Archive for the ‘My thoughts on current childcare issues’ Category

Let’s Talk About …. Independent Travel As A Disabled Person   Leave a comment


At the end of May, I attended a conference in London – something I have done many times before. However this time was a little bit different as I was travelling alone and as a disabled person, and although this was not the first occasion that I have travelled alone as a disabled person, it certainly was memorable for the number of difficulties that I encountered – most of which were caused by a simple lack of understanding of how small things can quickly become a big issue.

I have learnt from experience that as a disabled person I have to pre plan any trip and simply cannot just ‘get up and go’.
So for this trip I:-
• Booked an accessible room at the hotel and checked it was in easy walking distance of where the conference was being held.
• Researched trains so I could use a direct train and avoid changes of train.
• Booked Travel Assist for my train journey and received an email confirmation.
• Arranged for a colleague to be available to support me at the conference.
• Arranged for my husband to be available to take me to and from my local train station.
• Checked the cost of taxi’s to my hotel from Marylebone, and from the conference back to Marylebone, so I had enough funds available
• Allowed plenty of time for everything
• Only packed essentials to keep my bag as light as possible, but to include medications and other aids I needed for my trip.

Therefore I thought that my planning should ensure my trip went as smoothly as possible.
On the day my husband took me to Kidderminster Station, and I checked in with station staff. They were expecting me, and assisted me onto the train and as pre-arranged into the carriage with an accessible toilet as due to my medical needs I need to use a toilet every hour (ish) and my train journey was going to be over 2hrs long. My journey to Marylebone was straight forward and I did indeed use the accessible toilet 3 times.
So far, so good and all going to plan.

However on arrival at Marylebone there was no sign of Travel Assist staff, everyone else got off and went on their way – apart from 2 ladies who were standing on the platform near the carriage I was trying to exit. A cleaner went past me, and did ask if I was OK, so I explained I was waiting for Travel Assist, but she did not help me or call for help (maybe was not able to). The 2 ladies on the platform then stepped forward and asked if I needed help, I gratefully accepted. Just as they started to help, a member of train staff who was walking along platform, came forward and helped the 2 ladies to get me, my bags and my rollator off the train. After giving thanks I was then faced with a long (and slow) walk to the concourse. This walk exhausted me, and I have to wonder what would have happened if the 2 ladies had not offered to help, or if I was using a wheelchair, or I simply could not walk the distance required.

In my opinion, to book assistance and to not receive it, is just not acceptable.

Once I reached the concourse I made my way to a café within the station, the nearest had no seats available (but did have a ramp had seats been available), so I went to the next cafe which did not have a ramp just a wide step. I struggled to get myself and my rollator up the step and was not offered assistance by either café staff (who could clearly see me) or members of the public. Once in the café I ordered my drink and staff did tell me to sit down and brought my drink to the table which was helpful. After a rest and finishing my coffee, I had to struggle back down the step to exit the café with no assistance.

I do understand the theory behind ‘reasonable adjustment’, but actually there was room to have a ramp instead of the step, and in any case in my opinion staff should be willing to help customers into and out of the building – and at very least ask if help is needed. I know I could have asked for help, but I was exhausted from the long walk due to lack of assistance off the train, and in any case getting my rollator nearer enough to the counter (without standing in the queue) to ask was near impossible – so the only other option would have been to stand by the door and either shout for help or wait for someone to come near enough to ask. So in the end I struggled and exited the shop myself. It is worth noting that if I had been travelling on my own in a wheelchair or on a mobility scooter I would not have found a café in which to rest and take refreshment.

If I had have been travelling with another person I could have sat in various places while my companion went and collected drinks, and thus avoid trying to get in and out of places, but as I was travelling alone I had to go into buildings to order my drink.
I am not sure why staff do not offer to help customers in and out of the building …
Is it that they are not allowed due to insurance issues or fear of being sued if things go wrong?
Is that their boss says their job is to serve behind the counter and nothing else?
Is it that they are worried about upsetting or offending a person that does not want help?

Whatever the reason in my opinion it is just not good enough – if buildings are difficult to access then help should be provided as part of reasonable adjustment. Also in my opinion, most people would prefer to be asked and to be able to politely decline offers of help, than to be left to struggle or unable to do things.

Once out of the café, I made my way to the Travel Assist desk as I wanted to check that arrangements were in place for my journey home the next day. I discovered that they could not tell me as they get an email very early in the morning with all the travel assist requests. I explained to the person I was talking to what had happened when I arrived at Marylebone and he said he would look into it. He also said that they would ensure I had assistance for my return journey. Given that I could do no more until I got home and could email people about what had happened, and given that I could do nothing more to ensure I had assistance for my return journey, I decided that as still 2 hours before I could check into my hotel, I should have another coffee – and this time there was room in the café with the ramp.
I managed the ramp up into the café, and ordered a coffee and as a treat to myself a piece of cake. I found a table but had to struggle to move a chair out of the way to make room for my rollator. On the positive staff did bring my coffee and cake to the table, which was helpful as I cannot manage a tray.
As I was finishing my cake but had only had 2 sips of my coffee I could hear a strange alarm type sound complete with some words being said which I could not hear properly. It was clear other customers were as unaware as I was because to start with no one did anything. Then other customers started to leave and the staff said in a normal quiet voice that we needed to evacuate the building. I was not offered any assistance, and in fact while I struggled to go down the ramp (going down ramps is very difficult for me) 2 members of staff stood at the bottom of the ramp and did not ask if I needed help and just watched me struggle.

In my opinion this was not acceptable, help should be offered as a matter of course in an emergency (and really in any case). What would have happened if I had fallen and blocked the exit for others? Also as hearing loss / deafness is often an invisible disability staff should be aware of the need to ensure people are informed of emergencies. Those with visual difficulties, or young children may also have needed help. I think staff should have ensured every customer was aware we had to leave the building – maybe speaking louder / maybe holding up a sign to say leave the building. I also question if staff would have known what to do if a customer such as one with Autism had panicked.

I will be emailing the café owners as I think their staff need more training to help them be more aware of support customers may need.

