A Dangerous Dynasty: The House of Assad, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, director Nick Green.

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Panorama, BBC 1, BBCiPlayer, editor Rachel Jupp.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bb6yw0/panorama-syrias-chemical-war

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bnfn0d/a-dangerous-dynasty-house-of-assad-series-1-episode-1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bp1b9v/a-dangerous-dynasty-house-of-assad-series-1-episode-2

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bpyvvh

Civil War in Syria has lasted seven years, around 13 million of its citizens have been displaced and the refugee crisis in Europe has led to a right-wing orchestrated backlash against those who dare to cross borders and not die quietly at home.

Bashar Al-Assad the President of Syria was never meant to be in the position of leadership, never meant to be a mass murderer of around half a million of his people, never meant to sanction the use of barrel bombs, low-tech chlorine and high-tech Sarin chemical weapons against men, women and children, in the city of Idib, targeting hospitals – and then of course, deny it. He was never cut out to be a war criminal that should be charged under the 1949 Geneva Convention for crimes against humanity.

Bashar Al-Assad was destined to be a run-of-the mill eye-doctor who trained at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, London. A largely forgotten figure outside his own country, where his father Hafez was a conventional Middle-East dictator with a billion pound sea-front property in which to bring up his five children.  A pragmatic man who seized power in a 1970 army  coup d’etat and intended to keep it by whatever means necessary, which included bombing and killing up to 20 000 of his own citizens in Homs and jailing and torturing many others.

Not surprisingly, when the Arab Spring flooded the Middle East in 2011, Homs home of the Muslim Brotherhood and Sunni Muslims was anti-Assad. Again unarmed civilians were murdered and tortured, prisoners in Syria’s largest prison massacred.

Watch what seems ancient footage of newly trained recruits stabbing puppies as a mark of loyalty to President Hafez, but they had it easy, female soldiers had to bite the heads off live snakes.  But Hafez also saw off Israeli advances in Lebanon, a state he kept firmly in his grip as a satellite and he lived long enough to see off six elected American Presidents.

Bashar’s eldest brother Bassel was in line to take over from Hafez. He showed the right credentials. When a fellow army officer in a horse-riding event, for example, beat Bassel in an equestrian championship he was arrested. It doesn’t tell you what happened to him next, but we can guess. Bassel also liked fast cars and that’s what killed him.

Hafez had to decide who to pass his crown to, his daughter, of course, was ruled out for being the wrong gender. We can take the script from a cross between the Corleone family in The Godfather and King Lear, ‘nothing will come of nothing’. Quietly spoken Bashar comes from nothing to lead the family when his father dies, but he has married wisely and married well, Asma’s Lady Macbeth and would-be first lady of Syria, but supermodels herself on Lady Di.

Fast forward to 2013, millions fleeing Syria, the advance of Islamic State and Bashar’s family only controlling 14% of Syria, and the rebels three miles from his presidential palace.   One word: PUTIN.

Poems for Refugees (2002) edited by Pippa Haywood.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) The Second Coming.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosened and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction; while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

Panorama: I’m Broken Inside – Sarah’s Story, BBC 1. 7.30pm.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b077r82t/panorama-im-broken-inside-saras-story

How many children die whilst in psychiatric care?

You probably don’t know. If you were health secretary, you might say something to the effect, none that I know of, or you might guess the answer to be four this year, one of them Sarah Green. You might suggest that the knock on effects of broken Britain (my words) is the number of children seeking psychiatric care placement has, according to Deborah Coles, who under Freedom of Information made a request to the appropriate authorities (a mismatch of NHS Trusts and local authorities) and suggest that that number has  doubled since the nineteen eighties and quadrupled between 2010-2014.

In quantitative terms 0.7% of the NHS budget is spent on psychiatric care (mental health) of young people and gaps in services mean that young people can be shipped hundreds of miles from home, as Sarah Green was. Her final placement was in The Priory which receives eighty-five percent of its funding from NHS clients. Sarah’s family complained that at a case meeting about her care the NHS trust, and CAM’s team openly squabbled about who was to pay for her care. None of this surprised me. Nor did Sarah’s death. What shocked me, I’m sad to say, was the cost. The NHS Trust were paying £800 per day for Sarah’s care. The Priory as a private consortium does not have to disclose what happens to whom in its institutions. There’s big bucks in patient care. Economic rent. Sarah could have hired two or three full-time staff and stayed at home. Let’s put this into perspective. Justin King who has taken over the running of Four Season’s Care Homes (debts £50 million) complained that local authorities were paying as little as £400 per week for care of the elderly. He argued the break-even figure was nearer £500. My argument is quite simply we should be doing these things ourselves. Self-help. Not paying for both care and adding on profit as a justifiable cost. For me that’s unjustifiable.

Rachel’s story is the story of some many other kids. Frozen out and shipped to some far-flung institution that in the jargon has the appropriate resources. Tara Philips, for example, featured and her petition [below] from Change Org., appeared in my inbox.  Her story is Sarah’s story, but without the suicide. They deserve better. We deserve better.

I am a mum of 6 kids. My oldest, Rachael, just turned 15. Growing up she has always been a loving, thoughtful, young lady with an incredible sense of humour. But  when she was 13 she developed severe depression and was soon sectioned. At a time when she needed her family the most, she was moved to a specialist unit on the other side of the country. It costs £100 every time I travel to visit her. I can only afford to visit once every two weeks.

It has become unbearable to have my daughter so far away when I know she is suffering, that’s why I have started this petition to get her care closer to home.

Petitions have helped other families in similar situations.  When Phill Wills started his  #BringJoshHome campaign to get care for his son, his local authorities started to listen. Public pressure can do the same for us.

Young people’s mental health care has been overlooked in this country for far too long and thousands of families like mine are being neglected. In Lancashire, particularly, I know people aren’t getting the treatment they deserve. High quality local care for Rachael could be the first step to creating better care for all young people in the area

Please sign this petition and join me in calling on Lancashire NHS Trust to localise Rachael’s care and get her treatment closer to us.