Friday, 15 April 2011

Council awards teenage counselling contract to Catholic charity

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Following the news this week that the Salvation Army has been awarded government funding to provide vital services to victims of sex trafficking, a fresh controversy has broken out over the decision of Conservative-led Richmond Council, in West London, to award a contract for counselling young people in the area's schools to the Catholic Children's Society, a London-based organisation which withdrew from adoption services after the 2007 Equality Act prevented adoption agencies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

While Councillor Christine Percival, cabinet member for education, youth and children’s services at Richmond Council, has said that the CCS bid for the contract, which is worth £89,000, was "way better than anyone else's" and that she has "no concerns that they will not carry out an excellent job", Councillor Stephen Knight, who leads the Liberal Democrats on Richmond Council, expressed concern as to whether a Catholic charity is suitable for providing counselling that will cover sex and relationship issues:
"Counselling services for young people have to address issues such as contraception, unwanted pregnancy and homophobic bullying and the appointment of a religious group to provide these services on behalf of the Council is totally inappropriate. Most young people facing these issues simply won’t want to seek help from counsellors required by their employer to 'uphold the Catholic ethos'."
Counselling services in Richmond were previously provided by the locally-based secular chairty Off The Record, which lost out to the CCS in bidding for the new contract.
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