Once I had exited the station I sat outside on my rollator, however although I could see fire engine and ambulance I had no idea what the emergency was. I decided that if it was a serious incident unfolding it would be best to move away from the area as due to my difficulties I could become trapped or at the very least ‘in the way’. So I got in a taxi and made my way to the hotel – even though almost 2 hours early.
I was lucky as my room was ready and I was allowed to check in early. Once in my room, my first thought was to put the kettle on as my previous coffee remained unfinished in the café at Marylebone. I unpacked and had a shower – discovering that the bathroom floor had been repaired but was now a trip hazard. I went to make my coffee but the water was cold, on investigation I realised that the kettle was turned off at the socket. Not usually a big issue but in this case the socket was at floor level and at the back of a unit. I could have asked for help but that would have meant getting dressed and going back to reception both of which would have tired me even more, so I struggled by holding on to the unit to bend and switch the socket on.
Of course if I had been with another person the socket would not have been an issue and the bathroom floor less of a worry BUT I was on my own and this was known via my booking. In my opinion things like where kettles are plugged in and state of floors should be suitable for disabled customers safety and comfort, especially when staying in an accessible room.

The rest of my stay at the hotel went smoothly. I did complain when I checked out and will follow up with an email. My complaints were only about small things but for me they were big things.

My colleague came to the hotel as arranged and provided support to, and throughout the conference. The organisers had reserved seats for myself and my colleague at the front of the conference hall, which was well intentioned but actually caused difficulties because once the hall was full, I could not get back out (which I needed to do to use the toilet) and so ended up very uncomfortable and anxious in case of toileting mishap until the planned refreshment break. After the break we sat on chairs at the back of the room near the exit for my convenience. I was glad I had the support of my colleague because if I had been alone it would have been difficult to access refreshments. I know space is at a premium at such events but more thought needs to be given to how disabled guests will be able to move around and in particular how they would be able to exit the building in an emergency if tables and chairs are barriers to free movement.

Once the conference was over, I took an Uber back to Marylebone and checked into the Travel Assist desk. Good news they were expecting me and within a very short period of time I was being taken by the ‘buggy’ on to the platform for my train. I mentioned that I needed to be in coach A where the accessible toilet was (as per my booking and email confirmation). However there was a problem, I could not travel all the way to Kidderminster in this coach because the platform was too short and this carriage would be locked. The Travel Assist staff member did his best – one option was to travel in coach A as far as Birmingham then change train. This was not possible for me and was the reason why I had booked direct trains even though the times were not ideal. In the end I was put in a different coach right next to a ‘normal’ toilet, this was far from OK but better than no toilet or having to change trains. Using the toilet was very difficult and exhausted me even more just from the effort of leaving my seat and walking the few steps without my rollator.
I was told that there would be no station staff available at Kidderminster, although train manager would do his best to support me. Luckily my planning for my husband to collect me from the train meant I did have support to get off the train and to exit the station. To be fair to the Train manager, he did appear just as I got off the train (with my husbands support), and checked I was OK

In my opinion it is not good enough to be told you have been booked a seat near the accessible toilet and then told you can’t sit there, I just about managed but others may not have been able to manage. I have to question why the only accessible toilet on a train was positioned so that could not be used for the whole journey, surely as they knew where I was travelling to they could have ensured the coach was positioned in the middle of the train length. In fact should that not always be the case so disabled passengers, people with bikes or pushchairs do not have to make compromises?

My experiences on this trip have shown that even with carefully planning you cannot plan for every eventuality, but also a lack of training for staff, a lack of understanding and even empathy can cause small issues to become big issues for disabled people who are travelling alone.

My Nomination for a National Diversity Award 2019   Leave a comment

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Whilst browsing on Twitter one day I came across a tweet from National Diversity Awards saying congratulations on my nomination as a Positive Role Model for disability.

This was somewhat of a shock to me as a) the first I had heard of it (it turns out the email notifying me of my nomination had gone unnoticed to my junk folder) and b) I have never considered myself as a role model for disability. Yes I have a disability but I just get on with my life, making adjustments to enable myself to continue doing as much as I can.

Due to the email being in my junk folder, I was unable to confirm my acceptance until a month or so later, which meant others could not support my nomination and I could not promote it. Anyway I eventually found the email after contacting the people at National Diversity Awards and therefore was able to let people know about my nomination and options for supporting my nomination.

At the point in time of writing this blog I have had 16 nominations in total.

It is a little confusing because to ‘vote’ for me, people have to add their own nomination saying why they think I deserve an award. However, I have been told it is a fairly easy process to do.

Thank you to those who have taken the time to support my nomination.

As I have never considered myself to be a role model for disability, I have read all the nomination statements and now understand a bit more about why people might consider me to be a role model – it is in fact because I continue to try to volunteer and support others despite my personal challenges.

I thought some readers might also like to read the supporting statements. You will see that the names of those providing supporting statements do not appear, meaning I don’t know who has done so (although I have worked out a few because of the words written, or because people have told me they have written a statement).

Supporting Statements – new ones first

2019-05-11 09:03:49
Penny Webb is the epitome of a ‘can do’ attitude. A brave and wise woman with a real gift for helping others, often putting aside own personal challenges that would hamper most of us. Penny lends her voice and speaks up for many that struggle to be heard. She has championed many causes, especially in Early years sector. Through her work as a volunteer and as a Foster parent Penny has touched many lives. As a childminder she has helped nurture our next generation. As a colleague and friend she has shared her time, knowledge and passion for making a difference, with warmth and grace. Penny really is a remarkable lady.

2019-05-08 17:11:03
Penny has always been passionate about speaking up for children and childcare since I’ve had the pleasure to know her these last ten years or so. She is now speaking up for the disabled also. I didn’t realise until quite recently that she had dyslexia but I have followed the progress of her diabetes and the terrible struggle she has had trying to get the pain relief and medication balanced so that she can try to continue in her voluntary roles. Penny never fails to amaze me; she is determined to carry on as much as she can, still going to conferences (often struggling through both pain and travel problems to do so) and making sure she is heard when speaking up for rights of others. She is definitely a positive role model!

2019-05-08 10:03:02
Penny has been a large influence in my life since I have known her – she has always been encouraging in relation to my work in Early Years and has supported me and promoted me at every opportunity. In regards to her \’disability\’ – I find her totally amazing – I am not going to say she \’copes\’ as this is too mild for the determination she displays. I have followed her story since she first became unwell, and as I also suffer from a condition that causes me tiredness and pain – but reading Penny\’s updates and speaking with her I feel total admiration and she demonstrates exactly what you can get done if you put your mind to it. Penny you are one amazing, inspirational, knowledgeable, respected and beautiful lady!

