Tag Archive: children

Legendary Qawali singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan becomes Barnardo’s International Ambassador

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Barnardo’s international ambassador Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan arrives at the Annual Gala Dinner in support of the children’s charity at the Dorchester Hotel

Barnardo’s international ambassador Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan arrives at the Annual Gala Dinner in support of the children’s charity at the Dorchester Hotel


One of the world’s most acclaimed South Asian musicians has joined Barnardo’s as an international ambassador, in a huge boost for the children’s charity.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan accepted the offer after topping the bill at the sell-out Annual Gala Dinner at London’s Dorchester Hotel for the UK’s South Asian community to support Barnardo’s work with vulnerable children and young people across the UK.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan becomes the second international ambassador to join Barnardo’s, after Bollywood super-star Salman Khan pledged his support in September.

The renowned Pakistani singer played a mesmerising set of traditional Qawali music in front of celebrity guests including Barnardo’s ambassadors Andy Serkis, Nicola Roberts, Lydia Bright and Debbie Douglas, along with new supporters including celebrated musician Naughty Boy and top TV presenter Sonali Shah.

The gala raised funds for Barnardo’s and was put together by live events specialists PME with the theme of “It’s time to give back”, giving the UK’s South Asian community the chance to support vulnerable children, young people and families from all backgrounds across the UK.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “It’s a huge honour that Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has agreed to become Barnardo’s International Ambassador. The maestro comes from a 600 year old family heritage of Qawali singing and has a huge global following and influence.

Barnardo’s international ambassador Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan receives his certificate with Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan and Board of Trustees Chairman Tony Cohen

Barnardo’s international ambassador Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan receives his certificate with Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan and Board of Trustees Chairman Tony Cohen


“He was very generous in his praise for Barnardo’s work to help vulnerable children and young people - last year alone we reached 272,000 children, young people, carers and parents.

“Barnardo’s works in a wide range of communities across the UK. From our earliest days over 150 years ago, Barnardo’s has been proud to help those who need us most, regardless of cultural or religious background.

“We have always valued and respected diversity at our core. Britain’s Asian communities have made a huge contribution to UK life, and helped develop a respect for and tolerance of difference, making this great country a vibrant place in which to live and work.”

The singer was presented with his international ambassador certificate by Barnardo’s Board of Trustees Chairman Tony Cohen.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan said: “I’m honoured to become an international ambassador for Barnardo’s as I know how hard the charity works to support vulnerable children, young people, carers and parents of all backgrounds in the UK, including those with South Asian roots.

“It was wonderful to be able to perform in the intimate setting of the Dorchester Hotel and raise funds for Barnardo’s, and I’m looking forward to working with the charity so that more children who have experienced tough situations in the past can look forward to a better future.”

Musician and Barnardo’s supporter Naughty Boy (right) with fellow guests at the Annual Gala Dinner in support of the children’s charity at the Dorchester Hotel

Musician and Barnardo’s supporter Naughty Boy (right) with fellow guests at the Annual Gala Dinner in support of the children’s charity at the Dorchester Hotel

Working with families at the edge of crisis

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Bradford Council has launched a major new initiative which supports children and young people in care or on the edge of care.

Launching the initiative on Thursday 2nd November at a special event involving young people, social care professionals, was opened by Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Children and Families.

The initiative, called B Positive Pathways, will work to help children, young people and families to stay together. It will aim to help children in care to help reunite them with their families.

The initiative will run for four years and has received funding of £1.6m for two years (£3.2m in total) from the £72m pot from the Department for Education’s Innovation Fund.

It will involve a ‘hub’ children’s home which incorporates a specialist outreach team who are skilled in providing support at the time of crisis to prevent a family breakdown.

The hub outreach team will then work with the family in the longer term to support them and stabilise their crisis.

The team will also work with families and young people who are on the edge of care and edging towards care to prevent their problems growing.  

The team uses a Signs of Safety approach which works with the family to look at solutions to problems and how to minimise risk to the child. They also work with children to develop their resilience and help them to cope with the challenges they face.

The outreach team can also call on the support of a police officer, life coach, and speech and language therapist.  

Where admission to residential care is the only option, the team will work to limit this to the shortest period possible.

Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill said:  “This government is working hard to make sure that all children, regardless of their background or the challenges they face in life, get the best start.

“I’m delighted to be launching this programme in Bradford, which will put these children at the heart of its work and help families to resolve difficulties and stay together. It’s an excellent example of the many projects being funded by our Innovation Programme.

“As one of our 12 Opportunity Areas, Bradford is getting a share of our £72 million funding, and is playing a vital part in our work to tackle low social mobility and raise the horizons of young people.”

Coun Val Slater, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “B Positive Pathways is about taking a whole family approach to resolving problems. Placing a child in care is a last resort, and this programme will help us keep families together by providing them with support to help them through the difficulties they may have.”

Michael Jameson, Bradford Council’s strategic director of children’s services, said: “B Positive Pathways initiative is a great example of how we can help support families at an early stage to prevent problems growing to a point where a child requires care.

“It is about providing care which is tailored to the needs of children and young people and creating a stable and secure base where children and young people have a sense of belonging. Taking this approach means we can provide the right support, in the right place at the right time so both the child and family have the best long-term outcome.”

Children’s intensive care under increased pressure

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Paediatric intensive care units in the UK and Ireland were operating under increased pressure as they coped with rising numbers of patients and a lack of specialist nurses, according to the latest audit of services.

Many units failed to meet the minimum nursing levels recommended by the UK Paediatric Intensive Care Society.

Despite the pressures, only a small number of children died while in intensive care, less than four per cent, and that figure has remained stable over recent years indicating clinical standards were being maintained. Indeed, this figure has reduced since 2003-2004 when the rate was 5.5%.

The picture of a system under strain emerged from the latest annual report from the Paediatric Intensive Care Audit Network (PICANet) – a collaboration between the Universities of Leeds and Leicester commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) to promote high-quality clinical care.

The audit received data from 34 paediatric intensive care units and 11 specialist critical care transport organisations across the UK and Ireland. The figures relate to 2016.

The findings showed that 20,231 children were admitted to a specialist intensive care unit last year – a slight rise on the figure for the previous year, continuing a trend identified over recent years. Some of the rise in caseload may have been due to an increased birth rate.

The audit team asked the units to provide details of the number of qualified nursing staff on duty at four time points during November 2016.

The recommended standard set by the UK Paediatric Intensive Care Society was to have seven whole-time equivalent nurses for each occupied bed. However many PICUs failed to meet this target.

Just over half the units were able to meet the standard during normal working hours – that slipped at night and at weekends, with just a third having the required level of qualified staff on duty at midnight on a Sunday.

Some units were operating with levels of occupancy above the good-practice guideline of 80%. Across England, the occupancy rate was of 95 per cent. In Wales it was 100 per cent. The figures were slightly lower in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland – 85 per cent.

Professor Elizabeth Draper, co-author from the University of Leicester, said:  “Occupancy levels in paediatric intensive care are very high and from our census, at best, only around half of units met the recommended nurse to patient ratio.

“This is particularly the case in London where bank and agency staff are needed to keep units running. The reliance on agency staff raises questions about the continuity of care, particularly if the nurses are not familiar with the unit they’re working on.

“This information is being fed into the current Paediatric Critical Care Review in order to facilitate future planning of paediatric intensive care services.”

The health care regulator in England, the Care Quality Commission, said when a decision is made that a child needs intensive care, the specialist critical care team providing transport should be mobilised within an hour.

The audit revealed that did not happen in one in four cases.  

The audit revealed there were 12,672 specialist transfers.  In 2,471 of those, it took between 1 and 3 hours to mobilise the transport team and in a further 906 cases, the mobilisation took more than 3 hours.

Delays were caused by both the availability of specialist critical care transport teams and the fact that beds were not always available.

Co-author of the audit report, Dr Roger Parslow from the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, said: “Last year we highlighted the number of referrals to paediatric intensive care that were not actioned, with two thirds being refused as there was no staffed bed available and we see a similar situation this year.

“When specialist transport teams do accept a referral, 30% of the journeys do not start within the hour, a standard set by the Care Quality Commission.

“The whole picture is one of a service under pressure so it is a credit to those working in paediatric intensive care that mortality continues to remain low and children remain well cared for.”

South Asian parents urged to vaccinate their children against flu this winter

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VACCINATED: Nimisha Lakhani has a long-term health condition ensures her family get the vaccine every year

VACCINATED: Nimisha Lakhani has a long-term health condition ensures her family get the vaccine every year


Over three million children are being offered the free flu vaccination this winter

Last year’s flu vaccine reduced the risk of flu in children by 65%

This year’s programme includes children in school year 4 for the first time

Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging parents and carers to help protect the three million eligible children from flu this winter.  

This year, the vaccine, administered in the form of a nasal spray, is being offered to 2–3 year olds, those in school years, 1, 2, 3 and for the first time, children in year 4.  Children aged over 4 in reception will also be eligible to have their vaccine done in school this year.  

New data published in August of this year showed that last year’s flu vaccine nasal spray reduced the risk of flu in vaccinated children by 65% across the UK last winter, meaning 65 children in every 100 were protected from flu.  

Flu can be very serious illness for little children. They have the same symptoms as adults –including fever, chills, aching muscles, headaches and a sore throat. Some children also develop a very high fever and complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis which may require treatment in hospital.

Nimisha Lakhani, a mother of three and has a long-term health condition, said: “I have severe asthma and getting the flu is really debilitating for me.

“I’m laid up in bed unable to move for at least a week so I make sure every year all my family get the flu jab including my children otherwise my condition would be worse.”

Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director for Public Health England, said: “Young children’s bodies can find it hard to cope with flu, so it is especially important to protect them with the vaccine.

“The nasal spray is a quick, effective and painless alternative to needles. Once ill, children also tend to spread infection more to other vulnerable family members, such as grandparents, so protecting them is a good way to protect the rest of the family.  

“Getting the vaccine is the best way to help protect against catching flu. So I urge all parents whose children are eligible for the free nasal spray not to put it off. It’s free because your family needs it.”

Whilst seasonal flu can be an unpredictable virus, the vaccine is the best form of protection against flu. Vaccinating those who are most likely to suffer the worst from flu also offers a protective effect for the rest of the population by reducing the overall spread of the virus.  

The free flu vaccine is also available for pregnant women. Research shows that under half (48%) of pregnant women got their jab last year.

Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, and as a result it can cause serious complications for both mother and her unborn baby.  Mandira Bhimjiyani had the flu jab whilst pregnant, said: “When you’re having a baby, there are so many things to think about and prepare for, however making the decision to have the flu jab to protect my baby was an easy decision and one less thing for me to worry about.

“The vaccine protected me and my unborn child so I could focus on enjoying being a new mum. I would recommend the flu jab to other mums as not only is it free but it also quick and safe.”

Flu can be particularly dangerous for people with long-term health conditions. These include: chronic respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis or emphysema; heart, kidney or liver disease; chronic neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy; and diabetes. Vaccinating children, who are super-spreaders of the virus, can offer indirect protection to other, more vulnerable family members.  

Those who are eligible for a free flu vaccine should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife now, for more information. Parents of children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 are encouraged to give permission for their children to receive the free nasal spray vaccination.

Visit for more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.  

Removing indecent images of children from the internet

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Home Secretary announces raft of public protection measures

Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the Government’s new £600,000 investment in a ground-breaking technology project that will remove indecent images of children from the internet at an unprecedented rate.

Alongside this, Ms Rudd also announced the impending consultation on cracking down on the prevalence and use of offensive and dangerous weapons.

The Home Secretary said more than half a million pounds worth of investment in ‘Project Arachnid’, a cutting-edge web crawler that can process thousands of image hashes per second.  

One image of a child being subjected to abuse can be replicated thousands of times across the internet.

And each time an image is viewed the child is further victimised and exploited. Arachnid helps prevent such re-victimisation by detecting copies of the material, and notifying technology companies so they can respond quickly and effectively.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Spreading indecent images of children online is an absolutely abhorrent crime, and social media platforms cannot be looked upon as safe spaces for sharing hateful material that exploits the most vulnerable in our society.

“Through the WePROTECT Global Alliance, we are leading the international response to child sexual exploitation online. We are working with the Canadian Cybertipline, who have partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the US on implementing a world-leading piece of technology, Project Arachnid.

“This is a global technology solution to a global technology problem. Protect Arachnid is a real leap forward in terms of our capacity to deal with this sort of vile material.

“We want the internet companies signed up to using this technology, and using it to proactively search for, and destroy, illegal images in their systems.  Our question to them is ‘if not, why not?’”

As part of the Government’s efforts to clamp down on acid attacks, Ms Rudd announced her intention to tighten restrictions around the public’s access to sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid can also be used to make the so-called ‘mother of Satan’ homemade explosive.

Amber Rudd, Home Secretary said: “Acid and knife attacks have an absolutely horrific impact on their victims.  I am determined that we do all we can to prevent such attacks, and I want to send the strongest possible message that where people break the law in these areas, they will face tough penalties.

“We need to be honest about the recent rise in certain types of offences, and we need to be on the front foot about tackling it. That’s why we’re giving police extra powers, and will be publishing a new Serious Violence Strategy early next year.”

Boost for Yorkshire children’s cancer charity

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Little Gia with Candlelighters family support manager Natalie

Little Gia with Candlelighters family support manager Natalie


Candlelighters are excited to announce that their Cottage Campaign has been given a huge helping hand by The Kentown Wizard Foundation.

The Cottage Campaign to raise half a million pounds was launched in May this year by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and will fund the renovation of a cottage, just a stone’s throw away from Leeds Children’s Hospital.

The Cottage will provide family accommodation to enable more families facing childhood cancer to be together at what is a very upsetting and distressing time.

The Kentown Wizard Foundation have announced that they will match fund up to £250,000 towards the Cottage project.

Margaret Ingram, CEO at the foundation, explained, “We are delighted to be able to support Candlelighters in this way.

