Below is my interview with Radio 5 Live on May 8th 2018. I was asked to speak following my parliamentary debate on children missing from care.
I spoke in Parliament about the soaring numbers of vulnerable children being forced to live in children’s homes many miles away and the rise in missing incidents.
Since 2012, the number of children in Children’s Homes who are placed out of their local area has soared by 64%. This means that 61% of children in Children’s Homes are now sent to live outside their Borough.
The All Party Group for runaway and missing children and adults heard that these vulnerable children are more likely to go missing. By going missing they are at greater risk of sexual exploitation and grooming by criminal gangs to supply firearms and drugs.
Since 2015, the number of missing incidents involving these children has skyrocketed by 110%.
Last month in Stockport, 65% of children who went missing from Stockport Care Homes were placed by other authorities.
For more information please read the full press release here.
Tuesday May 8, 2018
The government has broken a promise to cut soaring numbers of children being “farmed out” to children’s homes vast distances from where they were brought up and live.
Ann Coffey, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, will use a Commons debate today (Tuesday) to say there is growing evidence that “a sent away generation” of vulnerable youngsters are in danger of falling prey to paedophiles and drugs gangs.
The government pledged to clampdown on so called out of borough placements five years ago but there has been a 64 per cent rise nationally in the number of children being sent to live away between 2012 and 2017.
There has also been a huge increase in the number of sent-away children going missing with the number of missing incidents more than doubling to almost 10,000 a year.
The closure of M&S in Stockport shows the effect that on line shopping is having on retail jobs. There will be different kinds of jobs in the future and different kind of skills will be needed. I am very keen to ensure that young people in Stockport get the further education and training they need to take advantages of the opportunities available in the future. I am also concerned that older people have the opportunity to learn new skills
There is a huge economic and social cost to our communities if young people cannot find employment because they don’t have the skills they need to progress and get a job. Some of these young people may have struggled at their local high school and are looking for an alternative to sixth form study which will still lead to good qualifications, work experience and a good job.
This is where our local Further Education College – Stockport College – plays a vital role. The College has courses for school leavers, it offers apprenticeships, adult education and also degree courses. I’ve been visiting Stockport College for many years, meeting students and talking to staff. I’ve been impressed by the students’ many achievements and success stories – for example in performing arts, health and social care, fashion, building and construction, engineering, business, motor mechanics and much more.
Stockport College is now entering a new chapter in its history as it merges with Trafford College to create a much larger body with ambitions to be the best college in Greater Manchester. I have supported the merger because it will bring much-needed investment in Stockport College and an improvement in the quality of the education on offer. I hope it will also mean stronger relationships between the College, employers and the local Council. A good local college can encourage more businesses to come to Stockport and create more jobs which will be good for the town’s economy.
I am meeting the new Principal, Lesley Davies, early next month and look forward to hearing more about her plans for the college – which will still be called Stockport College. I am confident that employability and high standards will be at the top of her list for the students in her care.