Children at a Scottish after school club were forced to do chores for sweets

Vulnerable children at an after school club were given '˜credit' to buy sweets, fizzy drinks and crisps - and told to work off their '˜debts' by doing chores, a report revealed.
A selection of confectionery. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PAA selection of confectionery. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA
A selection of confectionery. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA

The project, CARING (Children at Risk in Need of Guidance), in Ferguslie Park, Paisley, Renfrewshire, has until November 27 to make improvements or will be closed.

Some 30 pupils from primary and secondary schools in the area - one of the most deprived in Scotland - attended the club.

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But a report from the Care Inspectorate rated it “unsatisfactory” on three measures - the standard of care, staffing and management, while the environment was rated “weak”.

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Fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps were for sale in a tuck shop, contrary to regulations which state that children must have access to healthy snacks.

And children were said to feel “uneasiness” about a system of credit, whereby they could purchase treats but then pay off the ‘credit’ by carrying out chores such as vacuuming.

The report said: “Children told us that if they did not have sufficient money, they would be allowed to obtain ‘credit’ for the purchase of sweets.

“They also told us that if this was not paid they would work this off by completing extra chores such as hoovering and cleaning.”

Children also told inspectors that their parents could be contacted if tuck shop debts were not cleared.

The document said: “This process of ‘credit’ created uneasiness”.

The Care Inspectorate demanded that this was stopped.

During a two-day visit on September 26, the care watchdog found that the manager did not know how many children attended the service, as the only register was handwritten on a laminated sheet which was wiped clean each day.

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Children were said to have eaten meals and undertook most activities in a cold gym hall.

Three fire exits serving it and three playrooms were locked, and shutters closed.

The report expressed concern that meals offered were not meeting children’s nutritional needs, while staff lacked elementary food hygiene certificates.

Food preparation measures were not sufficient to prevent infection.

Inspectors found staff lacked training and some had been recruited without proper vetting procedures and in some cases without even taking up references.

The report said there was little evidence of support for the children or any therapeutic work with those who had difficult family circumstances or other worries.

When inspectors visited in September, the 14 children present were unable to even play outside out as there were not enough staff to supervise them.

Inspectors noted: “Children told us they wanted to go out and play.”

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It added: “Opportunities were missed to use areas of the environment to support children who may have been having a bad day or needed time and space to themselves.”

After a return visit inspectors issued CARING with an extension, after hearing staff had received child protection training.

It now has until November 27 to address the outstanding concerns.

CARING has been contacted for comment.

A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said: “A recent inspection of this service found the quality of care experienced by children to be unacceptable.

“We issued an enforcement notice which details the areas which need to improve.”