Call for soft drink sugar tax in budget

Posted on January 31st, 2013

Leading medical bodies are calling for a 20p per litre levy on soft drink to be included in this year’s budget.

More than 60 organisations, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health are backing the recommendation by food and farming charity Sustain.

Although a lot of us are aware of the effects soft drinks have on our bodies and that they are related to health and medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, we still insist on drinking them.

According to Sustain the UK consumes more than 5,727 million litres of sugary soft drinks a year and that adding 20p tax for every litre sold would raise more than £1.1 billion a year in duty to fund free fruit and meals in schools to help improve children’s diets and help the nation become healthier.

At Avocet we observe that children often adopt the eating habits of their parents and then continue these habits allowed by their parents during childhood into their adult diet, thus increasing the risk of obesity and dental problems.  Healthy eating needs to be modelled by parents to minimise the risks that are associated with a sugary diet.

Will adding 20p per litre help to bring these risks to the attention of parents?  Will adding 20p per litre make them think twice about spending so much money on something that could be adversely affecting their children’s lives as well as their own, when they could buy a carton of fruit squash at a fraction of the price and which also generally lasts longer?

If the answer is ‘Yes’ then surely this is the right thing to do, to help the younger generation grow up healthier.  As well as children’s and their parents’ diets possibly being made better at home, for those that do continue to buy sugary soft drinks this will help fund more meals and fresh fruit in schools to improve the children’s health there.

Special thanks to our guest blogger Danni ♥


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Posted on January 30th, 2013

(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, Lewison LJJ, Hedley J, 26 October 2012)

“After the mother’s experience of parenting her first child the local authority initiated proceedings and removed her second child within days of birth. Although the mother had made improvements the local authority contended that the evidence demonstrated that she would not be able to make further necessary improvements within the timescales for the child.

“The judge, in contrast to the local authority recommendations, adjourned the matter for 3 months, directed an independent social work assessment of a couple who had been involved with the mother, granted them an interim residence order in their favour and made an interim supervision order in favour of the local authority. The orders were suspended pending the hearing of the local authority’s appeal.

“The judge had been well aware of the tentative professional support and the potential adverse consequences for the child if it all went wrong however in the context of the options that were available to him his judgment as to the best way forward in the interests of the welfare of the child was one that he was well entitled to make. Appeal dismissed.”


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Posted on January 13th, 2013

The government's adoption hotspots map is active from today


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Article in Community Care regarding an ISW and an MBE

Posted on January 9th, 2013

The social worker who rode her way to an MBE

Independent practitioner and children’s guardian Gill Timmis was recognised for organising charity bike rides that have raised almost £500,000 for vulnerable children in the UK and abroad.

Gill Timmis on a bike ride in aid of children in care in France last year

Gill Timmis on a bike ride in aid of children in care in France last year

Gill Timmis’ CV

  • Independent social worker since 2002, carrying out roles such as parenting and risk assessments of parents.
  • Self-employed Cafcass guardian in London and the South East.
  • National Youth Advocacy Service guardian at litem and case worker since 2002.
  • Independent social work trainer since 1998 in areas including childcare legislation, permanency and children’s rights.
  • Worked as consultant for the Jersey Family Court Advisory Service, 2012.
  • Gained Certificate of Qualification in Social Work in 1984 and MA in Advanced Social Work in 2001.

Gill Timmis was the only practising social worker to win a gong in this year’s New Year Honours. But her MBE was not the fruit of her work as a self-employed children’s guardian or independent social worker but of over a decade’s worth of fundraising and voluntary work for children’s charities at home and abroad, much of it conducted on a bike.

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The road to Timmis’s MBE started in 2000 when, approaching a significant birthday and experiencing career frustrations in her work as a guardian, a gentle ride in Richmond Park with her sister gave her the idea of doing charity bike rides in aid of a cause close to her heart: children in care.

Research into charities led her to choose the Who Cares Trust?, which aims to empower and give voice to young people in care to improve their lives, and since, 2002, a series of annual bike ridesin the UK or Europe have raised almost £440,000 for the organisation. These typically last three-and-a-half days and cover 200-225 miles with recent destinations including Burgundy in France (2012), Luxembourg (2011) and Northumberland (2010).

If that were not enough, Timmis has started another annual series of rides along the Thames which have raised £25,000 for overseas projects to support vulnerable children, including street children in Ethiopia and those in institutional settings in Bulgaria.

Timmis says her professional life was crucial in inspiring her charitable work, and in encouraging others to support her.

“The reason I wanted to do it is that I’m involved with children entering care and I know that it can be a mixed blessing, and I wanted to improve things for them,” she says.  “That was my motivation and that’s shared by a lot of other people involved.”

She says fellow family court professionals, including social workers, lawyers and judges, have been among the strongest supporters of her Biking for Children in Care rides, with many joining her on the roads or encouraging colleagues to support the rides.

Timmis was nominated by a fellow rider and says that her MBE is “absolutely fantastic”. However, she adds that Biking for Children in Care has been a true team effort involving many other people in planning the rides and calling in favours, as well as taking part. For example, she says the journalist husband of a fellow children’s guardian has managed to secure transport to support the rides through his links to the motor industry.

Last year 56 people took part in the annual ride for the Who Cares Trust?, compared with 16 in the first ride, and Timmis says: “The event is such a hoot so every time people do it they want to come again and bring their friends. It’s grown like Topsy.”


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