“Our Foundation does not accept unsolicited applications for funding; instead we actively seek out charities we wish to support. We have offered this match funding to Candlelighters because we have been so impressed by the wonderful work the charity does and because we believe that the Candlelighters Cottage is a fantastic project.”

The Kentown Wizard Foundation exists to benefit children and young people and was set up in 2015 by philanthropist Ken Townsley who has since donated or pledged in the region of £100 million to the Foundation. That money will generate substantial annual income in perpetuity and the trustees donate this income to other UK registered charities whose objectives and values are aligned with theirs.

Jo Shepheard, Charity Director at Candlelighters, told us: “The Cottage will provide huge benefits for children with cancer and their families ensuring they can stay together when they most need one another.

“The generous matched funding from The Kentown Wizard Foundation means we are moving nearer to making the Cottage a reality, their support is invaluable to us and we are extremely grateful.”

If you would like to find out more about the Candlelighters Cottage Campaign or how you can get involved please visit

India’s Children: Partition

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South Asian Arts-uk and Opera North commemorate the anniversary of the Partition of India and Pakistan

A new multimedia performance co-produced by South Asian Arts-uk (SAA-uk) and Opera North to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India and Pakistan, India’s Children, comes to the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds on Friday 22nd September.

Seventy years ago as the clock struck midnight, Ustad Bismillah Khan played the first notes of a hopeful and moving raag in concert in Red Fort, Delhi, as one country became two. Inspired by this moment, a group of talented musicians and artists will create a spellbinding performance exploring the displacement of millions of people in the largest mass migration in history.

The audience will be taken on an emotive journey through a collage of music, archive film and the voices of those who lived through Partition. A pupil of the late Ustad Bismillah Khan, Kirpal Singh Panesar, will lead the ensemble on the traditional bowed instrument, the tar shehnai, revisiting the Ustad’s original raag and bringing the period to vivid life.

Vijay Venkat (viola) returns to the Howard Assembly Room following an acclaimed performance at SAA-uk’s summer Solstice, and Elizabeth Hanks on cello completes the ensemble. Sound artist Alex De Little has been given access to a collection of interviews with people who experienced Partition at first hand, and will introduce fragments of these intensely moving archive recordings throughout the performance. Working with film footage from the time, pioneering digital artist Steve Manthorp’s projections contribute to the immersive and deeply moving experience.   

Directed by Jasdeep Singh Degun, who was recently awarded a Sky Arts Scholarship, the performance will acknowledge the complicated narratives which were present at the time and pay tribute to the 70th anniversary.

Keranjeet Kaur Virdee, CEO and Artistic Director for SAA-uk comments: “It is wonderful to be working with Opera North who are willing to take risks and push the boundaries in order to deliver an outstanding performance which will touch many people on many levels.

“Partition: India’s Children is a new music project that we wanted to do to commemorate the anniversary. Partition resulted in the desecration and pillaging of a motherland. Seventy years on, the hurt and pain of Partition and Independence is a bitter sweet pill to swallow for members of my family and their experiences.”

Dominic Gray, Projects Director, Opera North, adds: “This isn’t a documentary or an attempt at telling the definitive story of what happened to India in August 1947; there isn’t a beginning, middle and end. A collage of sounds and images weave around each other to reveal personal experiences of Partition. It’s a piece about loss – loss of a unified country, loss of thousands of lives, families separated and communities dispersed – but it’s also about belief and survival, love and freedom.”

The performance will begin at the Howard Assembly Room at 7.15pm on Friday 22nd September. Tickets, priced at £12.50, are available now via the Opera North Box Office on 0844 848 2727 or online at

Children pull off biggest-ever fundraiser for Huddersfield children’s hospice

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When the fundraising team at Huddersfield-based Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice had the idea of challenging local children to raise money for the hospice, they were unprepared for the scale of their response.

“I said in the office that it would be great if we could raise just £80,” recalls Lynsey Marshall. “We could never have imagined they would actually raise over £80,000 – and that’s before we add in the Gift Aid, which will amount to a further £10,000 at least.

“This is the most successful campaign we’ve ever run by far! It just shows you how children respond to the idea of other children who are in need.”

The idea was to ask local schoolchildren to do a sponsored ‘Around the World Challenge’ by walking either a mile (primary schools) or two miles (secondary schools) and seeing how their miles added up compared to the circumference of the Earth, which is 24,901 miles. Could they, collectively, walk around the world? In the event, over 25,000 children, in 80 schools, youth groups and uniformed brigades across West Yorkshire threw themselves into the challenge and spanned the Earth with ease.

Word of the walk quickly spread to other schools and groups, including junior sports groups, uniformed groups and faith organisations, who also joined in.

Young people of every age and ability signed up to the challenge, from nursery schools to colleges and even special schools. It became clear that the children felt very moved by the work the hospice carries out.

Over half think their worse drivers than when they passed their test

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A staggering 57 per cent of British motorists think they are a worse driver now than when they first passed their test.

Research from Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons, revealed that only 43 per cent felt they were better behind the wheel now than when they first ripped up the L plates.

In fact, well over a third (39 per cent) of drivers thought they’d struggle to pass their test if they had to retake it now – rising to a worrying 46 per cent of over 55s. More women than men also thought they would fail if they were to take a test tomorrow (42 per cent vs 36 per cent).

More than 2,400 drivers were questioned in the study.

Kim Stanton, who heads up Young Driver, said: “Most drivers know they’ve picked up bad habits along the way, which is why they probably feel like they’d fail if faced with an examiner. In reality we know experience makes a safer driver, and this is borne out in road safety statistics.

“Shockingly, one in five newly qualified drivers has an accident within six months of getting on the road.

“With 400,000 17-21 year olds passing their test every year, that’s 80,000 potentially avoidable accidents within this vulnerable group. Almost 1,300 17-24 year olds are killed or seriously injured in road accidents each year – a much higher proportion than that age group accounts for in terms of the total number of road users.”

Driver education scheme Admiral Young Driver is aiming to help youngsters build up valuable experience behind the wheel - before the age of 17.

Children as young as 10 can drive a brand new, dual controlled Vauxhall Corsa SRi with an experienced instructor and learn everything from how to park or negotiate a roundabout to emergency stops and dealing with blindspots. Almost half a million lessons have been given since the scheme launched eight years ago.

Existing research has shown that teaching young people to drive from an earlier age and over a longer period of time can halve the accident rate for a newly qualified driver in that dangerous first six months – dropping from one in five to one in 10.

One of the reasons experience is so beneficial is it can help many skills behind the wheel to become automatic, allowing the driver to focus more on being alert to any potential dangers.

Teen expert Nicola Morgan, is an award-winning author and international speaker, specialising in writing for and about adolescent development, performance and wellbeing, including the books ‘Blame My Brain’ and ‘The Teenage Guide to Stress’.

Nicola explains: “The brain learns to do anything well by repetition.

“Every time we repeat an activity we are actually creating and then strengthening physical pathways between neurons (nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord). The more times we do it, the stronger those pathways become; the stronger they become, the more ‘automatic’ the skills in question become.

“There is a danger in learning to drive in a short space of time and with the minimum repetitions needed to pass the test but not to become expert.

“The skills required to drive confidently and safely (especially while distracted) have not been firmly embedded as neural pathways in the brain. Without these strong pathways, a huge amount of focus goes on the things that should be automatic, such as gear-changing and position in road, leaving less focus for noticing and dealing with sudden road changes, such as another driver stopping suddenly.”

NAYYARS SOLICITORS: Children and Accidents

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Every parent’s worst nightmare is their child being involved in an accident. Sometimes our little ones can just be mischievous, but often enough an accident is not their fault but someone else’s.  In those circumstances your child deserves to be compensated. As a parent what should you do if your child is injured or psychologically traumatised in an accident?

Unfortunately, we live in a society that has attached a taboo to the compensation culture. However, if you or your child sustains an injury whether it is in a car, at a playground, whilst out shopping or at school and it could have been avoided, then a claim should be made against those at fault. Normally, when there has been an accident which is not your or your child’s fault, it is always advisable to seek legal advice. Solicitors can usually tell you very quickly whether you have a claim against the third party. Scrapes and grazes are one thing, but if the injury lasts more than a few weeks then it should be investigated.

Serious accidents can lead to injuries that take months or years to heal. The psychological damage caused to children and their families often lasts a lifetime.

In order to establish the full extent of the injury a medical report is obtained from an independent medical expert. The medical report is used to value the injury and determines the amount of compensation awarded.

The legal system has safe guards in place to protect our children. A claim on behalf of a child (anyone under the age of 18) cannot be settled without the court approving it. In fact, there are two checks made - one by a barrister who gives advice on the valuation of the injury and the second by a Judge who approves the settlement figure after a short court hearing. Once the compensation has been approved, the court will then invest the money on behalf of the child and when he or she reaches the age of 18 they can apply to the court to be paid out. This procedure ensures that the child receives the compensation which over the years has normally matured into a healthy fund.

If your child has been involved in an accident which resulted in physical injury or a psychological trauma, then you need to take the rights steps to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. If you think the accident could have been avoided then always seek legal advice.

At Nayyars we have acted for children who have been injured in accidents and our aim (many of us are parents) is get the maximum amount of compensation we can for them. We promise to handle these cases in a sensitive manner.

Ayesha Nayyar is a personal injury solicitor who specialises in claims on behalf of children. If you or your child has been in the unfortunate position of being involved in an accident then please contact her on 0161 491 8520 or email

Fancy a choc fudge treat? Bradford duo takes on the challenge to shift tasty confectionary by the tonne for a sweet cause

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SWEET: Abdul Satar and Amjad Akram have been selling chocolate cakes to locals to raise money for charity

SWEET: Abdul Satar and Amjad Akram have been selling chocolate cakes to locals to raise money for charity


Two Bradford heroes have been overloaded with choc fudge cakes during the last couple of weeks, and you’d be forgiven thinking it was all to satisfy the whims of a having a sweet tooth.

Dedicated duo Abdul Satar and Amjad Akram have tirelessly been selling the yummy confectionary, all in aid to raise crucial funds to help improve the lives of innocent blind children.

But, this isn’t the first time they’ve committed to such a task. The pair have been doing charity work for a number of years and last year raised over £20,000 for AKAB school for the blind which is a children’s charity in Pakistan which aims to give hope to blind orphans in the country, who they are again raising money for.

Abdul and Amjad have once again already raised thousands of pounds for the project, and have now stepped-up the ‘sweet fundraising activity’ during the month of Ramadan.

With the cakes supplied by renowned Bradford business Seafresh, Abdul from the Office Furniture Company and Amjad of Letz Talk have been selling the cakes by knocking on doors and businesses, and using social media to plug the campaign.

“We deliver the cakes to people’s doors at £10 each and all the profits we raise go straight to the charity,” comments Amjad.

“We are doing this throughout Ramadan, but there are no hard set goals - whatever we raise is what we raise, they are only a small charity and can often be overlooked.

“It’s imperitive that we think of those less fortunate than us during this special month in the holy calendar.”

AKAB who’s mission statement is ‘to honour, empower the blind community by identification, education and employment’, have an enrolment of over 150 male and female students, which is funded through volunteers and fundraising.

So far, the charity-loving pair have sold over 800 cakes.

“All money from the sale of each cake is going directly to the charity,” adds Abdul.

“Is a very rewarding experience knowing that we’ve done something to assist the lives of young blind children.”

Abdul also carries out weekly charity work through his own local initiative Bradford Community Kitchen Centre for homeless people every Sunday from the Millside Centre in Grattan Road.

If you would like to buy a cake and help this cause, you can contact either Abdul on 07888693196 or Amjad on 07956566666.

Fun in the sun: Eco-friendly community kitchen and garden project plays host to International Children’s Day

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Treasure hunts, henna, fruit kebabs, giant skittles, drumming, puppet shows, arts and crafts, footy penalty shootouts and planting drew in the crowds at the Outback Community Garden in Halifax.

Around 600 people attended an event run by the Halifax Opportunities Trust to celebrate International Children’s Day on 1st June, where families enjoyed a host of activities.

Halifax Opportunities Trust is a charity that works to reduce the impact of poverty on Calderdale families by promoting opportunities, employment and wellbeing.  

A registered charity, it helps people to find new or better jobs, to learn new skills and to start or grow businesses, as well as offering support to those raising young families.

This event is just one example of the work they do – it brought together all the different communities in a deprived area of Calderdale to celebrate children across the globe- as well as giving families the chance to relax and get to know each other while having fun.

The Outback Community Garden is an eco-friendly community kitchen and garden project which runs on organic and sustainable principles. Halifax Opportunities Trust developed 0.4 hectares of unused and overgrown urban green space at the rear of Jubilee Children's Centre to create the community garden, which combines an edible landscape with areas of natural play, and has an environmentally-friendly strawbale building as its focal point.

It is packed full of edible produce including herbs, fruits and vegetables. It offers lots of interesting areas for local people to explore and learn about the natural environment.

The Outback provides an oasis in an urban setting and is looked after by local volunteers with a few hours to spare for a spot of gardening or odd jobs.  People can also hire The Outback for meetings, events, training courses and parties.

Alison Haskins, CEO of the Halifax Opportunities Trust said: "International Children's Day is a celebration of children across the world and we like to mark that at Halifax Opportunities Trust.

“We had over 600 people attend our event reflecting the diversity of the local community. What a fantastic way to celebrate children, in the sun and having fun”.

Brothers with congenital heart disease depend on children’s charity

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11-year-old Usman and 13-year-old need to have their blood tested four times a week and can do this at home with the INR testing kit provided by children’s charity CHSF in Leeds

11-year-old Usman and 13-year-old need to have their blood tested four times a week and can do this at home with the INR testing kit provided by children’s charity CHSF in Leeds


25% of all young patients receiving life-saving heart surgery in Yorkshire are of Asian background and the charity is calling out for  YOUR help

Adam and Usman are two brothers from Bradford. Born two years apart, they both have congenital heart disease. The condition was spotted before they were born, at their 20-week scans and both boys were delivered at the Leeds General Infirmary. They each had open heart surgery when they were just a few days old.

