Barnardos urges Government to make a firm commitment to children in 2018
Demand for Barnardos’ services increased again in 2017, the organisation revealed today. According to preliminary figures, the children’s charity supported more than 14,869 children and families in 2017 compared with 14,163 in 2016.
Fergus Finlay, CEO, Barnardos, said: “Every year Barnardos works with hundreds of families facing a wide spectrum of challenges. In 2017 we worked with more families and children than ever before. Homelessness, lack of access to vital health services, family discord, parental addiction and / or mental health difficulties, bereavement and loss are among the many reasons why families come to Barnardos. We work with these families to support children’s social and emotional development, improve family relationships and encourage every child to fulfil their potential. We will continue this work through 2018, as well as continuing to challenge society where it fails them. Every child is born with unlimited potential, we need to protect, nourish and unleash this potential and we will all be the richer for it.”
Barnardos Head of Advocacy, June Tinsley, said: “In 2017 we witnessed the escalation of two critical issues which are putting many families under extreme stress – homelessness and medical waiting lists. 3,333 children were living in emergency accommodation at the end of November 2017. Hundreds, potentially thousands more are living in inappropriate and crowded accommodation with extended family and friends. The steady rise in the number of homeless children throughout 2017 has made it clear that the Government’s approach is not sufficient to tackle this ever-worsening crisis. Meanwhile, thousands of children are kept waiting for essential public health services, particularly mental health services and speech and language therapy. Depending on where you live in the country, many are waiting for over a year for an initial assessment – some even longer than two years.
“Childhood is a time of rapid development, if a child is missing key supports –the effects can be felt for a lifetime. Having proper supports in place can mean the difference between poverty or stability, a safe home or homelessness, health and development or illness and delay. The time has come for the Government to turn words into action and make a firm commitment to children in Ireland – a commitment to safeguard their childhood and their potential. 2018 must see the Government investing in quality public services when and where they are needed most, services that support families and protect children.”