I care passionately about children on the Isle of Man. However, I am no longer the Chief Minister’s Children’s Champion. I felt compelled to resign following a revision of the terms of reference circulated to me for comment at the end of March 2018. This narrowed the focus of the role to looked after and vulnerable children only.
While I appreciate young people in care need a particular focus and support, I have been inspired by the young people I have met, many of whom have contributed to the Corporate Parenting Group that I have had the honour of chairing. However, the majority of people who contacted me in my 18 months as Children’s Champion would fall outside the new job remit. I therefore, reluctantly, have stood down from the position in order to pursue the many issues that have been brought to my attention.
Certain issues raised with me that fall outside the revised job role, which I intend to pursue, include:
- Mental health provision for children and young people
- Healthcare provision generally for children
- Supporting policies to reduce childhood obesity and to improve oral health
- Introducing legislation to enable no fault divorce
- Pressing DHA to introduce legislation to enable pre-recorded testimony by vulnerable witnesses
- Provision of a contact centre for private law matters before the Family Court
- Holiday hunger – seeking action over increased use of the Foodbank by families during summer holidays
- Provision of special education needs
- Roll-out of allergy policy in schools
- Adequacy of play and leisure facilities for children and young people around the Isle of Man
- Promoting discussion over future Education department policies in respect of religious education; school resources; home schooling; catchment areas; benchmarking attainment and quality assessments.
I am grateful to the Chief Minister for his kind comments in his reply to my resignation. However, it is apparent that we disagree fundamentally in the approach we feel is appropriate to best champion the needs and rights of children and young people on the Isle of Man at this time.