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National newspaper criticised for stigmatising children in care

People with care experience and social workers speak out against article published in The Times

Ashley John-Baptiste, left, co-hosting England's Social Worker of the Year Awards

Published by Professional Social Work magazine, 24 November, 2021

The Times newspaper has come under fire after publishing an article suggesting children’s homes provide “loveless care” likely to lead to a life of failure.

The leading column says: “However well-meaning the care home staff, however supportive the social workers, those taken into care face a loveless loneliness and a bleak future.”
The article goes on to say: “Sadly the cycle of deprivation can repeat itself. Drugs, gangs, a chaotic life and a craving for acceptance can lead to failure at school, crime, despair and prison. As Auden said, ‘Those to whom evil is done do evil in return’.”

BBC journalist Ashley John-Baptiste, who grew up to care and went on to study at Cambridge University, was among those taking to Twitter to express outrage at the comments. He said: “What an ignorant, short-sighted take on care kids.

John-Baptiste, who co-presented England’s Social Worker of the Year Awards earlier this month, added: “Peddling a v harmful stigma. No nuance or perspective. FYI, I was in a care home. I have love, community and my future is bright.”

Another care experienced Twitter user responded: “I lived in a children’s home and loved it, now passing the love onto other children that need it too.”

A former children’s home worker tweeted: “…there was a lot of love for and care taken of those who were there. We went to great lengths to give them positive experiences and help them to cope after they left, aged 16.”

Colin Pettigrew, corporate director for children and families with Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This has made me furious… What nonsense is this?”

He urged directors of children’s services to join him in writing to The Times about the “worrying narrative building to blame children, families and social work”.

Social worker Mark Trewin tweeted: “This is complete nonsense. What on Earth was The Times thinking of?”