I WENT to find out information about the proposed children s home for looked-after children (to use the current terminology). I did so because I was alarmed at the hysteria being whipped up

I WENT to find out information about the proposed children's home for 'looked-after' children (to use the current terminology).

I did so because I was alarmed at the hysteria being whipped up by anonymous sources and wanted to make my own informed judgement about the necessity for such a home and the practicalities of the location proposed.

I listened carefully to what was said by both sides and have concluded that the underlying cause of the concerns expressed by those who oppose the home is fear. It is not middle class snobbery.

Anger is the mouthpiece of fear and I am concerned that the rhetoric and deliberate misinformation associated with this issue makes rational debate impossible. The fears expressed last night were fears about individual safety from some of the more aged residents, fear from parents of local children who may be exposed to 'danger' from the home's occupants, and fear of damage to property should the home's occupants be difficult to control. Overall, the fears relate to being a 'victim' of someone who has been brought into the area from outside.

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I believe that the majority of children who are likely to be placed at such a home are already victims. I have met children in such establishments. Not many want to be 'looked after' away from their families but sometimes it is absolutely necessary - often for their safety. I have met children who still wanted to live with their parents, even though they were suffering appalling abuse. Not all such children can be fostered, neither do such children need locking up in secure units. The answer has been and continues to be children's homes where normal patterns of behaviour can be encouraged. Such homes work best when the homes are integrated into communities rather than being isolated. The concern that I expressed last night is the demonization of children in such homes who are already victims. Portishead has a long history of providing care for the less fortunate. One only has to look at the investment in the naval School (now Fedden Village) where up to 250 boys were looked after for many years. I accept that the whole issue has not been handled very well in terms of keeping the public informed and has led to accusations of secrecy and trying to get things done 'by the backdoor'. However, I also accept the explanation from Northerncare that they were only acting in accordance with the advice and recommendations of Ofsted, their regulatory body.

Overall, I was reassured at the answers given by Northerncare and will continue to take my grandson down to the Lake Grounds to feed the ducks and play in the play park. Nevertheless, I fear that there were many present last night who had already made up their minds that the home will be a terrible addition to the Lake Grounds and will be the source of considerable problems. I do not know how to dispel their fears, but hope they feel able to continue the debate in a more open and rational manner after having heard in person from Northerncare.

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DAVID EVANS - Raleigh Rise, Portishead

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