2019-05-08 07:34:23
Penny is a very humble lady and real inspiration to everyone she meets or who \’talk\’ to her via her Social Media and Blogs. She is passionate about children and the role of Registered Childminders and has spent many years campaigning for what she feels children and their childminders need. She is dedicated to trying to change policy that she feels is unjust and tenacious in her approach to campaigning and spreading the word. Personally Penny has huge challenges to face on a daily basis and uses her personal skills of dedication and determination as she had to when she learning to walk again. She uses her personal situation to challenge where care for disabled people is not what it should be- from lack of help when travelling by train to challenging unjust parking fines for disabled people. She pushes through pain barriers to carry on her public speaking and campaigning and has been a volunteer for many organisations giving her valuable time to write articles, speak to audiences and meet with organisations to discuss her ideas for improvements to legislation and practice. Childminding UK are honoured that Penny has chosen to support us as a very valued volunteer and we are grateful for her advice, humour and good sense.

2019-05-07 11:22:47
I have known Penny for over a decade. She has been an avid campaigner for children and Childcare in England. What always struck me though was how she travelled all over the country, spoke at and arranged conferences, ran a fantastic Childcare provision etc. amidst certain discomfort and viable hinderances. And she never complains. She is positive, uplifting and always puts others care and needs before her own. She has never used her illness/dyslexia as a crutch, but rather used them to highlight how much one can still do, even amidst physical trials and circumstances. Penny is proof that even amidst debilitating sickness and disability, one can still stand up, and stand out, and make a difference. I heartily nominate this strong and community focussed woman and dear friend.

2019-05-07 11:20:16
Penny has been an inspiration to many people working in Early Years and has always been a passionate advocate for children and their families, particularly those disadvantaged in some way. I her current situation of poor health Penny has continued this advocacy through writing and though social media and has now extended her advocacy to disability and all the issues that brings for people. I suppose one of Penny\’s strongest qualities is resilience, demonstrated by her refusal to give up on the things that are important to her, even when the chips are down. A very strong and determined lady with a heart of gold.

2019-05-06 14:14:07
Penny is inspirational. Despite her many health issues, she keeps going and overcomes so many problems while at the same time fights for the rights of others. This lady makes a difference in so many ways. The rest of us \’moan\’ to the wrong people – friends, relatives etc. Penny goes straight to the top and makes sure she\’s listened to

2019-05-05 19:33:16
Penny is a huge inspiration not only to many people across the country but to myself. Since the first time I met this wonderful lady I have grown in confidence as a person and as a childcare provider. Penny’s knowledge and understanding of children and young people is second to none. She doesn’t claim to know everything but will go out of her way to help anyone who needs it. Penny has shown an interest in my personal journey and makes me believe that no matter what life throws at you, You are capable of anything. She believes that communication and networking is the way forward and I can honestly say that from Penny’s networking and help I have gained in confidence to contact people without worry and communicate with others passionately about what I believe in too. From knowing Penny I have built in confidence and am currently doing a degree in working with children and young people to enable me to build a business to help children which have fallen into the gap of state schools and forced home education because of the lack of government funding to help all children in their educational years

2019-05-05 17:20:18
Over the years I have known Penny I have been struck by her professional knowledge and drive. This has taken a knock since she has become so poorly, but it hasn’t stopped her being an outspoken advocate for the youngest children. She is a true role model in overcoming disability and illness to maintain her campaigning. It hasn’t been easy for her, but the strength of her voice in the National battle remains constant and strong

2019-05-03 17:41:37
Despite having a disability. Penny is still very activity within the Early Years Community. She blogs and shares stories to highlight positive Early Years and parenting practice. Penny, can be seen actively supporting daily, friends and colleagues. Penny, wishes that she could do more. However, Penny does so Much even with her disability and this has a positive impact on others.

2019-05-01 06:09:02
I have known Penny for twenty five years and have witnessed her continued determination to overcome her personal difficulties to speak up and be an advocate for children and to raise awareness of any issues that need addressing to help improve the lives of others. Her unceasing passion for the youngest people in our society led to her being awarded a British Empire Medal. She gets her views out there in many ways, pushing herself through her barriers to get her voice heard by as many as possible and I\’m certain she has made a difference. She is inspiring, she certainly has become a valued and respected voice for Early Years and now also, she is making a difference for all others and she will never stop doing that whatever life throws at her. Penny very much deserves this recognition as A Positive Role Model, I am so very proud of her achievements so far.

2019-04-30 21:39:21
Penny is an absolute inspiration to everyone. She has battled with very difficult and painful health problems, but she is always there for others and puts their needs before her own. She is a fantastic influencer through her writing and representing the community. She’s a perfect role model for those who want to succeed through determination, empathy and compassion. She deserves a Damehood.

2019-04-30 21:06:12
Penny has been an amazing Early Years advocate changing the lives of little ones, is so respected by the sector. Since I\’ll health has struggled to keep going being so positive in the light of adversity. Penny is so deserving of this award. A shining example to us all. Disability may have slowed Penny down but shes definately not out!

2019-04-30 19:44:08
Penny you are an inspiration. I\\\’ve read your blogs for years and also followed your journey these last few years. The very fact that you still volunteer to do all you do for our children is brilliant enough, but to do it in the face of such adversity is just amazing. Thank you

2019-04-30 19:14:10
Penny is an inspiration to all of us

2019-03-31 23:33:19
Penny Webb was awarded the British Empire Medal following her nomination by the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) for her longstanding commitment to making a difference in the life of children for about 30 years. She has continued to fight for children\\\’s rights and for children\\\’s voices to be heard despite being severely challenged physically as a result of Diabetes Radiculopathy, and her lifelong struggle with dyslexia. Recently she has been quite ill finding it hard to walk and balance, and have often been in severe pain. I can think of no one more deserving than this award as Penny Webb.

Please Note

My aim for this blog is not to blow my own trumpet (although I am honoured by all the lovely things people have said), it is to raise awareness that actually anyone and everyone can be a role model just by doing what they do, and overcoming their own barriers. I know so many people who just do this every day and think nothing of it. However as shown by my supporting statements people notice and people are inspired and grateful.

In my early years work, being a positive role model for the children is something I (and many others) do day in, day out as it is so important children develop positive attitudes and dispositions – and have good self-esteem and resilience. So maybe it is because it is second nature to me, I don’t even think about it.

It would be great if others felt inclined to add a supporting statement because I feel this would raise awareness not only of challenges people with disabilities face and the importance of doing what you can, but also about the important work early years practitioners do as ‘unsung heroes’ every day as role models for the children they care for.

For me being shortlisted would be a double edge straw because it would mean more opportunities to raise awareness – but it would also force me to overcome a personal challenge as attending an awards night will take me way out of my comfort zone and would present new challenges to physically get there and to successful manage the evening. Plus I really do not like drawing attention to myself as I lack confidence and prefer just to draw attention to the causes I campaign and volunteer for.

