Last Wednesday, at 54 St James Street, we had an incredible night celebrating Writing on the Wall. CEO of The Women's Organisation lead an in-depth discussion with Sharon Shoesmith, Director of Haringey’s Children’s Services who sacked on ‘live’ TV by Ed Balls, the Labour Secretary of State, following the death of Peter Connelly, better known as 'Baby P'. Sharon received an overwhelming response from the audience who will undoubtedly benefit from having heard her experience and story at The Women's Organisation.
The room was full of individuals, some themselves social workers, who were eager to hear of Sharon’s experiences. In 2007 Peter Connelly, better known as ‘Baby P’, was killed by his mother, her boyfriend and his brother. Peter had been known to social workers, health professionals and police, and his death brought shock and devastation to those who had known him, many of whom had seen him only days before he died. This raised questions surrounding the causes of Baby P's death and the role of a range of services who knew him, yet failed to prevent his death.
As the media targeted social workers, Sharon Shoesmith was the focal point. Sharon spoke of the ‘false media’ who cornered her in many strategic ways. The media went to extreme lengths to Photoshop Sharon, making her look more stern, tired and guilty. Sharon expressed the isolation she once felt during the incident, she asked herself ‘why should I resign?’… ‘I haven’t done anything’. Sharon stood firmly against Ed Balls and won her case for unfair dismissal against him in the High Court. Her courage and empowering approach towards this incident is one that inspires many social workers.
After several years of isolation and dealing with this tragic case, Sharon returned to education and has published a book, Learning from Baby P, based on her PhD which she achieved in 2015. It explores the case of ‘Baby P’, and the politics of blame, fear and denial, and attempts to understand those processes which were so prominent in the responses to Peter’s death, in the hope they can offer opportunities and lessons for all to learn and apply in the future.
Throughout the discussion, Sharon never failed to mention the amazing work that social workers do every day. She addressed the stigma attached to social workers; they are rarely praised for their work and instead criticised for their failures. Instead, social workers deserve acknowledgement and praise. Sharon along with many other workers in the audience, discussed this continual failure of recognition. Sharon spoke with such passion and informed us of her future plans to 'educate the public and protect social workers'.
We have one final event in collaboration with Writing on the Wall, 'Rebel Women' which will take place Tuesday 23rd May, at 54 St James Street featuring; Sabrina Mahfouz, Dashni Morad and Margaret Aspinall. These women have rebelled in their own way to take back control. Whether on a political or a more personal basis, these women will explore the obstacles they have faced and how they broke through the glass ceilings they encountered. Including performances from Sabrina and Dashni, this event is not to be missed.
There are still tickets, so grab yours here!