The President : I have pleasure in inviting Mary Marsh, Chief Executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, to address Congress. You will recall that, last year, Mike Taylor of the NSPCC told us about the Full Stop campaign to eradicate child cruelty within a generation. Over the past year, trade unionists have played a prominent part in raising funds and raising awareness of the campaign.
We have invited Mary to join us today to update us on the campaign. Mary is a former head teacher and has just taken over as the NSPCC Chief Executive. We wish you well in your new job and look forward to hearing from you now, Mary. (Applause)
Ms Mary Marsh (Chief Executive, NSPCC): Congress, thank you for asking me to address you on behalf of the NSPCC. I bring to you a moment of reflection about children and young people. Like me, many of you, I expect, are parents and some of you are grandparents, too. You will all know children amongst your wider family, your friends and colleagues at work. We rejoice in their innocence and happiness. We celebrate as they pass each milestone as they grow up into the adults and parents of the next generation.
But we are now painfully aware how many children and young people suffer from abuse, often starting when they are very young. What we have seen is the tip of an iceberg. We were deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Sarah Payne. The subsequent outpourings of public concern and anger has illustrated the depth of feeling about the appalling reality of cruelty to children in this country. Sarah's parents have challenged us all with great courage. But remember each week at least one child dies as a result of abuse or neglect; nearly always at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them.
We know of 36,000 children who are on child protection registers because they are considered to be at risk. A quarter of reported rape victims are children. Home is the most dangerous and violent place for some children. Most of these children have no one to turn to. There is no one to listen. They suffer in silence. You may have supported colleagues at work who finally talk, still suffering and damaged much further from so many years of silence. We have to break this cycle of abuse.
Last year at Congress the TUC's adoption of the NSPCC was announced and your target of £2 million was pledged. You were very supportive. Since then, large numbers of affiliated unions have been raising money for us. We are very grateful for the help that you have given to the NSPCC's Full Stop campaign so far. As a result, we have been able to support many more families and helped many more children from the money you and others have raised for us. But we know we need to do so much more to prevent children like Sarah being attacked and killed and to protect those children abused within their families by those they trust most.
Our work and our new services are targeted where they are going to have the most benefit. We are going to share with partner agencies the lessons we learned from this. We also want to promote a change in public attitudes to the care of children, including family friendly employment policies. This is why we are launching, today, United for Children in partnership with the TUC. You will have seen a leaflet about this in your delegate's pack. The idea behind the campaign is very simple. Union members pay to you dues of about £8 each month to protect their rights at work. During October and November we are asking union members to make a small donation to help us protect children. People may be able to afford an extra £8. Even if it is just £1 or £2 they will be helping to make a significant difference to the lives of many vulnerable children.
The fund‑raising scheme and all the promotional materials have been generously sponsored by Groupama Insurances so you know that every pound you give will go straight to children in need. Please do come along to our reception at 12.30 today at the Moathouse and you will be able to find out more and ask questions about this.
As key union activists, you are ideally placed to help us promote United for Children in your unions. The more people get involved the more children we can protect and help. Every single contribution is important. Together we can work to end cruelty to children ‑ Full Stop. Thank you. (Applause)
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