Last night I watched 'The Unloved' on Channel 4; a first film directed by the rather wonderful actress Samantha Morton about an eleven year old girl, played beautifully by Molly Windsor, living in a care home. It was heartbreaking to watch because it so accurately portrayed the emotional frost that seems an inevitable fact of life in a residential institution. That absence of love that leaves everything in black and white, a mere photocopy of reality. Love is the sunlight that grows children and unfortunately it seems, it cannot be manufactured outside the structure of the family.
In my late twenties I decided finally that it looked like my long term ambitions to be a freelancing astronaut would not bear fruit in this life and so I needed to decide on some sort of career. I wanted to do something that would not be routine and would be valuable so I decided to become a social worker in Children's Services.
I can honestly say I've never particularly regretted that decision but I can also say that most of my professional life has been spent fighting to protect children in the looked after system from the worst excesses of what is now called Corporate Parenting-an oxymoron if ever there was one!
I don't know what attracts the stony hearted, burnt out cases, and stupidly ambitious pole climbers into social work, I guess these people are in every profession. But I have a really simple-minded view of services for looked after children and it's this-Is this good enough for my kids? If so then it's good enough for looked after children. If not, then it bloody well isn't Mr Balls!