YEP Says, March 26: Pressure on those who have children’s fates in their hands

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Heavy workloads must not prevent social workers making the right decisions for vulnerable youngsters.

SOME children battle the odds from the moment they’re born.

Nearly one in three of the referrals to Leeds social workers are about youngsters who are believed to be at risk from violence in their own homes.

It’s a shocking statistic. Scandalous even. In some of the most deprived parts of the city, almost one in 50 babies are taken into care when they’re born or in the first few months of their lives.

It’s an issue that obviously places huge strain on social services departments and their capacity to cope.

But it also puts an even greater onus on the ability of individual case workers to make the right decision – the one that is in the best interests of the child concerned.

Factor in financial pressures and staff shortages which often leave social work teams struggling with mounting workloads and few would envy those whose job it is to make judgement calls which have such a major impact on a child’s life.

Mindful that it should be a last resort to remove a child from their home, Leeds City Council is rightly pioneering initiatives aimed at helping to keep some of the city’s most vulnerable families together.

It’s worthy work – but where that step is necessary social workers must not be afraid to take it, or to worry that their workload means they don’t have enough knowledge of the case to justify doing so.

Piano man John has key to lifting spirits

THERE are some people you meet in life who amaze you with their ability to think of others even when they’re facing enormous challenges of their own.

John Smith is one of them. Receiving treatment for prostate cancer, he’s been lifting the spirits of his fellow patients at Jimmy’s by playing his favourite songs on the building’s grand piano.

Hospital isn’t a place people look forward to spending time in, but John, who’s the organist at St Giles Church in Bramhope, has been putting a smile on patients’ faces for the last six weeks.

Let’s hope that when his treatment finishes he keeps tinkling the ivories and spreading his unique cheer.

Gary Edwards, pictured with some of his Leeds United memorabilia collection in 2012.

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