If you wish to support my nomination by providing your own supporting statement, you can do so by clicking on this link

And YES I know my photo is the wrong way round – I could claim I did that on purpose to make it stand out but that would not be honest! Truth is I could not work out how to turn it round!


Childminding UK Networking Event   Leave a comment

Childminding UK Networking Event  –  11th May 2019



Childminding UK is a fairly new organisation in its own right but actually has been developed from an older organisation – Northamptonshire Childminding Association (NCA). You can read all about them by clicking this link

As a fairly well known childminding advocate, I had communicated with some members and staff of NCA via social media and email before but was not really involved with them. Through communication I was invited as a guest of honour to attend their 2014 AGM and conference. You can read about my experience of that AGM here

Roll forward a few years and because I kept in touch with NCA I was aware that their funding was ending and so could not continue in their current format. Meanwhile my well documented personal journey meant I was exploring new ways of volunteering and found myself in communication with Childminding UK and meeting with them at a motorway service station to chat about how I could volunteer for them. It was agreed that I would mainly volunteer from my chair at home by writing newsletter articles and discussing things via email. However we also discussed an idea for Childminding UK to put on a network event in Birmingham with the aim to spread information about Childminding UK and to explore how to involve more volunteers from across the country. At first the aim was that I would attend this networking event, but after a few weeks of planning, I was asked if I would speak about volunteering at the event – and I said YES.

In fact despite having a British Empire Medal for my volunteering in Children’s Services – Childminding UK are the only organisation – local or national, who have asked me to speak about volunteering.

So on Friday 10th May 2019 I made my journey to Birmingham all on my own but with support from Garry in getting to my home station and on to the train. I checked into the Premier Inn (somewhere I have stayed before), and settled into my ‘accessible room’. To make this journey had involved lots of planning, most of which worked out, although the idea that I would break the walk from Snowshill station to the hotel (due to my physical difficulties) did not go quite to plan due to the planned stop at the Costa near the entrance to Snowshill having had a move around of tables and chairs since my last visit making a stop there impossible for me. I plan to write a separate blog at some point in the future about my experiences as a disabled person.

I had my evening meal in the hotel which I had pre booked,( having learnt from my last independent trip to London where things became ‘messy’ and my friend Laura Henry stepped in to support me). After my meal I retired to the bar area for a coffee to await the arrival of members of Childminding UK who were staying in same hotel. At this point I heard my name being called and there was Jackie, a colleague who I had met at various events over the years, and who was also going to attend the networking event as a non-member to find out more. We chatted about various things until our colleagues from Childminding UK arrived.

My colleagues all needed to eat and so booked into the hotel’s restaurant. As I had already eaten I just joined them at their table and had a drink. We chatted freely for over an hour, and then I was surprised by the giving of a belated birthday gift (belated because the first time we had met since my birthday). I was completely surprised and impressed with the reasons why they had given me ‘a tree of life’ necklace.

Shortly afterwards I excused myself and headed to bed, the journey had tired me out, and I knew the next day would be equally, if not more tiring.


The Networking Event

After breakfast I checked out, and as arranged met my colleagues Anita, Hayley and Aimee outside the hotel for the walk to the venue for the event. Hayley carried my bags and was very supportive especially on the hilly bit of the walk (just slopes really but difficult for me). I was told afterwards by Aimee that I need to stop making way for others (I did get off the path and walking on the road – which is an easy thing for more able people to do, but difficult for me) as others should make way for me. Aimee is right of course but old habits are hard to break. I will continue with my thoughts on this in my future blog about being a disabled person.

Once at the venue (which I am familiar with having held 2 events myself at the venue – although in a different room) I exchanged hugs with Childminding UK staff, and was introduced to their new member of staff who will be starting work next month. Cheryl will be a great help in the team because as a new but growing organisation there is lots to do and many future plans. The current staff team of Elaine, Tina and Cat (who are not full time) have to do everything themselves. I look forward to working with the extended Childminding UK team.

I was well looked after from arrival to close of the event, with colleagues ensuring I had refreshments, carrying plates and cups for me. A special mention goes to Hayley who ‘popped out’ and purchased some caffeine free soft drinks for me.

The room was beginning to fill up and I saw people I knew well, some I only knew from social media and some new people. One of the disadvantages of using a rollator at such events is the difficulties of moving round the room due to tables and chairs – and so I had to wait for people to come to my table to speak to me – which means I did not do as much networking as I may have done without my rollator. Looking at name labels (and chatting to Elaine) it was very pleasing to see that the aim of engaging with childminders from across the country had worked, with at least 6 LA areas being represented.

Elaine welcomed as all as she started the event, there were introductions to staff, committee members and speakers, plus of course an outline of the day. Members then took a vote to formally move away from the name Northamptonshire Childminding Association to Childminding UK – which is already registered as a charity in its own right. So really just a necessary legality. The vote was passed and so moving forward everything will be linked to Childminding UK.

The first speaker was Neil Griffiths – who is Patron of Childminding UK and an advocate of childminders. I had heard Neil speak once before but it was a very long time ago, and I am very aware of ‘Story Sacks’ having brought one or two but also developed my own when I ran a childminding setting. Neil recalled lots of stories from the days when he worked as a head teacher in schools, and from more recent days of visiting schools and nurseries. He also mention all the important things he thought childminders should support the children in their care to develop, and how they can do it. I was pleased to note that being ‘ready for school’ and early literacy and numeracy were not on Neil’s list. I am not going to tell you all about Neil’s presentation but will recommend that if you have opportunity to hear him speak – to do so. In the meantime if you want to read about Neil, you can do so via this link


It was then time for a coffee break, and I was delighted that June O’Sullivan who was speaking after coffee took the time to come over and chat to me. I have known June for a number of years and we have both been involved with the Ofsted Big Conversation since the beginning. These days I attend the West Midlands ones when I can, but June is still very involved with the organisation of the London ones. Others joined in with the discussions but for me it was just good to catch up with June.

June’s presentation was about the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) but included a lot about pedagogy from a childminders perspective and how there is not one right view, it is more a case of deciding what is right for you and your setting – and then taking ownership of it. June linked all of this to the new Ofsted ‘buzz words’ of Cultural Capital and to use of language, art and creativity (and much more). June also had a similar view to myself and the first speaker Neil Griffiths about early years and what is really important.

If you want to find out a bit more about June’s views I recommend you take a look at this page as mentions June’s blog, and has links to recent blogs including one about Cultural Capital. I recommend that you sign up to receive June’s blogs straight to your in box.


