Tagged: Fenham

Families stage ‘messy march’ against Sure Start cuts in Newcastle

Families staged a ‘messy march’ in Newcastle against cuts that could see a £5m reduction in funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres.

The figure amounts to about a 65% of the total budget for the service.

Protesters say if the proposal went through it could mean the city’s most vulnerable families would be left without childcare and vital support.

A series of themed protests – including a ‘teddy bear’s picnic’ – have been staged in recent weeks, and organiser Vanessa Cutter, 32, explained the thinking around Saturday’s event at Grey’s Monument.

The mum-of-three of Fenham, Newcastle, said:

A messy march is a child centred protest march where children do what they do best – make a mess and be noisy.

“It serves several purposes – we want to show the council that we are willing to take action, demonstrate and fight against their proposed 65% cuts to Sure Start services.

“We want to show them that if they close two thirds of centres then the city’s children will have nowhere to go.

“The council seems keen to invest lots of money in businesses and the city centre, but if that comes at the cost of children’s services then we will have to play in the areas they do invest in.”

All of Newcastle’s 20 Sure Start centres are now up for review as city councillors iron out their final budget proposals for the year 2014/2015.

Many councils across the North are struggling to make similar savings – or cuts – including Middlesbrough.

Mayor Ray Mallon announced in January £14.9m of cuts – in addition to more than £40m removed from the council’s budget over the last three years – will lead to the loss of around 300 jobs. Amongst departments are children’s services.

Sure Start was a Labour flagship policy from 1998, its aim was “giving children the best possible start in life” through improvement of childcare, early education, health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.

In Newcastle 50% of the services are delivered by the council and 50% by the Community and Voluntary Sector. The city council has estimated for the work it directly delivers, the cuts will equate to the loss of 63 full time equivalent posts.

The protestors say the proposals, if carried out, will see the budget slashed by £5m by 2016. This would mean the closure of services, buildings, parents groups and activities for children aged under five across the city.

Mum-of-two Anna Snaith, 28, of Heaton said:

“I am very upset that two out of three options for the future of services in my area include completely closing down the Ouseburn Family Centre which I regularly attend.

“The team there are fantastic and offer so much support to parents as well as children in a wide range of areas. The centre, like all Sure Start centres, promote health and well being for all families which is vital for communities. These services are the future for our children therefore I cannot understand how closing down any of them can be an option at all for our council!”

A council spokesman said previously:

“The city council is facing a considerable financial challenge, to find £100m in savings between 2013 and 2016.

“We share people’s concerns about the future of our Sure Start centres – they provide an important and well-loved service to families across the city – but the severity of the cuts leaves us with no choice but to consider further reductions.

“Nothing has been decided yet and we will be asking people to have their say with a big public consultation in September.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 13 Sept 2014

Newcastle parents protest against cuts to the Sure Start budget which will affect vulnerable families

Battling parents staged a ‘Teddy Bears Protest’ outside Newcastle City Council against cuts that could see a £5m reduction in funding for Sure Start Children’s Centres.

The figure amounts to about a 65% of the total budget for the service. Protesters say if the proposal went through it could mean the city’s most vulnerable families would be left without childcare and vital support.

Scores of mums and dads with their kids, along with Sure Start workers, converged on Newcastle Civic Centre for the colourful event, one of many that organisers ‘Parents Against Cuts’ have lined up in the run-in to the council’s budget implementation in October.

Spokeswoman Vanessa Cutter of Fenham, Newcastle, said: “We want to let the council know that they’re in for a fight.”

She said at a previous event earlier this month – a picnic in the Civic Centre grounds – Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes spoke to the protestors.

Vanessa said: “While he sympathised with us, he said there was nothing he can do as it was to do with Government cuts.

“But isn’t his role as leader of the council to fight for the people of Newcastle?

“We’re not putting ourselves above other services. We just think the cuts are too deep and the nearer the council can get to zero per cent cuts the better for us.”

All of Newcastle’s 20 Sure Start centres are now up for review as city councillors iron out their final budget proposals for the year 2014/2015.

A Labour flagship policy from 1998, its aim was “giving children the best possible start in life” through improvement of childcare, early education, health and family support, with an emphasis on outreach and community development.

In Newcastle 50% of the services are delivered by the council and 50% by the Community and Voluntary Sector. The city council has estimated for the work it directly delivers, the cuts will equate to the loss of 63 full time equivalent posts.

The protestors say the proposals, if carried out, will see the budget slashed by £5m by 2016. This would mean the closure of services, buildings, parents groups and activities for children aged under five across the city.

