One of my fondest childhood memories is of clambering over rocks along the undercliff with my grandfather one gloriously sunny day during school holidays. My family emigrated when I was still a child, so I spent too little time with him and did not know him well. He had passed away by the time I returned to the UK as a young man.
It is our fear that the gaps in the net are getting larger and more families in crisis are falling through, unrecognised and receiving no help. This will have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing, leaving many problems to snowball rather than being resolved. Storing up problems cost us more as a society in the long term.
I think it is time to prioritise child abuse as a public health issue like heart disease, smoking and obesity. These diseases get a high profile in part because they have a cost, not only in human misery but also for the economy. The NSPCC is currently researching the economic costs to the UK of child sexual abuse and it is likely that it will be billions of pounds of year.
At Action for Children, we have reached a huge milestone - following our three-year campaign and thanks to the Ministry of Justice, the legal definition of child cruelty will include emotional as well as physical harm. This new law will change lives. I've met children and young people who have suffered intolerable emotional abuse at the hands of people who are supposed to love them most.
Following the conviction of Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek for the murder of four-year-old Daniel Pelka, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: "his death should be on all of our consciences." This is not a sentiment likely to be echoed by the media or the general public, who perhaps understandably lay the blame squarely on the professionals whose job it is to protect children. In the media blitz that accompanied the conviction, Mr Clegg and former children's minister Tim Loughton rushed to reassure the public that the government is doing everything possible to "reduce complexity and bureaucracy" in the child protection system, and that deaths like Daniel's are isolated cases. Government spin belies the reality of child protection.
Having spent three years working for a small charity, running a support and signposting service for young people, I decided the time was right to move on. During my final week, one of our volunteers approached and asked (very sweetly and with the best of intentions) "So, is it time to get a real job then?".
The Government can count on members of the Independent Children's Homes Association to co-operate enthusiastically as it implements reforms in the residential child care sector protecting and promoting the interests of vulnerable looked after children. The ICHA has long urged action and sought allies in pursuit of these goals.
In my opinion, youth unemployment is no longer a problem, but a disaster. When I saw the Battlefront job advertised I was attracted to it because it was a chance to use my journalistic skills and tackle a subject that has had a huge impact on me. It's something that had me feeling pretty low for a long time and I don't think it's fair young people should have to lower their expectations just because their environment or the economic climate they live in isn't prospering. I'm tackling youth unemployment because young people today are quickly becoming disillusioned with their lives and ambitions.
There is much of merit in the Prime Minister's speech concerning the riots. His emphasis on morality and questions of 'right and wrong' will resonate with many. However, such rhetoric may be an empty vessel unless based on robust research into the causes of and solutions to the social problems to which he refers. A voice to stand up for democratic freedoms is crucial, but so is a need to work within the society that social workers are part in this country if we are to build together, rather than tear down, supportive state welfare that benefits social, political and economic well-being for all.