This week’s letters page includes a call for government and councils to do all they can to protect refugee children.
Our solemn duty
Of an estimated 12 million Syrians displaced by war, more than half are children, tens of thousands of whom will be fleeing alone.
Their parents may have been killed or been separated from them.
They may have lost their brothers and sisters or other family members. They have no one to turn to.
The UK’s decision to offer sanctuary to hundreds if not thousands of these children is right; it would be morally indefensible not to.
We will then have a solemn responsibility to protect the fragile lives of these traumatised children while they are in our country’s care.
Our Government should urgently prioritise specialist, tailored care required by the unique circumstances of refugee children who need, and deserve, a decent place to live with the right people and support in place for as long as they need it.
Firstly the Government needs specialist staff to immediately identify the type of support these children need; some will need help for trauma or mental health.
They need to ensure that children stay in sensitive, loving foster homes, and that each foster carer has been trained to nurture them and meet their needs.
Shockingly, many unaccompanied and potentially trafficked children end up staying in bed and breakfasts without much support.
As a result, two-thirds go missing from care, putting them in danger from traffickers or predatory adults.
Secondly, we must ensure that every child is treated as a child – not an adult. Most of these children will be travelling undocumented so officials must judge if they are under 18.
Finally, we need to make sure these children are supported in their transition to adulthood.
The period after the age of 18 is a particularly vulnerable time for unaccompanied young people as they lose support from children’s services.
At Barnardo’s we have specialist staff that could provide the critical ‘triage’ that newly arrived children and young people will need.
We also have trained foster carers to look after unaccompanied children seeking asylum.
Syrian children coming to the UK may have been picked up by traffickers in refugee camps or as they move across Europe.
Our independent advocates support trafficked children and young people in 23 local authorities in England, walking with children every step of the way through what can be a frightening time as they navigate the care system and immigration processes.
The government and local authorities should draw on such experience and expertise.
Our hope at Barnardo’s is that the people of the UK can support these children in a meaningful way, helping them to overcome their experiences escaping from war so they can imagine a safe future.
Chief executive, Barnardo’s
We must stay in
It’s about time Eurosceptics stopped talking about what they are against, and started talking about what they are FOR.
Campaigners for EU exit need to be honest and admit that leaving the EU would mean losing control.
It would mean years of financial and investment uncertainty, letting others shape our future as our exit terms are decided without us.
As your MEP, I’m not prepared to stand by and let our country be put through that.
I want a Britain proud to be the financial capital of Europe; a Britain shaping trading standards that affect our businesses both within and outside the EU, and a country proud to work with our partners for the good of us all.
In my work as your Liberal Democrat MEP I work with our neighbours shaping our future by full and equal participation in the decision making processes.
We should not be contemplating leaving the EU.
We should be making the most of our place at the table, leading in Europe.
This way we can make sure of Britain’s key role in our continent’s future prosperity, not isolating ourselves as the nationalists would have us do.
Catherine Bearder MEP
Lib Dem MEP for South-East
Dress up in pink
Like many of your readers, I’ve had family and friends affected by breast cancer, which is why I’m encouraging everyone - with a little help from Linda and Pauline - to grab their favourite girls, dress up and hold their own fabulous Big Pink to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Care.
A Big Pink could be a dress down day at work, a lunch, brunch or cosy night in at home – anything goes, as long as it’s pink and as long as you’re all having fun!
Join in on Friday, October, 16 or choose any date in October that suits.
Every year, 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer, and the number of those living with a diagnosis is on the rise - so there has never been a more urgent time to support the work of Breast Cancer Care, who provide vital care, support and information for those affected, from day one.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – so really there’s no better time to show you care!
You can get your free Starter Kit at: www.breastcancercare.org.uk/thebigpink.
Please join me and lend your support too.
It’s incredibly important.
Breast Cancer Care Supporter
On Friday evening I was cycling from Lower Close in Aylesbury.
I cut through Cubb Field.
