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A Child's Place in the Big Society - Family Law journal

Date:1 SEP 2010


It is a great privilege and pleasure to have been asked by Margaret Hodge and Patricia Hewitt to give the first lecture in memory of Henry Hodge. It is also a somewhat daunting task. At first sight I would not be an obvious choice to speak today, nor did I think my subject on children was obviously connected with a lecture in memory of Henry. There is however a strong connection between issues about children and his strong sense of social welfare was well demonstrated by his spending 5 years as deputy director of Child Poverty Action Group and his successful legal aid practice which included family and children cases. As a father and grandfather in his private life as well as in his distinguished public career he cared passionately about children. Margaret assures me that my decision to talk about children would have met with his approval.

My theme this evening is to examine how our children fit in to the Big Society which was at the heart of the Prime Minister's speech in November 2009 and part of the strategy of the Coalition Government. I shall refer very briefly to a variety of problems children face, some of which are not as widely recognised as others. One aspect which is not always appreciated is how they are viewed by the adult public and the media and how they are treated. This has an important effect upon how they view themselves, their self esteem and how their voice is heard in our adult society. Much, if not indeed, all of what I say is well known but I feel that it is worth repeating at a moment when the phrase the Big Society is in the news and both government and the public need to have the welfare and rights of children well in the forefront of the difficult and challenging decisions which have to be made.

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