After June’s presentation there was a short session led by Tina on gathering the views of those in the room – both members and non-members about the way forward for Childminding UK. I personally think it is so important that organisations take time to listen to views of members, and to explore what non-members would like to see. I know that at least one person in room signed up to become a member, and that others were exploring ways to work in partnership.


Some readers may be wondering why I am promoting Childminding UK when I already support other membership organisations. It is simple, I believe everyone should work together on the points we all think are important. I do not see any conflict of interest in supporting (being a member of, or volunteering for) more than one organisation. Of course I would not dream of sharing confidential information shared with me, and I understand each organisation needs to have its own Unique Selling Points … but I think we could all do a lot more to work together and to put self or organisational interests lower down the list of priorities.


By now it is lunchtime and opportunity for networking and looking at things on sale. I did have a quick look at the items available – and could see there were some bargains to be had. However, as I was travelling by train and could not managing anymore bags on my own, I had to be strong and resist temptation. As already mentioned everyone was very supportive, and so my lunch and a drink were collected and put on my table (and Hayley ‘popped out’ for more decaf drinks for me ready for the afternoon session).


I have to admit that by this point I was flagging and in pain. I had already had extra morphine at coffee time, and really needed some more BUT I did not want to risk a ‘foggy’ brain (or falling asleep) as I was due to speak straight after lunch, so I pushed myself through the pain (something I would regret later). I spoke to several people, and then my friend Sally came over to speak to me. I think it was because I know Sally so well, that my professional front slipped – and I ‘lost it’. I had been speaking to Sally about my fear that I just can’t do ‘this’ anymore and that the toll on me is too much. I also had had email notification that morning that my Pennysplacechildminding blogsite would be closed in July, which although I now have another free to run blogsite, indicated another end of an era. I knew I needed to make several important decisions about forth coming events, so I could let people know in good time – and if I am honest really I knew the decision that I would come too, once I let my sensible head overrule my heart. Anyway, I cried because it was not what I wanted to be deciding. Sally comforted me without making a fuss or drama, and just gave me to the time to compose myself – which is what I needed. As I say, I know Sally well – and she knows me well.


Before I knew it Elaine was asking me if I was ready. We agreed she would operate the laptop and change the slides of my presentation, and I would sit to the side on my rollator with my notes on the table next to me.

I know I went way over time, but I had things I wanted to say – not just about the subject of my presentation which was ‘The Unexpected Benefits of volunteering’ but also about my life story because after my lunch time reflections and bit of a breakdown, I knew this might be the last time I spoke at an event – if not for ever, at least for the foreseeable future. I had asked Elaine to tell me if I ran over, but she let me finish in my own good time, maybe she sense that this was important to me, maybe she was just grateful that I was given my time as a volunteer. Anyway I think my presentation went down well from the response in the room, and the number of people who thanked me at the next coffee break.

I must acknowledge here (and it was part of my presentation) how very grateful I am to Childminding UK for helping me overcome my personal barriers so I can keep volunteering. I am not sure what the future holds in terms of my volunteering, it will have to be different and I will have to explore ways in which I can volunteer and support others. Volunteering is part of who I am, and I have been a formal volunteer in one way or another for 37 years now. I cannot imagine not volunteering, any more than I can imagine not being part of the early years sector.


I am sort of hoping that by being honest with everyone that people may come up with suggestions as to how I can continue to make a difference.


After my presentation there was a session on Childminding Champions for Childminding UK, and how members could support the organisation, what it might look like, what training would be needed, how we would know the impact and so on. There was a fair bit of discussion and some ideas put forward. I hope that people will reflect over the coming weeks, share their ideas and be proactive in supporting Childminding UK in whatever way they can.


There was a free raffle with some lovely prizes – I didn’t win, but given the difficulty this would have caused with getting any prize home, I am pleased I did not win.


It was time for fond farewells (and sadly I did not get to say bye to everyone). I had intended on going back to the hotel with close colleagues for drinks and more networking, but this would have meant a walk in the wrong direction (away from the station) and would have tired me even more, I decided I should head home.

Aimee and Hayley walked me to the station at my pace, ensure I got a ticket, and arrange for assistance to get me on the train. All of which worked well. Thank you ladies – as you will have noted I was struggling by that point – but putting on a brave face.



By the time I got home, I did not know what to do with myself, I took more morphine, and sat with my hot water bottle (a tried and tested pain relief method) and felt sorry for myself – not because I was in pain but because I knew the decisions I needed to make about the future. After a dreadful night of pain, and difficulty moving caused by pushing myself too much, I contacted various people in the morning to let them know that reluctantly and with huge disappointment I would not be attending somethings over the coming months.


I do have a trip to London planned for the end of May which I will do, as booked and paid for (and with friends supporting me with some costs) but that will be my last trip to London / to attend events for some time.

I am not going to say forever, because who knows, but for now I need to listen to my body and my sensible head – and hope I way to volunteer from my armchair at home is found.

One way I can still volunteer is to continue to write for Childminding UK’s newsletter, so I hope more of you becomes members, and therefore read my articles.


This blog will also be published on my new blogsite – What Do You Think Penny




Reminder of new blog   Leave a comment

I am now publishing things on my new blog ‘What do you think Penny’, so please take a look and maybe follow it so you don’t miss my new blogs.


This site ‘Pennysplacechildminding’ will be closing soon when my annual fees become due.


I hope you will continue to enjoy my blogs

First blog on new site   Leave a comment

As promised in my last blog here, I have now published my first blog on my new site.

I will be the first to admit that my new site has a lot of tech issues and is not as it should be. In due course I will overcome these issues – but not at the moment because one thing I have learnt over the last 2 years of my illness is I just can not do what I want to do – when I want to.


The first blog on the new site is in fact a campaigning one looking at why it is not a good idea to do Too Much, Too Soon’ through my reflections from watching a junior rugby match.

I hope you like it


Posted January 18, 2019 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

Changes ahead to this blog   9 comments

As many readers will know I have been very unwell for almost 2 years, one aspect of my life that this has impacted on is this blog site. I have just not been able to blog as I used to, I still have ideas and even start many blogs, but don’t publish them. I have lots of unfinished ‘business’ such as the follow up blogs to my event in May 2018, and I am slowly coming to realise that I may never resume my previous level of blogging, and may never finish unfinished blogs or ‘business’.

