BASW Cymru urge Wales First Minister to change the guidance on shopping for essential items
Families and foster carers must be able to buy clothes for looked after children who are placed in an emergency
BASW Cymru and co-signatories pen an open letter to the Welsh Government to raise significant concerns on the unintended consequences of the restrictions relating to what constitutes ‘essential shopping items’, following the implementation of the latest Covid-19 ‘firebreak’.
Dear First Minister
BASW Cymru and the co-signatories to this letter support the measures taken by Welsh Government to protect the citizens of Wales in the latest ‘fire-break’ restrictions.
We do, however, wish to raise what we are sure, are the unintended consequences of the restrictions relating to what constitutes ‘essential shopping items’ and a potential breach of Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Since the current restrictions were issued at 6pm on Friday 23rd October front-line social workers have shared with us, their direct experience of children and young people who have been removed from their family home, due to safeguarding concerns, in just the clothes they are wearing. The experience of the removal itself, was a source of trauma and this was compounded by the emergency carers being unable to buy suitable clothes for the children - clothing which included clean underwear and pyjamas.
Wales was the first UK nation to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic legislation and Article 27 - which relates to standards of living for children - is clear that appropriate clothing, is an Article 27 right.
Article 27 UNCRC
1. States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
2. The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for the child’s development.
3. States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing
Being unable to access proper clothing for children undergoing emergency safeguarding procedures, when the state is assuming temporary care of a child, appears a breach of Article 27, UNCRC and is clearly not what was intended by Welsh Government in deciding the current restrictions.
Whilst this is a real time example, we are also concerned that there may be the further cases where children, young people and vulnerable adults will be further disadvantaged such as:
- women and young children fleeing domestic abuse
- asylum seeking children
- those with medical conditions that impact on bedding/clothing requirements.
The impact of poverty makes it unlikely that vulnerable people/families will have the resources to stock up and plan for the restrictions.
Whilst the duration of the ‘firebreak’ is a little over 2 weeks, the impact of the measures as detailed above, on already traumatised children and young people, may not be so short-lived.
We urge the First Minister to change the guidance on shopping for essential items so that family/foster carers can buy clothes for looked after children who are placed in an emergency. By doing so, Welsh Government will be compliant with Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child and any further impact to the dignity and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people will be minimised.
Allison Hulmes – National Director, BASW Cymru
Jo Kennedy – Social Work Manager
Joel Nathan Price – Front-Line Social Worker and BASW Cymru Committee Member
Neeta Baicher – Chair, BASW Cymru