Martha Lane Fox founded Antigone in 2007. Antigone works with a small number of charities each year, learning more about the needs of socially excluded people so that we can help promote their successes to ministers and the press. We work in alliance with a number of other funders, organisations and people to make these changes happen and are keen to promote areas of philanthropy and activism that are currently unfashionable and underfunded.
Antigone is closed for any further grant applications for the remainder of 2013.
On 26th and 27th February 2013, The Royal Courts of Justice were the setting for a landmark legal challenge, involving Just for Kids Law, to bring to an end a legal anomaly and alter the treatment of 17-year-old children in custody (read the full press release here). On the day, supporters gathered outside the court to demonstrate their backing for the campaign, with t-shirts and placards bearing the slogan “Still a Child at 17”. The case received national coverage, including a heart-wrenching feature on Channel 4 News from the family whose son tragically killed himself after being held in a police station without accessing an appropriate adult (watch the Channel 4 News report here).
During the two-day hearing, Caoilfhionn Gallagher from Doughty Street Chambers argued that this legal anomaly contravenes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and that the Home Office objected to avoid the financial cost of providing support for 17 year old children. Just for Kids Law Director Shauneen Lambe, being interviewed for BBC News (watch here), argued that the Home Office had vastly over-stated this cost, and she reminded us that “the cost is minimal when a life can be saved”.
Since the hearing, Just for Kids Law has received countless messages of support from members of the public and professionals alike. Nick and Jane Lawton, the parents of the boy who committed suicide after being arrested as a 17-year-old, have lent their full support to the challenge and have been able to share their experience on television, radio and print. The Lawton’s have since instigated a petition calling for a change to the law that, by 5th April 2013, has been signed by over 52,000 people. You can sign the petition here.
Below are some of the revealing comments left by the petition's signatories:
Deb Scott, London
“My son, a teenager with mental health issues, was held in custody overnight after being arrested for shop lifting. He was not charged but was released the next day. You can imagine my trauma when he didn't come home.”
Sue Clark , Lincoln
“This could be my son.”
Irene Solomon, London
“I worked as a solicitor representing children and young people in custody. Through my professional experience I have come to appreciate how vulnerable this group is when faced with criminal sanctions and how invaluable the legal protections are in keeping them safe.”
On 28th March 2013, Nick and Jane Lawton were joined by the parents of another 17-year-old who tragically committed suicide after being denied an appropriate adult, Edward Thornber, and, with the support of John Leech MP and our very own Shauneen Lambe, delivered the petition to 10 Downing Street. Catch up with the full story here.