Senior lives participant pics

SAM_0007 SAM_0008 SAM_0009 SAM_0096 SAM_0097 SAM_0099 SAM_0132 l-r_bella_charlotte_betty_jack1 l-r_bella_charlotte_betty_jack_2 karen lil john harry at school charlotte_as_a_baby bg SAM_0135 1mm 2mm 3mm 5mm anna betty_charlotte_dad_francis_with_steward_and_passenger_late_1930's SAM_0134 SAM_0133

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Our presentation version of the seniors lives project recordings

Ta da!

Here is our presentation featuring highlights from the recordings of our senior lives project participant stories.

I hope you find this off interest, our hope is that at some point some sort of historian will have the time to go through the many hours of audio and perhaps categorise some of the recordings to make a useful resource for schools.

Please ignore the very obvious spelling mistake ….

seniors presentation final

 

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Straight uneditted audio recordings from our senior lives interviews

Below are the full recordings from our senior lives project.

 

pat3.4.03.13 711_0004 pat2.4.03.13711_0003 lil part 2 lil part 1 jonny john3 13may john2 13may blind group 3 eliz taylor martin harry hijackedjohns interviewbalgowan29.04 4th bit jim john balgowan 19.04 3rd bit john1 13may blind group 2 blind group 1 annakearns17.06.13 AlexBalgowan29.04.13 pat4.4.03.13711_0005 alexbalgowan19.04 2nd bit

 

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Jimmy Savile report

So the first part of the Jimmy Savile report is out after 3 months of investigation. On reading the summary of the report on the BBC website I was struck by a number of things.

First, has it only been three months since the star that every child of my generation wanted to meet, was alleged to have abused children? I don’t know about anyone else but it seems like it’s been a lot longer since the news broke, it’s hard now to remember a time when the name Jimmy Savile didn’t conjure up feelings of disgust.

The second thing that struck me was that this was a joint report from the police and the NSPCC. Now did I miss something? When did the NSPCC, a charity, start investigating crimes alongside the police? I thought that they were a charitable organisation, not a statutory agency? Where have these powers to investigate come from?

The third and last thing that struck me about the report is that I actually don’t think it’s going to change anything. Now this may sound like a really defeatist thought to have, but I really don’t see how this report is going to change anything – except maybe to make us a bit more suspicious of strange old men. Children are not suddenly going to be listened to and believed because we know that Savile was a prolific offender.

So what is this report actually going to achieve? Well I do think that it has been useful in raising awareness of some of the issues around child abuse such as the lack of belief that children who speak up face. I also think it has been useful in showing that even trusted celebrities are capable of awful things, and that abusers manoeuvre themselves into positions of trust.

Beyond that I think the only real achievement of this report has been to give some closure to the survivors of abuse at the hands of Savile.

What impact do you think the Savile report will have?

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being seen to be doing something

It seems that all we’ve heard about in recent weeks is inquiries into this and inquiries into that. It’s like people think ‘Oh another abuse scandal? Quick let’s set up an inquiry.’

And so the government, or the BBC or the civil service set up an inquiry. At the moment we have –

  • North Wales abuse inquiry by National Crime Agency head into abuse claims from 70s and 80s, fresh claims, and police handling of the claims
  • Mrs Justice Macur appointed by PM to review the 2000 Waterhouse review which looked into the north Wales abuse
  • BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into what happened with the Newsnight investigation into north Wales abuse claims
  • Operation Yewtree: Scotland Yard criminal investigation into claims that Jimmy Savile sexually abused young people
  • BBC investigation into management failures over the dropping of a Newsnight report into the Savile allegations
  • BBC investigation into culture and practices during Savile’s career and current policies
  • BBC investigation into handling of past sexual harassment claims
  • Department of Health investigation into Savile’s appointment to Broadmoor “taskforce” and his activities at Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary
  • Director of Public Prosecutions review into decisions not to prosecute Savile in 2009 (source BBC)

And that’s just on two issues that have come to light in recent weeks. In fact one of the above inquiries is actually an inquiry into an inquiry! I think I’ve lost count of the amount of inquiries that have been set up in just the last year or two. But the question is after all these inquiries, just what exactly is going to change? Has anything ever changed as a result of an inquiry?

