Friday 6 December 2013


Feeling quite emotional with all the Mandela coverage. My student and immediate post student years were at the height of the anti-apartheid struggles. I knew many South African & Zimbabwean exiles in London - some of whom went home to take important positions in governments and academia. I remember refusing to buy fruit of unknown origin for fear of it being South African. I made British Lion masks for a dance drama outside the gates of the Springbok match. I remember the smuggled out film 'End of Dialogue' and some of the people who made it especially Rakhetla Tshelana. It was an exciting time to live through in London but we didn't have the hardships of those fighting the real battle in Africa. Seeing all that old footage on tv jogged many many memories. I feel for Graca Machel now widowed twice - but at least she knew it was coming this time, I was with African friends when her first husbands plane was shot out of the sky, an unforgettable day. So many images, so many memories. The end of an era. RIP Mandiba. Nkosi Sikekele Africa.

I couldn't bear it when Cameron was eulogising on the news and being the first to sign the condolence book - what right had he got to do that?

Friday 25 October 2013

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome & Child Protection

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome & Child Protection Concerns

Jan Loxley Blount TCert., Dip Child Development
 for Parents Protecting Children UK, October 2013

“Once the label of child abuse has been attached to a parent it is extremely difficult to remove. Yet we know that there are many hard to diagnose conditions that have been mistaken for parental maltreatment with devastating consequences for families.” Earl Frederick Howe to House of Lords 12.02.03

Ehlers-Danlos Support UK and Parents Protecting Children UK are amongst those groups who have recently come to realise that there are a number, as yet unquantifiable, of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome families who appear to be inappropriately caught up in the Child Protection and Family Court System.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is genetic, heritable and familial. Someone with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome may be caring for another or others within the same family also affected by EDS, although the type, severity and symptoms can differ. It may be that diagnosis of one family member may throw light on unexplained symptoms, which have been missed in their close relatives.

There appears to be an unproven link or crossover between Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and some Autism Spectrum Difficulties & Differences, although this has not yet been adequately explored. Many spectrum children appear to demonstrate the kind of hypersensitivities and hypermobility, which may be indicative of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Social Workers have been known to comment on the untidiness of the home of a spectrum family, in some cases this could be because parents are struggling with fatigue derived from undiagnosed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Some Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome families appear to over-react or react aggressively to suggestions that there might be child protection concerns; this reaction may be through sheer terror, which is often exaggerated in spectrum families or individuals. There is none so dangerous as the tigress defending her cubs from perceived danger. If a mother, especially a spectrum mother, fears the loss of her children to Social Services, her reactions may be regarded as excessive or inappropriate by those who seek to judge her.

It is becoming apparent that some cases previously diagnosed as ME / CFS may be symptoms of chronic fatigue caused by Dysautonomia and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, resulting from undiagnosed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Some of the Fibromyalgia symptoms experienced by many ME / CFS sufferers could be symptomatic of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It is possible, but unproven, that the longstanding argument within the ME / CFS community about the benefits or harm of graded exercise, could be that those with ME / CFS type symptoms caused by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome & Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome improve through graded exercise, which develops muscle power to compensate for defective collagen and thereby improves cardiovascular function; whereas those with actual Myalgic Encephalomyelitis may not benefit from and could be harmed by inappropriate exercise. It seems important to us that GPs are alerted to simple protocols for testing all patients presenting with chronic fatigue symptoms for positional blood pressure differences (which may indicate Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) and for checking joint hypermobility on the Beighton Score.

Some infants and small children suffer spiral and other fractures and joint dislocations which at first glance may appear to be caused by rough handling, but on more detailed consideration of context and symptoms may indicate Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

There is a recent complex judgement by the Honourable Mr Justice Baker, February 2013, which involves an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome family. Mr Justice Baker highlights the need for medical and legal expertise that should not be rushed. He suggests that it is very difficult for the judiciary if cases of this complexity are brought by litigants in person.
Devon County Council v EB & Ors (Minors) [2013] EWHC 968 (Fam)

EDS UK & PPC.UK are currently seeking information about other such cases and will be pleased to hear from anyone who can help us. Rachel Carter, Associate Solicitor at Wollen Michelmore Solicitors appears to have some knowledge of this area. We are not suggesting that she is the best or the only solicitor working in this area, however we are naming her because she is the only one who has made herself known to us at this time and because Wollen Michelmore were the instructing solicitors for the parents in the case before Mr Justice Baker cited above.

This is an initial tentative and exploratory document, written because of a rising level of concern.  There is much to be explored, some already begun, some much needed and hoped for. Ehlers-Danlos Support UK & Parents Protecting Children UK are committed to further investigation and will comment in more detail when we have more knowledge and information.

EDS UK has a survey document that we are using to gather information about child protection interventions in families with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. We invite Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome families to complete this. LINK TO REGISTER DETAILS

The views expressed in this document are those of the writer,
Jan Loxley Blount, T Cert., Dip Child Development.
(C) Jan Loxley Blount, London. 24.10.2013

Ehlers-Danlos Support UK
EDS UK was set up in 1987 to support, advise and inform those living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
EDS is a collection of inherited conditions that fit into a larger group known as heritable disorders of connective tissue. Connective tissues provide support in skin, tendons, ligaments and bones.
Connective tissue covers over 95% of your body so there is little that escapes the symptoms.

Parents Protecting Children UK
Parents Protecting Children UK was formed in October 2001 at the time of the House of Lords Debate on False Accusations of Child Abuse, PPC.UK aims to support families with illness, disability, mental health concerns and learning difficulties, who need additional education or healthcare resources
and/or who find themselves caught up in the child protection and family court system.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome & Child Protection Concerns

Article currently being medically verified and will be available shortly.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Hunger strike by father who lost his kids to Social Services.

Re: Hunger Strike by Father who lost his kids.

This is what I've just put on Parents Protecting Children UK 

This is a personal comment from Jan Loxley Blount about the reported hunger strike of David Paul Jenkins in Swansea jail. 

I don't think & have never thought, that breaking the law is the way to make our point and get changes to law and practice to stop social services intruding on and breaking up the wrong families. I've never supported action such as blockading the M25. 

However I do understand that when people have lost or face loosing their children they feel entirely desperate. To loose a child to adoption, when you know in your heart that the authorities have got it wrong, must be every bit as devastating as Kate & Gerry McCann losing Madeleine. 

I gather from others that David Paul Jenkins of Stolen Children of the UK is on hunger strike in Swansea jail. 

I don't know the ins and outs or the background to this, but I know he feels that his children should not have been taken from his family and that everything he does is motivated by his desire to get them back, or at least to expose the situation which his family was placed in. 

Social Services should be made to deal properly with the families with which they get involved. They should get their facts straight before they intervene. Unless there is immediate danger, they should not take a child until they have explored absolutely every diagnosis and reason for family difficulties and considered and tried every possible way of keeping the family together. If it is genuinely justifiable and unavoidable to remove a child they should continue to support the birth parents in their grief and anger. 

I don't know why David's children were taken, or why he is in prison, or why he decided that a hunger strike was his best or only option. I do hope that the situation can be resolved without further harm to him and his family. I do hope that any publicity surrounding this will be helpful to his family and to other families who beleive that their children have been stolen without just cause. 

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Children Screaming to be Heard. Conference Speech.

Conference: Children Screaming to be Heard.
Grantham, 4th September 2013.
Jan Loxley Blount
Parents Protecting Children UK

I'm very excited to be here today to meet you all and hear your stories. I also have a few things for which I need to request your help. We've heard a lot about marches and protests. I think we are more likely to make ourselves heard by putting clear information into the public eye. I think we need something like the Independent Panel Inquiry, which after so many years of cover up, finally brought the reality of what happened at Hillsborough out into the open and showed how the police had contaminated evidence to protect their careers.

