Was speaker at the London Baby P march, petition presentation and rally today. This was basically a grassroots wave of expression of feelings – started by Tracy, Amanda and Antonia on Facebook – and escalating today into 17 marches across the length and breadth of the country.
They handed in a 20,000 name petition to Downing Street and then marched on to Trafalgar Square to the rally. It poured with rain throughout – and I had thought that might reduce the numbers and atmosphere – but no – they were more determined than ever.
There were a number of speakers amongst whom I was one – interspersed with songs and poems. There were many moving speeches by mothers who were there because they, like the rest of Britain, could not bear to think of Baby P’s suffering and death.
The organisers wanted to give everyone an opportunity to demonstrate the depth of feeling about the failures that led to Baby P’s death. They want to make sure that the whole of children’s services is revolutionised – and they were categoric that this was not a witch hunt – but a plea for real change. They want to keep Baby P high on the agenda and they still want to push for a public inquiry – to answer the myriad of questions left untouched by Ed Balls’s actions so far. They have been about the core front line issues of practice and management in children’s services – but not the wider issues.
Wider issues such as the nature of inspections (Ofsted giving a three star rating shortly before the Ed Balls ordered investigation damning Haringey), the budgetary pressures that may have meant that staff were told not to take children into care in Haringey, the outsourcing of the child health team by Haringey Primary Care Trust (PCT) to Great Ormond Street so that the Trust when challenged said ‘not me gov’, the warnings that were continually ignored in Haringey, the secrecy and hiding of documents and many, many more.
Important though fixing front line services is – these other issues can also cause future tragedies and so also need addressing. That’s why a deeper and wider investigation is absolutely vital.