12 March 2020
The Children’s Minister has responded to a petition to reverse the decision to spend £200,000 on a care memorial to recognise the children and young people who were failed and harmed while in Jersey’s care system and has called on islanders to take part in the process of selecting a design.
The memorial was in 2018 endorsed by a citizens’ panel, which included a significant number of survivors, as part of a legacy project to acknowledge victims and their families. It followed a recommendation by the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry that Jersey should create ‘some form of tangible public acknowledgement of those that have been ill served by the care system over many decades.’
Senator Sam Mézec said: “We recognise this is a sensitive issue and there will be opportunity for the public to be involved in what is a key part of the Government’s response to the Care Inquiry.
“The memorial must be a sensitive focus for reflection and an enduring promise to Jersey’s children. I would, therefore, encourage Islanders to engage with the project by helping choose the final design, which might be a garden, a playground, a sculpture, a fountain or something interactive.”
Senator Mézec’s comments come in response to a petition to reverse the decision to spend £200,000 on the care memorial. The petition had called for the minister to spend the money reserved for the memorial, funded from the Care Inquiry budget, elsewhere.
“The funding allocated for the memorial has not been diverted from frontline services or either of the redress schemes but secured from the £23 million allocated for the Care Inquiry process,” explained Senator Mézec. “This represents a one-off pot of money which is not available for recurring costs such as staff or services for children. Reversing the decision to commission the memorial would not automatically release £200,000 for other children’s projects.”
Senator Mézec added that additional investment of £42.4 million had been pledged by the Government to ‘put children first’, and included the recent launch of Love Never Leaves, a landmark £1.67 million package of support for children in care and care leavers.
“As a key element of our wider programme to respond to the recommendations made by the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, we remain committed to completing the open tender process launched in February and announcing the final design for the Care Memorial in July,” he said.
In February, designers, artists, engineers and architects were invited to submit designs for the memorial, which will be erected in Weighbridge Place. Senator Mézec wants the community to be involved in selecting the final design and is encouraging Islanders to attend an exhibition of shortlisted designs in June to share their feedback.
“This will ensure everyone’s views are taken into consideration when making the final decision,” he said. “We have not defined what form the memorial should take so applicants can creatively respond to the design brief.”