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I see that the travel business does it again - holidays to the sun now seem to be extremely cheap after a summer of football (stay at home to watch unfolding disappointment), poor sunshine at home (weather soothsayers rule cockeyed), economic pressure (can you afford a holiday?) and... goodness knows what else, but for families with children how can you go away when school is about to start? Those without under-age children will be whooping it up in the sun on holidays costing, reportedly, as little as 120 pounds a week - if you don't have to be at work. That's less than the cost of the emergency passport you get in a week after you apply for it in a panic. Don't get used to it, though.
Watching family-time television can have its downside (Panorama, 24 August 2010). The programme was an uncomfortable ‘watch' and not something for the faint-hearted. I do hope that it doesn't have the reverse effect and prevent action where action is due. That's just the trouble with highlighting monumental mistakes and badly-operated rules of any sort - the unwanted consequence is so often that there is a failure to act when in the past action would have been taken, or an all-too-fast action where it may not be appropriate. Striking the balance is Solomon's judgement indeed.
So, a commission into early intervention in order to try to improve life chances ("An independent commission into early intervention, which aims to ensure that children at greatest risk of multiple disadvantage get the best start in life, will be chaired by Graham Allen MP", Newswatch 23 August 2010).
I hope there will be money for those needing some ‘later' intervention, too. Intervention assumes that it is worthwhile putting money/resources into action because it will save suffering or money later on. A better start in life (sorry to sound a little pessimistic about this) almost inevitably relies on money as it is access to money which so often fills the gaps of the well off but emotionally impoverished set of relations who insist upon calling themselves a family. Yes, I know that you don't have to be rich to provide a sound family home life, but let's get real about this. The ‘extras' are important - family time on a day trip, piano lessons for the musically-talented and a new bike. Since when were they free? All mentioned activities cost time and money and are preferable to the hours in front of a computer - but those skills developed in front of the computer screen are important, too - we've all seen the future. Right now we have growing unemployment and increasing prices (except for your bargain holiday!) and lack of confidence by consumers - most of whom have families to think about. ‘Extras' may not be on the agenda at all.
A last point this week - I just hope that I could have the same bravery and family support as that displayed by the families of the Chilean miners trapped underground at the San Jose mine. Shows how important family is, really, doesn't it? Our Government should ensure that it supports something it can never replace by its own action or intervention.
Oh yes - *Allodoxaphobia: fear of opinions, confrontation and argument.
Penny Booth is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.
The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.
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