Your Letters – The Spirit of South London

Have you a spare room to rent out?

People living in South London who have a spare room and would like to help a vulnerable young person leaving care are urged to put themselves forward for a new Barnardo’s programme.

The children’s charity will support young adults through its new London Supported Lodgings Service, which offers short-term accommodation for young people as they leave foster care.
Hosts are given weekly payments alongside ongoing support, training and guidance from the Barnardo’s team, so they are well equipped to help vulnerable young people as they make the  transition from childhood to independent adult life.
The service, based at The Triangle in Coxwell Road, Crystal Palace is looking to recruit hosts who can offer a safe, supportive and friendly home environment.
Barnardo’s Children’s Service Manager Rajinder Nagra said: “We urgently need people who have a spare room at home and would like to make a difference in the life of a young person.
“Our supported lodgings hosts receive weekly payments and training so they’re well equipped to give advice and support to these highly vulnerable young people, who will eventually find housing of their own.”
Barnardo’s supports applicants through the assessment process to make it as quick and
straightforward as possible.
Initial and ongoing training and guidance are provided on a range of issues such as substance
misuse, mental health and child sexual exploitation, where needed.
To find out more contact Niyah Drummonds, Barnardo’s supported lodgings co-ordinator, on 07730 025 516 or 0208 771 0907 or email

Over fifties are so fighting fit

A fitness class which has massively improved the health and wellbeing of people aged over 55 held a celebration event.

The group, whose ages range between 57 and 91, have been meeting every week at Lansdowne Green community centre in Stockwell since July.
The low impact class, organised by housing association Optivo and called Fit for Life, has been helping everyday movement get easier for over 55s.
More than 40 people from around the area have experienced physical improvements from simple exercises and seen beautiful friendships blossom.
The free to attend sessions also aim to combat loneliness and isolation.
Audrey Azar, who started to attend the classes six months ago, said: “The class is great for the exercise and the company. I wasn’t doing anything before, apart from an everyday walkabout. Now I can do a lot more. It’s helped both physically and mentally.”
The celebration event, held on Tuesday, January 23 after an hour-long class and including chair-based exercises, offered the group a chance to reflect on their achievements and the opportunity to grab a special lunch.
Lola Oyewusi, Community Worker from Optivo, said: “This project has been fantastic for the health and well-being of our older residents.
“It’s been amazing to witness the transformation in a little over six months.
“And it’s great to hear the positive feedback and the difference Fit for Life has made to people’s lives.”
Fit for Life is a project funded as part of the London Community Foundation’s Lambeth Wellbeing Fund.

To all MPs in South London Press area

Dear MP,

The Problem of Mental Health Funding Governors at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) are writing to you to ask for your support in obtaining adequate funding for mental health services.
Foundation Trust governors have an important role to play in representing the views of our public, our service users, staff and partner organisations.
We believe passionately in valuing mental health equally with physical health and care deeply about the local people served by the Trust. We are extremely concerned that in south London, NHS mental health services are not receiving the correct level of investment to meet demand.
The Government has pledged increased funding for mental health services, but we are concerned that this is not translating into practice. Nationally, 57% of Clinical Commissioning Groups say they are planning to spend less of their total funding on mental health during this year, and despite commitments to parity of esteem, the proportion of spend on mental health remains at or below 10% for the majority of CCGs.  South London CCGs and boroughs have been promised additional funding but, amid the range of other commitments, there has been little additional investment in mental health services.
We welcome the money from other sources that has been recently invested in perinatal services, children’s services and our mental health liaison in A&E departments.  However, these increases are nowhere near enough to meet the ever-increasing demand across all mental health services in the four boroughs served by the Trust: Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Croydon.
There is a massive strain on all parts of the health service at the moment, and we have seen from our recent CQC reports huge increases in waiting lists for assessment and therapy, increased waiting times in A&E for mental health beds, dangerously high bed occupancy rates (≥100%) and many buildings unfit for purpose.
This is a particular problem in our community mental health services where, for example, in Croydon, there have been significant increases in referrals of people who need mental health treatment and support, but no increase in numbers of staff to treat them. Croydon CCG is currently not meeting the investment standard for mental health, which is an unacceptable situation.
It is becoming more and more difficult to recruit staff and many valued and experienced staff have left our services due to overwork, stress and frustration. This leads to our current staff feeling demoralised and overworked, even though many of our staff love their jobs and have dedicated much of their lives to working in mental health.  A staff governor, with over 30 years as a mental health nurse and CBT therapist, says he has never seen morale so low or workloads as high as now.
Therefore, we request:

1. That there should be an immediate review of NHS standards for funding (Fair share guidance) not only to ensure that all CCGs are spending the correct amount on mental health, but to review the current amount allocated as this is clearly not enough and patients are suffering on a daily basis.

