It is with heavy heart that we pay tribute to Paul Goggins, Member of Parliament for Wythenshawe and Sale East. We are deeply shocked to hear of his untimely passing and would like to pass on our condolences to Paul's immediate team, his friends and family, to the Labour party and the House.
Paul was shortlisted for the 2nd Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Awards for his work on looked after children retaining a form of Child Trust Fund. Established in 2002, the Child Trust Fund sought to ensure that every child, including those in care, has a savings account costing £500m a year to run. The scheme was subsequently abolished in 2010 to make way for government savings but scrapping the fund meant that children in care would fall behind in grasping essential lessons of financial responsibility and more likely to create bad habits of debt at a later stage in life.
In his own words, Paul Goggins told our Director that: “There should be no different between the parties when it comes to children in care. We should use every opportunity to support those children who are amongst the most disadvantaged in our society… We need to establish a way to open these accounts and make sure that additional payments are made.”
As a former social worker, Paul had strong experience working with children in difficult environments and after being Minister at the Home Office and Northern Ireland Office, the MP decided to re-focus his efforts back into children in care. To start, he proposed a new savings account based on the government’s Junior ISA to allow children in care for more than a year to have a savings account with an automatic balance of £200. The child is then encouraged to add to the savings in their own capacity until at the age of 18. This simple proposal would cost the government £6.6m a year and has so far provided over 40,000 children with the opportunity to build up a “nest egg” for their own future. The initiative has been backed the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and all main parties.
While our time with Paul was short, he amazed us and it was apparent that he was a sensitive man who took great care and attention on ensuring that the underprivileged were not forgotten by government.
Talyn Rahman-Figueroa, Director of Grassroot Diplomat recalls:
“In my time meeting Paul in November last year, I was deeply moved by his sense of responsibility to children in care. He clearly had a passion for this subject and cared about the welfare of people in general. I greatly admired him for his work, and we hope that his peers and colleagues continue the work he started with the Fostering Network and ensure that every opportunity is taken to support those children who are amongst the most disadvantaged in our society. I am simply echoing the words he spoke to me and am gratified to have met him. He spoke with great passion and enthusiasm, and it is truly a loss for the government to lose a dedicated and inspirational man.”
Dr Paul Clark, Non-Executive Director of Grassroot Diplomat, who worked with Paul Goggins directly in the House fondly notes that:
“Paul was a genuinely nice, caring person who would always put himself out for you. Apart from being an immediate colleague for 13 years whilst I was in the House, I worked with Paul in the Home Office team. He will be a great loss to the House - a well-respected person from all sides.”
In tribute to his memory, the team at Grassroot Diplomat will pay a moment of silence to Paul Goggins at the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Awards ceremony on Thursday 3rd April, which is likely to be held at the House of Commons.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time.