Your manifesto for children and young people was timely, ambitious and inspiring (“A generation of Britain’s children faces crisis. Here’s our manifesto for change”, Editorial).
I was a youth worker in the 1970s, paid by the local authority and seconded to a voluntarily provided youth centre. I can testify to the value of an adequately funded national youth service, co-ordinated and funded by local authorities, in addressing the needs of a wide spectrum of young people, enhancing their mental health and advancing their self-esteem.
Two of your manifesto priorities refer to youth services. Isn’t it time for local authorities to have once more the resources to provide such life-shaping – and inexpensive – provision?
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy is delighted to see your call for every school to be assigned a mental health counsellor.
We’ve long campaigned for paid therapeutic support in schools in England to bring them in line with the rest of the UK, and the need has never been more acute than now, given the serious mental health impact Covid-19 is having on the mental wellbeing of children and young people.
We expect to see an increase in demand for services as schools return and young people struggle to come to terms with how their lives have been transformed.
We know counselling can have a transformative effect on young people’s lives and that early, accessible help is key. This is crucial to help with the range of emotional challenges children and young people are facing, such as change, loss, isolation and family worries.
Dr Hadyn Williams, chief executive of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
Sure Start was rightly cited as a groundbreaking policy in your report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child poverty.
The ending of ringfenced central funding for these centres by the government in 2015 resulted in the closure of many by cash-strapped local councils. For thousands of families, this denied access to an effective one-stop support system providing health referrals and other specialist expertise.
It might be better to take these centres out of national politics and fund the system in co-operation with local councils via a new charitable foundation.
Downham Market, Norfolk
Thank you for your brilliant manifesto for change for children.
As an early years teacher, with 20 years’ experience in nursery schools, I was delighted to see measure 1 was urgent support for nurseries. Some 390-plus state-maintained nurseries in England, with more than 40,000 pupils, face closure in July 2021 because there is no long-term funding plans from the government. Maintained nursery schools are located in some of the most deprived communities.
We provide for some of the most vulnerable in society, for those with special needs, with children with speech and language difficulties and English as a second language.
Many schools face closure and our campaign, Save Maintained Nursery Schools, is about to relaunch with letters to the prime minister and MPs calling for an immediate cash injection because of the loss of funding streams and increased costs for PPE and cleaning.
If these schools close, a huge percentage of children will not get the pre-school education they are entitled to.
Let’s talk about sex
Barbara Ellen is right to highlight the New Zealand government’s advert about the need to talk about porn to our children (Comment). However, not only should the watching of explicit porn sites be raised but also the use of online chatrooms and social network sites that can be highly sexually charged. As a therapist, most of the clients I see with porn addiction started watching when they were 11 or only slightly older. If we want our children to have happy, fulfilling relationships parents need to overcome their embarrassment and talk about sex. Not, of course, just the mechanics but the shared, physical intimacy. If we are embarrassed about our sexual side what effect will that have on our children?
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that the leaders of the devolved administrations have done a better job during the coronavirus crisis than Boris Johnson, who seems to make a virtue out of not talking to his opposite numbers.
In Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford said he had not heard from Johnson since late May (“Three months on… how has lockdown changed Britain?”, Focus). How can the prime minister of the UK not consider it imperative, if not a duty, to keep in regular contact with the devolved administrations during a pandemic that affects everybody? It speaks volumes about Johnson’s arrogance and little England mindset.
It is no surprise that there has been an unprecedented rise in the number of voters in Wales who now support independence. It might be an unintended consequence of his blinkered and shortsighted attitude but Johnson is doing a superb job in hastening the breakup of the UK.
Ian Holm’s gift for sharing
Trevor Nunn’s tribute to Ian Holm (“The inventor of Shakespearean acting in the age of film”, Comment) was an essential postscript to this amazing actor.
I witnessed this firsthand as I was fortunate enough to play my first Shakespeare role in that production of Henry V. Ian not only wooed me and the actor playing Katherine (Sarah Hyde) as the part called for, but he embraced our youthful debuts with his undeniable wit and charm, and showed us not only what it means to be natural on stage, but how to do it while being true to Shakespeare’s inimitable poetry. Sadly, I never worked with Ian again, but those early lessons are a constant reminder of how to do justice to our craft. Yet here we are in 2020, where live theatre may be closed to us forever. Where then will future young actors learn their craft? Where will audiences get to be amazed once more?
Frances de la Tour