You don't need to take notes, my children will put the slides and this speech online. Links will be posted later on the Facebook pages for Parents Protecting Children UK, Children Screaming to be Heard & Parents Against Injustice Network.

Many people have asked how I became involved. As you can see I'm now a careworn OAP, but when I was young I qualified as a teacher and worked in primary and special schools. I ran holiday play schemes and set up a training course for adventure playground leaders. I appeared on the front cover of Woman's Own magazine as 'the girl who cares for latchkey kids', helped advise Thames TV on which children's projects to fund from the first two Telethons, vetted children's play projects for grants from public donations, UK Association for International Year of the Child, Marks & Spencer and the Baring Foundation. I set up the National Out of School Alliance which became Kids Club Network and is now known as 4Children. I sat in the Commons gallery and heard my own postgraduate research on children's play needs quoted by MPs on both sides.

Belatedly I took time out to have children. I found a lovely part time job in a local special school, but lost it because my son was never fully well. I therefore became both Carer and parent.

Five years later I had a daughter who seemed healthier than her brother. I helped at mothers & toddlers, did a bit of childminding and lots of arts & crafts with my children and their friends.

We bumped along, My son was privately diagnosed as having a high IQ together with a Specific Learning Difficulty.  We went to a SENDIST Tribunal and the Local Authority were instructed to undertake a Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Need, but they failed to do so.  He had an ENT infection which the GP dismissed as a 'snotty nosed kid with an over anxious mother'. It progressed to serious bilateral pneumonia for which he was hospitalised and in its wake he developed the symptoms of ME / CFS and missed a lot of school.

His school had an OFSTED Inspection and were worried that his attendance would affect their statistics. They sent an Education Welfare Officer to counsel us about returning him to school. We declined to participate as our son was not truanting, he was ill.  So the EWO visited my daughter's church school to warn them to expect trouble as she had an uncooperative family.

I took the children for an extended half term break in a caravan in Brittany and returned via Normandy on the 45th Anniversary of D Day, Sunday 6th June 1999. We had spent a wonderful last day in France listening to kilted Scottish Pipers on the pier and following balloon decked tanks on country roads. My sons health was much improved by the sea air.

On Tuesday the 8th of June a letter arrived informing us that a Child Protection inquiry had begun.

The process was entirely brutal. The social workers highly intrusive. It felt as if burglars were rifling through my bedroom with hob nailed boots on the carpet and filthy gardening gloves snagging delicate underwear.

Our lives would never be the same again.

I'd been a well respected Children's work professional and wasn't prepared for an intrusion such as this. It was surreal to have supposed professionals, young enough to have been taught by me in an infant school classroom, questioning and criticising my care of my own children.

I was no longer allowed to accompany my daughter on school trips, to help on the classroom cooking rota or to attend class assemblies. The head teacher gossiped and the news got out via the church. Parents didn't want their precious offspring anywhere near me, so my 5 year old daughter suddenly found herself with no invitations to parties, or to play at other people's houses. Nobody accepted our invitations to anything at all. My daughter was ostracised and bullied. My son was forced out of his school and became reclusive and isolated. My career in education and children's services was forever finished.

The charges against me at the so called Professionals Meeting, of which we later obtained forbidden minutes, would have been funny if their consequences weren't so devastating. They included:
Disrupting the children's education by having a second week in Brittany.
 Eating crisps in a school governors meeting.
Applying to SENDIST for a Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Need - they suggested that this was attention seeking on my part and that testing my son would be harmful to him!
Arriving late for a church service and stepping on the noisy metal church floor gratings as we came in.
Being obsessed with death and dying because I wore a silver crucifix and had Spanish Icons (bought on our honeymoon) on my living room wall.
Neglecting to send my son to school when he was ill.
Delivering my daughter to school late on a small number of occasions when her brother had made the morning difficult.
Upsetting the peripatetic woodwind teacher by copying her letter notes onto stave notation, because my dyslexic son could read music, but not letters.

We were convicted by a kangaroo court, masquerading as a Child Protection conference. My children spent about 10 months on the register in the category 'likelihood of future emotional harm'.

The Local Authority Child Protection plan couldn't be implemented because, after contacting the Australian researcher Helen Hayward Brown for advice, we pursued a policy of tactical non cooperation and refused all tests, investigations, appointments and meetings. Tactical non cooperation had worked well in Australia but there were no other UK reported cases.

The Local Authority were prevented from taking the children away by the intervention the late Dr Rudi Vis MP, who said that he had known me for many years and that these charges didn't make any sense to him. Also by a senior local Councillor, now a Lord, who met the chief executive, Jewish patriarch to Jewish patriarch, and told him that families should be left in peace to make their own decisions about family life and their children's upbringing. The chief executive reportedly told social services 'to get themselves out of this one' .

We were taken off the register but the damage was done.

It took us six years from first asking and three years from the Child Protection scam, to finally win a Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Need and a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome for my son. He was given an excellent Statement of Special Educational Need, which was then withdrawn at a critical time. His health concerns were largely un-investigated until he was adult. Children's Social Services ignored his needs but Adult Social Services now treat him well. He's part time at a local university and is recognised as an innovative young composer, but his pathway need not have been so fraught with difficulty.

My 19 year old daughter was to be here with me today but she was ill last night and couldn't come - she made the PowerPoint presentation. Last month I sat with her in a London hospital, discussing with a top specialist consultant why her recent ill health is preventing her progressing to university. He noted that symptoms had been reported since she was eight and asked 'why weren't these investigated much earlier?' I could hardly tell him that when she became ill in school year 3,  the PCT blocked all paediatric referrals on the basis that her mother was supposedly suffering from Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy.  She waited over 10 years until she was 18 for anybody to take her health seriously. It now seems that medication could have allowed her an easier progression through adolescence and her teenage years and possibly avoided or reduced the severity of current serious ill health. This was denied by the precipitous action of inadequately trained professionals, who failed to spot her brothers Aspergers Syndrome. She has most certainly been abused by the system.

I'm here today because in the wake of what happened to us I contacted Charles Pragnell, who had been part of the team which uncovered wrongdoings by medical and social work personnel in Cleveland in 1986. Charles told me that the way out of depression at the loss of my career and the intrusion into our family life was to fight!

In conjunction with Charles and others and facilitated by St Margaret's URC Church in Finchley, I set up a network and a website and later a Facebook group known as Parents Protecting Children UK; through which we have supported many parents.

Parents Protecting Children UK works very closely with Parents Against Injustice Network and False Accusations Support Organisation. Without the back up of the sterling work done by Alison Stevens at PAIN (who is sad not to be here today because her husband is ill) and by Margaret Gardener at FASO, smaller organisations like ours would find it much more difficult to provide support where it is needed.

Parents Protecting Children UK strength is in preparing and submitting documentation to Government and other bodies, I have a postgraduate diploma in Child Development, so I learned how to put information together. It's ironic that I was more highly qualified, than the people who thought I didn't know how to bring up my children.

Parents Protecting Children UK works primarily with families where the issue is around undiagnosed neurological and medical conditions, notably Asperger's syndrome and the symptoms of ME / CFS. We are beginning to see cases where Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is part of the picture, relating to the hyper mobility and acute sensitivities of Aspie kids or to misdiagnosed Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome & Dysautonomia in kids thought to have ME / CFS. This is an area of cutting edge new medical information.