They say it will make a deteriorating situation even worse on the back of cuts which have seen the axing of council play and youth services last year.

Yvonne Holliman, 33, of the Montagu Estate, Newcastle, said of Sure Start: “It was an absolute lifeline for me. When my son, Josh, was born I suffered from Post Natal Depression and had nowhere to go at first.

“I was referred to Sure Start by my Health Visitor as are others have been. If it had not been there I don’t know what I would have done, maybe lapsed into a deeper depression.

“I got a chance to go somewhere to meet other parents and my son had kids to play with in a safe environment.

“At the end of the day, if the cuts are carried out, it will be the kids who suffer.”

Dad Rob Forster, 28, from Byker said: “I’m here to show support for the programme which supported my family.

“I don’t care about the financial side of it, it’s the social aspect I’m concerned about and the impact it will have on families.”

Dad Richard Cutter, 40, husband of Vanessa, said: “If the council closes these down now it will create a whole lot of social problems further down the line.

“The North East is one of the most deprived areas in the country and Sure Start helps provide tremendous support for the less well off. People who need help with raising kids, it teaches them about society and the community and means we are less likely to hear about problems of crime with them.

“It’s not just about the impact now, it’s about the impact it will have on Newcastle in the future.”

A council spokesman said: “The city council is facing a considerable financial challenge, to find £100m in savings between 2013 and 2016. We share people’s concerns about the future of our Sure Start centres – they provide an important and well-loved service to families across the city – but the severity of the cuts leaves us with no choice but to consider further reductions. Nothing has been decided yet and we will be asking people to have their say with a big public consultation in September.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 July 2014

Sexual Assults On jobseekers in 1970s & 80s

A doctor who carried out medical assessments on North-East job seekers would have faced sex assault charges had he still been alive, police have told his victims.

 

Hundreds of young people were made to strip and submit to intimate medical examination by Dr Gordon Bates during the 70s and 80s.

 

Dr Bates, who worked from home in Newcastle, carried out medical assessments for a public and private sector companies, including Barclays Bank.

 

But instead of giving them a general check-up, he ordered them to remove their clothes and carried out unnecessary intimate examinations.

 

Barclays said last night that it had informed police as soon as the allegations came to light last year.

 

Dr Bates was not an employee of Barclays. At the time, he was used by a number of other organisations for pre-employment medical assessments which took place at his home surgery in Fenham, Newcastle.

 

The Northern Echo understands that he also provided services to a Government agency.

 

Many victims hid their suffering for decades until a police investigation confirmed what they had always known.

 

Although many originally came from the Tyneside area police say they have been contacted by people from across the region, including County Durham.

 

Detectives found the medic, who died in 2009, aged 73, made parents wait outside so he could see the young patients alone at his examination rooms.

 

Northumbria Police interviewed more than 150 people who were sent to the doctor during a three-month investigation. Detectives acknowledge that there may be even more.

 

Officers have now written to 48 of victims to say that if Dr Bates had still been alive “there would be sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution” for sexual assault.

 

 

The others have been told that, while there would not have been enough evidence to prosecute under the law then in force, the doctor’s behaviour could have been seen as professional misconduct and may have been referred to the General Medical Council.

 

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “We can confirm that Northumbria Police received a number of allegations of sexual assault dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, made against a man who is now deceased.

 

“The allegations related to pre-employment medical examinations carried out on behalf of Barclays Bank.

 

“All of the allegations have been thoroughly investigated by specialist officers.

 

“Forty-eight of the allegations have been recorded as criminal acts. 

 

“All of the complainants have been informed of the outcome of the investigation.

 

“Northumbria Police worked closely with Barclays Bank throughout the enquiry and any further allegations which may come to light will be fully investigated.”

 

Solicitor Chris Shaw, who is acting for dozens of people sent to the GP, plans to bring legal action against Barclays.

 

Mr Shaw, whose firm Shaw and Co Solicitors is based in Newcastle, said many victims were still having difficulty coming to terms with what happened. Some have not even told their partners.

 

He said: “These are otherwise confident, competent people. Most of them have been professionally successful and are now running their own businesses.

 

“At the time they were just young naive people. If you think back 30 years to how things were then, doctors were absolutely implicitly trusted. They didn’t have the life experience to know this was wrong.”

 

A spokesman for Barclays said: “Last year Barclays became aware of an allegation about a GP who conducted pre-employment medicals in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

 

“The information was immediately shared with the Northumbria Police, who have investigated the allegations.

 

“Barclays has done all it can to help the police enquiry and to support employees involved in this sensitive investigation.”

Source – Northern Echo,  10 March 2014