I have yet another criticism to add to my catalogue of bugbears when it comes to Children in Need, it seems. Because Children in Need are in the news, and, instead of the reality, which is:
Under Section 17 Children Act 1989, a child will be considered in need if:
10) For the purposes of this Part a child shall be taken to be in need if—
(a)he is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a local authority under this Part;
(b)his health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services; or
(c)he is disabled,
and “family”, in relation to such a child, includes any person who has parental responsibility for the child and any other person with whom he has been living.
(11) For the purposes of this Part, a child is disabled if he is blind, deaf or dumb or suffers from mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be prescribed; and in this Part—
- “development” means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development; and
- “health” means physical or mental health. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/41/section/17.
Instead, we have visions of Pudsey and Blushes and telethons and auctions and cycling challenges for celebrities. It’s annoying. It muddies the water in the public mind which, as well as being annoying, is deeply unhelpful.
Mind you, that’s not the end of it. On Friday, I met with social workers in a personal capacity, to be informed that my son is now designated a Child in Need. This is true. He is disabled, and he has needs that mean the local authority must make (and indeed, have been making for some years) additional provision for him. For him, it is simple…but somehow it’s as if it is stigmatised; problematized.
Instead of being a statement of fact, it feels like a judgement. An administrative category has become a category.
So let me make something clear. Everyone needs a helping hand, once in a while. And that’s OK.