This saddens me because I still think the same, I still get very cross at the lack of listening by Government ministers, about the impact of flawed policies on our youngest children, I still want to stand on my soapbox and shout loudly or at least write a blog. Travelling to attend events is very challenging and I really can’t attend many things these days – which means I have less things to blog about. I am of course no longer a childminder and after getting on for 2 years of retirement from childminding, I am no longer as up to date as I used to be, so again less to write about.

My health issues are complex and even doctors do not fully understand and do not have any answers, but it appears at the moment that my main issue is that I react negatively to most medications which is a bit of an issue when you are diabetic and need certain medications to control it and to be well.  Being on medications makes my body shut down, I lose physical ability and mental ability ( and as a knock on emotional wellbeing); everything takes 10 times longer and most things exhaust me so I have to constantly take a break to rest.

Then this week I had an email which is sort of the nail in the coffin for this blog, as I have been informed of changes to how things are charged for which will lead to cost of running this blog becoming too much for my personal finances. I have always paid out for this blog out of my own pocket and have refused to accept any payment, or adverts to help cover the costs. Things which I have reviewed and blogged about have been donated to others so that I have not personally benefitted. Yes, sometimes I have been given a free or subsidised place at a conference but this has never been on condition that I write a blog, that has been my decision. My personal ethos of not benefitting from my blogging (which is part of my volunteering) is very important to me. I know some don’t understand this, and at times I think I have made an error of judgement because there seems to be a reluctance to be involved with or to accept the help of a volunteer. Certainly since I blogged about offering to speak at events for free or just to cover costs, or to support charitable organisations hardly any one has asked me to do so.

As an aside, I naively thought when I had the honour of receiving a British Empire Medal in 2016, that people would ask be to speak at events about my volunteering, or that I would be invited to open local events or judge local competitions for children, but none of that has happened.

Maybe people would have engaged with me more if I had said I charge for such things? I will never know.

As usual I have side tracked – so back to the point of this short blog. I can no longer afford to run this blog, and even if I could I think I would struggle to do it justice, and so when my annual bill for this blog arrives in 2019, I will sadly be closing it down. An end to an era and the final stage of closing down Penny’s Place Childminding.  It will be hard for me, but time marches on and waits for no one, certainly it is not waiting for me to get better, and to coin a phrase I think my time has ‘been and gone’.


There is a slight glimmer for those who may miss my blogs and my opinions – I have set up a new free to run  blog called ‘What do you think Penny?’ and so should I be able to in the future, I will blog about things that I have an opinion on – but not necessarily just about early years stuff.

I will post one last blog on this site just before I close in down, with my thanks to my readers and a reminder of the new blog.

I have not published anything on the new blog yet, but when I do, I will let you know via social media.


Posted December 19, 2018 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

3rd National Early Years Safeguarding Conference   Leave a comment

3rd National Early Years Safeguarding Conference   –  3rd November 2018

 Pre Amble                                                                                                                                            

I have been lucky to have been supported in various ways to attend all three National Early Years Safeguarding Conferences, and from the show of hands at this year’s conference, I am one of a few who have attended all of them, although many had attended 2 out of 3. I was a speaker at the first conference, and supported to attend both the second and the third by Laura Henry for which I am very grateful because my current situation as a disabled non-working person means I would not otherwise be able to attend. I know Laura considers that I support her in other ways, and that support should be a two way process, and I agree. However at the moment I think Laura supports me a lot more than I support her – but I hope that in the future the balance will tip the other way.

Laura is one of those amazing people, who despite her worldwide reputation in the Early Years field, keeps her feet securely on the ground, remembering not only her friends and colleagues, but her personal ethos, values and practices. These days conferences are very expensive to put on and time consuming, and I know (because Laura has publically said so) she does not make any money from these conferences but still thinks it is worthwhile (and the right thing to do) to put them on, and will be putting on the 4th one in 2019.

All of the conferences have in fact been a reflection of Laura’s ethos – the importance of bringing people together to network and share information; to widen participation by offering Saturday conferences, providing discounts so those with limited budgets (or large teams) can attend; widening the safeguarding debate by including diverse speakers and subjects outside the 4 main areas of safeguarding. And all designed to support personal and professional reflection.

This blog is slightly different from my usual blogs; as my journey details, my conversations with people, and what I did are just included as part of my personal and professional reflections about the day.

This blog is my personal recall and my personal reflections, others who attended the conference will have a different recall and different reflections.


This did not go to plan, despite prearranging Travel Assist. I think when arranging travel for disabled people (adults or children), the safeguarding aspect needs to be considered, because when things do not go to plan, the disabled person is very vulnerable and at risk of harm in a number of ways. At the very least the stress caused and impact on emotional wellbeing should not be under estimated, but physical wellbeing is at risk if they cannot get on or off transport (and then try to do it themselves; or seek support from fellow passengers who may be willing to assist but who have had no training in such things). Finally lack of assistance can lead to neglect if the persons toileting needs, medication needs, or diet needs are not met – which can be the case if stranded on trains, or platforms, or miss connections to where going and timelines go astray.

So as Early Years Practitioners (and in our general support for others) we really need to think things through and have back up plans, and back up plans for the back up plans!

In my case, I did the planning, and so can only hold myself responsible, although West Midlands trains have received a complaint for failing to provide the agreed Travel Assist on the part of my journey that used their trains.

The last part of my journey went to plan, my colleague Sally met me at Euston and walked me to the venue; another colleague Sue, took me back to Euston at the end of the conference. These seemingly small details in my planning are actually very important when travelling alone, and although Early Years children are unlikely to travel alone, parents may need support at stations or even just reassurance that someone will be there for a handover chat. Older children / young people may want to travel alone and their independence must be supported, but sensible safeguards must also be put in place – such as meeting at / taking to stations and ‘handing over’ to Travel assist staff, or colleagues who will assist with next part of the day.

NB I have only discussed disability in relation to my own needs, and this particular journey, but I am very aware others have differing needs for journeys and other occasions, and these must also be considered so the person is safeguarded in every aspect.


The Conference                                                                                                                                   

On arrival, I was pleased another aspect of preplanning had worked. My colleague Brita had brought refreshments to the table for Sally and myself because it was very close to conference starting time, and after a long journey refreshments are often vital.

Various people in the room came up to say ‘hello’, to ask how I was, and to ask if they could help. This not only made me feel valued, it also reflected the fact that people recognised getting my rollator around the room would be difficult, so best they came to speak to me; but also that they realised they should ask if I needed help – not assume I did, or that they knew what was best for me. Back in the 1990’s I did some excellent equality training, which highlighted the difficulties of people treating disabled people as ‘non people’ – that is they assumed the disabled person cannot look after themselves, cannot make decisions or even know what they want to do. I find it shocking that over 20 years later some people still make these assumptions, and although mean well, take over and treat disabled people with disrespect. Linking this to safeguarding, this can lead to abuse (of all types) as people can assume that ‘over help’ is good and not look deeper at potential safeguarding aspect, if a disabled (or indeed any child or young person) does not have a voice.