My theory is that a scandal of some sort comes to light and the press get hold of it. It quickly snowballs until the government realise that it’s not going away and that they need to be seen to do something. So they set up an inquiry. That inquiry hears from various people, most of whom are not compelled to be there and do not have to swear any oaths to be truthful. The inquiry then writes a pretty report with all sorts of recommendations, none of which have to actually be implemented, and then it’s filed away under ‘See, we do care…’

Here’s a radical idea. How about instead of wasting money on inquiries that change absolutely nothing, we spend it on actually changing practices, on educating people young and old on how to stay safe, on training organisations about keeping vulnerable people safe? How about instead of navel gazing and hand wringing, organisations such as the BBC do what they can to raise awareness about the issues around abuse? How about the government works to educate people?

But of course that would mean actually giving a monkeys, and lets face it most just don’t.

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back to basic humanity

While perusing the BBC website today, I stumbled across yet another Savile story. BBC News – Jimmy Savile: The road to hypervigilance.

Now to be honest, this story hacked me off a little. Let’s look at some of the quotes from the story.

One of the extraordinary things about the Jimmy Savile case is the level of regular, easy access he appears to have had to vulnerable children in institutions such as care homes, schools, hospitals and the BBC.

Now, maybe I’m just a cynic, but I don’t find this surprising in the least. Predatory abusers are very skilled at getting themselves into positions of trust. That’s how they end us as scout leaders and teachers etc.

In an age of criminal records checks and children’s rights, it seems almost inconceivable that someone would be allowed such unfettered access…

If a celebrity like Savile was today a regular visitor to a school, for example once a month, he would typically be subject to an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

Now, it is worth pointing out that Savile was not convicted of anything, so even if he had been CRB checked he would still have had access to children. I think CRB checks really do tend to give people a false sense of security because you can get a bit of paper that states that someone is ‘safe’. So people get this bit of paper and think ‘that person is safe, so I don’t need to worry about that’.

The main difference between now and the 1970s is arguably the level of vigilance. Inappropriate behaviour towards children rapidly raises alarm bells today. And what is deemed inappropriate has changed.

Now, while I agree that the level of vigilance has increased since the 1970s, I would argue that things haven’t changed as much as this article implies. In the recent Rochdale case, social workers and police officers knew about some of the young people being exploited by prostitution, yet dismissed it and believed that they were happy to work in that field. Even when girls said they were being abused nothing happened.

One valid point made in this article is –

“There’s a sense of everyone keeping an eye on everyone else. People can become paranoid – they can be frightened of putting a plaster on a child’s knee.

“On one hand we are stopping occasional awful things from happening, but on the other hand it is breaking down human interaction when it comes to caring for children,”

This hyper-vigilance that seems to be everywhere at the moment, is not protecting children. Far from it, in many ways children are now more at risk because adults are too afraid to help a child in distress, out of fear of being accused of something. I once heard about a small child that was out walking in the streets. This child was seen and remembered by numerous passers by, but no one stopped to ask this child where they were going or where their parents were. The child was later knocked down and killed on a road. How many lives could have been saved if people were more willing to intervene when they see a child in distress?

It’s time that we all stopped watching each other with suspicion, after all abusers are so good at hiding in plain sight that they’re always the last person you suspect anyway. Instead, let’s try to get back to looking out for each other. Let’s start sticking our noses in a wee bit more. If we see something that doesn’t seem right, ask if the person is ok. If you see a lost child, help them to find a safe adult to look after them such as a security guard or a police officer. If someone falls over in the street, help them up! It’s the human thing to do.