Now aged 13 and 11, Adam and Usman have each had three open heart surgeries. They take regular doses of the drug warfarin to thin their blood and must have their blood tested as often as four times a week.

Thanks to the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), an award-winning charity supporting the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary, the boys have been given an INR testing kit. This piece of equipment enables the family to test the boys blood at home, at a time convenient and most comfortable for them.

400 children receive open heart surgery in Leeds every year and another 10,000 pass through the unit as outpatients. 25% of all young patients are from the South Asian population in Yorkshire, the Humber and North Lincolnshire.

Masood, Adam and Usman’s father, said: “Having the INR kits has had a very positive impact on our family. It is convenient, given us peace of mind, and has saved us hundreds of pounds.

“It’s great that the boys can test their blood at home when they feel most comfortable doing so. They are really happy boys and live life to the full.

“Because of the CHSF and the equipment we’ve been given, our children don’t need to miss school or us take time off from work for regular blood testing.”

Now, CHSF is asking the generous Asian Express readers for donations over Ramadan to help support children and adults living with congenital heart disease across Yorkshire.

Children’s Heart Surgery Fund provides funds to support family accommodation at the hospital, staff positions and training, vital resources for the ward and clinical research.

Hanif Malik, Volunteer Children’s Heart Surgery Fund Trustee said: “Ramadan is partly a period of reflection for those less fortunate than us and Children’s Heart Surgery Fund are a crucial and life-giving support for all congenital heart disease patients.

“Many of the patients are from within the South Asian community but regardless of the background, Ramadan provides a great opportunity to help children living with this disease.

“Our Islamic principles encourage us to support such worthy causes so please donate generously to give them the best chance at a full and happy life.”

The charity also funds life-saving equipment to save and improve children’s lives. This equipment can range from hi-tech state-of the-art machines providing life-saving care, to hand-held devices the patients can take home.

With your support, they can continue to provide the equipment, staff and facilities to help improve the lives of other congenital heart patients within our community.   

You can help us to save lives of congenital heart disease patients right now, and keep the LGI at the forefront of cardiac care for the future. To donate, visit our website at, text CHSF17 £10 to 70070 or call 0113 392 5742.

All the staff and volunteers of Children’s Heart Surgery Fund wish all Muslim Asian Express readers "Ramadan Mubarak!"

Junior doctor who made over 50,000 indecent images of children jailed

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A junior doctor who made more than 50,000 indecent images of children has been jailed.

Dr Ediz Ekrem, 31 (07.06.85), of Lordship Lane, Dulwich, was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court today, Wednesday 3 May, to 16 months' imprisonment. He was also handed a Sexual Harm Protection Order for 10 years.

Ekrem pleaded guilty at the same court on Wednesday 5 April to three counts of making indecent photographs of children.

On the 28 October 2016 officers from Operation Bellona, part of the Met's Paedophile Unit, executed a warrant at Ekrem's address in Lordship Lane, Dulwich.

Officers spoke to Ekrem who confirmed that he had downloaded indecent images of children, but that he deleted them.

He was arrested and taken to a south London police station where he gave a no comment interview to all questions put to him.

He was bailed pending further enquiries and his laptop and a hard drive were seized.

He was found to be in possession of 187 category A images (the most serious rating), 92 category B images and 51,641 category C images - a total of 51,851 images.

None of the images were accessed whilst Ekrem was at work, nor were they of any of his patients.

At the time, Ekrem was employed part-time by a south London hospital working in the paediatric unit.

The General Medical Council was informed and immediately withdrew Ekrem's licence to practice medicine pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Ekrem was charged on 6 March 2017. He was convicted and sentenced as above.

DC John Daly, the investigating officer from the Met's Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said: "An appropriate sentence has been handed down today. Ekrem is a person who was supposed to be trusted and responsible for looking after the most ill and vulnerable in society. He has abused that trust by committing this offence. Ekrem was feeding a market for the most appalling and perverted images for a number of years.

"The sharing and making of indecent images of children is an abhorrent crime and one that the Metropolitan Police Service will continue to pursue and bring the perpetrators before the courts."

Praise for arrangements for keeping its domestic abuse children safe

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Children living with domestic abuse

Inspectors have praised organisations across the Bradford District, including Bradford Council, the police, probation and health services for the way in which they work together to protect children living with domestic abuse.

The independent inspection, published on the GOV.UK website, made a special note of the fact that all of the agencies in Bradford have high aspirations for Bradford children and that leaders and managers are delivering ‘very effective' services and ‘getting the basics right’.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “The recognition in this report from four national inspectorates, including Ofsted, that Bradford has high aspirations for its children is very positive news for our district and something for which we should all be very proud. We will build on this work but we must remain vigilant when it comes to protecting Bradford’s children.”

Leader of Bradford Council Susan Hinchcliffe

Inspectors looked at how organisations work together to respond to abuse and neglect across the Bradford District. It included a special focus on how organisations respond to children living with domestic abuse.

Michael Jameson, Bradford Council’s strategic director of children’s services, said: “This was a very thorough examination of part of our district’s safeguarding service which recognises the innovative work we are developing for children and parents. We know there is still much more to do, but this report shows that we are ‘getting the basics right’ and going in the right direction.”

Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “The inspectors recognise the challenges that our different agencies face and the robust measures we are putting in place to tackle them. We can never be complacent about safeguarding, but this thorough inspection recognises the good work we are doing.”

Damien Miller, West Yorkshire Police’s superintendent for safeguarding partnerships, said: “We welcome the inspection report and are pleased that our partnership work to protect children living with domestic abuse has been recognised positively. We are pleased that the inspection has seen the hard work, which is resulting in our timely and effective responses to tackle domestic abuse, as well as our prompt and effective information sharing.”

Nancy O’Neill, director of collaboration for the district’s clinical commissioning groups, said: “We are pleased that the report recognises the many examples where effective partnership work in Bradford has resulted in timely and good quality support to local children and their families, ultimately reducing the risk of harm.  We look forward to developing the partnership, using the findings of the inspection to further improve our support to children and young people living with domestic violence.”



Findings of the report

  • Across partners there is commitment to continual improvement to offer a wide range of high quality services to meet the diverse needs of children and families.
  • Both the lead member and the Chief Executive of Bradford Council are very well informed about the diverse needs of children in Bradford and the quality of services to children in need of help and protection.
  • Children and parents who experience domestic abuse have access to a wide range of services to meet differing needs.
  • Leadership within children’s social care is effective and senior managers are creating a healthy environment in Bradford for effective social work to flourish.
  • The Strategic Director of Children’s Services is focused on ‘getting the basics right’ in social work practice but also in innovating and using external sources of funding and expertise to drive new developments and approaches to providing effective support to children and young people.
  • There are very effective multi-agency arrangements within the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
  • Social workers are well supported to enable them to work effectively with families. Caseloads are manageable and workers receive regular supervision.



Do people who have kids live longer?

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EXPECTING: Being a parent is hard work, but it could pay off in the long run

EXPECTING: Being a parent is hard work, but it could pay off in the long run


Most couples have their minds made up about whether or not they want to have children, but did you know that those who do decide to extend their family could live for longer?

A recent study has found that parents enjoy longer lives than those who choose not to have kids.

The report, produced by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, found that once you reach the age of 60, both men and women live longer if they have at least one child.

Researchers used Swedish census data taken from over 1.4 million people born between the years of 1911 and 1925 to draw their conclusions.

They discovered that on average, dads live 20.2 years past the age of 60, compared to 18.4 years for childless men.

For women, mums are expected to live 24.6 years past 60, 1.5 years longer than childless women.

The study also found that unmarried men are more likely to die than their committed counterparts. The difference in death risk was 1.2 per cent among unmarried men and 0.6 per cent among those who were married.

“Unmarried men might be relying more heavily on their children in the absence of a partner by way of a possible explanation,” the study authors suggested.

“They are also likely to be less well educated, whereas the opposite tends to be true of women.”

Why ‘mindfulness’ is so important for children

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Most of us waste time being in the past or worrying about what the future would bring with itself, so much so, that we fail to appreciate what is in the present.

Mindfulness is any human’s ability to be fully aware about their present. ‘Why are we here?’, ‘What are we doing?’ and ‘Why are we doing it?’ are all questions which one gets answers to when they embrace mindfulness.

One also learns to not overreach or be overwhelmed by the things that aren’t in one’s control and happening in the external environment.

It is about observing things without criticism; about being compassionate without judging, learning rather than arguing. When one is doomed with unhappiness, mindfulness is all about finding that silver-lining in the sky.

In all its essence, the practice of mindfulness teaches one to red-flag the negative patterns before they get triggered and take one along the downward spiral. It allows one to take back control of one’s life.

Usually adults are always the prime target audience when one talks about mindfulness.

Why? Don’t the kids need to be aware of themselves and their surroundings too?

For years, we have only correlated one variable to success in a kid’s life – good education. True, good education makes kids smarter and sharper, but is that all they need to succeed in life? Are test results and grades the only measures to a child’s capability?

Sadly, in our society, it is, but it doesn’t have to be.  

We believe they too, like adults, need some form of mindfulness therapy. They need to be prepared to handle the stress, tackle day-to-day problems, learn, communicate, and share rather than being introverts, bullies, or disconnected with life. Learning these competencies will enable kids to better channel and manage their emotions and we see no harm in that.

Maria Hersey, a PhD, a trainer and the U.S. director of education and training at the Hawn Foundation supports the emerging trend of mindfulness programs for kids. She says: "Mindful awareness helps students with self regulation, optimism, and planning and organisational skills.

“A lot of the research shows that mindful awareness and understanding its pieces helps students with cognitive and academic growth.”

There are multiple researches in recent times to back the importance of mindfulness in a child’s life.

Mindfulness programs are effective to reduce the symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety in them. One of them even suggested that after taking a mindfulness program, secondary school pupils were able to battle stress and anxiety better in the days that followed.

Programs are also especially designed for those kids who face difficulty in focusing in exams, thus not being able to give their best shot when they are as equally capable as the others.

Mindfulness is a continuous process that cultivates and tunes the mind with positivity. For the young minds, mindfulness programs are a great way to learn to focus on the brighter side of life, cope better with their surroundings and situations, and grow up into humble and optimistic human beings – and the sooner they start, the better off they are.

Spiritual happiness: Primary school children partake in school’s annual Naat recital competition

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Eager smiling faces at a Bradford primary school performed at an annual Naat competition on Tuesday 14th February, a traditional affair that has been going on for over 15-years.

Naat is an Islamic recital, which is performed without music, and this wonderful event has been taking place at Lilycroft Primary School for many years with children looking forward to the competition.

Children in Key Stage Two at the school performed Naats on their own or in groups having spent recent weeks rehearsing for this special occasion. Their recitals were between two and five minutes long.

The event was attended by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford who awarded prizes to pupils.

Lilycroft Primary School’s head teacher Nicola Roth said: “This event is very important to our school and to the community. It is always very well attended and has been going for at least 15 years.

“The school and the parents take a great deal of pride in the commitment our pupils show in preparing and performing Naats to the community.”

The Lilycroft Primary School pupils’ recitals were judged by Hafiz Abdul Qadir, who is a famous Naat reciter in both the UK and Pakistan, and who was the special guest at the school for the afternoon.

The Lord Mayor Councillor Geoff Reid said: “We are delighted to be able to help highlight the importance and significance of this event for Lilycroft Primary School and the community.

“During the past few weeks we have seen young people performing drama, we have seen dance and we have seen paintings and art work.

“We have been really struck by the contribution our young people across Bradford make to the arts . The way in which they are going above and beyond their normal curriculum is brilliant.”

“No walls, no visas. All welcome.”

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WARM WELCOME: Children greet their guests at Finsbury Park Mosque

WARM WELCOME: Children greet their guests at Finsbury Park Mosque


Over 150 mosques open their doors to guest of all faith

British Muslims across Britain offered tours and tea to members of the public in an effort to counter negative perceptions of Islam and educate people about the religion.

Mosques in cities with large Muslim populations, including Bradford, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff welcomed their guests. A record number of Brits turned up showing their solidarity.

Visit My Mosque Day, an initiative organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), aims to provide an insight into what goes on inside a Muslim place of worship.

In a social and political climate, which has been affected, the open day was intended to “provide a platform for Muslims to reach out to fellow Britons and explain their faith and community beyond the hostile headlines,” the MCB said.

SUPPORTIVE: Jeremy Corbyn, left, spoke about how bad rhetoric results in acts of hate, and the importance of endorsing values of respect to bring communities together

SUPPORTIVE: Jeremy Corbyn, left, spoke about how bad rhetoric results in acts of hate, and the importance of endorsing values of respect to bring communities together

“Local mosques invited interfaith leaders, and were asked to come together to demonstrate unity and solidarity during what has been a tense time for faith communities.”

Mosques are not only a spiritual focal point, but they also engage with the wider community running food banks, feeding the homeless, carry out  neighbourhood street-cleans and local fundraising.

There has been a major rise in anti-Muslim hate incidents in the past year. According to figures from the Metropolitan police, Islamaphobic crime has increased by 70 percent.

A study by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, published in November, found six out of 10 British Muslims said they had witnessed discrimination against followers of the Islamic faith, and that a climate of hate was being driven by politicians and media.

UNITED: With over 150 mosques taking part many faith, civil and political leaders also took part

UNITED: With over 150 mosques taking part many faith, civil and political leaders also took part


Tell MAMA, an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim attacks and abuse, defines such crime as “any malicious act aimed at Muslims, their material property or Islamic organisations and where there is evidence that the act has anti-Muslim motivation or content, or that the victim was targeted because of their Muslim identity.” It also includes “incidents where the victim was perceived to be a Muslim.”

The MCB said that the mosques taking part represented “the diversity in Islamic traditions, with mosques from a wide variety of Islamic schools of thought and traditions … including some of the country’s largest mosques seasoned in doing outreach activities, as well as smaller mosques holding open days for the first time”.

There are 2.7 million Muslims in the UK, making up about 4.5% of the population, according to the 2011 census.

RESPECTFUL: Ladies at the Hyderi Islamic Centre

RESPECTFUL: Ladies at the Hyderi Islamic Centre

Baking buns, brownies, biscuits and other yummies to raise £500 for terminally-ill children

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KIND-HEARTED: 10-year-old Shyla Hanif has been touched by the work that local charities do and wants to help them

KIND-HEARTED: 10-year-old Shyla Hanif has been touched by the work that local charities do and wants to help them

Sweet sprinkles of hope

“It must be so hard for mums and dads and brothers and sisters to deal with a member of their family being so sick or even dying.”

A ten-year-old from Leeds has been setting a fine example by fundraising for children who need urgent heart surgery but also for those who are extremely sick and need the care of a hospice in their final days.

Shyla Hanif, a Year 6 student at the Grammar School at Leeds, bravely stuck up her hand at the Give a Gift charity dinner that she attended with her family. She pledged to raise £500 for Leeds Children’s Heart Unit and Martin House Hospice during the evening, much to her parent's pleasant surprise.

Working with the school, which encourages its children to raise money for a number of causes, Shyla roped in her ever-helpful friends at GSAL. They baked buns, brownies, biscuits, cakes and other confectionaries to sell in the playground, along with badges and wristbands in support of the two charities.

But this isn’t the first time the kind-hearted kiddo has wanted to make a difference. Shyla first donated her Eid money when she was just seven-years-old and has continued to contribute to Give a Gift in Leeds every year.

EAGER: Shyla's classmates Adam, Anya and Mimi have been rallying support all around school

EAGER: Shyla's classmates Adam, Anya and Mimi have been rallying support all around school

“I was sitting next to my mum at the charity dinner, just before the new year and she was having a conversation with a mum and dad who’s baby had died because of a heart condition," says Shyla.

“I sat there thinking how lucky we are; I don’t know anyone who’s lost a baby due to an illness. I can't imagine how sad and difficult it must be for mums and dads and brothers and sisters to deal with a member of their family being so sick or even dying.

"If I can raise £500 or more, I think it will help these charities a lot.”

“I’ve learnt at the charity dinners how very, very important the Leeds Children’s Heart Unit are in doing life-saving operations. We get to hear about the different stories, and struggles families have had.

“And I know that Martin House Children’s Hospice care for very, very sick children, but they also look after their families too – which is amazing."

"I just hope I can meet my target - I'll be so happy."

Leeds-based Give a Gift, launched it’s initiative to fundraise for local causes in 2013 and have raised over £100,000 for the Leeds Children’s Heart Unit and Martin House Children’s Hospice.

To help Shyla achieve her fundraising target, please make a donation:

Sharon Coyle

CEO Children’s Heart Surgery Fund

“There is nothing more inspiring than a child wanting to help other children. Shyla should be very proud of her achievement. Raising such a substantial amount of money, at a one-off event at such a young age, should not go unnoticed. Well done, and a further thank you must go to all her wonderful supporters!”

Bhranti Naik

Community Fundraiser Martin House Hospice

“We are overjoyed to have the support of Shyla to help with our fundraising efforts. As you are aware, the majority of our funds come from the generosity of Yorkshire people. There is something particularly special about children fundraising for children. We hope that in our special 30th Anniversary Year, more youngsters are inspired by Shyla's efforts and step out of their comfort zone to help fundraise for our children and young people.”

Rifhat Malik

Give a Gift

“Give a Gift is delighted to support Shyla Hanif, a Year 6 pupil at the Grammar School in Leeds, with her fundraising efforts. It is admirable to see someone so young have this level of consideration for others less fortunate than us. It's highly commendable that she’s selling cakes/buns at her school for Martin House Children's Hospice and the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Fund to help raise vital funds for children with life-threatening conditions. We have no doubt that Shyla's efforts will act as an inspiration to other young people of her age and she is a credit to her family.”


Robert Lilley

Head of Junior School

The Grammar School at Leeds

"We were delighted that Shlya showed the initiative to undertake this project. She has organised everything and led a team of other Y6 pupils. The younger children have supported the event very well and we are grateful to the whole school community for supporting these worthwhile causes."

Plans unveiled to further develop children’s hospice services alongside Women Led Mosque


Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice have announced an exciting new partnership with the Muslim Women’s Council that will see them further expand their hospice services.

The Women-Led Mosque Centre of Excellence has substantial plans for women’s services which complement those provided by the Children’s Hospice.

The partnership will focus on making the hospice’s services much more accessible to families from Bradford and its surrounding areas and will work to dispel some of the myths surrounding what a children’s hospice is.

Research by Leeds University indicates there are more than 600 children living with life shortening conditions in Bradford.

These startling statistics mean there is a significant need for support, and highlight the importance of ensuring equal access for all sections of the community to care which is right for them.

Peter Branson, CEO at Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, explains: “Our mission is very simple, we are here to say yes to children and families who need us. Working together with the Muslim Women’s Council, we hope to truly understand the needs of the Muslim community and ensure we are offering the right services that will make a real difference to families in need.”

Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice currently supports more than 260 local children and their families through a variety of services at their state of the art building, Russell House, in Huddersfield and via their Hospice at Home service within the community.  

Diggin’ it! Youngsters leading the way to preserve their future and environment

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ALL SMILES: Aman Chahal, Ashwin Singh, Shaan Kumar, and Ariyan Virdee brave up to the winter frost and get planting

ALL SMILES: Aman Chahal, Ashwin Singh, Shaan Kumar, and Ariyan Virdee brave up to the winter frost and get planting

“If we didn't have trees we would not be alive,” says seven-year-old Ashwin Singh

Little green fingers have been helping to plant trees in partnership with the Forest of Bradford over the years.

This years season was kicked off by youngsters as young as five-years-old, from the Sant Nirankari Mission, who helped plant 1000 trees.

Volunteers got their spades out on the first tree-planting job of the year on Saturday 21st January at Long Bridge Farm in Silsden.

Some in the group are regular tree-planting volunteers, who despite the cold freezing wintry weather conditions, give up their Saturday morning-lie in to do their little bit for the environment.

Eager little seven-year-old Ashwin Singh who loved the planting says he understands the importance of tress. “I like tree planting because the trees give you oxygen and they also give you fruit. If we didn't have trees we would not be alive,” he says.

Aman Chahal, also aged seven, commented that he enjoys the outdoors and this particular activity meant he got to do the one thing he loves the most – spend time with his grandfather.

Regular planting-enthusiast 12-year-old Ariyan Virdee, aged 12 said: “I enjoy doing the tree planting, it helps our future and improves the environment.

“It was very cold, but the digging helps us warm up. I like the fresh air and lovely scenic views.”

This year, the Forest of Bradford is looking to at planting 12,000 tress and volunteers from the Sant Nirankari Mission say that they hope to be able to help plant half the total, if not more.

Giving back to the community is one of the initiatives that the Volunteers from the Sant Nirankari Mission faith group adhere to, as well as cleanliness drives, raising funds for charities and giving blood.

Volunteer in charge, Mohinder Ram said " It is great to see such enthusiasm from everyone especially the youngsters. They give up their comforts to come out and plant trees, and really enjoy it.

“One of the boys missed his uncle’s party so he could come tree planting with his grandad!

“It is a greatly satisfying partnership that we have with the Forest of Bradford."

Inquiry reveals ‘historic widespread abuse’ in children’s homes

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DISTRESSING: The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 to 1995

DISTRESSING: The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 to 1995

Children's homes run by church and charities in Northern Ireland were the scene of widespread abuse and mistreatment of young residents, a report has found.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 to 1995.

The largest number of complaints related to four Catholic-run homes.

There was also sexual abuse carried out by priests and lay people.

The chair of the inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, said the largest number of complaints received related to four Sisters of Nazareth homes. It found nuns physically and emotionally abused children in their care.

He said it was not uncommon for children to have Jeyes Fluid, a brand of disinfectant, put in their baths.

Many of these incidents relating to sexual abuse were known by members of the clergy who did nothing to stop them.

The HIA heard evidence from hundreds of people who spent their childhood in residential homes and institutions.

Hearings were held into facilities run by the state, local authorities, the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, and Barnardo's.

A total of 493 applicants engaged with the inquiry, in one form or another, and while the majority were seen in Belfast, others were seen in the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Australia.

Outlining the social and economic background to institutional care in Northern Ireland, Sir Anthony said for "many years the financial circumstances and living conditions were very poor".

He said the extreme violence and civil disorder in the 1970s and 1980s did not leave those responsible for child care unscathed.

"These factors are largely forgotten today although there were many failures. Those failings must be examined against the backdrop of the political, social and economic circumstances at the time."

He then turned his attention to the former authority-run Kincora Boys' Home in east Belfast.

Sir Anthony said the inquiry had "stripped away decades of half truths masquerading as facts, in relation to Kincora and what state agencies did or did not do about (the abuse there)".

"Thirty-nine boys were abused at some point during their time at Kincora," he said.

Three men, William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains, who were senior care staff at Kincora, were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys.

Sir Anthony said when the police became aware in 1974 of complaints against McGrath, the investigation was "inept and inadequate".

He said a proper investigation into McGrath may have meant the children who were abused after 1974 could have been spared.

Sir Anthony said that the boys were let down by those three individuals, who committed sexual abuse "of the gravest kind" to teenage boys in their care.

He added that the majority of the young boys at Kincora between 1958 and 1980, who gave evidence, said they were not sexually abused during their time there.

The inquiry also heard from former children migrants, children from Northern Ireland who were sent to live in Australia.

Sir Anthony said the HIA inquiry was the first in the UK to look at the child migrant scheme and said some of those who were sent away had been abused before they went away and others believed the scheme itself was abusive.

He said they had been unable to establish exactly how many children were sent to Australia, but at least 138, under the age of 13, were sent and, possibly as many as 144.

Faith, trust and a little bit of fairy dust: Bradford pantomime stars sprinkle some magic at children’s ward

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Shiver me timbers. There was a lot of fun and frolics when the stars of Peter Pan took time out from their busy schedule to sprinkle a liberal dusting of magic and pixie dust when they visited poorly children in hospital– oh yes they did!

The VIP visitors certainly brought smiles and laughter to both the children and staff of Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Ward 2, as they toured the ward, handing out gifts, chatting and posing for dozens of photographs and ‘selfies.’

Comedian Billy Pearce (Smee) and actor and singer Darren Day (the dastardly Captain Hook) ‘flew over’ from Neverland bringing with them other cast members, S Club 7’s Jon Lee, playing the part of Peter Pan, Emmerdale’s Charlie Hardwick (Magical Mermaid), Lucy Evans (Tinker Bell), Marina Lawrence-Mahrra (Tiger Lily), Rosie O’Hare (Wendy) and Bradford’s very own new talent, actor Leon Clarke, who plays one of the show’s pirates.

All of them arrived on the ward in full, colourful costume, where they instantly cheered our young patients – and staff.

Billy said: “It’s become a tradition for the cast to visit BRI and it’s a real pleasure for us to do so. The staff make us so welcome and when we see the smiles on the children’s faces, it makes it all worthwhile.

“I can’t praise the NHS and all it stands for highly enough; I owe my life to the NHS after a very bad motor bike crash a couple of years ago. The staff here in Bradford do a fantastic job and we love coming to visit the children.”

Darren added: “We’ve had a fabulous time. It’s been magical. When I walk onto a ward like this, it brings it home to me of marvellous the NHS is. I had a recent scare with my 10-year-daughter when we thought she had meningitis.

“Fortunately it turned out not to be the case but it just confirms my belief that staff in the NHS are so dedicated and hard-working. I’m glad we could bring a little panto magic to Bradford today.”

The stars made an impression on 10-year-old patient Sonny Shanbhag, who has been on ward 2 for two weeks and faces around another four weeks in our care. Sonny said: “It’s made my day seeing them all. I was so excited when I heard they were coming. I love drawing and I’m going to draw them all now. I loved meeting Leon because he let me try on his pirate hat!”

Mum, Kim added: “It’s been a perfect treat for him. It’s lovely that these visits can be arranged. The staff of ward 2 are wonderful in the way they are caring for Sonny and this was the icing on the cake.”

The visit was arranged by Charity Fundraiser Hayley Collis of Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity and her team for organising the visit.

Hayley said: “Bringing a little fun and laughter to poorly children in hospital is magical and we are incredibly grateful to Billy Pearce, Charlie Hardwick, Jon Lee and Darren Day and the cast of helping to bring a little of their panto magic to ward 2.

“The staff always look forward to what has become Billy and the cast’s traditional annual visit, and it’s heart-warming to see the smiles and giggles on the children’s faces.  Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity helps to make things better for the poorly children and babies in hospital – from organising and supporting celebrity visits like this one and specialist entertainment sessions too.”

Fancy caps and gowns: Over 100 young people graduate from Leeds Children’s University

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HAPPY: Frances Shelley from Scared Heart Primary School and Aris Ntermtziou from Carr Manor Primary School

HAPPY: Frances Shelley from Scared Heart Primary School and Aris Ntermtziou from Carr Manor Primary School

Over 100 children, who have collectively taken part in nearly 4,000 hours of learning activities outside of school, have graduated from Leeds Children’s University.

Pupils, aged 7 to 14 years, from five schools in Leeds donned their caps and gowns for a prestigious graduation ceremony at Leeds Trinity University. They were each were awarded certificates for completing 30 or more hours of extra-curricular learning.

Launched in November 2014, as part of the nationwide Children’s University Trust, Leeds Children’s University is based at Leeds Trinity University. The programme promotes social mobility by providing high quality, exciting and innovative learning activities and experiences outside normal school hours.

Working closely with Learning Destinations, including Leeds Museums and Galleries, Harewood House, Royal Armouries, Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre, and many more, which deliver events and workshops for young people to attend, schools also offer after-school clubs for their pupils.

11-year-old Aris Ntermtziou from Carr Manor Primary School, said Leeds Children’s University helped him to make new friends since arriving from Greece last year. He said:

ALL SMILES: Lama Soliman from Carr Manor Primary School

ALL SMILES: Lama Soliman from Carr Manor Primary School

“When I moved here, it was really different and I didn’t know anyone. I did lots of after-school activities like football, rugby and basketball, which has been really fun. And, I’ve met lots of new people.”

Young people at Leeds Children’s University take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities including cooking lessons, graffiti workshops, sports sessions and dance clubs.

Professor Margaret A House, Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said: “Becoming the base of Leeds Children’s University was an easy decision for Leeds Trinity University, given our organisations’ shared aims. We’re both committed to raising aspirations, boosting achievement and fostering a love of learning, so that young people can make the most of their abilities and interests.

“I want to congratulate every single child who has completed 30 or more hours of voluntary learning activities with Leeds Children’s University. It is a significant achievement, and I am proud that we can celebrate this success together at Leeds Trinity University.”

Children from Parklands Primary School, Sacred Heart Primary School, Carr Manor Primary School, St. Philip’s Catholic Primary and Nursery School and New Bewerley Community School all received certificates during the ceremony, and choirs from St. Philip’s and Holy Rosary and St. Anne’s Catholic Primary School entertained with performances in the University’s chapel.

Leeds Children’s University student Frances Shelley delivered a Vote of Thanks, and distinguished guests including Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Gerry Harper and Leeds Children’s Mayor Grace Branford were part of the esteemed Platform Party.

Ain’t no mountain high enough… Superhero legal eagle sets new standards to support children with cancer

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FUNDRAISER NUMBER ONE! Abdul Iftikhar of Kamrans Solicitors who raised money for children's cancer charity by climbing Mount Snowdon, seen here presenting cheque to Emily Wragg, Operations Director and Deputy Director of Candlelighters

FUNDRAISER NUMBER ONE! Abdul Iftikhar of Kamrans Solicitors who raised money for children's cancer charity by climbing Mount Snowdon, seen here presenting cheque to Emily Wragg, Operations Director and Deputy Director of Candlelighters

In almost 25years of fundraising I have not seen such a large amount of money raised in such a short space of time.

Climbing a mountain is no easy feat, however when Abdul Iftikhar, found out about children’s cancer charity Candlelighters, he was inspired to raise funds to help the very, very poorly children and their families that face such difficult situations.

The dad from Bradford, fondly known as Ifty to his colleagues, recently attended Candlelighters annual awards event where he was blown away with their work and that of the volunteers. 

Ifty, partner at Leeds-based solicitors Kamrans, then went on to witness first-hand the outstanding work that the charity undertake in providing financial support and assistance to children fighting cancer and their families.

When he decided to take on the challenge of climbing Mount Snowdon, he had no idea just how successful his fundraising efforts were going to be.

Asking friends, family and business colleagues to sponsor him, Ifty’s initial target of £2000 was easily smashed in the first few days on his online fundraising page.

Two weeks later, he’d raised a whopping £7585 to support children with cancer and their families.

His fundraising achievements were recognised by Justgiving as being in the top 1% of fundraisers in December.

Making climbing Snowdon look easy, the eager beaver went on to climbing another mountain the next day.

“Cancer doesn't discriminate and anybody regardless of their age, race, religion, gender. It is for this reason that those affected are given adequate support in such difficult times,” says Ifty.

He adds: “ I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, colleagues and all our generous donors for their unwavering support. I would also like to particularly thank all those at Gotyasize Circuit Class, Girlington Community Centre, Bradford for their support on the day. 

“Together we have made a real difference for the children fighting cancer and their families.”

Brian Curran, Candlelighters Corporate Fundraiser said: “In almost 25-years of fundraising I have not seen such a large amount of money raised in such a short space of time.

“When Abdul Iftikhar told me he was climbing Snowdon I expected the climb to be sometime in 2017. When he told me he was going to attempt in just three days I was shocked.

“To see him raise so much money was amazing and we are very grateful to him and his supporters.”

Abdul Iftikhar hasn’t stopped his support and will be working closely with Brian to encourage more companies to support Candlelighters. 

You can visit Abdul Iftikhar’s justgiving page to view the updates and pictures.  He would encourage you to support Candlelighters by making a donation on his page.

Online dangers for kids: Children in England sign over digital rights without knowing

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SHOCKING STATS: Around nine in 10 children have access to the internet, with almost half of kids using Snapchat by the age of 12

SHOCKING STATS: Around nine in 10 children have access to the internet, with almost half of kids using Snapchat by the age of 12

According to the Children’s Commissioner for England, youngsters who use the internet are not prepared for what they are signing up to online, and are regularly giving personal information away.

Anne Longfield said children did not know how their data was being used due to ‘impenetrable’ terms and conditions.

She said the internet was not designed for children even though they are now its biggest users.

She has called for a digital ombudsman to be created to uphold their rights.

Despite the internet being an ‘incredible force for good’, Ms Longfield said children were being left to fend for themselves with parents hoping they would avoid its pitfalls.

Her report also recommended that children should study ‘digital citizenship’ to learn about their rights and responsibilities online and that social media companies should rewrite their terms and conditions in language that is easy to understand.

Children already learn about using the internet and staying safe online at school as part of ICT but Ms Longfield wants to make this part of the curriculum from the age of four.

She said small print often contained ‘hidden clauses’ waiving privacy rights and allowing content children posted to be sold on.

Ms Longfield added: “When it was created 25 years ago, the internet was not designed with children in mind but I believe the proposals in our report would help make it a better and safer place for children.

“Parents are not confident about how to prepare children for online life, while Ofsted has found teaching staff training to be inconsistent and often inadequate.

“Digital citizenship should be taught from the age of four to 14,with a voluntary extension for older children who would show the way to get the best out of the internet. It would include what it means to be a responsible citizen online, how to protect your rights online, how to respect others’ rights online, and how to both disengage and engage with the online world.”

Delivering the gift of Christmas: Local gift-giver brightens up the BRI

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Children at Bradford Royal Infirmary could have been forgiven if they thought Santa was in disguise this year after local optician, Sajid Bashir, dropped by with some special surprises for young patients.

Although he was not wearing the classic red suit and hat combo, the generous gift-giver pulled up outside the hospital with a sleigh-load of gifts for kids of all ages.

From cuddly toys to board games and even a miniature JCB digger, the toys were handed over to play specialist, Alison Kay, on the children’s ward on Wednesday 21st December.

Explaining why he wanted to carry out the project this year, Sajid said it was an important time for so many communities.

He said: “It is the Islamic holy month of Rabi-Ul-Awwal, which marks the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and is a joyous occasion for Muslims in the UK and worldwide.

“It also coincides with the Christmas period which is also a joyous occasion for many. It’s basically a period of double celebration.

“I wanted to think of the less fortunate in a time we will spend time with our families but for poorly children in hospitals it can be a lonely period.

“After speaking to my friend Nazim Ali, we decided to undertake this heartfelt gesture to put a smile on the children’s faces.”

Sajid was joined by Nazim on the day as well as his two-year-old daughter, Shifa Fatima.

As a child, Nazim suffered from tuberculosis and was treated at the BRI himself.

He added that he takes part in a yearly toy donation to the hospital, after seeing firsthand how lonely it can be away from your family at a time of celebration.

He said: “Over the last four years, I have distributed Eid Gifts to poorly children at BRI’s Childrens Ward 17 having spent time there as a child.

“I commend Sajid for thinking of these innocent children and making their festive season that much more enjoyable. The essence of Islam is to give back and benefit wider society."

‘Bullies need kicking out of school’

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FRIEND: Yusuf Jahangir says the death of his friend, Asad Khan (pictured), has forced schools to do more in the fight against bullying

FRIEND: Yusuf Jahangir says the death of his friend, Asad Khan (pictured), has forced schools to do more in the fight against bullying

Friend of Asad Khan calls for more support for children

Stricter punishments are needed in order to tackle bullying throughout Bradford’s schools, a close former friend of Asad Khan told the Asian Express newspaper.

Nine-year-old Yusuf Jahangir, who has also suffered torment at the hands of bullies in the past, spoke about the tragic death of his friend and the reaction he has seen in the city.

Asad was found in an unresponsive state by paramedics at his house on Tile Street, Bradford, on Wednesday 28th September.

One month on, his family and friends are still coming to terms with the news.

“After hearing about Asad's death, it came as a shock to me and my friends,” Yusuf said. “My teachers have been feeling very sad since his death.”

Yusuf says he was told about Asad’s death by a teacher at school, who explained that the young Year 7 student had committed suicide the day before.

He adds that his school has now taken a more proactive approach to tackling such issues.

“School has changed a lot since that day,” he said. “We have had a lot more talks about bullying.”

Over the past few years, Yusuf has also been a victim of bullying on both a mental and physical level.

He did speak to his parents about the issues and thankfully the incidents stopped after his mother spoke with the parents of the children who had been bullying him.

However, as in Asad’s case, children do not always step forward to openly admit being bullied and to what extent that is affecting their life.

When asked how schools could tackle bullies in an effective manner, Yusuf said: “I think bullies should get bigger punishments or be kicked out of school.

“I think it’s a problem in schools because if you get bullied you might not want to go to school.”

Protect your kids this winter

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DOCTOR’S ADVICE: Dr Chintal Patel said that flu can be much more dangerous for children than parents realise

DOCTOR’S ADVICE: Dr Chintal Patel said that flu can be much more dangerous for children than parents realise

South Asian Parents urged to vaccinate their children against flu

Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging parents and carers to help protect their children from flu this winter, as the largest ever programme vaccinating children against it gets underway.

This year, the vaccine is being offered to two to four-year-olds, those in school years 1 and 2, and is being extended to school Year 3, helping protect more than four million children against flu – 600,000 more than last year.

But with a survey of parents of eligible children showing nearly four out of 10 are unaware of the nasal spray, a campaign has been launched to raise awareness of flu vaccination among parents and at risk groups, such as pregnant women.

Although 55 per cent of parents understand the need for their children to be vaccinated every year, nearly one in eight have either never given vaccination any thought, or report that the main thing putting them off vaccination is that their children rarely get flu.

Neeshat Wadud, a new mum, said: “Being pregnant is a wonderful time, but it can also be worrying. Whilst trying to enjoy my pregnancy I had niggling concerns in the back of my head about all the things that might go wrong.

“When I was offered the flu jab, I did not hesitate to get it done. It was a relief to know that I could protect myself and my unborn baby from the often dangerous symptoms that flu can cause in pregnancy.”

Nearly a third of parents think flu is just a severe cold in children when it can be a more unpleasant and serious illness.

Children have the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills, aching muscles, headaches and a sore throat.

RECOMMENDS THE JAB: Neeshat Wadud was vaccinated during pregnancy to protect herself and her unborn baby

RECOMMENDS THE JAB: Neeshat Wadud was vaccinated during pregnancy to protect herself and her unborn baby

More than one in three parents think children recover from flu in a couple of days. In fact, sometimes children need up to a week in bed before they are on the mend. Some children develop a very high fever or complications from flu, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Children in the under-five age group are also more at risk of being admitted to hospital due to flu than any other age group.  

Ensuring that young ones are vaccinated can reduce the spread of this infectious disease amongst the whole family, protecting those who are vulnerable like grandparents.

It also helps protect those most at risk in the community, such as people with long-term health conditions.

Flu can be particularly dangerous for those with long-term health conditions. These include chronic respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis or emphysema; heart, kidney or liver disease; chronic neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy; and diabetes.

It is estimated that several million people get flu each winter, with the virus leading to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year.

The free flu vaccine is also available for pregnant women. Research shows that around four in 10 of pregnant women got their jab last year.

Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, and as a result it can cause serious complications for both mother and her unborn baby.

Despite this, a fifth of pregnant women who didn’t get vaccinated said they didn’t get the free flu jab because they thought, mistakenly, it might harm their baby.

Dr Chintal Patel, The Belgravia Surgery, said: “Flu can be much more dangerous for children than parents realise. Data shows that children under the age of five are most likely to be admitted to hospital for flu compared to any other age group.  

“The single best way to protect your child is to get them vaccinated. The nasal spray is a quick and easy way to help prevent young children catching flu.

“I would urge all South Asian parents with children aged two to seven to get their children vaccinated.”

Visit for more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter.

£20,000 coach donation gets pupils moving outside the classroom

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BRAND NEW: The minibus will replace the ‘run down’ former vehicle

BRAND NEW: The minibus will replace the ‘run down’ former vehicle

This school means bus-iness

Children at a special educational needs school in Knaresborough have been given an extra ‘drive’ to succeed this month after a brand new mini bus pulled up on their playground.

The £20,000 vehicle was donated by local businessman, Mahmood Mazhar, and will help children at The Forest School with all their transportation needs.

Organised in partnership with ‘Variety, the Children’s Charity’, pupils, staff and dignitaries were in attendance on Friday 23rd September for the official ribbon cutting.

Upon the donation of the ‘Sunshine Coach’, Mr Mazhar, of Core Telecom commented: “I’m delighted to have been able to work with both ‘Variety, the Children’s Charity’, and The Forest School to provide such a valuable service. I thoroughly look forward to our support benefitting both the students and staff.

“I’m passionate about making a difference to inspirational organisations and improving the lives of individuals who rely on them.”

HANDS UP: Children celebrate the arrival of their new bus

HANDS UP: Children celebrate the arrival of their new bus

The Forest school currently caters for 108 pupils who suffer from moderate to severe learning difficulties, Autism, Epilepsy, communication difficulties and other complex medical conditions.

The new 17-seater mini bus comes fully equipped with a tail lift to allow for wheelchair access and will replace the previous model which had been ‘driven to its limits’.

It will be utilised to provide invaluable experiences such as Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, training visits, sporting events and residential visits to outdoor activity centres.

The Mayor of Knaresborough, Bill Rigby, was present at the official unveiling alongside Town Crier, Roger Hewitt, who rang his bell and declared the bus as now belonging to The Forest School.

Headteacher, Peter Hewitt, thanked The Variety Club and Core Telecom for their support and explained how the bus would benefit the learning opportunities for all pupils.

ON THE MOVE: Mahmood Mazhar hands over the keys to the new minibus to The Forest School headteacher, Peter Hewitt

ON THE MOVE: Mahmood Mazhar hands over the keys to the new minibus to The Forest School headteacher, Peter Hewitt

He added: “Out of school visits would not be possible without us having our own specialist transport.

The students go to various and wide ranging activities during the school day, after school and during the school holidays.

“It is vital that our children have ‘real-life’ learning experiences. For example, learning about money in the classroom is great but there is no better place to learn such things than at the local supermarket and shops.

“We are so grateful to Core Telecom and Variety, The Children’s Charity, for supporting us in this way. By providing us with a new minibus they have made a significant difference to the learning and lives of our pupils.”

Eid gift distribution: Taking toys to the ward

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GIVING PROJECT: The generous team visited the BRI last week to deliver gifts, Pictured: front, Maryam Khan; Left-Right; Wajid Khan; Hayley Collis; Alison Kay; Nazim Ali; Safah Khan; and Monib Khan

GIVING PROJECT: The generous team visited the BRI last week to deliver gifts, Pictured: front, Maryam Khan; Left-Right; Wajid Khan; Hayley Collis; Alison Kay; Nazim Ali; Safah Khan; and Monib Khan

A Bradford man, who was treated in hospital as a child for Tuberculosis, has completed his latest gift distribution at the Bradford Royal Infirmary.

Nazim Ali was accompanied by staff and children from W-Childcare to deliver gifts over Eid to the children’s ward for the fourth year running.

A dedicated charity supporter, the local humanitarian has raised tens-of-thousands of pounds for a plethora of causes over the years, coinciding with regular ‘drop-offs’ of presents for BRI’s youngest patients.

MISSION COMPLETE: Nazim is pictured with Monib Khan and Safah Khan with their ‘Bradford Hospitals Certificates of Appreciation’

MISSION COMPLETE: Nazim is pictured with Monib Khan and Safah Khan with their ‘Bradford Hospitals Certificates of Appreciation’

With plans to continue carrying out the project for the foreseeable future, Nazim explained what motivated him to continue with the selfless work.

“As a child I was treated in hospital and I know all too well how, at times, you feel lonely and miss being at home with your family and playing with your friends,” he said.

“I am thankful that, with the amazing care of the BRI Childrens Ward, I made a full recovery and this annual Eid Gifts Initiative is a means for me to give something back and appreciate what I have that much more.

“This is the very reason every Eid I organise the Eid gifts initiative and W-Childcare will endeavour to repeat this initiative for many years to come.”

Over 40 gifts were distributed by the team in total, ranging from large teddy bears, children's DVDs, play sets, sports equipment (cricket sets), and baby toys.

Wajid Khan, director at W-Childcare, was also in attendance during the latest visit.

He said: “Our children were ever- so-keen from previous visits and jumped at the chance to present the Eid Gifts to their peers.

“To this end, four-year-old Maryam Khan accompanied us in purchasing and selecting the toys. I am ever so proud of their kind and thoughtful natures which is part of the process of their personal and social development , so that they become upstanding citizens in the future.”

Stopping radicalisation in its tracks

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HERE TO ASSIST: The NSPCC is offering help to people who think a child they know may be being groomed for radicalisation

HERE TO ASSIST: The NSPCC is offering help to people who think a child they know may be being groomed for radicalisation

NSPCC sets up a free service for help and advice

Parents worried about their children being radicalised and the impact of terrorism will be able to call the NSPCC helpline for advice, after a new service has launched this week.

The free, 24-hour telephone number comes after a spate of recent terrorist attacks which have highlighted the growing problem of individuals being influenced by extremism.

The service will provide the first national point of support to parents who might be concerned that their children are being radicalised or who need advice on how to talk to them about wider concerns related to the impact of terrorism.

Previously, the only route for adults to raise their worries about radicalisation and terrorism was through Government agencies including MI5 and police anti-terror hotlines. Now they will be able to call an independent helpline to talk about wide-ranging worries their children might have about terrorist groups and radicalisation.

The NSPCC has already started receiving calls from adults worried about the problem, which prompted the children’s charity to offer advice and help.

Its counsellors have been trained to spot the warning signs of radicalisation so they can advise adults who are worried about a child being groomed.

Part of the training, which detailed how recruiters befriend vulnerable targets, feed them ideologies and –in the worst case scenario - persuade them to commit terrorist attacks, was provided by Home Office experts.

Adults calling the helpline will be advised about the signs which may hint at a child being radicalised. These include isolating themselves from family and friends; talking as if from a scripted speech, increased levels of anger, becoming disrespectful and asking inappropriate questions.

Children who are potential targets often have low self-esteem; are members of gangs, or may be victims of bullying or discrimination.

Radicals target them and tell them they can be part of something special and brainwash them into cutting themselves off from their friends and family.

The techniques used to groom children for radicalisation bears parallels to sexual abuse grooming, and is a form of emotional abuse.

One woman told our counsellors: “I’m worried about a child I know. I fear that they may start holding extremist beliefs because I’ve heard her saying some worrying things. She’s also showing changes in behaviour and appears to be more aggressive towards her parents.  I’m not sure how to approach this as I know the family well however, I don’t think staying silent is an option in the current climate.”

Another caller said: “I’m concerned that someone is trying to force a young boy into having extreme beliefs. He has started acting differently recently and has become more withdrawn.”

Counsellors will also advise parents on how to talk and reassure a child who is anxious about terrorism or upset by the recent spate of attacks.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said:  “We have seen a wave of terrorist attacks in recent weeks and months and both parents and children tell us how frightened they are by what is happening.  So it is vital that we are here for parents when they need our support and are able to provide them with non-judgemental advice on issues ranging from the wider terrorist threat to the dangers of radicalisation.”

“Of course, the fact that a young person might hold extreme or radical views is not a safeguarding issue in itself. But when young people are groomed for extremist purposes and encouraged to commit acts that could hurt themselves or others, then it becomes abuse. That’s why we’ve trained our counsellors to cope with this fresh danger to young people.”

Worried about a child? Contact NSPCC’s trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support for free on 0808 800 5000.

Children have a ‘CHOICE’: School project to be rolled out following

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CELEBRATIVE CERTIFICATES: Schoolchildren show off their CHOICE graduation certificates

CELEBRATIVE CERTIFICATES: Schoolchildren show off their CHOICE graduation certificates

A successful scheme, which has given primary school children a first-hand insight into life in the police and fire services, is set to be spread across the Wakefield district.

The CHOICE (Children Have Options Imagination Challenge Experience) programme saw children engage with a number of local authorities as they were given the chance to see what future careers could be in store after school.

Visits to police stations and courts, opportunities to wield fire hoses and perform a fire drill, and learn about health have all be on the cards for youngsters who have recently graduated from the South East-based CHOICE programme.

The 30 week course began in October 2015 for children aged 9-11 in schools across Pontefract and was intended to give a helping hand to pupils who were in need of an extra goal.

The course itself was supported by agencies including West Yorkshire Police, Pontefract Academies and Education Trust, Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, Wakefield District Housing, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Casey’s Construction

PC Charlie Banks of Wakefield District Police, who has spearheaded the programme, said: “The point of CHOICE has been to help children who are basically good but who have not for some reason, whether it be lack of confidence or minor behavioural issues, quite achieved their potential.

“Our aim has been to shave off those corners which have been holding them back, to help them move along.”

He added: “Everyone involved in CHOICE has been really pleased with the success it has had and we are all pleased to see something which works, spread out to help other young people in the wider Wakefield District.

“The kids who I have seen and continue to work with in Knottingley have shown some great progress. I say to one or two, ‘when you compare where you are now to where you were two years ago before we started the programme, the change is amazing’.”

Charity support ‘in store’ for The Broadway

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SUPPORTING LOCAL CAUSES: Ian Ward, general manager of The Broadway, presents a cheque worth £1,000, to Beccy Bardgett, consultant paediatrician from Bradford Hospital

SUPPORTING LOCAL CAUSES: Ian Ward, general manager of The Broadway, presents a cheque worth £1,000, to Beccy Bardgett, consultant paediatrician from Bradford Hospital

The Broadway Shopping Centre in Bradford has this week announced the official launch of its community partnership with Bradford Hospital Children’s Charity.

To mark the occasion, 20 children from the hospital were invited to attend the inaugural ride of the centre’s new mall train whilst a £1,000 donation was also made.

Following the train ride the centre’s special guests visited Urban Chocolatier for a special treat of delicious chocolate creations.

The £1,000 donation will go towards enhancing the new children’s wards, contributing to a multisensory room for children with complex needs, enhancing a multifunction room for dining and play as well as adolescent rest facilities, and ensuring each bed station is as homely as possible.

Ian Ward, general manager of The Broadway, said: “It’s incredibly important for us to give back to the community, and we could think of no better way to do that than to pledge our support to the Bradford Hospital Children’s Charity.  

“The work they do there is invaluable and we’re very proud to be able to contribute to it.

Beccy Bardgett, consultant paediatrician from Bradford Hospital Children’s Charity, said: “We are thrilled to be the chosen partner charity for the Broadway Shopping Centre and are very grateful not only for this generous donation, but also for providing a wonderful day out for some of our patients and their families.”

The Broadway Express is now officially open to the public and will remain a permanent fixture in the centre.

Block busters: Learning about crime through technology

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CREATIONS: The after school sessions were well attended by pupils

CREATIONS: The after school sessions were well attended by pupils

Children at a Wakefield primary school have been letting their imaginations run wild through a police-school’s project, after receiving a ‘block by block’ guide to cyber safety.

As part of a scheme using computerised Lego, pupils from Greenhill Primary School spent six weeks creating mechanical brick constructions with the help of West Yorkshire Police.

The youngsters were given the chance to create constructions using Mindstorm Lego kits in which the plastic blocks are laced with miniaturised motors and controlled by an ‘intelligent brick’ computer which can be attached to the devices. 

PCSOs have taught basic coding to the youngsters on iPads, allowing them to program movements for their creations and get them up and working. 

TECH SAVVY: Children were taught how to construct Lego robots by police in an attempt to highlight the power of technology

TECH SAVVY: Children were taught how to construct Lego robots by police in an attempt to highlight the power of technology

Plastic projects completed by the 9-11-year-olds include creating a Gripp3r robot which can lift a full can of coke and move it around, and a Track3r that has a variety of different attachments which can then be operated. 

Officers believe that by teaching the children how to create programmes for computers and see them in action, they will encourage them to be more respectful of technology; its potential and the need to stay safe when using it. 

PSCO Johnny Plummer of the Wakefield Neighbourhood Policing Team, who organised the scheme, said: “Teaching cyber safety is a key part of our police work with young people and we are always seeking new ways of engaging with the youngsters and encouraging them to be interested in what we do.  

“We’ve found the youngsters have really enjoyed attending these after school sessions which have allowed them to learn safety information from us and be creative at the same time. 

“Learning how to actually programme computers helps children better understand the technology and develop a better respect for it, and these Lego kits we’ve been using help them see items work in the real world as a result of the programmes they’ve created.”

The construction lessons went hand-in-hand with safety sessions at the school where children learnt about different cyber crimes including the appropriate use of social media, not disclosing information to strangers who may approach them online and much more. 

West Yorkshire Police has been conducting a force wide program of cyber safety education across the force area since last year as part of a drive to help reduce residents’ vulnerability to all types of on line offending. 

A key focus of lessons aimed at young people has been to help them spot the signs of on line grooming and also reduce their vulnerability to bullying online. 

Detective Inspector Dan Tillet, cyber crime lead for Wakefield, said: “Our officers have been working hard to find innovative approaches to cyber-crime prevention. This initiative embraces learning whilst delivering key messages to a new, computer savvy, generation.”

Read with Roald: The Big Friendly Read launches this summer

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YOU’D BE A ‘TWIT’ TO MISS IT: Children's author John Kirk performs Roald Dahl's 'The Twits' for children from Abbey Hey Primary Academy, at Manchester Central Library

YOU’D BE A ‘TWIT’ TO MISS IT: Children's author John Kirk performs Roald Dahl's 'The Twits' for children from Abbey Hey Primary Academy, at Manchester Central Library

A Giant range of Big Friendly events are being held at libraries across Manchester, to encourage children to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge.

The theme for this year’s challenge, produced by the Reading Agency and delivered by libraries, is The Big Friendly Read - linking into the national ‘Roald Dahl 100’ celebrations. 

2016 is the centenary of the birth of Dahl, legendary author of The BFG, The Twits, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a plethora of other classic children's stories.

To complete the challenge, children aged from four to eleven are invited to read any six books of their choice from their local library during the summer holidays.

They will receive stickers and goodies along the way, plus a certificate and medal when they finish the Summer Reading Challenge.

Children can read whatever they like - fact books, joke books, picture books, audio books - just as long as they are borrowed from the library.

More than 130 free activities are on offer in Manchester libraries during the school holidays. 

Dahl-themed activities include ‘Sublime Science’, where children aged five and over are invited to watch a 'BFG' science show, featuring snozzcumber slime, an airzooka and whizzpopper juice air rockets. 

‘Scrumdiddlyumptious’ sweet craft sessions will give youngsters the chance to use recycled materials to create giant 'sweets', based on the weird and wonderful creations found in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Kids will be able to make an Everlasting Gobstopper, a Snozzberry, or a Wonka Bar - or use their imaginations to invent their own ‘gloriumptious’ creation.

There's also the chance to create and animate a 3D plasticine model, inspired by Roald Dahl characters. Using stop-frame animation, the children will bring their models to life and create a short video clip.

These creative sessions for children aged eight and over are always extremely popular and places are limited, so please check with the hosting library for full booking details. 