If I feel this as an adult – imagine how disabled children may feel. Yes offer help, but don’t assume help is needed or wanted – and don’t just ‘take over’ no matter how good your intentions.

Laura opened the conference and told a few reflective stories – I think it is important that we all share these stories, so we can all learn from them – and in my opinion, due in part to Laura setting the scene with her reflective story, throughout the day, other stories were shared, within the boundaries of confidentiality.

Christina Gabbitas – Share some Secrets – The Voice of the Child                                  

The first speaker was Christina Gabbitas – someone I had not heard speak before. Christina spoke about her book ‘Share some Secrets’ which aims to support children to have a voice and to speak up about things bothering them, especially things that adults have told them are ‘secrets’ and that they will get in trouble / bad things will happen if they tell anyone.

We were showed an animation of the story, and I could see how useful this would be in supporting children. It was good to hear about the national organisations supporting the project.

However, I would have like a little bit less about the process of getting the book recognised and used, and a bit more about how it was being used and the positive impact it has already had on children.

Nevertheless a good resource and I saw that lots of delegates were buying copies to take back to their settings.

My reflection was, as I no longer work directly with children (other than my grandchildren) rather than buying the book, it would be more beneficial to others, if  I shared the link to the animation – which I have done, by social media and email.

Inspector Jack Rowlands – My work and Metropolitan Police Key Areas              

Inspector Rowlands is one of those people I instantly felt connected to – he spoke my language. He was honest, he was realistic about the challenges – and he had suggestions for solutions. Working in the Met in London, Jack see’s first-hand the continuing cycle of crime, brought about by drugs, drink and poverty. He spoke about young (men mainly) involved in crime but doing so to support their families, particularly their younger siblings. Jack said that he is now seeing some of those younger siblings and even the children of those he arrested 15 years ago now entering a life of crime.

Jack is keen to support these young people into education and employment, so that crime is not the only option. However Jack knows this will take many years if not generations to bring about, and a commitment from many organisations to work in partnership to support these young people and families. He spearheads an organisation called Divert.

One of my personal reflections, is, ‘Here is another professional in a completely different field to myself who has suggestions around the changes needed, and projects he is personally involved with to try and make a difference BUT like me, is banging his head against a wall, where people don’t listen or just pay lip service’. I am left wondering, how can we all effectively come together? How can we join the dots in the different services? How can we share resources and information effectively? And not just Jack and myself but all the other individuals and organisations who are trying to overcome the barriers.

Another personal reflection is – In working in partnership, we need to give everyone an equal role – no, ‘them and us’, no, ‘I am better than you because of my title’. When inviting people to meetings consider who is not there, as age, gender, role, and anything else that might be a barrier to working in partnership needs to be overcome. As a childminder, as a foster carer and as a grandparent, I have often been frustrated at my lack of involvement, and dismayed at decisions made due to decision makers not having the information I hold.

My takeaway from Jack’s presentation is – We can do better, we must do better.

Morning break                                                                                                                            

During the morning break, I was able to speak to colleagues and catch up a little. I also spoke to Jo Fitzgerald about her books and to obtain a signed copy of her book. Thank you Jo, as I now have signed copies of ‘Cold Toes at Christmas’ and ‘How to keep safe’.

I noticed that Inspector Jack Rowlands had a queue of people waiting to speak to him, a sign that he meant what he said about connecting and sharing.

Keynote by Alfie Kohn – ‘Unconditional Parenting’                                                              

As trialled successfully by Laura at the second conference, this was a recorded keynote with Alfie answering set questions. There was silence while we watched the film, and lots of note taking by many. Alfie was talking complete sense as far as I was concerned and my reflection was that this was confirmation that my childminding practice had been on the whole on the lines of what Alfie was saying – but it had not always been so, as like many I developed my understanding over a period of time, and as a result reflected and changed some of my practice. I hasten to add not the ‘big things’ around listening to the child, believing and trusting the child, and unconditional love, but some of the smaller things like less adult direction, not using reward stickers and so on. I think we are all on a journey of discovery and all should be continually reflecting and making changes as our knowledge deepens. We should not feel bad about the past because each and every one of us will have done our best at the time with the knowledge we had at that time. When I think back to my early carer and indeed my early days of parenting, I more or less went on ‘gut feeling’, as there was no internet, not much available research in an everyday readable format, or many accessible training or qualification courses.

Alfie said a few things which stuck in my mind (I was not taking notes), so my understanding, rather than Alfie’s actual words.

Short term it is easier to control children through empty praise, rewards and punishments, but this does not support children to understand why it is in their own interest to do certain things, or to question things. Controlling children is not the answer

 Carrots and sticks not only don’t work – they are an easy option

Talk less, ask more

Rewards and punishments makes children think what is in this for me – and may choose punishment as a negative, easier to get reward

The problem is not the children, it is the environment they are placed in

 Round Table Discussions                                                                                                          

Laura asked us all to discuss on our tables the impact of Alfie’s Keynote on ourselves.

I was the ‘Table Lead’ and so had the role of taking notes and feeding back the tables thoughts to the room. Two people on my table had strong views and a lot to say – nothing wrong in that, but I did have to speak up to ensure everyone on my table had opportunity to speak – although we actually ran out of time before everyone had spoken. I was pleased when at the end of the day, one of those with strong views took the time to thank me for the professional way I had tried to ensure everyone could express their opinion.

The overwhelming thought was ‘Wish I had known all this years ago’, this is not to say that those on the table had no knowledge about the things Alfie discussed because they did but they were all at different stages on their personal journeys. In my opinion that is why it is important to attend national conferences were your personal thoughts are challenged and extended, and so after the conference reflection can take place.

One setting represented at our table spoke about how in September they had completely changed the focus in their setting from Adult led to Child led. They were honest and said at first it was not easy but now after only half a term the children are self-motivated and far more engaged than they were before. One of the key changes was making resources accessible to the children all the time. Childminders on the table spoke about how they had always been mainly child led, and said allowing time and listening to the children was key.


By lunch time I was tiring from my early start and long journey, my painkillers were less effective, and my ability to focus was reducing. However, I enjoyed a nice lunch that met my dietary needs, had a bit of a move about, and spoke to several colleagues, some of whom I had not seen for several months, and some who I knew from social media but was meeting for the first time.

