A personal plea
It was clear last week how much admiration Pre-School Learning Alliance members have for their chief executive Neil Leitch, who shared with practitioners at the charity’s conference his difficult childhood to argue the point for spending more on intervention.
Mr Leitch spoke movingly about the time he and his five siblings were taken into care after their abusive father disappeared and left the family without enough money to cover the rent. The PLA chief executive, who was only four-years-old at the time, said it was the intervention of one man from social services who went ‘far beyond the call of duty’ that changed their lives.
He told delegates how the man from social services lobbied council departments to find his family a council flat and wrote to everyone he could to argue the case for why they would be better off living together.
Mr Leitch claimed that despite the challenges throughout the years that followed, his and his sibling’s lives were better because of the intervention of one person.
‘Every now and then I shudder to think of how things might otherwise have been’, he said. ‘But I will tell you this, life changing intervention is labour and financially demanding and no government official or politician will ever convince me otherwise.’
‘I can point to almost every significant event in my childhood where it changed for the better because someone invested love, kindness and most of all – time. And time costs money.’
The chief executive went on to say that the government has placed the work practitioners do at risk by cutting funding and expecting the market to fill the gap. ‘In my opinion, it is bordering on ridiculous’, he said.
He concluded with a message to ministers and ministers in waiting, that if they are serious about changing lives, then to ‘untie members’ hands and provide the resources and tools they need to do the job.’