SIR WILLIAM UTTING CB
“I support Article 39 from my lifelong concern for uprooted children, particularly for those in institutions of all kinds.”
Bill Utting held senior posts in probation, local government and the civil service. He retired from the Department of Health in 1991 as the first Chief Inspector of Social Services for England. Later voluntary work included chair of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Council of Goldsmiths, University of London, and the National Institute for Social Work. He served on the Committee on Standards in Public Life from 1994 to 2001. He also led reviews of residential child care for the government, and of safeguards for children living away from home (People Like Us, 1997).
“I am passionate about involving children and young people in decisions that affect them, and hope that my experience in communication and engagement will help Article 39 to achieve better outcomes for children in institutional settings.”
Cathy has worked in communication within and external to government for over 20 years, including the Department of Health and HM Prison Service. As press officer to the first Minister for Children and Young People, she spearheaded the involvement of children and young people in communication by government.
Cathy transferred to policy making in 2002 where she managed the Participation Fund, working closely with children’s charities on the roll out of involvement of children and young people across England, and the recruitment of England’s first Children’s Commissioner.
She has volunteered with youth charities in New York and London, focusing variously on campaigning and fundraising for projects in the Bronx, the environment and journalism. Cathy is currently working in a sixth form college with employers and students to gain long-term work placements; and is training as a Transformational Coach.
“I am a care leaver and my personal experiences as a Looked After Child have given me the passion to fight for children without a voice. Children in institutionalised settings are the most vulnerable in our society and I want them to have a voice that is listened to and respected, which is why I am proud to be a trustee of Article 39.”
Ella Dhillon is currently studying with Coventry University for her law degree. She hopes to join the Bar and become a barrister focussing on children’s rights.
Ella is a care leaver and works with her local authority to help improve services in her area and has been a part of the creation of their local offer for care leavers. Nationally, since becoming an Article 39 Trustee, Ella has engaged with a number of different charities, including the Howard League for Penal Reform, working on stopping the criminalisation of looked after children, care leavers’ rights, and children’s rights. Ella has been working with the Children’s Commissioner’s office on their new website and for these efforts she has been invited to the Queens Garden Party this year.
“My work on challenging unlawful restraint in secure training centres brought into sharp focus the needs of children in institutional settings for advice on their rights and support in defending them. I hope to use my legal and campaigning experience to help Article 39 meet these needs.”
Alex is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, with more than 15 years’ experience litigating human rights and civil liberties issues including prison law, inquests and actions against the police. Prior to converting to the Bar, Alex spent five years as a solicitor and legal officer at Liberty.
As a solicitor, Alex had a particular interest in children’s rights, especially in the criminal justice context. His campaigning and litigation challenged the demonization of teenagers and the unfair use of ASBOs [anti-social behaviour orders] and police powers against them.
As a barrister, Alex has continued to be concerned about the rights of children and young people, representing young clients in cases against the police and acting in a challenge to the Ministry of Justice’s refusal to inform victims of unlawful restraint in secure training centres of their right to redress. He has represented many families at inquests into deaths in institutional settings – prisons and hospitals. He has seen the way in which mistreatment and neglect can lead to despair and tragedy, and the vital importance of hearing the voices of those living in institutions and holding those institutions to account.
“Children living in institutions are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Article 39 is here for them and I want to help.”
Phillip is a social worker by training, has worked in the field of child protection for many years, and is currently chief advisor on child protection to the NSPCC. Most of his working life has been spent campaigning for better protection for children.
Phillip wrote the overview report of serious case reviews for the Department of Health in 1990, acted as professional advisor to Parents Against Injustice (PAIN) in the 1990s and was a trustee and then Chair of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) from 2004 – 2007. He has been a member of a number of professional and government working groups, most recently a member of the Home Office national group on sexual violence. He was a trustee of Brook Young People 2014-17. Phillip was awarded an OBE in the 2019 New Year Honours list, for public service.
“I signed up to be a Trustee for Article 39 because I want to contribute my skills, knowledge and passion to this new charity whose mission is to improve the safe practices of children living in institutions. They are one of most vulnerable groups in society with little or no voice to address the injustices they face.”
Suraya Skelland currently works for The Children’s Society. She graduated with a youth work degree and for the past 25+ years has held several different roles working with children and young people who face injustices. In her early career she worked for a children rights service in the years following the implementation of the Children Act 1989 and the UK’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child. This paved the way for continuing to empower and work alongside children and young people to make changes on issues that are important to them. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, cooking and walking.
“My time as a social worker and lawyer, along with my role with Voice has given me insight into the vulnerability of children and young people in the care system, and the importance of ensuring their voice is heard. I was inspired by the work of the late John Kemmis and his commitment to advocacy to become involved with Article 39. Hopefully with some relevant experience and a desire to make a difference I will be able to make a contribution to this organisation, which is needed as much as ever.”
Susannah was an early “generic social worker” at a time of great optimism that there was a better future for all. She then specialised in fostering services. After a career break, she retrained in law and practised at the Bar as a family lawyer, with a particular focus on public law child care cases.
The charity Voice for the Child in Care, which became Voice and then Coram Voice was a very small organisation when she became involved and the idea of engaging children in decision making was considered at best eccentric, at worst dangerous. After a period as a voluntary independent visitor to a secure unit, Susannah became a trustee of Voice and served as Vice Chair and Chair. She was also a Trustee with Family Rights Group, chaired a Fostering Panel, and was a board member of the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
In 2003 Susannah became an Immigration Judge and three years later a District Judge of the Central Family Court when, to avoid any conflict of interest, she had to give up her voluntary activities. On retirement she assists with a credit union and offers some advice and support at a food bank.
