Children with more minor mental health issues may be prevented from “slipping into more serious” ones, if the Government allowed them to receive therapeutic care at Hope House, according to the CEO of the charity behind it.
Children and Education Minister Deputy Scott Wickenden has said that Silkworth’s children’s facility, which offers a 28-day rehabilitation programme, is not an adequate alternative to former child detention facility Greenfields because it is not registered as a ‘secure home’ and cannot deal with children subject to ‘secure accommodation orders’ imposed by the Royal Court.
Children under such orders may include those at severe risk of harming themselves or others, running away or who have been remanded following an appearance in the Youth Court or Magistrate’s Court.
But Silkworth says it doesn’t want Hope House to be the equivalent of a ‘secure home’.
CEO Jason Wyse said he understood the distinction between Hope House and Greenfields, but said this explanation from the Government didn’t explain why it was no longer referring other children who need help with their mental health.
Pictured: Hope House was opened by Silkworth Lodge in March.
While it welcomed several children following referrals from social workers when the facility - the former Brig-y-Don, which had undergone a £250,000 refurbishment - first opened in March, these then stopped following what the charity believe was a sudden and unexplained "directive" from Children's Services.
This led Silkworth and the Children's Commissioner to call out the Government for ‘gatekeeping’, potentially because it is now working on creating its own "intensive support service”, as Express reported earlier this month.
Referring to the Children’s Minister recently comparing the facility to Greenfields, Mr Wyse told Express: “The Minister has correctly highlighted that Hope House is not a secure residential unit… however the Minister did not expand on the fact that there are cases where Hope House would have been perfectly suitable where the therapeutic and environmental benefit would and could prevent the spiralling effect for some young peoples, whose mental health is further negatively impacted because of the inappropriate settings that they are placed in or indeed not even being given Hope House as a choice or consideration.”
The charity’s CEO went on to say the issue concerns not only the children that fall under the Minister’s responsibility as a ‘looked after child', but also all those who are at “the lower end of the mental health tier”, as Hope House could “ultimately prevent them from slipping into more serious mental health issues”.
“We are talking about prevention here and Government needs to wake up to the fact that they cannot do it all,” Mr Wyse said.
“I further advocate that I am seeing some really positive activity from Health and Community Services, where the model is around ‘Care in the Community‘, which best utilises voluntary , private and statutory organisations to best utilise the available services to islanders, thus removing this gate keeper approach that we have unfortunately experienced with our dealings with CYPES.
“Fortunately for us, more families are feeling confident to contact us direct now, some of whom are already known to statutory services, and we will endeavour to work with them and statutory services to ensure the best outcome for the young person, we just need to break these barriers and re-educate where necessary, so that all options are given to the young person, the families and the courts/Government bodies where necessary.”
Pictured: Deputy Scott Wickenden, the Education and Children Minister.
His comments echoed those of leading local children’s lawyer Advocate Darry Robinson, who yesterday accused the Government of drawing a false distinction between Hope House and Greenfields and 'side-stepping' questions over the real reasons it wasn't being used.
The lawyer, who has for many years argued in favour of a therapeutic facility for children and who said he was "horrified" to learn about the existence of Hope House, given that Children's Services had never mentioned it during previous court hearings, was responding to a written answer to questions about Hope House from the Children’s Minister.
Grilled by politicians at a Scrutiny hearing yesterday, Deputy Wickenden repeated his assertion that Hope House does not have the facilities to manage extremely high-risk children, as it is registered as a Children’s Home rather than a ‘Secure Children’s Home’ like Greenfields.
Scrutineers and the former Children's Minister have previously condemned the Government over its failure to make the most of the new facility.
Express spoke to Silkworth CEO Jason Wyse about his concerns that Government 'gatekeeping' is stopping the island's most vulnerable children access the best quality therapeutic care...
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