The most frequent Child Protection problem which reaches Parents Protecting Children UK  is around failed diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome in child or parent or both. Teachers, School Ancillary Workers, GPs, Midwives, Health Visitors, Social Workers and the like aren't trained to understand Autism Spectrum Differences & Difficulties. I've even met a hospital psychiatrist who said that it wasn't in her training. Aspergers Syndrome in women and girls has been massively under diagnosed. It is very widely missed. Schools resist applications for expensive assessments. Lists of symptoms of supposed Child Abuse, produced on websites and training courses by Save the Children, Barnado's, NSPCC et al overlap with lists of symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome, Dyspraxia, ADHD and related conditions. Many many cases get into the Child Protection system because an over zealous poorly trained support worker confuses symptoms of Autism Spectrum Differences & Difficulties, with symptoms they have been wrongly taught to identify and report as abuse. Well meaning but mistaken primary school ancillary workers have much to answer for.

Freud died before Aspergers Syndrome was properly understood. By definition Freudian trained psychiatrists and counsellors don't understand autism & Aspergers Syndrome. I've seen several cases where a mother, weary of educational and social services incompetence, has fought for a medical opinion and been mistakenly fed to Freudians, who have spat her family out with a string of harmful misdiagnosis, creating further problems. She then needs yet another assessment to refute this. As the Family Courts are now allowing fewer reports this could get even more difficult.

The new DSM (American diagnostic 'bible' used extensively in the UK & Europe) which recently came into force, will make things more difficult for identifying children with Autism Spectrum Differences & Difficulties, as the term 'Asperger's Syndrome' is disappearing. I think we could be in for a bad time.

However as regards mothers & girls on the spectrum some work is being done on new criteria which should eventually mean that less are missed.  The problem to date has been that criteria which were drawn up when it was assumed to be a male condition, fail to identify women & girls on the spectrum. I've come across a number of Child Protection cases where a very capable but clearly Aspie mother has been wrongly assumed to be difficult and obstructive or to have a borderline personality disorder.
There's one I've been involved with, in which an Aspie widow has been treated absolutely abominably and her children's lives totally wrecked. She has the Aspie trait of tenacity and will fight on and on and on. She's just starting to turn things around in a situation where most others would have given up long before now.

We have all been let down and betrayed by both Labour and Coalition Governments.

On 8th May 2000 Kirsty Wark reported on BBC2 Newsnight that there would be an enquiry into the validity of the diagnosis or Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy as espoused by David Southall & Roy Meadow. This never happened and sometime later, John Hutton, then in a junior position at the DoH, performed a conjuring trick, which presented an inquiry into wether MSBP existed, as a set of guidelines as to how MSBP, or Fictitious and Induced illness as he renamed it, could be identified. This was the same Svengali who later at the MoD helped to pull the wool over our eyes concerning Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. Don't ever trust this man - he is now a Lord and was on the radio this very morning having a go at the long term unemployed! For those who want to know more about the failure to investigate MSBP, the old but excellent 105 page Concensus Document, which has recently been doing the rounds on Facebook, explains a great deal. My much shorter 2004 UCAFAA speech explains enough to give a basic understanding. The critical factor was the involvement of personnel associated with major children's charities, who have a vested interest in Child Protection witch hunts, which generate both jobs and funds. Both links are on the slides.

I was interviewed by Michael Rosen on John Peel's 'Home Truths' and sent  transcripts to Government Ministers Harriet Harman & Margaret Hodge who, as the Sunday Times & Evening Standard later reported, ignored me!

I also sent a transcript to Dr Liam Fox then at the DoH. He recognised the scenario from his work as a GP and asked his Lords Spokesperson, Earl Frederick Howe to investigate. This led to the 2001 House of Lords debate on False Accusation of Child Abuse in which Earl Howe and the Lib Dem Peer Lord Tim Clement Jones called for a Government inquiry. I've forgotten to put links to this in the PowerPoint, but you can find transcripts in the documents section on the Parents Protecting Children UK website. Some speeches make very interesting reading, from people who in opposition had much to say, but in office have done nothing.

Our family story has been referred to by Earl Howe, Baroness Williams, Tim Loughton and other parliamentarians, in and out of parliament. I appear in documents as the 'educated North London woman'. I've spoken on Radio 4 and been reported in various national, regional and local news papers. I've submitted documents to several government committees and enquiries. I'm appalled at how long this has gone on and how much worse it is getting. 10 years ago I thought we were winning, now I know that we are not!

Earl Howe, Tim Loughton, Liam Fox, Dominic Grieve, Caroline Spellman, Baroness Williams, Lord Tim Clement Jones and many of their colleagues in the Coalition are very very knowledgeable about false accusation of child abuse, spurious diagnosis of MSBP / FII and the horrific happenings in the Family Courts, leading in some cases to Forced Adoption. I fail to understand how they can have stood by whilst Michael Gove and his henchman Martin Narey have made everything so very much worse. I remember Howe once quoting Edmund Burke who is reported to have said "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".

In 2002 the case of P,C & S v UK reached the European Court of Human Rights. They ruled that parenting skill should be tested before children were removed for adoption. For a while it was helpful but it now seems forgotten, especially in the wake of Baby P. It has never been revoked, I'm ever hopeful that a new case will find its way to the ECHR and demonstrate how the Brits have ignored its ruling.

I remember the case extensively reported online at Family Wrongs. The father and I used the P,C & S ruling to avoid his baby being removed from the Labour Ward and eventually to secure the homecoming of his two older children. But it didn't work out well for them as his wife died later of grief, never having recovered from the mauling by social services.

I wanted to tell you briefly about two other cases.

One where a mother bleeding heavily and waiting for a hysterectomy was struggling with an adolescent son now diagnosed with ADHD & probable Tourette's Syndrome. Education and Social Services conspired to accuse her of having a Borderline Personality Disorder and being an unfit parent. Her spurious diagnosis is refuted by a specialist NHS Hospital and her sons later diagnoses prove that she wasn't responsible. She's recovered from her gynae problems and three years later is still fighting to get the boy home from a series of highly unsuccessful & inappropriate kinship care & foster care placements. The extent Social Services will go to to protect their own careers, at the expense of this boys teenage years, is beyond belief.

Another case where some years previously a young woman had been involved in trying to protect trees from destruction in a controversial road scheme. She spent a few days in prison for contempt of court because she refused to leave her tree. Much later she was respectably married and pregnant, but the health visitor or midwife found out that she had a 'criminal record'. The baby girl was born on the Child Protection register and when she became ill everyone ignored it, assuming her mother to be attention seeking. Having a criminal record for protecting trees somehow implied that she must also have MSBP. The little girl had a life threatening illness, which was not identified or treated and resulted in a stroke which has left her permanently disabled.

It's not just the forced adoptions which create life sentences for children and their parents.

I've got a number of things for which I need to request your help.

1/ little recognition or notice seems to have been paid to Gove's attempts to reform GCSEs. Schools are driven by cash and statistics. It will become impossible for them to admit children at Secondary Transfer who could pose an exam risk. This will include bright children with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome & a whole host of neurological differences. Those with fluctuating or permanent ill health, including ME / CFS and even severe Hay Fever may all be refused places because they can't deal with a system that has no coursework and no winter repeats, a system where everything hinges on a pressurised exam in May or June.
I foresee many more fights for school places and many more arguments over children's conditions, inevitably some of these will end up in Child Protection Conferences & Family Courts.
My epetition has only about a fortnight to run. There's a flyer on your chair. Please pick up your mobile now or go home to your computer tonight and sign!
Please pass the flyer onto your friend or relative or colleague and get them to sign too.
Please Tweet it &  post it to Facebook groups and networks - lets see how far we can take it! We have very little time left .

