An eventful day at Parliament
3 minute read
My name is Elaine, and I became a member of Family Rights Group kinship carers’ panel because I am very passionate about trying to make a difference by highlighting the difficulties and injustices, we face trying to raise our kinship families.
I attended the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s AGM at Portcullis House last week and then I was very privileged to be one of the kinship carers invited to witness the reading of the Kinship Care Bill under a 10-minute rule motion by Munira Wilson MP in the House of Commons.
The Bill calls for a statutory definition of kinship care, better provision (financial allowances, support, and parental leave on par with foster carers and adopters) and for more recognition of the difficulties faced in education settings with extra funds being made available.
Last week and today I was trying to decide what to wear for such auspicious occasions. Last week I had worn smart shoes which ended up rubbing my toes raw. This week the plan was to wear more casual shoes and then change. I thought I was being clever by packing some tape and a small nail scissors to patch up any mishaps, big mistake.
I travelled to Westminster to meet the other kinship carers and FRG staff without incident but as we went through the Houses of Parliament security, I quickly realised my scissors were a no no as they were identified under the airport type security scanners. I could not believe it, in my effort to be suitably dressed; I completely forgot my nail scissors would be a security breach.
Security promptly and rightly confiscated them, and I gave an apologetic explanation of why I had them in my bag. Although embarrassed, thankfully I had not caused a major incident and after only a small hold up to complete the required paperwork, was able to move on with my colleagues.
We then had the opportunity to meet Munira Wilson MP briefly in the imposing Westminster Hall. We were able to thank her for the chance to attend, ask questions and take photographs before she went to take her place in the House of Commons, and we headed to the public gallery.
We arrived at Urgent Question time, and of course Standards and Ethics were at the top of the agenda with angry MP’s firing questions and demanding changes. Little were we to know that the day would be so significant with the start of a major crisis and resignations galore to follow, including the resignation of Will Quince, our Children and Families Minister, the following morning.
We watched as Munira Wilson MP very eloquently and ably presented her Kinship Care Bill. It was excellent to witness her give those present a very thorough explanation of the problems faced by both informal carers with no support whatsoever and formal carers who find themselves often suddenly presented with a need to take in a loved child, related or not. It was unanimously accepted and will now go through to the next stage.
The House of Commons felt quite surreal and very grand. Seated in the galleries, we could see what was happening looking down from the heights, but the thick glass security screens muffled the sound, so we listened more clearly on the TV screens around us.
It was quite surreal to be able to witness a Parliamentary debate in person, although we were used to these familiar sights on our television screens. To witness the calls of “Order, Order”, the roars and grunts from around the House at the comments made is an experience I will always remember.
Afterwards, outside I spoke to Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and a Bill supporter who I’ve always admired. We also met Baroness Drake, along with her student placement from York University, where my son-in-law lectures, which was a good opportunity to briefly talk about the Bill. It was great to see the enthusiasm and support shown for our cause.