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The Charter Makes It’s Mark!

On 29th October 2019, MPs voted for the first December General Election in 100 years, but for guests at a packed reception in Westminster’s Jubilee Room, the date was special for another reason.

It was the day that the Child Mental Health Charter (promoted by Play Therapy UK with the registered support to date of 2,000 individuals and organisations) stepped onto the national stage!

The Jubilee Room with its traditional Pugin wall coverings, sits at the top of a stone staircase in the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster. In Westminster Hall, Charles 1st was sentenced to death; the body of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother lay in state and Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton addressed parliamentarians.

In this setting we launched a Charter to redress the historic neglect of children within successive Mental Health Acts that have never prioritised their needs.

This must be the priority for any new Government.

Representatives from many Charter supporting organisations shared expertise and were photographed beside the Charter alongside PTUK Chief Executive Monika Jehpcott and host Sir David Amess MP.

The first speaker, the Dean of Education at Winchester University, Dr Janice de Sousa, applauded the Charter’s wide appeal to professionals across all tiers of education

‘’The University Winchester is just one of the Higher Education institutions represented here today. I am sure that I speak for all of us in the H. E. sector when I say that we wholeheartedly support the Child Mental Health Charter.’

Dr. de Sousa was followed by Dani Worthington, Head Teacher of Moorside Primary School in Halifax who spoke movingly about children in her school who were desperately in need of mental health support. Dani was accompanied by her local MP, Holly Lynch, one of 54 MP signatories to House of Commons Motion 2285; calling for Six Charter Principles to be enshrined in a new Mental Health Act. The Motion was sponsored by Steve McCabe MP: Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on A Fit and Health Childhood.

Jeff thanked Charter Campaigners and especially Sir David Amess and his splendid and indefatigable assistant, Gill Lee for their tireless help, encouragement and assistance in enabling this important event to come to pass.

Minister for Mental Health, Patient Care and Suicide Prevention, Nadine Dorries then spoke and took Questions and Answers. The Minister was delighted to learn about the first hand experience of registrants and others. She asked Charter supporters to make their points in writing to the Government Consultation on Mental Health, in February 2020 if the present Government is returned to office.

‘We should not easily and arbitrarily make the mistake of grouping children with young people …. They both have very different and very specific needs as distinct from each other.’

Play Therapy UK Registrar, Jeff Thomas, then presented the Six Charter Principles
The attendance at the reception and the enthusiasm for the campaign was overwhelming – and it is quite unprecedented that a Minster should initiate such a frank exchange of views. We are indebted to Nadine for giving her time to us so generously on the day that a General Election is announced! The Child Mental Health Charter Campaign will contribute to any forthcoming Consultation on children’s mental health provision and continue to fight for a new Mental Health Act, enshrining our Six Charter Principles.