ is not and cannot be a parent.  An organisation – with the best will in the world – cannot replace a domestic bond.  It cannot love, it cannot nag, it cannot hope or fear or turn up proudly for graduations or weddings, or or remember birthdays and Christmas as a parent does.  And a parent is not just for Christmas – a parent is for life – for practical and emotional support in both directions through good times and bad. Who does a young person who has been a child in care fall back on?

For some ‘looked after’ children,  return to their birth family is simply not an option.

In Suffolk, 27 children are waiting to be adopted. The Suffolk Adoption Agency is particularly looking for families for children aged  over 3, for sibling groups and for children with disabilities.

National Adoption Week is 5-9th November. If you think you could change a child’s life changes, call 0800 389 9417, or go to the Suffolk Adoption Agency website 

Woodbridge County Councillor’s Surgery tomorrow!

Just a reminder that my Surgery is tomorrow in Woodbridge Library, 10am to noon, as ever.

I’ve had a lot of emails and phone-calls about many of the issues raised in our latest Focus (click here). Clearly feelings run high – and particularly on such matters as people speeding through the town, the closure of the Tourist Information Centre and our hooting/non hooting trains. If you still have to give me your views, or indeed want to follow them up face to face, this is a very good opportunity.

Shhh: Concessionary bus passes – the very QUIET Consultation

OK, the saga of Suffolk’s cheeseparing provision for bus passes for the disabled and elderly goes on and on.

Three weeks back SCC’s scrutiny committee decided that  Suffolk’s Conservative run County Council had NOT consulted fully, OR considered the impact of its decision (see here for details) when it reduced the terms of travel for Suffolk’s 140,000 passholders, 7,000 of whom are people holding disabled passes.

(And of which group I unexpectedly – about a year after this saga first started and I first got involved – became a member. Perhaps the Cabinet needs to ponder upon this. Make all your decisions about ‘them’ with care. Who knows  when ‘they’ may suddenly become ‘us’. Just saying).

I digress.

SCC  is now getting around to the consultation. And, bearing in mind it took them a full year to look at their decision the first time, they are moving pretty speedily, if remarkably quietly. So quietly that the Lib Dems  – as Councillors, as the SCC official opposition party, as the political group who asked for this to happen, and (in my own case, not only as spokesperson for Transport and representative of the elderly and disabled people of Woodbridge,  but also a disabled passholder,  and a 24/7 carer of another disabled passholder on my own account) – have been left out of the  loop completely.

I only heard about the consultation SCC is now doing for the Concessionary bus passes when it was mentioned in passing yesterday, by a spokesman for a specific disability group!

There are three elements to the consultation.

  1. A sample survey of the two user groups (that is, elderly pass holders, and disabled persons ) asking them to answer a questionnaire
    3% of pass holders eligible by age
    10% of pass holders eligible by disability
    20% of pass holders who have travel voucher;
  2. A survey monkey survey to the operators asking their experience of the concessionary fares scheme – eg. overcrowding issues ;
  3. Distribution of the questionnaire to user groups asking for comments either about the questionnaire or about the scheme itself:
    Optua
    RNIB
    Age Concern
    Outreach Youth
    Suffolk Family Carers
    Suffolk Consortium of User Led Organisations and Individual Disabled People.

Everyone else wishing to comment should do so via this email address: concessionarytravel@suffolk.gov.uk 

So, if this concerns you, don’t delay, email today.   The consultation finishes on November 9th!