2/ I've found another epetition that I didn't know about concerning social services - it looks worth signing - the link is on the slides.

3/ I've applied for another epetition demanding an inquiry into False Accusations of Child Abuse and Forced Adoptions, preferably by an Independent Panel, like the one which exposed the Hillsborough Tragedy.  We need an inquiry which would listen to parents and children and see through the defences put up by Social Services, Paediatricians and Education Authorities.
If it gets accepted I will post the link everywhere I can think of - so please look out for it in the next few days.

4/ My son & I created an online survey questionnaire. I will paste the link everywhere I can think of and invite you all to share it widely. Please complete it!
If you are gagged you can do it anonymously as names aren't required information.
Lets see how much evidence we can compile and see if that makes the media or the government or the major religious bodies wake up and take notice of us. I want to demonstrate the urgent need for an inquiry.
I'd love them back by the end of the month so it doesn't drag on and we can present our evidence as soon as possible.
If you can't complete it online please email me and we will send you a printable copy.
I've had a few offers via the Parents Protecting Children UK Facebook page for people to help me collate replies. We will need more help, so if you can offer even a little time, please message me via Parents Protecting Children UK on Facebook or email me at Parents Protecting Children UK.

THANKYOU for listening and please remember to sign epetitions and complete the survey.

(C)Jan Loxley Blount 04:09:2013

Parent Carer

This is part of my talk to Barnet Carers Forum this morning 10.09.2013

Not many generations ago, being the Parent Carer of a child with disability or chronic long term illness was relatively rare. We've all read stories in novels and seen them in television dramas.
If a child was born with some sort of obvious deformity, the midwife may well have failed to clear its airway and told the parents that it was a stillbirth. If it was very sickly, it would fail to thrive and die in infancy. Before antibiotics a weak child would have sooner or later succumbed to infection and died young.
A surviving child with an obvious disability would have quite probably been kept in an institution, hidden from view.
These days midwives and doctors would be dragged through the courts and blazoned across the front pages of the tabloid press, if they didn't do everything in their power to ensure the survival of the weakest of babies. A baby born the size of my hand, can now be kept alive and develop to full term in an incubator, instead of the womb. Increased survival rates mean that a higher proportion of children with long term medical and neurological difficulties have the opportunity to grow up. We no longer hide disabled children in institutions, they live at home with their families. Inevitably more parents find themselves as Carers.
You talk to your pregnancy bump and dream of it being clever, rich and famous and keeping you in comfortable retirement. Then there's a difficult or premature birth or something just doesn't seem quite right. You get extra visits from the midwife, or the health visitor finds herself repeating one of the milestone checks.
It may be a gradual process, or it may be quite sudden, but one day it dawns on you that all isn't quite as you expected it to be. This  adorable long awaited child is different, less than the perfect dream.
You find yourself with a string of hospital appointments where everyone uses words you've never heard before. You start to pick up the medical terminology and to use it when talking to friends or family, who look at you strangely assuming you are showing off, exaggerating or attention seeking. You come face to face with the reality that your life will never be the same again and that, with or without your partner or co-parent, you are alone.  

Or maybe the child is in perfect health, but when she or he starts to socialise in mums and toddlers, nursery or the reception class there are arguments and tantrums, toys unable to be shared, circle time not joined (because your offspring was hiding under the coats, waiting until the daily ordeal was over). Maybe she's clumsy and breaks things, or has multiple minor accidents. Maybe he finds it impossible to learn to read. Maybe your child can't sit still and concentrate and is constantly being reprimanded for bad behaviour. You ask for some kind of assessment but the school refuses. Your child gets branded as uncooperative and you start to realise that something is wrong.    

Ideally the medical or educational personnel involved should take you metaphorically by the hand and lead you kindly and gently through the maze of medical or educational or neurological assessments. They should help you to find the best of everything for your beloved child, help you find support for yourself and other family members. Social services could make life easier for your family.
Sadly thats rarely how it works. Doctors don't like difficult or insoluble or hard to diagnose conditions, which clog up their waiting rooms or cost the practice money in onward referrals. Schools and education authorities are budget driven and don't want additional children with expensive and cumbersome Statements of Special Educational Need. Social services are so obsessed with 'Child Protection' that they no longer consider support for loving families in difficult circumstances.
Parent Carers finds themselves as warriors, fighting for diagnosis, services and support. Employers may be critical of the time spent on the telephone or at appointments. Jobs may be lost or careers downgraded. Siblings may find that they get less parental attention and are often bullied by classmates who don't understand. Grandparents probably find the whole situation incomprehensible. Aunts and uncles stand back and keep out of it, so there are less invitations to family gatherings, less visits and phone calls.
Parent Carers clamour more and more urgently for vital diagnosis, services and support. Somebody somewhere may suggest that the frantic Parent Carer is attention seeking, in which case the situation of 'no available resources' turns upside down. If a Child Protection investigation is instituted, the funds flow in for endless meetings and innumerable assessments, but rarely the ones which will actually help the child.
Only this morning I had an email from Disability Today with the results of a survey demonstrating that many Parent Carers are near to breaking point.
Copywrite Jan Loxley Blount 

Sunday 21 July 2013

My holiday reading. Victoria Hislop

'The Thread' & The Last Dance'

both by Victoria Hislop

Read on holiday in Quiberon, Brittany, France. July 2013

I discovered Victoria Hislop in Crete in 2011, when my holiday neighbour's daughter lent The Island to her mum, who lent it to me. I read and returned it in a day, downloaded a copy to my iPad for safe keeping and in 2013 gave copies to many via World Book Night. Whist on Crete, I visited Spinalonga and was able to share pictures of the island at the WBN 2013 lunch party for Finchley Carers.

I'd always intended to get back to this author, purchasing The Return & The Thread on Kindle and treating myself to an early hardback of The Last Dance for Christmas. Circumstances  had left all unread.

Here in France, surrounded by sea on the Presqu'├«le de Quiberon, where most of the time the mobile phone says 'no service' and the internet is all but non existent, has some of the timeless village feel of a Greek island. Thankfully, I remembered to bring Victoria Hislop on holiday with me.  

Having not had the peace of mind to read for some time, I began with the short story book The Last Dance. She drew me in gently with a parrot changing the course of the lives of two people and thereby (presumably) going on to rock whole village and the wider Catholic Church; she finished with a man marrying the wrong bride. As in her longer works, the recurrent theme of seeking the balance between family ties and a just equanimity in society was explored. This was powerfully illustrated in a rather bloody tale of rival butchers in a meat market. Always she looks for hope and reconciliation.

Along the way her One Cretan Evening, which I believe comes from another of her short story collections, is a powerful tale of misrepresentation leading to cruel injustice. She takes the story far enough to demonstrate the attempts at atonement, by those who had followed the words of others rather than seeking the truth for themselves. How I wish that I ever saw that in my own work with the misjudged.

Having feasted on the hors d'oeuvre of short stories, I was finally ready to start the main meal of a complete book. Although tempted to track her progression as a writer by reading The Return, I decided to stick with Greece and skipped to Thessaloniki for The Thread.

She begins in 2007 with an English born student visiting his grandparents whilst studying for his Masters in a Greek university. At a port-side cafe he encourages them to consider invitations to live out their days with their lawyer son's family in Highate, or their doctor daughter's family in Boston USA. Having posed the question, he helps a blind man across the busy street. The blind man suggests that the student shuts his eyes for a moment to see Thessaloniki with his other senses. Dimitri is overwhelmed by the experience. He returns and is told that although there had been no other option than to send their children abroad for education the old folks had always hoped that they would return to Thessaloniki. They buy meagre provisions in the market and carry them to their modest flat to prepare a feast for their beloved grandson. Whilst the food is cooking, Dimitri senior and his beloved wife Katerina tell their stories and demonstrate why they could never leave. The book ends with the young Dimitri (whom his grandparents address using the diminutive Mitsos) accepting that they will stay and making a radical decision about his own future.

The story takes us through two world wars, a civil war and massive political and economic change. We see destruction of life and property by fire, earthquake and fanatical human cruelty.

Dimitri's Grandfather, also called Dimitri was the son of Konstantinos, a wealthy, right wing Thessalonian merchant; who manufactured for himself the perfect family, to demonstrate to the town that he could entertain in style and to ensure the survival of the business through inheritance by the son. Changing circumstances ensure that this will never happen. None of his money passed to his son but when it became apparent that they couldn't be treated fairly in Thessaloniki, his widow (Olga senior) paid for her son's children Theodoris (a gift from God) and Olga junior to be educated in London and Boston.

Dimitri's Grandmother, Katerina, was a child refugee from Smyrna (Izmir) involved in a population exchange of Greek Christians and Turkish Muslims. We meet her trying to find her mother who has just left with her new baby on a boat to Athens. A soldier tends little Katerina's wounded arm and thereby saves her life. He binds the wounded arm with part of his shirt, on which a silver button hung by a thread.

What is unusual about Victoria Hislop is that she tells you so much at the beginning. No need to take a sneaky look at the last chapter. You, the reader, start out knowing that both Dimitri and Katerina survive. You know almost from the outset that it is Dimitri's ill fated uncle who saved Katerina's  life, although it is only in the closing pages that this is revealed to the two central characters. You are therefore left not wondering 'if' they will survive, or get themselves out of seemingly impossible life situations of vastly unequal wealth and poverty, to end up together in modest retirement with highly educated international children and grandchildren. You can only wonder 'how on earth' it is going to happen, especially when you realise that so much of the book is gone and so much is left to resolve.

The pace is fast, she makes compelling reading, difficult to put down. Some of her descriptions are utterly brilliant, for instance telling us about the uninvited flies who live with the the goat and the chickens, as a way of helping us to see the stench and squalor of living in abject poverty, with essential animals as part of the household. To cover 90 years of history containing so much detail of two world wars, the events between them and afterwards, within a relatively short novel about love and family ties is a daunting task, brilliantly executed. Her ability to get behind the headlines and tell us how it felt for ordinary and extraordinary people caught up in unbelievable catastrophe is awesome.

Hislop explores the changing place of women in society as mothers, wives, daughters, lovers, workers, homemakers, prostitutes, mannequins and chattels. She explores the relationship between mother or mother substitute and daughter and between father and son, especially when politically there is no common ground.

At the heart of the book she tells the story of Jews going like lambs to the slaughter. Encouraged by the gullible Rabbi to withdraw and exchange their Greek savings for Polish currency to take with them on the train to their 'new lives' in the gas chambers. As we know from the preface to the book Katerina ensures the survival of some of the most precious Jewish relics by sewing them into very ordinary objects in daily use by Christians. Places where they would never be discovered until, much later, she was able to hand them over to those who could pass them onto future generations.    

The Thread and The Last Dance are two books very much to be recommended. As was The Island.  Now I need to get my head out of Greece and head for Spain, to read The Return. Then I'll have to wait for her to write something new!

The only frustrating thing about reading Hislop on the beach or campsite with no Internet is the inability to Google for explanation of her many references, historical events, passages from the Bible & the Torah, names and illustrations from classical mythology and folk tales. Maybe I need to re-read her books in London and thereby teach myself some history and culture.

(C) Jan Loxley Blount 15/07/13
Conguel, Quiberon, France.

Thursday 27 June 2013


I just heard the craziest story yet about NHS savings under privatisation - my mum who has Altzeimers was taken to the memory clinic - they can't tell us if she's deteriorated further or if medication has stabilised her - BECAUSE THE MEMORY TESTS ARE DONE ON A COMPUTER PROGRAMME UNDER LICENCE AND THE PROVIDERS WERE UNDERCUT BY ANOTHER BIDDER  - so now the whole PCT has no records whatsoever of any of it's dementia patients - as they've all got to start again with a new system. What that will mean in terms of additional expensive staff time and in failed care and inappropriate medication is anybody's guess - but the privatised NHS thinks it saved money by switching to another software provider! This seems like we are living in a stand up comedy show or fantasy film - but it's the NHS here and now with this crazy crazy short sighted government !

Wednesday 26 June 2013


Dear Sirs

I am writing in response to the consultation about the mobility component of PIP.


The PIP/DLA component for getting around needs to be what it says - a MOBILITY component not a WALKING component. 

What is lacking in the current criteria is a category for people who can stand and walk but are immobilised by medical conditions and cannot walk to the shops or use public transport without putting themselves in severe danger. Without mobility payments they are effectively housebound and unemployable.

My own teenage daughter is a case in point.

She has neurological and cardiovascular conditions including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and dysautonomia (as a result of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) which make it dangerously unsafe and therefore impossible for her to travel by tube or bus or to walk long distances. A 24 hour heart rate monitor produced what her Consultant described as a 'scary' reading when she attempted to walk a couple of hundred yards. 

She currently has a Statement of Special Educational Need which includes transport - the Local Authority take her to, from & between classes - without which she could not attend. They wouldn't do this if it was non essential. 

When the Statement of Special Educational Need ends she will be housebound as I'm an OAP on council tax benefit and in failing health - I am not able practically or financially to provide for her transport needs. Her only way of going to university would be if she was awarded the higher rate mobility component so that she could get a Motability car or use taxis. Without this award her education will end when the Statement of Special Educational Need ends - and her many undoubted talents will be wasted. She will be housebound and unemployable and will become  dangerously depressed and an increasing benefits drain on the public purse.

To provide her with the higher rate mobility component of DLA/PIP would mean that she could continue her studies and make herself employable. She will only ever be able to do work which requires minimal physical exertion and that means using brain power not physical ability - this requires a university education. 

It would cost the country far far less to provide her with a mobility payment and therefore make her educable and employable than for her to stay at home and spend the rest of her life on invalidity / incapacity benefits.

Please look again at the question of MOBILITY payments for people with ME / CFS and cardiovascular problems and dysautonomia who would be unsafe on public transport and who therefore need an enhanced MOBILITY payment if they are to be facilitated to make themselves independent and/or educable / employable.


Jan Loxley Blount 
TCert., Dip Child Development. 

The primary symptoms present in patients with dysautonomia are:

Monday 24 June 2013

Children taken wrongfully into care

Date: 25 June 2013 00:00:38 GMT+01:00
To: ""
Subject: Kids wrongfully in care - following your programme 
Dear Panorama

I run a Facebook page Parents Protecting Children UK (link below) which succeeded a website of the same name (still exists - somewhat out if date but with useful archives in the documents section).

You might like to look in the Parents Protecting Children UK website docs section and in Hansard for speeches by Earl Howe.

I'm the 'educated north London woman' referred to by Lord Howe on several occasions and by Baroness Shirley Williams (Portcullis House speech) whose 1999 case of social services intrusion opened their minds to a parallel world of false accusations. Howe and several of his colleagues including Spellman, Greive, Fox and others were well versed in the issues of wrongful child abuse accusations - and yet like the 'good men who do nothing' to which I remember Howe referring in opposition, they've stood by and let Cameron, Gove & Neary make everything a thousand times worse! 

Recently I'm horrified by some of the cases reaching me at Parents Protecting Children UK or which I hear about through Parents Against Injustice Network, False Allegations Support Organisation or Education Equality.

Families, especially those with autism or with a variety of hard to diagnose complaints which may fall within the umbrella of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and related conditions or may be caused by vitamin D deficiency or vaccine damage are routinely pillaged by social services who take away their dignity and their social standing and frequently their children.

I could arrange to put you in contact with others from the various support agencies or directly with selected parents.

This is a scandal leading to kids wrongfully in care and to wrongful forced adoptions.

Many cases start with misunderstanding over school placements and resources. Gove's new GCSE proposals will make things worse, as kids who are different won't be offered the school places they need for fear of their lack of exam passing skills will reflect badly on the schools league tables - so there will be more fights with the authorites over school places and invariably a significant percentage of these fights become child protection cases as social workers imagine that fighting for a school place is symptomatic of MSBP.

I'd love to talk to you further

Very Best Wishes Jan Loxley Blount 


Proud mum!

Despite a raging sore throat and a lot of recent illness my daughter wowed them in the big theatre at Arts Depot tonight with an exciting solo rendition of Gershwin's 'I Got Rhythm' accompanied by the wonderful Ros Savourin. Part of Barnet Educational Arts Trust Music Festival. The sore throat gave her normally very pure voice, a slightly smoky edge which went well with jazz! lovely! On the way down in the lift one of the little girls from a primary school choir looked up at her with awe and said 'you're a very good singer!'
There were some good performances by some of the schools and the massed choir, innovative arrangements with lots of percussion, a truly wonderful evening. Congratulations to all!

Saturday 22 June 2013

Friends passing

The saddest thing about getting older is when friends start dying. This week I've heard of two. Both funerals missed. Both not seen in 18 months because of the pressures of family illness.

RIP RUTH REES of Barnet Carers, a lady who in her 80s coped with email and smart phones, she loved helping others and most of all loved her beautiful garden which she opened to the public each year as part of the National Gardens scheme to raise money for charity.

RIP JOHN DOWNING of St Phillip's & St Mary's but most of all of the theatre: actor, director and friend of the great jazz divas - I was going to buy him a coffee for him to tell me more about it - he said 'you won't I said 'I will' and it's been on my to do list and I never did! I had print outs of theatre bits about him from the Internet which I wanted to give him - now I can't.

And to add to all of it the 95 year old who I'm helping with a book spent yesterday being monitored in Barnet General - she's home but it's a warning that I need to get on with it fast - very fast - but in present circumstance that ain't easy.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Pompeii Live

I saw the video cast from the British Museum of POMPEII LIVE at the Phoenix in East Finchley last night. Very mixed feelings. Lovely to see the artefacts but the presentation was extremely disappointing. The sound was cacophonous, I'm not sure if the Phoenix could have improved this but they didn't! 

On TV Mary Beard & Bettany Hughes come over as strong intelligent women, respecting themselves, their knowledge and the intelligence of their audience. Last night was dumbed down and seriously misjudged. They gushed, they wasted precious live time with silly affectations, they (especially Mary Beard) had seemingly been told to flirt with Peter Snow, it came over badly. As I came out I overhead a member of the audience, saying that the one she liked best was the exhibition curator, 'because he was the only one who talked to the audience as if we were intelligent human beings'. This video cast wasn't being relayed to a football stadium of people who had never been in a museum before - it was to cinemas full of intelligent arts and history aware people who couldn't get exhibition tickets, couldn't travel so far or stand so long. Also to those like me with exhibition tickets, who wanted to know more. I think this was a first for the BM - I hope they'll learn before trying again! 

That said, the artefacts were glorious and we were left wondering how some of them were transported and indeed if such risks should have been taken? I guess the monies raised through the exhibition and the video casts and the associated interest and increase in tourist visits will fund much needed conservation and that therefore risking some items to preserve others is justifiable. They know that (especially in Herculaneum) there are vast un-excavated areas and therefore many more treasures still to be found. There was discussion, especially with a Professor who was busily and fruitfully excavating the sewers (he was the other one who besides the curator was true to himself on camera), about the ethics of further excavation when they are failing to conserve what is already exposed. 

The stuff from the sewers was fascinating. You could imagine the horror of a beautiful young woman as she washed her hands and knocked her precious jewelled gold ring (bigger than the sapphire worn by Princesses Diana & Kate) down the drain, never to be seen again, or at least not for 2000 years. There was a bracelet too and a perfect little statue of a household god, who must have been watching over the toilet until accidentally knocked down it - maybe by one of the earth tremors signalling the unhappiness in the belly of Vesuvius. Kitchen implements, large fragments of pottery and whole cooking pots were obviously thrown or washed away with waste foodstuffs. Faecal remains have enabled the diet of ordinary people to be analysed and found to be extraordinarily varied, including imported as well as local foodstuffs and with something like 50 varieties of fish.

The ordinariness of the lives of the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum (if they hadn't been preserved in ash we'd never have given them a second thought) meant that at several points i found myself thinking back to Grayson Perry's 2012 BM exhibition, at the 'Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman'. The craftsmen and women of Pompeii and Herculaneum were presumably local and remain unknown. Mary Beard & Bettany Hughes were intent on giggling about the lewd and contentious. They showed phallic objects which would have fitted well in the Perry exhibition, but Perry presented that section in a much more satisfyingly matter of fact way. They found a multi phallus with bells on, which Perry's bear, Alan Measles, would have enjoyed. Beard showed murals from the pub or drinking house with cartoons and Latin inscriptions of vociferous arguments prompted by games won or lost. Her ease at reading the Latin inscriptions demonstrated her academic prowess, sadly not evident in much of this 'performance'. Hughes feigned shock and warned sensitive audience members to look away from a statue of Pan (who was himself half goat) copulating with another goat, but when you think about it, Pan didn't have the equipment to copulate with anyone of human build. If he wanted to pleasure himself it had to be with another goat. Would she have reacted in the same way to a similar stature of two goats?

The most fragile objects were those carbonised by the heat of the ash. These included a wooden chest and a babies cot. We found ourselves wondering how on earth these had been stabilised for travel? The chest had contained carbonised clothing; and the cot the remains of its tiny occupant. Bodies in Herculaneum were burned up by the 400 degree heat of the ash with only skeletal remains. Pompeii was hit many hours later at 300 degrees so bodies were cooked and remained encased in ash until they rotted away. Conservationists have poured molten plaster into the cavities and thus produced casts of the bodies. There was a chained up dog, a small child on a couch, an even smaller child on her mothers knee concealed under the supposed safety of the stairs with the rest of her family. Apparently many fled, the fleet and quick thinking got away, the infirm or slow moving died in the surrounding fields where many bodies await excavation. Those who stayed put and hid themselves away, died instantly.

There were beautiful frescoes from the garden room of the house with a gold bracelet. The BM has spread them out so more people can see them simultaneously, I'd have loved the more atmospheric presentation of showing them together as intended and found. I guess all exhibitions involve compromise. I look forward to visiting the exhibition in July and would love to visit Naples, Pompeii & Herculaneum to see the artefacts where they belong and the rest of the excavated sites. I had a plane booked to do so last year but my daughter had an accident so I couldn't go. One day maybe?!?!