“I became a trustee of Article 39 because this is an exciting and important charity addressing very significant issues for children and young people living in institutional care. I believe that my experience of the issues will help it bring about positive change.”
Nicola Wyld is a psychotherapist and counsellor. Before retiring, she was part-time principal legal policy adviser at Coram Voice and had worked in the area of children’s rights for over 20 years first at the Children’s Legal Centre. She initially practised as a solicitor and specialised in child law.
At Coram Voice, Nicola provided legal advice and training to advocates. Her policy work included successful parliamentary lobbying to strengthen legal rights and duties around independent advocacy for children in care and care leavers. Her publications include The Door is Closed (2014) joint author of a report about child homelessness and Locked Up and Looked After (2012) a rights guide for young people in the secure estate.
We recruit Associates on a freelance basis to support our direct work with children and campaigning. Please get in touch if you would like to be informed of upcoming vacancies.
“I strongly support the child’s right to protection and support and their entitlement to be involved in decisions about their care. I am glad to be involved with Article 39’s work on promoting advocacy in particular as I believe it to be central to children accessing those rights. Advocacy gives children a voice, without which they may not gain protection, and empowers them- building strength and self-esteem.”
Jenny Clifton has held various posts in social work practice, management and policy in the statutory and voluntary sectors. She has been a lecturer in social work at the University of East Anglia and at the University of Sussex and has published on children’s rights and child protection. She has worked as an advocate and managed visiting advocacy services for Voice for the Child in Care – now Coram Voice. While working with the Children’s Commissioner for England, she led the advice service for children in care. There too, she developed a number of projects designed to promote an understanding of children’s experiences of, their need for and their rights to protection and support. Of particular relevance is the Recognition and Telling work undertaken with the University of East Anglia, designed to improve ways of understanding the obstacles for children in gaining help.
PROFESSOR KEVIN BROWNE
“Institutions or residential care homes for children are sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘orphanages’. The vast majority (94 to 98%) of children in ‘orphanages’ have at least one living parent who are often known to the authorities. These so called ‘orphanages’ provide a non-stimulating clinical environment for infants, toddlers and children, which is associated with negative consequences for child development. We must stop children being frequently placed in institutional care throughout the world.”
Kevin Browne is Chair of Forensic Psychology and Child Health at the University of Nottingham.
He first held academic appointments at the University of Surrey, University of Leicester and University of Birmingham Medical School before being appointed as Professor and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre in Child Care and Protection at the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham from 1998 to 2007. He then became the Chair of Forensic and Child Psychology at the School of Psychology, University of Liverpool (2007 to 2009).
Kevin was an Executive Councillor of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect for 12 years. In 2002/03, he led an EU/WHO investigation into 33 European countries on the extent, characteristics and effects of early institutional care on child development and behavior. He was a consultant and contributing author to the UN Secretary-General’s World Report on Violence against Children (2006).
His publications include The Risk of Harm to Young Children in Institutional Care, published by Save the Children UK and the Better Care Network in 2009.
Kim Harrison is a lawyer and Head of Human Rights at Slater & Gordon Lawyers. She acts for families whose loved ones have died in prison representing them at both the inquest and any subsequent civil or Human Rights Act claim. She also acts for victims of abuse including those in care homes, schools, churches and in the care of the state. She has published articles on human rights, modern slavery and abuse and regularly appears on TV and radio commenting on these issues.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be invited to contribute to Article 39. This is an area of work I passionately believe in, having not only worked with young people at risk, but spending two years myself as a teenager in a child and adolescent psychiatric unit in the 1990s. The treatment I received there was nurturing and positive, helping me to heal from the effects of abuse and neglect I had suffered at home. I want all children and young people to benefit from such nurturing care as I did and would hope to lend my experience of these caring relationships to advise and inform the work of Article 39.”
Jo McFarlane is a writer and performance poet, with an extensive body of published work on the themes of mental health, child protection and diversity/equality. She has 20 years’ experience of promoting the rights, views and experiences of people using mental health services – including through, research, group work, policy advocacy and training. Working for the Mental Health Foundation (Scotland), Jo trained and supported teams of ‘survivor’ researchers in Scotland and Northern Ireland. At the Advocacy Safeguards Agency (Scotland), she undertook research into advocacy for children and young people and advised local authorities and health board commissioners on strategically planning these services for children and adults. During parliamentary discussions of the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill, in 2014, the President of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, Dr Joe Morrow, said of Jo’s book Skydiving for Beginners: “[The book] has a chapter on her experience of advocacy and how it supported her through a particular period. Because you would all benefit from reading it, I would be happy to put up the money to buy you all a copy”.
Richard Scorer is a lawyer and Head of the Abuse team at Slater & Gordon Lawyers. He is ranked as a ‘Leader in the Field’ and an ‘Eminent Practitioner’ in Chambers Independent Guide to the legal profession and has a national reputation for his work on behalf of abuse survivors, having represented hundreds of victims of abuse in institutional settings including prisons, churches, care homes and schools, as well as victims of child sexual exploitation around the country. He is the author or co-author of 6 books and over 100 published articles on various aspects of abuse law and regularly appears on TV and radio in relation to his cases. He has also served as a local councillor in his home town in West Yorkshire, and is a board member of several social enterprises.
Expert Panel members support the work of Article 39 in an individual capacity, and not as representatives of their organisations.
Article 39 was extremely fortunate to have John Kemmis lead our work around strengthening children’s advocacy services, from April 2017 to December 2018. His obituary in the Guardian newspaper can be read here.