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Back to basic humanity

While perusing the BBC website today, I stumbled across yet another Savile story. BBC News – Jimmy Savile: The road to hypervigilance.

Now to be honest, this story hacked me off a little. Let’s look at some of the quotes from the story.

One of the extraordinary things about the Jimmy Savile case is the level of regular, easy access he appears to have had to vulnerable children in institutions such as care homes, schools, hospitals and the BBC.

Now, maybe I’m just a cynic, but I don’t find this surprising in the least. Predatory abusers are very skilled at getting themselves into positions of trust. That’s how they end us as scout leaders and teachers etc.

In an age of criminal records checks and children’s rights, it seems almost inconceivable that someone would be allowed such unfettered access…

If a celebrity like Savile was today a regular visitor to a school, for example once a month, he would typically be subject to an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

Now, it is worth pointing out that Savile was not convicted of anything, so even if he had been CRB checked he would still have had access to children. I think CRB checks really do tend to give people a false sense of security because you can get a bit of paper that states that someone is ‘safe’. So people get this bit of paper and think ‘that person is safe, so I don’t need to worry about that’.

The main difference between now and the 1970s is arguably the level of vigilance. Inappropriate behaviour towards children rapidly raises alarm bells today. And what is deemed inappropriate has changed.

Now, while I agree that the level of vigilance has increased since the 1970s, I would argue that things haven’t changed as much as this article implies. In the recent Rochdale case, social workers and police officers knew about some of the young people being exploited by prostitution, yet dismissed it and believed that they were happy to work in that field. Even when girls said they were being abused nothing happened.

One valid point made in this article is –

“There’s a sense of everyone keeping an eye on everyone else. People can become paranoid – they can be frightened of putting a plaster on a child’s knee.

“On one hand we are stopping occasional awful things from happening, but on the other hand it is breaking down human interaction when it comes to caring for children,”

This hyper-vigilance that seems to be everywhere at the moment, is not protecting children. Far from it, in many ways children are now more at risk because adults are too afraid to help a child in distress, out of fear of being accused of something. I once heard about a small child that was out walking in the streets. This child was seen and remembered by numerous passers by, but no one stopped to ask this child where they were going or where their parents were. The child was later knocked down and killed on a road. How many lives could have been saved if people were more willing to intervene when they see a child in distress?

It’s time that we all stopped watching each other with suspicion, after all abusers are so good at hiding in plain sight that they’re always the last person you suspect anyway. Instead, let’s try to get back to looking out for each other. Let’s start sticking our noses in a wee bit more. If we see something that doesn’t seem right, ask if the person is ok. If you see a lost child, help them to find a safe adult to look after them such as a security guard or a police officer. If someone falls over in the street, help them up! It’s the human thing to do.

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Is this the least surprising development in the Savile case?

While perusing the BBC website today I came across this headline BBC News – Jimmy Savile: Gary Glitter arrested over sex offences.

Now I realise this may sound flippant, but I think this must be one of the most predictable headlines ever. Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter? Working together? I never would have thought that would be possible *sarcasm*. As I said in a previous post, could it be that a celebrity sex ring is about to come to light? After all the police are calling their investigation ‘Savile and others’, that’s ‘others’ – plural.

Really it’s only been a matter of time before something like this hit the papers, celebrities have a lot of influence and power over vulnerable people. There’s always been the assumption that young girls (and boys) that hang around the back stage entrances to theatres and concert venues are ‘up for it’. And the thing is that some of them probably are, but many of them are genuine fans that can easily become star struck and influenced by their idols – who are almost always older than the fans.

Rock stars have often taken advantage of the young people ‘on offer’ to them when on tour, so it shouldn’t surprise us that other celebrities would do the same. That said, there is a difference in taking advantage of a fan that’s hanging around back stage, and purposely bussing vulnerable youngsters in in order to abuse them. But we should recognise that both situations are equally abusive and wrong. This is when we start to get into society’s double standards – Savile is evil for abusing youngsters that looked up to him, but girls that end up in bed with a rock star after a concert only have themselves to blame, after all everyone knows what goes on.