Panel Session                                                                                                                                  

Laura had invited 3 people to sit on the panel, to give short presentations and answer questions from the room.

The people on the panel were

Andrew Ellery who spoke about ‘The Role of Social Workers in Early Years’

Joss Cambridge- Simmons who spoke about ‘My experience as a child and domestic violence’

Dr. Eunice Lumsden who spoke about ‘CPD for staff regarding safeguarding and child protection’.

As you can see 3 totally different but connected subjects.

Some Personal Reflection before continuing with conference feedback                         

I have to admit that I was not really ‘on the ball’ during this session, and if I had been at home, I would have had an afternoon nap! This is not a reflection on the speakers, more of a reflection on my current health. It can be hard for others to understand the impact of long term health issues, and long term pain – but the impact is huge and although ‘mind over matter’ does help, as does keeping busy, actually there is only so much you can do to overcome the difficulties you face day in and day out.

I know from situations faced by family, friends, and colleagues the same can be said for any long term difficulty you face from poverty to domestic violence; from abuse to mental health difficulties and everything else in between. Anything that is long term takes a toll on your well-being and at times you cannot cope as well as you can at other times – no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you want to do something. That applies to walking away from situations, asking for help, making plans, attending school or work and staying on task – and although not the same at all – attending and staying awake at conferences.

It is true that our personal experiences can help us have empathy with those in totally different but equally traumatic circumstances. I think we all need to try and put ourselves in other people’s shoes, to try to understand just how hard it is, that they are not weak or useless, they are actually doing their best. If we all then listen, all support in whatever way we can (knowing we do not have a magic wand) we can make a difference, we can start to turn things round and start the process of stopping the cycle of damage. As someone who has had over 16 years of medical people not believing me because what I was telling them was not the norm, not what was expected, I can tell you how much difference it makes when someone listens, someone understands and believes you, and says ‘I can’t make any promises but I am here for you. I will do my best to help’

Back to the Conference Feedback                                                                                       

Andrew spoke about the often difficult role of social workers, and the boundaries around what they can and can’t do, due to rules and regulations, time restraints and budget cuts. (There was more but as already stated I was not taking it all in)

Joss told an amazing personal story about how he had used his life experiences positively and also taken up unexpected opportunities that had led to him becoming a Manny (a male Nanny). Joss displayed a wide range of emotions during his talk, and I was personally quite emotional just listening to his story. He is simply inspirational. And an excellent male role model within Early Years – we need more like him.

Eunice spoke about the importance of ongoing staff CPD and qualifications, and the impact on safeguarding and child protection. However, the thing that struck home with me was about personal baggage. We all have personal baggage but it is how we deal with it that is important, because if we carry it around with us, it impacts on our work with the children, and on our colleagues and therefore the setting as a whole.

Eunice made the point that your baggage should be contained within a virtual suitcase and you should be able to shut it without things sticking out, and to be able to leave it in a safe place while you are working or studying and same applies to work baggage as should not be taken home). If you can’t shut your suitcase or can’t leave it in a safe place, then you need to take a break from things, to go on holiday if you can, to deal with the overflowing suitcase, so that on your return, you can shut it and leave it in a safe place. If that does not happen – really you need to find other employment.

Strong words but on reflection so very true. I realised that I actually have a lot of baggage that I need to find ways to deal with. A flawed Ofsted inspection – now 4 years since it happened; my inability to safeguard foster children 2 years ago from a flawed system, that did not give myself or the children a voice; my ill health just when all my years of work were about to come together and lead to a new career – oh yes a lot of baggage and that is without family ‘stuff’ that will not be mentioned here, but still has an impact.

Just imagine if everyone working in a setting or a professional specialist team has as much baggage as I do (and I am sure many do – different baggage but still baggage) and are unable to leave it in a safe place? I like to think that I do leave my baggage behind most of the time, but sometimes, subject matters within my campaigning or voluntary work are a bit too close to my heart, and it is hard to stay objective.

NB Since the conference I have reflected a lot about my baggage, and realised in each situation there was nothing I could have done differently, and nothing I could have done since  each situation, over and above what I have already done in raising awareness of the flawed systems. Therefore, as I was not, (and are still not responsible ) for flawed systems and individual / organisational actions the baggage is not mine and can be not only put down but securely stored. Yes, I still wish these things had not happened, yes I wish systems were not flawed but hanging onto that baggage serves no purpose at all.

In the future I will be using the suitcase scenario, described so well by Eunice, to help others (especially children and those who work with children) to deal with their baggage

Round table discussions                                                                                                              

After the panel session we had another round table discussion, with some set questions. My table thought the baggage issue was the one thing they would ‘takeaway’ and do something about it. One manager said that on the following Monday she would be talking to her staff about this issue, and may even have a place (maybe a basket) by the door to the setting where staff could visualise leaving their baggage.

Dr. Prospera Tedam – Identifying children at risk of witchcraft labelling in schools: Research and Practice                                                                                                                      

All I can say is I have led a very sheltered life! Yes, I knew a little bit about witchcraft. Yes, I knew there were elements of witchcraft in the Victoria Climbie case, but actually I had not taken on board the full impact of witchcraft in Victoria’s case or in several other cases in England. I was shocked at what was (and is) going on in the country I live in – and not just in the big cities.

During the round table discussions after Prospera’s presentation, we discussed other practices that we had heard of such as ‘cupping’ or ‘breast ironing, and the things we needed to be aware of so we could spot the signs, and then do something to safeguard the children.

Priscilla Joseph – Poet                                                                                                                       

To conclude the conference Laura had asked Priscilla to read two of her very powerful poems, which following the lines of the whole conference were a personal reflection.

End Conference  Personal Notes                                                                                             

There were refreshments available for those who could stay a little longer, a last opportunity to network and buy books. I purchased Eunice Lumsden’s book ‘Child Protection in the Early Years. A Practical Guide’. I have yet to read it, but when I do, I will write a blog about it.

I asked Eunice to sign my book, which she did with the following inscription ‘We are all part of jigsaw’, which I think sums up the conference, all the speakers, all the delegates, Laura and her admin team Juliette and Kinga, – and indeed safeguarding as a whole.

In my opinion safeguarding in the widest sense of the word is about anything and everything to do with the child – and anyone who has any connection, no matter how small with a child. We are indeed all part of the jigsaw


 If you are interested in attending the  4th National Early Years Safeguarding Conference on 2nd November 2019, you can find out more or reserve your place by emailing



Posted November 16, 2018 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues