Tag Archives: mike storey

26 February – 1 March 2024 – this week in the Lords

Welcome to another preview of the week’s events in the Upper House, one in which a space will become apparent following the loss of Conservative Peer, Patrick Cormack, who passed away over the weekend.

But on to business in what is another long week for the denizens of the red benches. Monday starts with a Liberal Democrat Oral Question – Lorely Burt will be asking the Government what is being done to encourage businesses to employ people with criminal convictions.

The Victims and Prisoners Bill reaches Day 6 of its Committee Stage but the …

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Part 2: Lib Dem Peers call for improved mental health services for young people

Yesterday we reported on the debate in the House of Lords on mental health services for children and young people secured by Earl Russell.

We thought you might like to read the other Lib Dem contributions to the debate. First up, Richard Allan who talked, among other things, about the effect of bullying on mental health:

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Russell for securing this debate. Like many others, I am impressed by how quickly he has brought value to the work of this House and by the combination of passion and reasoned argument that he brought to today’s debate.

I congratulate the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Hale, on her maiden speech. I had not realised that she is from Yorkshire but, based on the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, I can say, as a Sheffielder, that we are now on a Yorkshire hat trick as a group of three speakers. In my household, it is not often that we talk about the law as a cool and attractive profession, but the activities of the noble and learned Baroness in her previous role triggered such comments. Based on her contribution today, I am sure that, in future, she will provide examples of how our words here can be both impactful and entertaining. I hope that she does not let her natural diffidence get the better of her too often.

Turning to the subject of the debate, I start with a question: what do we call a family with experience of child mental health issues? The answer is “a normal family”. That has been reflected in the debate, as well as in my noble friend’s contribution as he related his own experience, but I suspect that every person sitting here today has their own direct personal experience of a young person suffering from mental health issues during their childhood, whether through their children, their nieces and nephews, their grandchildren or those children’s cousins. This understanding is necessary not to trivialise the matter—quite the opposite. If we normalise it, we may get to a position where we understand that child mental health issues need to be treated as seriously as other child health conditions, with an infrastructure and an understanding that, as my noble friend said, it is unacceptable to ignore them or somehow treat them as less serious.

The tools that we need to help people are common to all kinds of healthcare. First, we need early and accurate identification of problems. Secondly, we need good availability of the right treatment options; that is the case whether it is a physical issue or a mental health one. There are also four settings that need to work for young people in order to achieve these goals of the identification and treatment of the issues with which they present. The first is families themselves; the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, referred to the importance of family as the primary setting. The second is the educational institutions in which children find themselves; the third is primary healthcare; and then there are the acute services to which children may need to turn. I will not go into the issues around family support in any depth today other than to flag the fact that families and the care they provide must be recognised and supported. There is an important objective for government in supporting families who provide care for somebody, whether they have a physical condition or a mental health one; that care provides enormous value to the individual but also to society. There are questions around the extent to which, today, government provides the support that those families need.

I turn to educational settings. These are generally schools for younger children but we should not forget the significant role of universities and colleges. That is important because we are talking today about children and young people; to me, that extends through into those university years. It is another period of transition. For many of the young people who reach the age of 18 or 19 and transition to university, that is when the crisis hits. Again, universities have a critical role to play in this.

Major shifts are needed to improve staff training. Staff across all these different kinds of establishment need to be trained in such a way that they can help identify problems, because problems may first present themselves in an interaction between a young person and a professional in an institution. We also need to make sure that counsellors are available when they represent an appropriate form of treatment; they are frequently the first line. The Minister has made commitments around both those aspects previously—the training of all staff in educational establishments where that may be useful in identifying problems; and the provision of counselling services to the right degree so that, when issues have presented themselves, that first line of treatment is available—so I hope that he will be able to demonstrate progress.

I am interested to understand from the Minister how budgets will operate in this space given that it sits between different government departments. The young person does not care that one thing sits with DHSC and another sits with DfE, or whatever acronyms we are using now; they care about whether treatment is available. I hope that the Minister can indicate how we will ensure that budgets follow need rather than being stuck in departmental silos.

I want to touch on bullying, which can be both a cause and an exacerbating factor for somebody with mental health issues: it can trigger the mental health issue but, sadly, the start of bullying can also sometimes be the response of young people to someone in their school who has a mental health issue. It then compounds the crisis that a young person is suffering. The challenge is to have an effective response because these issues are often labour intensive, requiring engagement—often over a long period—with the children and families involved.

As noble Lords may be aware, I have professional experience of the online component of this as I spent many years working at a large online platform. It seems obvious that the nature of bullying has changed with ubiquitous connectivity. However, sometimes, there is also the risk of us seeing the solutions as entirely within the domain of technology. People report bullying to a platform, which can result in the removal of the content and sometimes the closure of the bullying account, but it rarely solves the underlying problem.

In some cases, the bullying is entirely within an online community, but much more typically the online activity is an extension of something that is happening offline in the real world. The intervention that resolves the problem is one that brings young people, parents and others together to discuss the offline and online activity. I understand the challenges for school staff in resourcing this, but some option will have to be found or we will simply be playing whack-a-mole on the online platforms, knocking down individual instances while the young person’s mental health continues to deteriorate because the bullying is moving from place to place and never being addressed at its root causes.

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LibLink: Mike Storey on defibrillators in schools

Over on Politics Home, Mike Storey has written about the need for defibrillators in schools, and calls for them to be a legal requirement.  He writes:

In March 2011 a tragic event took place at King David School in Liverpool, when a 12 year old boy, Oliver King, suffered a cardiac arrest while winning a swimming race. The tragic and untimely demise of that young boy bought indescribable grief to this family and friends and shocked the whole community.

It was noted that the 24 minutes that lapsed between Oliver’s cardiac arrest and the paramedics’ arrival would have seen the boy’s chances of survival considerably enhanced, had a defibrillator been available on the School premises.

For every minute that a patient that needs it doesn’t get defibrillation, their survival rate drops by 7-10%. Effective CPR extends the window but only on rare occasions are emergency services able to attend and provide defibrillation early enough. With this rate of decline the benefits of having a defibrillator within easy reach is clear.

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What our busy peers will be up to this week

Here are some of the things our team in the House of Lords will be doing this week:

Monday: Roger Roberts will be pushing the Government to take action to relieve the situation of unaccompanied refugee children. Tim Farron has been pushing the Government to accept 3,000 at risk refugee children but David Cameron has recently rejected the proposal. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to find a solution which does not leave these children vulnerable.

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Lord Storey on Nick Clegg: Not popular, nice guy, principled. What do the headlines report? “Toxic”

Lord Storey photo by Keith EdkinsWhen I first heard that Nick Clegg  had been described by former Liverpool City Council leader Mike Storey as “toxic”, I expected to see some sort of angry denunciation. Actually, Mike Storey’s comments were much more considered and balanced. What he said was what every single Liberal Democrat knows, that if you speak to lots of voters, you know that Nick Clegg is not a popular person. He said “some might use the word toxic.” He then went on to add that he found that very …

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Next week in the Lords: 4-7 March

House of Lords chamberYes, we’re back, after this column’s regular late winter break to study comparisons between government systems in the Caribbean. And whilst the House of Lords and the Cuban leadership do have some similarities – having octogenarians in prominent positions, for example – you would probably want to see more of Eric Avebury than you would Fidel Castro…

So, on with the motley…

Monday kicks off the week with the main business being Day 2 of the Report Stage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. Amongst the …

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This week in the Lords: 28 January – 1 February

House of LordsYes, just as late as has been the habit recently, here’s your heads up for events in the upper chamber this week… anyone would think that I didn’t have a day of my own…

It’s another long week for our Parliamentary Party, with a nod to the recent wintry weather, but Monday sees Day 2 of the Committee Stage of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, where Tony Greaves will seek to remove attempts to place further limits on the power to require information with planning applications. Frankly, when I see …

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Fifteen new Liberal Democrat Peers appointed

Fifteen new Liberal Democrat working peers have just been announced…

  • Dr Sarah (Sal) Brinton – Executive Director of the Association of Universities in the East of England
  • Dee Doocey OBE – Chair of the London Assembly
  • Qurban Hussain – Deputy Group Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Luton Borough Council
  • Judith Jolly – Chair of Executive Committee of Liberal Democrats in Devon and Cornwall
  • Susan Kramer – former Liberal Democrat MP
  • Raj Loomba – businessman and campaigner for widows’ rights
  • Jonathan Marks – commercial and family law QC with specialist interest in human rights and constitutional reform
  • Monroe Palmer OBE – Liberal
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