It was just becoming a little dark, yet now time for street lights to be on.
All of a sudden I was pushed from my bike by a TREE.
I did not realise what had happened.
Luckily I was not hurt, however I could have been, especially if the branches had made contact with my face.
On Saturday morning I took a walk back along the route I had taken the night before.
I can not tell you what type of tree they were but they are definitely a danger to the public for such a small area.
There are four trees, too close to the houses surrounding them.
Why, oh why, are these trees still standing?
If they were that close to my house I would be very worried.
I see that the council is cutting trees down in the Rowland Way area, I think AVDC need to be sorting these trees, the sooner the better.
The route I was on is a public footpath so why are these trees even there?
It is obvious once the winds arrive there will be branches breaking off.
I have always defended AVDC, but I am very disappointed at this moment in time.
Here at Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity (FNHC), we are deep into our Christmas preparations.
We always like to try and ease the stress of Christmas planning and combine it with a little fundraising for the Hospice.
This year, we are selling personalised wooden Christmas decorations in three designs : Christmas Tree, Star and Angel.
These make great corporate or school gifts.
So, as well as sending your festive greetings to friends, family, colleagues and loved ones, you can show that you are supporting a great local charity too.
The decorations are made for us by Wendover Wood - a small local business – so 100% of your money stays within our community.
It’s a triple whammy really!
If you would like more information please call the Fundraising Team on 01296 429975 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support.
FNHC Community Fundraising Manager
Step into future
Many people who want to remain part of the EU are pointing out the dangers if Britain were to vote to leave.
There are risks for jobs and wages, higher prices, a risk of weaker environmental protection and a risk for security against crime and international conflict.
If we leave we will still be hugely affected by decisions in the EU but would have shut ourselves out of a role in those decisions.
But we also need to have vision for what we can achieve in the years and decades ahead if we stay together.
Medical research is now co-ordinated in Europe and this has produced big steps in conquering cancer.
As the biggest economy in the world, the EU can use its influence to prevent more wars and promote human rights for those suffering oppression.
By working together in Europe we can ensure that the exploration of space, leading to new technology of real benefit on Earth, is not left only to America, Russia and China.
I shall vote for Britain to stay in, not only to protect against dangers but also to step most confidently towards the future.
Use spare hour
For many people, when the clocks go back, it means an extra hour in bed.
But for those caring for a seriously ill child, that seemingly throwaway hour is incredibly precious.
I am calling on people across the country to use their extra hour when the clocks go back on October 25 to make a difference to families with a seriously ill child by backing Rainbow Trust’s Big Hour campaign.
Get your family, friends and colleagues involved in a teddy bear’s picnic, bake sale or round a golf or any activity that lasts just 60 minutes and make some lasting memories with those who matter while raising some much needed money for families in need.
The campaign runs from 19 – 25 October.
Rainbow Trust provides emotional and practical support for families with a life threatened or terminally ill child.
For more information or to register your event visit www.rainbowtrust.org.uk/bighour or call 01372 220013.
Time is precious, make it count.
It’s killing season
Every year, around 40 million pheasants are intensively reared to be released for shooting … and the four-month killing season started this week.
Gun lobby spokespeople have already begun trying to fill newspaper columns and the airwaves with their sunshine and roses fantasy picture of their bloody sport.
Cages, industrial hatcheries, giant sheds and release pens are all involved in mass production of these feathered targets.
Animal Aid continues to press for a ban on the purpose breeding of birds to be shot for sport, which Holland introduced in 2002.
A particularly vicious aspect of ‘gamebird’ production is the use of small metal cages, in which the egg-producing birds are confined.
Animal Aid recently released shocking undercover footage showing just how wretched and utterly depressing a time the birds have inside these metal prisons.
A civilised country would not permit their use.
In fact, a YouGov opinion poll we commissioned last year found that 77 per cent of respondents opposed them.
You can add your voice to those calling for a cage ban. Please contact us for a free information and action pack.
Director, Animal Aid