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Posts Tagged ‘family’

I was disappointed to read in the Guardian this week that the campaign for a Creche in the Inns of Court for the children of barristers has STILL not got through and sounds as if it may get turned down on costs grounds.

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A bunch of women were trying to get this off the ground when I was first pregnant in early 2007 (and even before that I think), but I fled the city and took my practice nearer to the support of family and cut down my commuting time. I don’t know how we could have made it work otherwise.

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Shame on the bar if it can’t find a way to make remaining at the bar after starting a family more manageable. Too many good female barristers just disappear from practice because they decide the compromises their families are expected to make are too great, that the sums just don’t add up.

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Abortion Ads

Much outrage at the idea of abortion ads on telly apparently. Would it be churlish to point out that

1. Abortion is legal in this country, and

2. 76% of people believe such adverts should be permitted?

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I would have thought such ads will help to maximise awareness, giving women (and their partners) a fuller opportunity to explore and think through ALL of their options at the earliest opportunity and to ensure that a higher proportion of any abortions that are carried out take place earlier on in the pregnancy. I doubt there will be some subliminal message or hypnotic subtext that compels otherwise unwilling women to terminate their pregnancies. Abortion is a difficult topic and a regrettable outcome (even if sometimes its the ‘right’ outcome or the least worst option), but you can’t eliminate free choice or prevent people and services from operating within the law.

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A bit Woolley…

A couple of tweets from @woolleyandco alerted me to some interesting posts on their blog: Andrew Woolley has it spot on about Baroness Deech’s curiously reality-detached approach to humiliating divorce settlements (I think she means demeaning, but anyway). “You say humiliating, I say equality…”. Doesn’t scan but you get the point. And as for the post on Baroness Deech’s remarks about grandparents’ entitlement to financial recompense for their gratis childcare – well I’ve posted previously about the political expediency of pandering to grandparents rights organisations, and all I have to add is this observation: do we really want to go down this road? If grandparents are entitled to claim maintenance from their children who ‘take advantage’ of free childcare, will the parents be able to recoup that in later years for the care they will give the elderly grandparents? Or perhaps parents should be able to recoup their childcare costs from their children’s earnings in years to come? We could all do with acknowledging how much grandparents offer their children and their grandchildren, but their contribution is more than one dimensional – financial support, childcare, time and love. And isn’t the essence of (grand)parental love that it is voluntary?

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My own parents routinely take our son for a day a week, but whilst for them they are pleased to feel they have helped us out with childcare, we are pleased to ensure that they have some quality time with their grandson. We try not to rely on it as failsafe childcare, being sensitive to when they have something else they need to do that day, but we would want to keep up this special time with grandma and granddad even when we aren’t at work. For my son Monday is Ga-mma day. It’s not a transaction we could quantify with money. That would be demeaning. I do see the arguments for being able to claim working tax credits childcare element if a grandparent is giving up a large chunk of their week and is prevented from earning money through other work (although I also see the difficulties with it), but to create maintenance obligations between different tiers of family members just undercuts the whole notion of family helping family – politicians are obsessed with trying to strengthen the family and ‘mend’ society, reducing the family to a set of financial obligations or contracts is not going to help cement our society together or make our children happier.

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As a footnote, its heartening to see that what I would call a ‘marketing blog’ can still be an interesting read, and can contain some real and insightful opinion. If a blog is worth doing it has to contain some human input and not just be an endless stream of advertorial. Whilst Woolley and Co have clearly invested heavily in their online media marketing strategy, they are doing it well. So many other firms are doing it badly.

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I said I’d be back…

…and I am. Just. Although a number of things have conspired against me to leave Pink Tape less than in the pink – I am now (finally) back in the country, back in reach of a reliable internet connection and determined to get back into the swing of things. Even if not everybody will be pleased about it. Dammit – especially because not everybody will be pleased about it. Those who know me well will know that the surest way to ensure I keep on talkin’ is to tell me to shut up or to tell me I am wrong. So I’m sorry to disappoint anyone out there, but I’m not going away.