Monday 17 June 2013


Last night I ended up in Rotherham A&E as my daughter had yet another angioedema attack and being away from home, local doctors were cautious. It made a change from the Royal Free and the seats are more comfortable!
Rotherham A&E was way overloaded and not so much understaffed as short of space. Full of young people with alcohol on their breath and lower limb injuries!
I can't help the feeling that part of the reported NHS A&E difficulty is that in so many ways a culture of celebrity has led to a kind of meaninglessness, where alcohol is overused because there isn't enough to think about or do.
It reminded me  of visiting Crete in 2011.
The road from Heraklion to Agios Nikolaus passes through the ancient coastal town of Malia with extensive preserved remains of a ruined  palace of many years BC where incredible fine gold jewellry was found, which is now in museums in Heraklion. When we went to the palace there was hardly anybody there. When we went to the mountains or towards Agios Nikolaus, driving through Malia in a morning was easy as all the young English, Irish, German & Dutch youngsters were sleeping off their previous nights revelries. Driving back through Malia in an evening was a nightmare of trying to avoid meandering quad bikes or people stepping out into the road, oblivious of road  traffic. Everybody goes to Malia to get wasted!
My daughter rode horseback on the shore, her companion got kicked by a horse and they found themselves in the minor injuries unit in Malia, teeming with teenagers plastered with both alcohol & white bandages - many not even remembering how they came to be there. They started drinking on the flight to Heraklion and never stopped until arriving back at their home airport. They saw nothing of the rest of the beautiful island of Crete or even the most incredible ancient palace a mile away! Wasted! 

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Biographical notes : Jan Loxley Blount

Biography. Jan Loxley Blount (draft)

Janet Christine Loxley (Jan) was born in 1950 in suburban Sheffield. Her father was a PhD student and lecturer at Sheffield University, applying aircraft metals technology, developed whilst on wartime secondment, to the design of roof bars for coal mines. Her sisters were born in 1954 and 1956 by which time her father *(01) was working for Safety in Mines Research Establishment *(02) and the family had moved outwards to Orchard Cottage, built c1600, where her mother still lives. Her father died during pioneering open heart surgery in early 1964 when the girls were 13, 9 and 7. Only at his death did the family fully realise the importance of his work when telegrams arrived from Whitehall and abroad. Hundreds or maybe thousands of lives were saved in the UK, South Africa and elsewhere.

After their fathers death their mother went out to work and Jan became to some extent a surrogate parent or carer. Thankfully,  All Saints Church, Aston,*(03) influenced both by the Founding Fathers of Kelham Theological College *(04) and by inspirational theologian and Communist Vicar of nearby Darnall, the Revd Alan Ecclestone*(05), provided groups and projects which nurtured Jan and her peers and challenged them to think politically and beyond village horizons.

Jan trained to be a teacher at Kingston upon Hull College of Education during which time she was active within the University of Hull and nationally in the Student Christian Movement *(06). Through SCM's Europe Africa Project, she met many exiled South African and Zimbabwean journalists *(07) and future political leaders.

Whilst studying in Hull she attended a lecture about children's play *(08) by Drummond Abernethy OBE *(09) which changed the course of her life. After qualifying as a teacher she worked on Tentown Adventure Playground Sheffield during which time she was able to participate in parish meetings at Alan Ecclestone's Holy Trinity, Darnall - although he was now retired. For economic reasons she moved to London for a terms supply teaching in Hackney, became involved in exciting projects and never returned. For several years she worked on Saturdays for I.L.E.A. at the Cockpit Theatre *(10) as part of their innovative Outreach team with children and young people. Jan loved using drama and art in this way. It was her first attempt to integrate children with disabilities into groups alongside their able bodied peers. She was especially fond of Joanna, who had Downs Syndrome and was the youngest daughter of cricket commentator Brian Johnston*(11).

She worked a couple of evenings a week at Archway Methodist Central Hall Youth Club, Mondays with the biggest, noisiest, most vibrant gathering of Afro Caribbean youth for miles around and Thursdays with a fragile small group of local and disabled white kids, what a contrast! Jan taught, ran holiday play schemes and did youth work in Islington until moving in 1974 to London Adventure Playground Association*(12,13) as Arts Worker, quickly being promoted to Training Officer where she spearheaded a much replicated play leaders training course. Drummond Abernethy worked downstairs for N.P.F.A. Jan met and adored Marjory, Lady Allen of Hurtwood*(14,15), pioneer of Adventure Playgrounds, especially for those with disabilities. Regular visitors  at the L.A.P.A. & N.P.F.A. offices included Elton John*(16), Jimmy Hill and Prince Philip*(17).

As L.A.P.A. Training Officer she invited Margaret J Roberts, World President of O.M.E.P. and at that time head of Susan Isaacs' prestigious Post Graduate Diploma Course in Child Development at London University Institute of Education, to lecture to her trainee play leaders - only the best would do! Miss Roberts was due to retire shortly and invited Jan to apply to join the course in 1978 for her final year. Jan's research and dissertation concerned the after school and school holiday activities and interests of primary age children in a very mixed area of central London. She discovered to her horror that many of these children were letting themselves into empty houses at the end of the school day, or hiding quietly in the holidays, so the neighbours didn't realise that they were home alone.

Whilst studying and for the next few years, Jan supplemented her income by three fostering teenagers (in succession) for London Borough of Barnet.

Jan competed her Diploma course but still had to write up her research, however she spent the summer working for the pioneering museums education officer Angela Cox at the National Portrait Gallery, encouraging children to bring the paintings of John Singer Sergeant to life through masks, costumes and drama. Jan was very tempted to join the world of arts education. However 1979 was the UN International Year of the Child. One of the priorities identified by the great and the good who, headed by Churchill's daughter Lady Mary Soames, were running the UK operation, was Latchkey Children. They advertised for someone to research the extent of the hidden latchkey problem and identify possible solutions. Jan couldn't resist applying as this brought together her work in children's play with her research for her Diploma in Child Development. She was duly appointed and for almost a year had an office at 85 Whitehall, close to the Cenotaph - she had to pinch herself to see if the view was real, as she was so far from her village roots.

Together with Gerald Conyngham of Save the Children Fund and a finance officer from UK I.Y.C., Jan  toured the UK, visiting projects aiming to cater for children's out of school and school holiday needs. They fell in love with a group of English and Asian mums in a mainly Gujarati area of out-workers for the shoe and clothing trades, living in tiny houses in inner city Leicester. Everything revolved around sewing to keep the bills paid, so children were left to their own devices or told to keep quietly out of the way. Sue Ranger had a vision of turning a disused coal merchants shop, compete with stables, into a safe, warm and welcoming Playhouse! Sue persuaded Leicester City Council to buy the premises and Jan proposed that UK I.Y.C. provide start up monies from publicly donated funds. Belgrave Playhouse has recently celebrated its first thirty glorious years and goes from strength to strength although government cuts imposed on Leicester may threaten its future. Other publicly donated I.Y.C. funds supported less ambitious projects in Bristol and Thamesmead and provided equipment grants to dozens of other groups.

UK I.Y.C. wound up in the summer of 1980 and Jan headed off to the Commonwealth Institute where she worked alongside Zandra Rhodes and others on the groundbreaking interactive exhibition MASK!  There were tentative, tantalisingly tempting offers of freelance work in theatre and arts education, but Clive Jordan of the British Association of Settlements and Social Action Centres was determined that the work started by the UK I.Y.C. Latchkey Project wouldn't die. He obtained  core funds from the Baring Foundation and project monies from Marks and Spencer's. Jan moved to Exton Street to head the B.A.S.S.A.C. Out of School Project.

Woman's Own magazine got involved and put Jan on the front page as 'The Girl Who Cares for Latchkey Kids'. Jointly with the Baring Foundation, they funded a conference in London on Saturday 3rd April 1982 which was attended by women from all over the UK who'd never previously been to London or a conference. This was the day Parliament was recalled to launch the Falklands Armada, so unusually the Government's intentions were announced by an opposition MP - Alf Dubs. Core funding was obtained to launch the National Out of School Alliance for a minimum three year term. Offices were set up at Oxford House in Bethnal Green. Jan worked for N.O.O.S.A. until 1986 by which time she was tired of travelling to Scotland, Northern Ireland, Bristol and elsewhere, she longed for a local base to her life. After she left N.O.O.S.A. became Kids Club Network and has now become 4Children, although Jan fears that it may have abandoned much of the vision and ideology on which it was founded.

Jan worked briefly for various children's and disability arts projects in and around the London Borough of Barnet until economic necessity sent her back to primary teaching in Islington where she ended up working to integrate deaf children into a mainstream primary school. The Methodist Church in the UK advertised for a Connexional Secretary for Children's Work and Jan was appointed, but this coincided with her unexpected decision to marry Malcolm Blount. Their ages meant that having children was an urgent priority and this wasn't practical in a job which required extensive travelling and weekend work. Jan left to marry and rehab an Edwardian house. They exchanged contracts not knowing she was pregnant.

The rest of Jan's biography is intended to be detailed in her book IT COULD HAPPEN TO ANY OF US, Reflections on a Child Protection System in Crisis.  (c) Jan Loxley

Her children David (1989) and Helen (1994) are both highly intelligent, gifted and talented but both have complex debilitating health concerns and neurological differences / learning disabilities including: ME / CFS, Aspergers Syndrome, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADD/ADHD, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Hypermobile Joint Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Disorder, Asthma, Eczema and multiple allergies.

The late Consultant Paediatrician Dr Alan Franklin suggested that the children were able to function so well despite their problems, because their mother managed their conditions 'so close to the envelope'. A recent GP has made similar comments. However in 1999 assorted medics, educators and social workers misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented the family situation. Jan was victimised and came close to losing both children to state care.

Her story has been told on radio 4 twice (Home Truths & Face the Facts) and spoken of by Earl Howe (who said that this case opened for him the parallel world of the falsely accused) Baroness Shirley Williams and others. It has been reported in the Sunday Times,  the Church Times, the London Evening Standard and various local newspapers in Barnet, Newcastle and elsewhere.

Jan launched and coordinates Parents Protecting Children UK online via its own website and on Facebook.  It has helped many many families, directly or indirectly. On behalf of Parents Protecting Children UK, Jan attends and speaks at various meetings and conferences concerning Autism Spectrum Differences & Difficulties and False Accusation of Child Abuse. She provides limited  telephone and email advice to families in difficulty and has submitted various papers to government and other enquiries etc - some of these have been published. Jan works closely with colleagues in Parents Against Injustice Network, False Accusations Support Organisation and other relevant agencies.

Jan is active in various local parent Carer networks and campaigns eg to save Friern Barnet Library. With Keith Martin of Chaville Press she is hoping to help Margaret J Roberts, now 95, to publish a book on child development which will show some of where UK primary education and child care.  has lost it's vision and direction in the last 30 or 40 years. Jan attends church regularly, writes and does a bit of art, but primarily she is a hands on parent Carer for David & Helen. David is an undergraduate music composition student, writing primarily for SATB choir with Church Organ, but also for woodwind and flute. He plays Sax and sings in several choirs. His compositions are beginning to win prizes and be noticed. Helen is an A level student with a classically trained voice and a massive political / social conscience - Jan teases that she could end up as anything from the new star of Covent Garden to UN Secretary General.

(C)JLB 02:01:2013 & 12:06:2013

*(01) Loxley, E. M. [],%20e%20m
*(02) A Century of Science - HSL -
*(03) All Saints Aston-cum-Aughton » History
*(04)  Society of the Sacred Mission
*(05) The Rev Alan Ecclestone -
*(06) History of SCM | Student Christian Movement
*(07) Chenhanho Chimutengwende -
*(08) Welcome to the Home of British Adventure Play:
*(09) Welcome to the Home of British Adventure Play:
*(10) Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone -,_Marylebone
*(11) Brian Johnston

*(12) Sunday Times 1977 - AP text reformatted.doc
*(13) London Adventure Playground Association -
*(14) Welcome to the Home of British Adventure Play:
*(15) The history of adventure playgrounds -
*(16) Elton John Song Lyrics: The Goaldigger Song
*(17) NPFA 1998dec8.pdf

Monday 10 June 2013

Jan Loxley Blount & Parents Protecting Children UK

Mainly me - Jan Loxley Blount - I'm an OAP, a Carer for two children (now young adults) with additional needs mainly because of health difficulties. In 1999 we were wrongfully placed on the Child Protection Register for 6 months because of misrepresentation by schools, GP & social services of Autism Spectrum Difficulties & Differences & ME / CFS.
Our case was the main trigger for the 2001 House of Lords Debate on false & misleading accusation of child abuse. Earl Howe said that our story introduced him to a 'parrallel world'.
Parents Protecting Children UK was formed by Charles Pragnell, myself & others with the support and encouragement of others including the dramatist Arnold Wesker, the then Bishop of Bradwell Rt Rev Laurie Green, the Countess of Mar, Earl Howe & others.
I'm a former teacher and children's work trainer & advocate. In 1979 International Year of the Child I headed the national initiative on Latchkey Children which laid down the basis of most of the current after school & holiday provision.
Parents Protecting Children UK ALSO HAS A WEBSITE - sadly out of date but with some gems of info in the documents section.
Our family story moves on - when my daughter reached 18 in 2012, medical professionals woke up and realised that she had a number of potentially serious ongoing health problems which began c 2001 but remained undiagnosed and untreated, because nobody was willing to investigate her brother's younger sister in case their mum really might have MSBP / FII as per the 1999 false accusations. She is the most serious victim of social services wrongful intrusion into our lives based on her brother's difficulties. It may be that with appropriate medication she could have had a much more normal school and social life through her teenage years! We are still amidst investigations and increasingly angry!

Sunday 9 June 2013


Had a short time in Hyde Park in the sun on the way home from the A&GF Show. Couldn't park then realised that the car in front was about to move, then realised that the person getting in was the wonderful Maria Nash, who had a paper flower / windmill from the IF garden - from the media event about food poverty and tax evasion earlier in the day. She updated me about the politics of care in Barnet. So after we'd used her parking space we too found the vast IF garden - so vibrant! We came home with 6 flowers - there were thousands of them seemingly being pulled up and binned. Several children were having the time of their lives running about amongst them and jumping over them. IF IF IF only there was more sharing and less tax evasion and inequality so that everyone could have what they needed.

Mary, Mrs Humphrey Ward

Mary, Mrs Humphrey Ward Radio 4 has just been discussing her opposition to women's suffrage. She was a well connected, accomplished Victorian Novelist, who used her family and social links, with their associated access to philanthropic wealth, to provide for the poor, especially women & children in central London.   She was actively involved in community education and in childcare / children's play.  It's a pity that all this has been forgotten because of her opposition to the vote.   One of the best adult education colleges near Holborn still bears her name. Its nearby original site is now a conference venue known as Mary Ward House.  One fascinating anecdote is that quite coincidentally both her London family home and her country pile near Tring (where she dug up the formal gardens to grow  veggies in the war) were later owned by the guy who ran the Playboy bunny club!