2. That future NHS funding for mental health is ring-fenced beyond the current spend. That the formula that allocates money for mental health provision across the country takes greater account of inequality and deprivation (including ethnicity and poverty) and population increases (e.g. in Croydon).

As our local MPs, we would welcome your support by writing to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and / or raising this issue in parliament.  If you require further information, please contact Jenny Cobley, Lead Governor at

Clean air is essential for everyone

Air pollution in London has today reached the EU’s legal limit for the whole of 2018.

EU legislation requires that the hourly measurement of toxic nitrogen dioxide must not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre more than 18 times in a year.
However, Brixton Road has recorded 18 breaches. Other areas of London have also breached the hourly limit – .
Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP, said: “It’s bitterly disappointing that Brixton Road has already reached the EU’s legal air pollution limits for 2018.
“Even more alarming is that Putney High Street and Marylebone Road are not far behind.
“We need to face facts – London is in the midst of a serious public health emergency, which will lead to some 10,000 premature deaths in our city this year alone.
This is particularly unfortunate given that the Tories’ new poster boy for environmentalism, Michael Gove, has been summoned to the European Commission to explain the UK’s failure to meet the EU’s safety limits.
“Unfortunately, presenting Defra’s abysmal new air pollution strategy – which will allow air pollution to breach legal limits in London until 2028 – will achieve nothing except to highlight the Government’s inability to really get to grips with this issue.
​​Clean air is essential for our health and should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of where they live, learn or work. I’ll continue to demand that the UK meets ambitious air pollution standards – whether it is inside or outside of the European Union.”
London Green Party

Share mental health information

National charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide says too many young lives are still being lost to suicide because NHS practitioners are failing to share information with families.

The charity’s chief executive, Ged Flynn, has written to every NHS Trust chief executive in the country urging them to encourage their staff to share patient information with family and other organisations, particularly a young person’s school when they are vulnerable to self-harm or suicide.
The recent Government Green Paper Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision said: “We recognise that parents and carers need support in caring for a young person with a mental illness or who is going through emotional difficulties.
“The evidence highlights the role of the family in ensuring successful interventions, with parental involvement improving outcomes of many interventions.”
General Medical Council guidance encourages information sharing to protect children yet PAPYRUS hears of countless cases where information about a patient’s history of suicidal behaviours was kept from loved ones where sharing this could have prevented a tragedy. In some cases explicit permission had been given by the young patient but the information was not passed on.
In the UK suicide is the leading cause of death in young people. In the last few years these deaths have numbered over 1,600 annually by 10-34 year olds. A significant number were known to primary care and visited a GP in the months before their death.
The charity is asking every NHS Trust chief executive to back their employees if they make a best interest decision and share information about one of their patients in order to keep them safe from suicide.

Disability is no bar to football

Palace for Life Foundation’s Down’s Syndrome team – the DS Eagles – kicked off 2018 with their first match of the year against Millwall DS Lions on January 20.

The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre Dome was the venue as the Eagles faced the Lions in a series of small-sided matches. The friendly was organised to provide teams with competitive match experience and to make new friends.
The day began with a joint warm-up, led by DSActive Sport officer, Sophia Pittounikos.
Afterwards, the DS Eagles were spilt into two 5-a-side teams to give all the players playing time against the five DS Lions.
The first match was an end-to-end contest, in which the Eagles took the lead with a strike into the bottom corner from outside the penalty area. Millwall reacted quickly with a goal of their own, but it was Palace who came out on top in an eight-goal thriller.
The two DS Eagles teams played against each other in the second game in order to give the DS Lions a rest. All the players demonstrated excellent teamwork which has been a key component of their training.
The third and final match saw Millwall take the victory, despite a competitive game.
Louis, one of the DS Eagles, said: “I had an amazing time.
It was fun to meet new friends who love football too”
Keon Richardson, Palace for Life Foundation disability officer said: “All the players from both teams had a smile at the end of the day, which was the biggest win for me. I encouraged the players from Millwall as much I encouraged my players because it was most important that everyone had fun.”
Both teams got medals to reward their outstanding commitment in the matches.


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