A Saturday Spectacular at Central Library on 16th July gets this summer's programme off to a flying start - join in with the family fun from 12 noon - 4pm. 

The Summer Reading Challenge runs right through the summer, ending in a special Sunday Funday at Central Library on 11th September, where families will be treated to a Twits storytelling show, a Roald Dahl trail and a chance to meet the picture book illustrator and author, Lynne Chapman. 

For a full list of Summer Reading Challenge activities hosted by Manchester Libraries, go to

Nailbiting news!

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HEALTHY HABIT?: A new study has revealed that children who bite their nails may be less allergic to dust and animals

HEALTHY HABIT?: A new study has revealed that children who bite their nails may be less allergic to dust and animals

Kids who chew their fingers and suck thumbs may be less likely to get allergies

A shock study from scientists in New Zealand has found out that children who bite their nails or suck their thumb are less likely to have allergies - as exposure to germs early on may help the body’s immune system.

The stress-relieving habits mean that kids who have either one (or both) are less likely to be allergic to grass, pets, horses, dust mites and mould.

The study, published in the Pediatrics journal, followed the progress of 1,037 people from birth in 1972 to 1973 through to adulthood.

Children who sucked their thumb or bit their nails had a lower prevalence of sensitisation at the age of 13 than those who did not.

And children who both bit their nails and sucked their thumbs had an even lower risk of allergy at 31 per cent, the researchers found.

But the habits do not seem to have an impact on the risk of developing allergic diseases such as hay fever or asthma.

Professor Malcolm Sears said: “Our findings are consistent with the hygiene theory that early exposure to dirt or germs reduces the risk of developing allergies.

“While we don't recommend that these habits should be encouraged, there does appear to be a positive side to these habits.”

To keep the whole family healthy are superfoods, which also help to boost the immune system. Here are Asian Express’s top five:

HEART HEALTH: Avocados are fantastic for keeping the blood pumping around your body

HEART HEALTH: Avocados are fantastic for keeping the blood pumping around your body


Taken from the pear family, these green fruits are cholesterol-free and super rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, keeping your heart in tip-top health.

Açai berries

Native to the rainforests of South America, the açai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a small purple berry that has been touted as a weight-loss and anti-aging aid. The fruit contains ultra high levels of antioxidants in the form of anthocyanins, which help fight heart disease and even cancer.  It contains oleic acid, the same heart-healthy fat that’s in olive oil.


Kefir is an ancient drink that originated in Russia. It tastes very similar to yogurt and is made from fermented milk. In recent years, its popularity has soared due to growing interest in probiotics, which are known to boost the immune system and support digestive health. Find it in the refrigerated aisle at your local supermarket or health-food store.


TERRIFIC TOFU: Chow down on tofu instead of meat and save yourself calories and money

TERRIFIC TOFU: Chow down on tofu instead of meat and save yourself calories and money

The high-protein base takes on the flavours it's paired with, adding bulk and substance to meals without added calories. You can toss it into stir-fries, scramble it up like eggs or add it to smoothies. It may even lower the risk of breast cancer in women.


NUT HERO: Walnuts are your ultimate friend when it comes to keeping in top health

NUT HERO: Walnuts are your ultimate friend when it comes to keeping in top health

You don’t need to eat a lot of them to tap into their power. Just a small handful a day will deliver a healthy dose of omega-3’s, alpha-linolenic acid, melatonin, copper, manganese and the hard-to-find gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E which helps protect your heart.

The nutty heroes also protect your brain and help slow the onset of
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  If you don’t like the taste, try blending walnut butter into fruit smoothies, chopping them up in cereal or sprinkling them in salads.

Penalties for term-time holidays

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Typical classroom scene where an audience of school children wer

Parents receiving steep fines for taking their children out of school

According to research, around 90,000 parents have been fined a total of £5.6 million in the last full academic year for taking their children on holiday during term time.

There were 151,125 penalty notices issued to parents in England for their children's term-time absence from school during 2014-15.

The figures represent a 54 per cent increase in fines compared with the previous year.

There has been a high-profile legal challenge to whether parents should have to pay fines for taking children on holiday during the school term.

A Department for Education (DFE) spokesman said: “Children should not be taken out of school without good reason.”

DFE figures include parents who have taken their children on term-time holidays - and the figures show that a high proportion of parents paid the penalty fines within 28 days.

In 17,000 cases, the penalties were dropped and there were more than 21,000 cases where parents did not pay and were prosecuted.

The figures show how fines for parents have become more common - with almost a fivefold increase in penalties over the past five years.

A separate set of figures, based on Freedom of Information requests carried out by the Santander bank, estimate that the fines levied last year amounted to the £5.6m figure.

Santander said the number of fines also increased over the two-year period, rising from 24,853 in 2012-13 to 92,784 in 2014-15 – an increase of 273 per cent.

In second place after Lancashire was Doncaster council with 3,559 fines issued. Bradford came in third, with 3,445, and Leeds city council came fourth, with 3,435.

Santander – which submitted its FoI requests in April this year – said the data was not weighted by the number of schools in each local authority area, “so those appearing at the top of the table may do so wholly or in part due to a larger number of schools or pupils”.

As things stand, a parent may be prosecuted if they do not pay a fine within 28 days. If prosecuted, parents could be fined up to £2,500, receive a community order or be jailed for up to three months.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The rules are perfectly clear - children should not be taken out of school without good reason.

“That is why we have tightened the rules and are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence.

“The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances - vindicating our strong stance on attendance.

“A child who is absent also impacts teachers, whose planning of lessons is disrupted by children missing large portions of teaching.”

Read-y steady go! Summer volunteering opportunity for teens

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BIG FRIENDLY READ: Young adult volunteers are needed to help children take part in the Big Friendly Read Summer Reading Challenge

BIG FRIENDLY READ: Young adult volunteers are needed to help children take part in the Big Friendly Read Summer Reading Challenge

Volunteers aged 12 to 18 are needed to help run activity sessions for children taking part in the Big Friendly Read Summer Reading Challenge during the summer holidays.

No experience is required - volunteers just need to attend three activity sessions at Tameside libraries during the school holidays and be able to explain things in a clear, friendly and enthusiastic way. All the support they need will be provided.

As well as helping out with crafts and games, this year they will have the opportunity to work with other volunteers to plan and run some sessions.

They will be able to develop their planning, communication and teamwork skills and boost their confidence.

It’s also a great way to get involved in the local community, do something useful with their time in the holidays and make new friends.

Anyone interested in becoming a Big Friendly Read volunteer can find out more at The closing date is Saturday 25th June.

Children in N-Eid: The Give a Gift Ramadan Toy Appeal returns

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TOYS FOR ALL: The Toy Appeal was set up to promote the supporting of local charities for Muslims in Eid

TOYS FOR ALL: The Toy Appeal was set up to promote the supporting of local charities for Muslims in Eid

Over the past three years, a team of Muslim volunteers and their multi-faith partners  have delivered thousands of gifts to some of Leeds' most vulnerable children, sharing their Eid celebrations with families of all faiths.

This year, with Ramadan in full swing, the great Toy Appeal has returned once again with the Give a Gift team hopeful of smashing all records in donations this year.

Growing from 500 toys in 2014, to 700 in 2015 and 900 the next year, those behind the appeal are optimistic of topping the four-figure donations this time around but need your supports.

Rifhat Malik, Give a Gift Ambassador, said: “Every year we deliver hundreds of brand new toys to children in Leeds who have to spend Eid in hospital or care and this year we are extending our reach to some of Leeds’ newest residents.

“We are hopeful of reaching 1,000 toys this year but need the publics’ help once again to reach this figure.

“The support has been amazing in recent times and I know we can do this for the kids.”

In past years the toy distribution has been shared between Martin house Children’s Hospice and the Leeds Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

TEAM EFFORT: After the toys are donated, they are then distributed to children by the army of Give a Gift Ambassadors

TEAM EFFORT: After the toys are donated, they are then distributed to children by the army of Give a Gift Ambassadors

This Eid, the Give a Gift team have decided to include asylum seeking families on their distribution list as they aim to ensure every child in need receives some sort of gift.

Fellow Give a Gift ambassador, Habib Khan, has been involved with the project since day one.

He said: “The concept is simple - throughout Ramadan we collect toys and gifts and on Eid, our team of Ambassadors will distribute them to the children in the Hospital, Hospice and the children from Asylum seeking families.

“For the toy appeal to have reached the size of which it is today shows the true spirit of Islam and our Eid message.”

The Give a Gift initiative was set up in 2014 as a way of encouraging the local Muslim community to get involved with local causes.

Since its introduction, tens of thousands of pounds have been raised for charity through various fundraisers, whilst £70,000 has already been pledged in 2016.

If you would like to donate a toy to the Big Toy Appeal this year, please email or call, 07734 882116.

Yorkshire Toothfairy rejects kids’ teeth

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TELL THE TOOTH: Dr Imran Rangzeb says that parents should be honest about their children’s eating habits when going to the dentist so that tooth decay can be caught earlier

TELL THE TOOTH: Dr Imran Rangzeb says that parents should be honest about their children’s eating habits when going to the dentist so that tooth decay can be caught earlier

25% of children in the region have tooth decay

Troublesome teeth problems amongst children in Yorkshire are on the rise as shocking new figures reveal that more than a quarter of five-year-olds start school with fillings, decayed teeth and even missing molars.

Thanks to diets high in sugar, a rising number of children are having to undergo painful tooth extractions even though tooth decay itself is entirely preventable.

According to the latest Public Health figures, the number of sugar cubes (approx 4g) in popular 500ml drinks are at dangerous levels with a whopping 15 cubes in Lucozade, 13.5 in Coca Cola whilst even Volvic flavoured water has nearly six.

Depending upon a child’s age, the maximum daily allowance of sugar for children is only five to seven cubes.

Data released from Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that across the country, one in 40 five-year-olds have had rotten teeth removed; including 3.9 per cent of youngsters in Yorkshire and the Humber, compared to just 1.9 per cent in the East Midlands.

In the South East, 80 per cent of five-year-olds have a clean bill of oral health but in the North West the figure stands at just 67 per cent.

Dr Imran Rangzeb from Town Hall Dental in Halifax said the figures are worrying.

“Kids are never going to stop eating sweets,” he said. “But tooth decay isn’t just caused by sugar, it’s also certain types of bacteria that cause it.

“Children have to be more vigilant with brushing their teeth and parents must ensure their diet does not consist of too many sugary drinks and snacks.”

To nip tooth decay in the bud, Dr Rangzeb believes parents should be more truthful about their kids’ eating habits so that a healthy oral hygiene routine can be kept up.

Children should also use “adult toothpaste as soon as they get teeth,” Dr Rangzeb advises as “the main difference between adult and kids’ toothpaste isn’t only the flavouring but also the amount of fluoride.

“There are toothpastes out there which we prescribe to certain patients who have double the amount of fluoride, too.”

Also to blame for the rise in tooth decay is the amount of fizzy drinks consumed at meal times.

“Children should cut out fizzy drinks and turn to water and non-sugar alternatives,” Dr Rangzeb added.

Navtej Hunjan, a dentist from Bradford, reiterated his fellow professional’s message.

He noted: “Two of the biggest things that make tooth decay worse is a high sugar diet and lack of oral hygiene. It’s as simple as that.  

“Children are clearly not brushing their teeth enough and eating too many sugary foods.”

Navtej said that children are on the NHS from the age of six months so parents have access to free dental care for their children.

However “there is a lack of parental education and coming in for routine check-ups is important,” Dr Navtej said.

“Parents have now got their kids used to fizzy drinks and it is hard to wean them off it.”

The latest data on oral health shows a small but steady decline in the number of five year-olds in Leeds with decayed and missing teeth, from 33.7 per cent in 2013/14 to 31.4 per cent in 2014/15.

Leeds City Council’s Public Health team say they are working hard with partners to continue to improve these statistics.

They say they are ensuring frontline health staff are trained appropriately so they can give families information and advice about oral health, as well as providing advice and free toothbrushes and paste to parents when they see a health visitor with their child at nine months of age.

“Sugary fizzy drinks are a key contributor to dental decay and if sipped over the day can cause irreversible damage.  Our health campaigns are encouraging children to drink milk or water instead,” a spokesperson said.

“Leeds has recently developed a Leeds Smiles campaign, offering an enhanced package of storybooks, information leaflets, tooth brushing reward charts and other resources in key areas of the city where tooth decay in children under five is more prevalent.”

The campaign site features a timer song and game to make brushing fun for children, as well as a video and top tips to help parents and carers look after their child’s teeth.

Titan tastes at Titus Salt

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COOKING TIME: Sandy Docherty and Titus Salt student, Aishah, cook up a treat in the kitchen

COOKING TIME: Sandy Docherty and Titus Salt student, Aishah, cook up a treat in the kitchen

Food project aims to get children eating well

Students from a Bradford Sixth Form have been brushing up on their cooking skills this past week with their own bake off superstar, Sandy Docherty, at the heart of the initiative.

Titus Salt School, in Baildon, has been supporting the BIG Cookathon project for eight years, giving students the chance to experiment in the kitchen with some much-loved recipes.

Previous British Bake Off contestant, Sandy, who runs a cooking club at the school, was on hand to assist the contestants.

She said: “It’s great to be involved in the Cookathon. Cooking is a language that everyone can understand, it should be experimental and creative and if it’s healthy... what a bonus.

“Let’s make cooking walk and take it to the world.”

The BIG Cookathon is run by the charity - The Children’s Food Trust.

They are on a mission to get children eating well, and are challenging families, friends, schools and organisations across the country to take part in their largest mass cooking event to date.  

The annual event Cookathon event aims to get people cooking nutritious, easy recipes from scratch instead of opting for unhealthy and expensive ready meals or takeaways.

Amongst the dishes made at Titus Salt were hearty cottage pies, a dish that’s perfect for families to share.

The Children’s Food Trust CEO, Linda Cregan, said she was delighted to see the project growing year-on-year.

