Recorder letters: Child services funding, encourage children to speak, swim for diabetes and Book Aid

PUBLISHED: 12:30 09 February 2020

City & East London AM Unmesh Desai is conerned about government funding cuts to social services.

City & East London AM Unmesh Desai is conerned about government funding cuts to social services.


Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Better financial help for youth services is needed

Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member for City & East, writes:

Local authorities across the capital have been hit badly by austerity. This has directly led to councils having to make difficult, but often unavoidable choices when it comes to reducing funding for certain services in order to protect child and adult social care budgets.

The government has a duty to support the most vulnerable young people in our communities and defend them from the grip of crime and gang exploitation. Youth services in all their forms play a vital part in this, but they have sadly been stripped to the bone across the capital.

To mitigate against the worst impacts of the government's cuts, City Hall has stepped in to deliver significant investment in early intervention initiatives and a public health approach to clamping down on violent crime. We now want to see the government prioritising prevention measures in the fight against violent crime and better financial support for youth services is one way they can do this.

Encourage children to speak out

Alex Gray, Childline service manager, writes:

At Childline we always encourage children to speak out and seek help if they are struggling with their mental wellbeing. And February 3 to 9 - Children's Mental Health Week - provides a really special opportunity to put a spotlight on the challenges young people often face.

Mental health issues can be overwhelming for children and some may find it difficult to put into words what they are thinking and feeling.

However, it is important that children know that their mental health is nothing to be embarrassed about and by speaking to a trusted adult they can get the help they need to feel better.

Mental and emotional health is one of the top concerns for children who contact Childline.

Struggling with these issues can affect the way a child feels about themselves and their confidence in their ability to deal with daily life. Stress and anxiety is normal but, if it is taking over a child's daily thoughts, then it is important they talk to someone.

Children may not always know who to talk to and how to speak about how they are feeling. And it's really important that they know trusted adults, such as a parent or carer, doctor, teacher or Childline, are all there to help. By sharing their feelings, children will feel more in control and supported with their mental health. Talking can also help children process and understand their thoughts and feelings more clearly.

If a child feels uncomfortable speaking to someone face to face, they can always call Childline. Trained Childline counsellors are always there to listen, no matter what the call is about.

Any child can call free and confidentially 24/7 on 0800 1111.

For more advice visit

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Take the plunge for Diabetes UK

Roz Rosenblatt, London Head at Diabetes UK, writes:

Diabetes UK is looking for people to take on the swimming challenge of the year, Swim22, between February 22 and May 22.

Discover your inner champion by swimming 22 miles - the width of the English Channel - in your local pool, at your own pace.

If you don't feel ready for 22 miles you can also choose to swim 11 or 44 miles.

You can take on the swim challenge alone or, better still, get your family, friends and colleagues involved.

Whichever distance you choose, each stroke you take will bring you closer to a healthier future - for you, and for everyone in the UK who's living with diabetes.

There are an estimated 4.7 million people living with diabetes in the UK. If not managed well, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating complications, including sight loss, amputation, kidney failure and stroke.

The money raised will help fund life-saving research, and make sure everyone living with diabetes gets the care and support they need. Take the plunge this year to help us change even more lives.

- Visit There is no registration fee and no minimum sponsorship.

Book Aid International

Sita Brahmachari, author, writes:

Reading opened wide world portals for me in my own childhood. It allowed my imagination to soar and to travel to places beyond whatever situation I found myself in. Reading is a great equaliser- it inspires us to meet our fellow humans, to understand, empathise and enter landscapes we could never dream of experiencing in one lifetime. Reading contributes to a better quality of life, impacts on our health, spirit, educational opportunities and well being… it connects us to each other and our own humanity.

I have seen first-hand - through working with refugee children forced to travel and surviving alone, without family - what a transformational impact escaping into a book can have in helping them to keep hope alive in unimaginably unstable situations they should never have to face. To hear a child laugh and reconnect to childhood in these harsh circumstances is life affirming. It is out of this instinct that I created a magical story hive in my book Where The River Runs Gold, where the children take refuge whenever they need.

However, for millions of children across the globe, especially those displaced and living in war-torn countries, access to this story hive of books is closed to them.

I want every child to be able to reach for that book that brings them light. That's why this World Book Day (Thursday, March 5) I'm supporting Book Aid International. Their fundraising efforts mean more children and young people will have access to books. Every day I'm inspired by the stories children have to tell and being a part of World Book Day means we can spread the enjoyment of reading even further.

Just £2 helps send another book, giving children the opportunity to read, learn and have fun. The Book Aid International website ( has plenty of exciting World Book Day fundraising. Whether you host a Big Booky Breaktime, have a sponsored Read-A-Thon or run your own unique fundraising event, it will have a positive effect.

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