I return to find that our local CAFCASS has a backlog of 155 cases (largely private cases) which is proposes to clear by Mar 2010. Pigs might fly, but then if my other half can get back from far flung states in economy class complete with unexpected new crutches, maybe anything really is possible. Hope springs eternal. As a colleague recently noted – CAFCASS have recently relieved themselves of the services of 70 staff owing to resource difficulties, of which but two were managers. SIGHS…

I also return with a renewed conviction about how important it is to ensure kids know both sides of their extended family, even if they are kooky and even if they are far far away. It’s pretty tough to make this happen when oceans divide but watching my boy careering round the farm with his little cousins and being fed deer jerky by mommaw and seeing for first hand where his daddy grew up was worth the trip, even if it was quite possibly the most stressful holiday I have ever had. For the boy it was nothing but a great big adventure. An adventure punctuated with lashings of chocolate milk and as much spaghetti as a boy can eat.

And finally I return with a unavoidable bump. It is at least 10% baby and only 90% blueberry pancakes. Time flies eh?

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The NSPCC has seen a dramatic increase in calls about suspected child abuse since Baby P – referrals from the NSPCC to the police or social services are up by a third in two years. I was astonished to read that between April 2008 and March 2009 the NSPCC passed on 11,243 suspected child protection cases, up 3,063 on the previous year. Action in response was taken in 98% of those cases (although I would guess that in many of those cases ‘action’ might be as limited as a quick house call and then NFA). But that is almost 1,000 cases per month that the NSPCC has taken seriously enough to pass on to the authorities and according to the information I have read a large proportion of those cases relate to children not otherwise known to social services – so children that had been falling through the net. Its good to hear that something positive has come from Baby P – perhaps people are feeling the weight of their own social responsibility more and making that call where in the past they might have just considered it someone else’s business. But it’s also frightening to think of the numbers of cases of unseen abuse and unprotected children that these statistics hint at.

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Just happened upon an interesting new blog ‘corbysays’ which is tackling the difficult topic of young care leavers. Its only a fledgling blog at the moment but already has some thought provoking material on it. (h/t to @waugaman)

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Happy 2nd Birthday! Pink and Proud

Wow – Pink Tape is 2 years old. I confess I didn’t really think this far ahead when I made my first blog entry and landed on the name Pink Tape. I didn’t really think ahead at all – it seemed like a good idea at the time. But it’s been fun, and moderately successful, and long may the Pink Tape wind on and on.

complete with pinstripes, pink tape and post its

complete with pinstripes, pink tape and post its

2 years ago things were a lot different: for family law; for me. The ‘Secret courts’ were all the talk – now we have open justice, perhaps soon to be open reporting. The Baby P scandal had yet to break – now we have social work and CAFCASS collapse as a result of the fallout.

Some things were ever thus: proposals to slash legal aid for family practitioners were afoot, there were hotspots of CAFCASS delay and the bar had not really found its way to the blogosphere (perish the thought of embracing technology).

At home, I was just pregnant (or just about to be).  And working in London. And whilst my short period of maternity leave was perfect opportunity for blogging about the job I was taking a pause from, the return to work in Bristol coupled with the ever increasing mobility and ever increasing volume levels of a 15 month old present an ever increasing challenge to making time in my life for the blog (both this one and the Family Law Week blog).

To those who poo-pooed the idea and to my nameless but very learned friend who suggested it was downright unprofessional and demeaning for a member of the bar to be involved with such trash as a blog, 3000 hits a month respectfully submit that you were wrong and that there is something of value in between Heat Magazine (to which you compared this blog) and a legal looseleaf. Clever is good. Clever and interesting is better. And successful is good. But successful and happy is better.

But enough of bitching about the past (although I do feel better for having got that off my chest), what is the future for Pink Tape? Well, I’m always happy to hear suggestions for the direction of the blog, you may like to comment on this post. But in general terms: here’s to another two years at least. It may not go on for ever, but I think I have a clue who may be inheriting the Pink Tape mantle when I hang up my keyboard and blog my last…as you can see from the picture he is earnestly in training already.

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