Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Most years, a pair of swallows build a nest in our front porch, perched precariously on a door we never close. It makes one heck of a mess, but it is worth it to have nature interacting with us so closely. The eggs have been hatched for about 3 weeks now and mum and dad spend their time swooping for insects which they bring home to a chattering brood of four. On Monday morning, just before I zoomed off to the station, we noticed that the parents (and friends) were trying to coax the bewildered offspring out of the nest with much squawking and flapping. The time had come to spread their wings. Some of the fledglings were keener than others, but the parents never gave up. Now they are all flying and fending for themselves. These two birds have shown themselves to be great parents once again.
It is a healthy reminder of the importance of parents. There are 60,000 children in this country that are brought up in local authority care. They have not had the vital input from parents that our swallow chicks have enjoyed. These kids have experienced years of turbulence followed by an artificial state/family life that is starved of the close rough and tumble of family life that most of us have had. At age 16 or 18 they enter the big wide world with the name and telephone number of a busy social worker their only guaranteed source of help.
I am very pleased that the government has just appointed ex-Barnado boss Martin Narey as the new ministerial adviser on this subject. We simply have to do better at encouraging fostering and adoption, especially adoption. In recent years too many hurdles whether politically correct or bureaucratic have been raised. We need to demolish them.
The statistics on life outcomes of children looked after by the state make grim reading with crime, drugs and rough sleeping just around the corner for too many. After all, it is in the bosom of the family, warts and all, that we learn so many skills that equip us from life, and hopefully glean a positive self image along the way. I realise that this is not universal, but I hope applies to the majority.
This autumn Jan and I will be researching this subject in depth to see if we can contribute to better outcomes in our region. We can still learn from the swallows.

posted by Gary @ 12:56