Maybe it’s time that we started to make clear that it is aways wrong, no matter what the circumstances, to take advantage of another human being for the purposes of self-gratification. Maybe it’s time we started teaching everyone how to keep themselves safe.

There’s certainly one thing that’s for sure, we’ve not heard the end of the ‘shock’ revelations

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Fare thee well

This is Shaun

9 years ago, he came into our offices to volunteer. He was the wee quiet guy that hid out in the green room doing Anne’s bidding and hiding from me. Eventually he plucked up the courage to talk to me and I stopped myself from biting off his head and we became firm friends. Shaun volunteered with us for 5 years before he actually took on a paid role with us and he’s been here ever since.

In fact he’s practically part of the furniture.

Shaun has been a personal friend for almost the whole time he’s been here, he even spoke at my wedding. Every time I go into the office, there he is. And we always have a good blether. So it’s going to be strange to go into the office and not find him there.

That’s right folks, our Shaun is moving on. Today was his last day of work. I think he may finally have had enough of us as he’s moving miles away to the big smoke. London. That’s quite a move and I’m facing it with mixed emotions. It’s so lovely to see him excited about this move and his new life and I wish him well. But I won’t deny that I really will miss him, in fact we all will. It’s just not going to be the same in the office any more. Who will my children boss about now?

Fair thee well Shaun, you will be missed. But don’t think you’re totally escaping. Tomorrow Laurie will probably recruit you onto management! Plus we’ll all be coming down for cheap holidays in the big smoke. And you’d better stay in touch with me, you really are one of my best friends.

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thoughts on the NSPCC and Jimmy Savile

On Thursday the NSPCC released the following statement about the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal:

“It’s now looking possible that Jimmy Savile was one the most prolific sex offenders the NSPCC has ever come across. We have received over 136 calls directly relating to allegations against him which we’ve passed to the police. It’s important we recognise the brave step victims have taken in coming forward and we urge any other victims to do the same.

Now I’m sorry but really? In 128 years they’ve never come across a more prolific abuser than Jimmy Savile?

What about this guy – William Goad. who abused up to 3,500 boys? Or this one, Daniel Taylor who amassed 300,000 images of child pornography?

Could it possibly be that the NSPCC is jumping on the Jimmy Savile bandwagon? It’s certainly a good way to get your name in the news.

There’s a lot of news about Savile at the moment, as well there should be, about the police investigation and the emerging hints that the police are investigating people that are still alive – could this be the emergence of the first ‘celebrity sex-ring’? But only 3 days ago there was another big story about the rise in trafficking in the UK which the government have said that there has been a rise in the number of trafficked people known of by the authorities (therefore the real number will be much higher).

This story was the top story on Wednesday morning, but by wednesday afternoon the story was nowhere to be seen. It had been replaced by a story about the prime minister confusing everyone over energy costs. The trafficking story wasn’t even on the BBC main website. Why? Why is this story about hundreds of men, women and children being trafficked for forced labour and sex-work less interesting than a dead famous child abuser? The same goes for the Rochdale sex-ring story, it only appeared in the news for two days and then vanished again. Yet the Savile story has been going for weeks now.

I think Jimmy Savile is an easy story tbh. It’s easy to say ‘oh this man was evil and we didn’t notice, so we need loads of enquiries to figure it out’. We don’t hear anyone shouting about the need for enquiries into Rochdale or the rise in trafficking. The fact is that (assuming the accusations about Savile are correct) he got away with it because we all thought he was a nice guy – just like the majority of child abusers out there. We maybe hear something about someone we know and we think ‘but he/she’s so nice, I simply can’t imagine them doing something like that.’ That’s how abusers get away with it. By being above suspicion in public, and by threatening, cajoling, blackmailing, controlling etc in private.

One thing is for certain. My memories of ‘Jim’ll fix it’ are forever tainted.

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