“This year’s recipe takes its inspiration from a time when meals were eaten by families around a table at home, without the distraction of mobile phones and computer games,” she said.

“The BIG Cookathon is one way to get back a bit of that precious family time.

“We want to show the nation how easy it is to cook and how much fun they can have in the kitchen. Learning to cook is an essential life skill and when children eat better, they do better.”

Mini Mayor: Bringing communities together across Leeds

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LEADERS: Hannah was welcomed into her new role by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Judith Chapman

LEADERS: Hannah was welcomed into her new role by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Judith Chapman

Mini Mayor targets a cohesive city

Leeds’ latest little leader has high hopes for her city this year, with the self-confessed ‘Yorkshire lass’ looking to unite young people from all faiths and backgrounds.

Ten-year-old Hannah Begum, who attends Hunslet Moor Primary School, was welcomed into her new position as the Leeds Children’s Mayor in November 2015.

With her manifesto in hand, she outlined plans for what she wanted to achieve during her year reign, addressing city councillors at Leeds Town Hall.

Under the banner of the ‘Global Families of Leeds Project’ Hannah says her aim is to create more opportunities for children to interact with each other through ‘existing youth and community groups, after school clubs and faith groups’.

“I used to attend a youth group to meet loads of new people and visit Cadbury World and even the set of Coronation Street,” she said.

ELECTED: Hannah Begum began her reign as Leeds Children’s Mayor in November last year and has big plans for the city’s youth this year

ELECTED: Hannah Begum began her reign as Leeds Children’s Mayor in November last year and has big plans for the city’s youth this year

“My group had to shut down due to lack of funding so I feel really passionate about setting up these groups again.”

Looking to setup a city-wide database of groups to join in the project, opportunities will be presented to each group to visit each other’s premises, learning new skills and developing relationships in a ‘more cohesive city’.

“My community is very transient with many new families coming from all over the world,” Hannah added.

“Sometimes there are stereotypes of where you live so my project would give the perfect platform for children and young people to feel safe, ask questions, and learn about respecting other cultures, religions and beliefs in a safe environment.”

The Leeds Children’s Mayor concept was introduced in Leeds over ten years ago with the young leaders selected via a voting process from children and young people across the city.

Each mayor has different aims and Hannah believes hers is not only beneficial to the local area, but also incorporates wider government targets, including the promotion of British values.

She said: “I feel the opportunities and interactions we have as a child determine the adults we are in the future.

“I love Leeds and feel proud to be a ‘Yorkshire lass’, it is a fantastic city and my project would make it even better for children and young people.”

Specially designed ‘standing desks’ may help in tackling childhood obesity

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HEALTHIER: It is hoped that children’s health will improve with the new desk design

HEALTHIER: It is hoped that children’s health will improve with the new desk design

Bradford school children are the first to test out innovate design

Sitting down for prolonged periods is never good for your health - causing higher blood pressure, obesity and reduced fitness - but in the workplace and in classrooms it has become the norm.

Children at Byron Primary School in Bradford will be the first in the country to test out an innovative new desk that may help them to become more active.

The specialist child-size, ergonomic sit-to-stand desks that have been designed by a company called Ergotron have arrived at the school courtesy of Born in Bradford (BiB).

BiB is one of the largest and most important medical research studies undertaken in the UK, and was launched over a decade ago.

The researchers are seeking to answer questions about the city's health by tracking the lives of around 14,000 babies and their families across the Bradford district.

BiB's lead researcher, Dr Sally Barber said: “An urgent cultural shift is needed, and we feel that the only way to do this is to target this generation, particularly while they are still at school. If we can bring about a behaviour change, learnt from a young age, then this should continue into adulthood and improve people's overall quality and health.”

The first findings showed that pupils were sitting for just under 10 hours a day, which is the equivalent to 70 per-cent of their total waking hours.

Head Teacher at Bryon Primary, Richard O’Sullivan said: “We are always looking into ways of helping children full-stop. Whether it is about developing their fitness or helping them is a very worthwhile thing to find out about."

Mr O'Sullivan believes it will also bring great benefits for the children. "There are lots of ways it benefits the children. The fact they are taking part in something is really important. They realise they are also helping people to learn and find out beyond school, but also the fact that it is making them aware of their own health, how active they are, how are they moving around, all that sort of thing because they have to monitor that as part of it, getting them to reflect on their fitness and health levels."

It is expected it will take a year before the research can be analysed. Initial findings have been published in the Journal of Public Health and are also available on the BiB website

A Christmas visit

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CHRISTMAS: Children from Iqra Academy handed out gifts to residents at The Mount Residential Home earlier this week

CHRISTMAS: Children from Iqra Academy handed out gifts to residents at The Mount Residential Home earlier this week

Young and old come together to celebrate festive season

A bus-load of Christmas cheer pulled up outside a Bradford residential home earlier this week as schoolchildren brought an early present to some elderly residents in the city.

Pupils and staff from Iqra Academy arrived at The Mount Residential Home on Monday 7th December armed with gifts and crafts for a day of activity.

Making cards with residents, for grandchildren and family members, children discussed what this time of year means to them and what celebrations will be occurring this year.

Head teacher at Iqra Academy, Shahnaz Bleem, praised the attitude of the schoolchildren who had shown ‘great enthusiasm’ in build up to the event.

“This project is organised to give children the opportunity to give something back to the community,” she explained.

“Every year, different kids are selected and they are always a credit to the school with behaviour and enthusiasm.

“To speak with residents here, many of whom have dementia, is something we take great pride in and are thankful for the team at The Mount who have let us come in today.”

SMILES: Aizah Choudry helps Jack create a Christmas card during an arts and crafts session

SMILES: Aizah Choudry helps Jack create a Christmas card during an arts and crafts session

“It has been a great day today and the children and staff have really enjoyed it.

The school carries out a similar project every winter during the festive period to give children a chance to spread Christmas cheer during the holidays.

As well as the arts and crafts session, pupils handed over early Christmas presents to residents at the home, including mugs and soft toys around the giant Christmas tree.

Jackie Clarkson is acting manager at The Mount and said the residents always enjoyed seeing the children at christmas.

“The residents look forward to seeing the children at this time of year and they always have smiles on their faces,” she said.

“It is great to welcome in the kids for us and to see them interact with some of the residents is fantastic.”


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DANGER: Authorities say cheap cigarettes encourages young people to start smoking

DANGER: Authorities say cheap cigarettes encourages young people to start smoking

Halifax man guilty of possessing illegal cigarettes

A man from Halifax was convicted of possession of illegal tobacco products with intent to supply. It was caught with 2,400 cigarettes and 750g hand rolling tobacco.

Suliman Seiedi, 29, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Calderdale Magistrates Court on 20th November to a community order, of 100 hours of unpaid work, to be fulfilled over 12 months.

CAMOUFLAGED: Officers found cigarettes hidden in empty milk cartons on the shelf

CAMOUFLAGED: Officers found cigarettes hidden in empty milk cartons on the shelf

He was also ordered to make a contribution of £2,000 to prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £60.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards said that the products did not bear any of the statutory health warnings, ‘Smoking Kills’ or ‘Smoking seriously harms you and others around you’. 

He was charged for offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, Trade Marks Act 1994, Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991 and the Licensing Act 2003.

“Illegal tobacco is often less than half the tax-paid price of legally sold tobacco, and this maintains smokers in their habit and encourages young people to start smoking. Far from being a victimless crime Illegal Tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people and encourages adults to continue smoking by eroding cost motivation to quit. It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds,” said David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

The Great Selection Box Appeal

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PRESENTS: Sarah Royal and Qais Ashfaq delivered hundreds of selection boxes to children in hospitals across Bradford last year

PRESENTS: Sarah Royal and Qais Ashfaq delivered hundreds of selection boxes to children in hospitals across Bradford last year

‘Make a child smile this Christmas’

A pair of secret Santas have begun planning their Christmas surprises for children in Bradford this year as they aim to ensure every child gets a sweet treat on the big day.   

Last year, friends Sarah Royal and Qais Ashfaq collected over 250 chocolate selection boxes for children at the Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale Hospital.

Now, with the festive season once again upon us, the duo are calling on the public to help beat this target and bring even more presents to children in the local hospitals.

“The appeal was initially set up because I wanted to do something nice for kids who were in hospital at Christmas,” Sarah explained.

“This year, we have once again set ourselves the target of collecting 260 boxes and are calling on anyone who can help, to make a donation of a selection box.

“The response so far has been great, with friends and family already collecting lots of boxes for the appeal. Hopefully we can make even more children smile this Christmas.”

The appeal was initially set up by Sarah, 26, two years ago and last year she enrolled the help of her long time friend, Qais, for the 2015 initiative.

APPEAL: Sarah Royal hands over some selection boxes to BRI’s senior play specialist, Alison Kay

APPEAL: Sarah Royal hands over some selection boxes to BRI’s senior play specialist, Alison Kay

The team collected a total of 264 boxes last Christmas, with a further £320 in cash handed over to charities, Martin House Children’s Hospice and the Association of Young People with ME (AYME).

This year, the appeal team are again calling for donations of selection boxes, whilst any monetary contributions will be spent on the purchase of further boxes or donated to a local charity.

Qais added: “It is an appeal which Sarah started and I have got on board to help in whatever way I can.

“For me, it is a great thing to be involved with at this time of year as we look to give something to children who have to spend their Christmas in hospital.”

Through his rising stature in the boxing world, Qais has helped spread the word further about the appeal and is confident of breaking last year’s collection record.

“Sarah is the brains behind the project,” he added. “Last year I only had a couple of days to speak to people about the project but this year we have got a lot more time.

CHOCOLATE: Qais Ashfaq is confident of beating the appeal target this year

CHOCOLATE: Qais Ashfaq is confident of beating the appeal target this year

“Hopefully we can collect even more donations and I will certainly be spreading the message in coming weeks.”

If you would like to make a donation to the

‘Great Selection Box Appeal’ this year, please contact Sarah Royal at

Tribute to “kindest soul on the planet”

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CASE PENDING: Two security officers are awaiting trial for murder

CASE PENDING: Two security officers are awaiting trial for murder

Children remember dad who died after attack at a charity function

A man who died after being attacked at a charity function has been described as “the kindest soul on the planet” by his family.

Inderjit Singh Dhariwal, 49, was injured at Samsons Baqueting Suite in Rood End Road, Oldbury, West Midlands, in the early hours of Sunday 22nd November. He died the following day in hospital.

TRIBUTE: Inderjit Singh Dhariwal

TRIBUTE: Inderjit Singh Dhariwal

His children, paying tribute to him, said their lives will never be the same again.

Pooja Dhariwal, 21, the daughter of Inderjit, said: “Our father was the kindest soul on the planet.

“He put everybody before himself and was always willing to help.

“He had many big things to look forward to; his 50th birthday, both of my brothers 21st birthdays, his granddaughter’s 1st birthday and many more.

“Our dad meant the world to us and his loss has shaken the family as well as the community. Our lives will never be the same without our taxi, our friend, our confidant, our dad!

“We miss you dad and love you forever, your legacy lives on and you will never be forgotten. RIP.”

Nicolas Salhan, a 36-year-old from Haybridge Avenue in Stourbridge and Jonathan Davies, 42, from Old Bridge Walk in Rowley Regis − both security staff - are awaiting trial for murder having been arrested by West Midlands Police detectives follow a major investigation.

Illustrating Illness

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TALENTED: Aghnia Mardiyah illustrated the book, ‘Charlie’s Kidney Transplant’ which is given to children preparing to undergo kidney transplants at Leeds Children’s Hospital

TALENTED: Aghnia Mardiyah illustrated the book, ‘Charlie’s Kidney Transplant’ which is given to children preparing to undergo kidney transplants at Leeds Children’s Hospital

New book aims to improve care for children undergoing transplants

For children, spending time in hospital can be a scary experience with new surroundings and new people making such a trip daunting to many.

With that in mind, a new book has now been launched by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which aims to inform young patients about what to expect with a transplant.

‘Charlie’s Kidney Transplant’ follows the story of Charlie, a young boy, who has a problem with his kidneys and needs to undergo a transplant surgery.

It uses drawings and language suitable for young children, to inform them about different stages they will go through when having such a procedure.

Story illustrator, Aghnia Mardiyah, is currently a student at the Leeds College of Art and helped bring Charlie to life with her artistic talents.

With talks of a follow-up book already on the table, Aghnia, who is originally from Bristol, says the whole experience has been fantastic from start-to-finish.

“I was very excited when I got the opportunity to illustrate Charlie’s Kidney Transplant for the Children’s Hospital,” she said.

“As an aspiring children's illustrator and animator it was one of my most rewarding projects and I'm very grateful for it.

“I've learnt so much during the whole process of this book and I'm really excited to be part of the second book that the hospital will be producing in the near future.”

The book was produced by ward staff at Leeds Children’s Hospital, play leaders and Aghnia, and launched at a special event on the Children’s Ward L10 last month.

READING: The launch event occurred last month at the Leeds Children’s Hospital

READING: The launch event occurred last month at the Leeds Children’s Hospital

Following its success, the team are hoping to produce a book for children undergoing liver transplants in the near future.

Lisa Beaumont, a Play Specialist on wards L10 and L11 at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “We are really excited about the launch of the book.

“It has been a real effort from all the staff in the team and I am proud of the result. I’d like to extend my thanks to Aghnia, she has done a great job.”

Kay Tyerman, Lead for Children’s Transplant, added that it is ‘crucial’ children know what to expect during their hospitals visits, throughout the operation and during recovery from surgery.

“The book is fantastic,” she said. “The beautiful illustrations and thoughtful text really help children and their families prepare for a kidney transplant. In our experience good preparation is essential in helping a speedy recovery following a transplant.

“I’m sure the book will be very well received across our region and there will be interest across the UK.”

The book’s launch comes at a time when transplants have been at the forefront of the public’s consciousness in Leeds, thanks to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s ‘Be a Hero’ campaign.