Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Whistleblower

Update on The Whistleblower:

New Whistleblowing Helpline announced by the Home Office and the NSPCC and the Helpline operated by NSPCC call handlers.

Telephone number: 0800 028 0285

Where you can disclose concerns about a child if you cannot raise concerns with an employer.

Safeguarding tips for whistleblowers:

1. Keep yourself safe; take legal advice/citizens advice where possible
2. Remain anonymous if required
3. Be sure you know who is handling your call
4. Ask where your information will be stored
5. Ask who your information will be shared with
6. Ensure you are satisfied you will be protected as a whistleblower
7. Be sure you have thought through any repercussions from your disclosure
8. Ensure you trust the call handler
9. What qualifies the call handler to take your information
10. Ask what happens next / when the call has ended
11. Request legal support where necessary
12. Request counselling/therapist support if necessary
13 Ensure you have a recording, transcript of your call
14. Take a friend/colleague/witness to a face to face meeting

Any concerns about a child should be reported to your Local Safeguarding Children's Board LSCB) by telephoning the local First Response Telephone Number or calling Social Services or if a child is in immediate danger dial 999 immediately 

Updated: 15.02.16 at 1.30pm

The Whistleblower

In my opinion, and using my ethics and morals, whistle blowers are generally good people with their heart and minds in the right place. Few might not be, but most are. I certainly had my morals, ethics and values in the right place when I whistle blew. And I have tried to do it twice to no avail. I lost my job twice and I was told on one occasion "to keep my mouth shut".

I have worked in the education system in four continents of the world for over thirty years; I am well known and respected in the industry. I am a published author in many eminent professional magazine and websites all over the world. I have helped to set up three schools - one in the UK and two in Africa. I have turned many educational settings in specials measures around to receive a "good" rating from Ofsted in various parts of the UK. I have sat on many very challenging and bitterly sad child protection case conferences and I am often used as an expert advisor in this area. I also managed a Child Contact Centre supporting separated parents to have contact with their children and I am also a trained McKenzie Friend supporting litigants in person. I was the senior education consultant at the National Association for Gifted Children in the UK and worked as the SEN coordinator, Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Reception teacher in an International School in the Middle East. I was an early years teacher for six years in the USA. I have assisted various schools with writing their policies and procedures and I now train staff in schools all over the UK and deliver an educational charter for a eminent training company in the UK.

I don't tell you all this to brag. I tell you this to qualify my knowledge and experience and to give you a flavour of my background. You can read more on my LinkedIn Profile is you so desire.

So...I feel I know how and when to recognise bad or illegal practice in education at all levels. So when I reported same to the authorities and was told "to keep my mouth shut" or "pretend it didn't happen" or "sorry we cannot help you" you can imagine how horrified I was. I was made out to be the "bad guy"; I was made to take the blame for voicing my concerns. I was asked to forget the situation and carry on or "maybe I should consider resigning quietly or be sacked".

I resigned in all three cases. My life at work was made so uncomfortable and difficult that I had no option. I visited a lawyer but was advised that I should just "go quietly" as in all three cases the establishments had the money and power to pursue me through the courts to the bitter end. Legally I was advised that I would undergo undue stress at a very vulnerable time and possibly come out with nothing, not even a couple of grand. It was extremely distasteful at its best.

It was never about the money. It was never about a payout. It was about unethical and illegal behaviours and practices that put children's lives in danger. It was about "my duty of care" as a qualified and moral practitioner with a deep sense of right and wrong. It was about keeping children safe. It was about safeguarding practices. It was about being true to my values, morals and ethics. But I got no sense of justice as I resigned and walked away "because" of money and power. You see the establishments wagged their finger at me, threatened me and used money and power to ensure someone like me was never a thorn in their side again. 

I am not alone in this. There are many out there who have attempted to do the right thing in a variety of businesses and establishments and have either had to walk away or been threatened, imprisoned, exiled, stalked, harassed, assaulted or even murdered. It's scary to whistle blow; it's not something someone does on a whim. Whistle blowers are, generally, brave courageous people willing to take a risk and put others before themselves. Whistle blowers put themselves out there and know the risk they are taking to themselves, their families and associates, but they have high moral codes and cannot operate knowing others human rights are suffering and no one is wiling to speak up and out. Where is the outrage? Where is your outrage? Where is societies outrage?

This post has not been easy for me to write; but I have wanted to write it for a long time. It has gone over and over in my mind for years. When I see whistle blowers ostracised or imprisoned in the press or on the internet it makes me angry and sad. It's time we took a different approach to these individuals who are trying to do the right thing. It's time we listened and believed the concerns these individuals have to report. It's time we had a system where whistle blowers are protected and safe to report. And it's time to value the human rights of the individuals who are doing the right thing to safeguard vulnerable children, young people and adults in establishments where those employees and employers "have a duty of care" to do so.

It's is time we had mandatory reporting in regulated activities in order that individuals feel safe to report and will be given protection and will not loose their jobs for doing the right thing morally and ethically.

I thought this was fundamental to a democracy?

So will you do the right thing in the future, give it some thought and spare a thought for those who have tried and lost, but suffer the trauma, loss of family and employment, homelessness, addictions, depression and for some, suicide. This type of trauma and suffering in the name of morals is damaging and lasts a lifetime. We need to pull together and end the stereotyping of "all whistle blowers are after an easy buck" not so in my case, not so at all.

