A Review of our May Talk - by Mary Champion

On Tuesday May 23rd we had an interesting talk by Hazel Russell and Caroline Walsh of the NSPCC.

Hazel spoke to us first and told us about the foundation in 1883 of the Liverpool Society for the Protection of Children - the first such charity in the country. Liverpool was a grim place for children and there were no laws to protect them. Thomas Agnew gathered rich colleagues to a meeting in the Town Hall and the Society was established. The next year a second society was founded in London, and soon became nationwide.

The world is still a dangerous place for children. In 2006 one in two of the children who die do so because of abuse. 32,700 children in the UK are on child protection registers. 25% of children have experienced some form of violence, and for 78% of these children this violence happens at home. Two key areas need to be enhanced: protecting children who are caught up in domestic violence and children who are born to mothers abusing drugs and alcohol. To help combat these issues the Liverpool NSPCC is building a new Centre - 'hug shaped' and child friendly - for which John Hargreaves of Matalan generously kick-started the appeal in 2004.

The new building will be the base for four key services: a greatly enhanced domestic violence team, a brand new service to young mothers abusing drugs, the investigation of cases of organised child abuse within the region, and an internet service where children can discuss their problems online with trained staff in total privacy. A site has been secured in Great Homer Street, building work will start in June and the Centre will open in April 2007.

Caroline Walsh - who, among other things, co-ordinates fundraising by small groups and helps with promoting events like the Big Bike Ride - then talked to us about the other work that is done by the NSPCC in Liverpool. Children who have witnessed violence are given counselling, as are the parents and grandparents. The service is to the whole family, the aim being to help people to change. The NSPCC also works in  schools, the Women's Hospital and Styal Prison.

This was a worthwhile and thought-provoking evening.

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