Working Together to Safeguard Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education

@mandatenow - Why the NSPCC / Home Office Helpline won't work by Mandate Now:

WhistleBlowersUK @WBUK2014
Victim Blaming @EVB_now


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

My Mental Health

UPDATE: In the light of the #LondonMarathon2017 today and the #HeadsMatter mental health campaign I was compelled to add an update to this post. I have suffered four breakdowns and cPTSD, Depression and symptomatic alcoholism in the past which have all been traumatic in their own way, for different reasons and on a variety of levels but the scars these challenges have left ensure I am alive, strong and have made miraculous steps in recovery. The stigma around all mental health challenges is still huge but by talking about our own journeys and raising awareness we all can help begin to break the stigma. Even though I have suffered various forms of mental health issues, I am still a human being and it doesn't define me or change who I am, I am still Elaine. You are still you. Having suffered in this way has deepened my compassion and made me who I am today. Without these experiences I would not be able to do the counseling, mentoring and advocacy work I do as well as I do.

It's mental health awareness day today (among other awareness days today) and it brought to mind the past present and future of my own life with mental health and how I have managed it and what support I have received over the years and, I realise, it's not much.

A second thought that came to my mind on this important MH awareness day is that is has happened to fall on Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday and that made me think of my past mental health and what others might be feeling and suffering today.

You see thirty years ago any family holiday would have been very traumatising for me as I would have to pretend, could not be myself, must behave, must play happy families, must cook a huge family meal and keep my mouth shut. I am sure there are many out there, male and female, who can relate to what I am saying. Domestic abuse and violence happens to all ages, races, genders, upbringings and backgrounds and it happens "behind closed doors." 

When my mental health was at its lowest "holidays" and "family events" were extremely stressful and triggering. There was an expectation that I would be a certain person and behave a certain way so I trained myself to keep quiet, to never react. I trained myself to have no opinion. I trained myself to show no feelings and I trained myself to not feel anything. I would talk to myself in my head saying, "do not speak", "do not react", "do not show you are scared". I became good at it, no actually I was excellent at it for many years. Eventually, it became second nature and I didn't have to "speak to myself" in my head, somehow it just happened and I lost confidence, my self esteem was zilch and I looked like a "zombie". I just functioned enough to get by and take care of my daughter. The world was a fog and I was so depressed I hoped I would pass away in my sleep.

Thirty years ago there was no help for someone like me, as someone suffering domestic abuse. It was literally classed "as a domestic dispute" by the police and they didn't even attend the house. I was lucky if I even got a reference number for the reports I made. No one discussed abuse or mental health so I had no idea where to go for help and I was ashamed of my husband and my life and I was ashamed to tell family and friends. "This sort of thing didn't happen in my family". I actually didn't want to tell My Story. But twenty or so years later, My Story is written and published to assist others to speak out about abuse and mental health and to ask for help. It's here on this blog, and published by and My Story of Recovery is published by

So this morning as I sat and thought about mental health awareness day falling on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) I was struck by how there are no more triggers for me on special occasions but many others will be suffering out there today. I was struck by how it's exciting and a pleasure to make pancakes for daughter today and I can really enjoy and savour the flavours and textures of a huge plate of yummy pancakes but many others will not be able to. I was struck with how lucky I am right now to have peace and contentment in my life with no stress but many other will not. The future (after thirty years) is brighter for me but for others it is not.

We must talk about mental health; we must talk about domestic abuse and violence. We must talk about any form of abuse to anyone - boy, girl; woman, man; mum, dad, brother, sister; husband, wife; cousins, friends - anyone, cause right now many are scared and hurting as I write this post. Too scared to tell anyone in case they are judged or stereotyped. Too scared to talk in case they are not believed. Too scared to flee cause they have nowhere safe to go.

We must also care and support child and young people who may be witnessing domestic abuse and/or violence. This is neglect and abuse of a child or young person. Trauma lasts a lifetime; it takes years to undo, if ever. Abuse and trauma leads to other addictions and illnesses, e.g. PTSD and cPTSD. I have a tiny golden nugget of trauma tucked away at the base of my brain that can never be healed but these days it doesn't surface as often and it's not triggered as often. But yes, still after thirty plus years, I get triggered and I still feel trauma. I am not ashamed any more and I am able to admit it and talk about it (sometimes). I don't think it will ever go away, but it will reduce gradually over time to the size of a pea and then a pin head, and that's OK.

So for the sake of our children let's talk about mental health and abuse, let's shout about it, let's rage about it. Let's ensure children get the help, support and guidance they need for a better future for our children. My daughter did not receive the support she should have and she deserved better. She was not to blame; she was an innocent victim of my domestic abuse and today all children deserve mental health support and appropriate counselling and therapy.

So today and all days, let's spare a thought or two (at least) for those who are suffering at the hands of an abuser somewhere on the globe (not just the UK). Whose lives are wretched and scary and for those who cant ask for help for whatever the reason. Let's spare a trillion thoughts for those who can't be true to themselves on holidays or, in fact, any day. Let's pray that one day sooner rather than later, we have a society not ashamed by mental health and abuse and we put strategies in place to help those who suffer at the hands, mouths and minds of abusers. AMEN.