Dagenham Village Church, Shooting Stars YFC, pregnancy worries, cats and NHS staff

An old postcard depicting Dagenham's St Peter and Paul Church, before 1921 with its spire. Picture:

An old postcard depicting Dagenham's St Peter and Paul Church, before 1921 - Credit: Michael Foley

Historical community site at risk

Steve Wisbey, Dagenham born-and-bred, full address supplied, writes: 

How sad to see what has happened to the grounds of the Dagenham Village Church. 

Built in the 13th century, it is the oldest remaining building in Dagenham.

There is an endless list of historical connections to both the church and memorials within its grounds. 


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In the 1990s the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham designated the cemetery as part of a nature conservation area.

The cemetery is now promoted as a unique place to visit, where the walls and headstones provide a valuable habitat for lichens, where in the long grass, butterflies and crickets are in summertime found in abundance.

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There is even mention of woodpeckers feeding on the avenue of lime trees. 

Sadly however, graves have become increasingly inaccessible, necessitating visitors bring gardening tools to gain access and attend to memorials where loved ones have been laid to rest.

Indeed, a safety barrier is now placed around one headstone due to slippage and a memorial garden has become difficult to access for those with limited vision or restricted mobility.

I have spoken to those in authority but they do not acknowledge a need to prioritise re-landscaping of the cemetery grounds.

One response I received was that “we are here to save souls not cemeteries”.

So seemingly, maintaining the cemetery grounds is unlikely to be economically viable, resulting in an important and historical community site being lost forever.

Sporting goodwill

Dr Leonard Restall B Ed, M Ed (Hons), New Zealand, formerly from Barking, writes: 

Compromise is needed to resolve problems between two competing sports for the use of the same sports ground venue for their particular sport.

Such a problem is reported between a cricket club and a football club, Shooting Stars YFC (Post).

Normally these two sports play in different seasons in St Chad’s Park in Chadwell Heath, but in times affected by the pandemic, they now overlap each other.

The council has given priority to the cricket club because they had lost much playing time due to the pandemic.

This seemed reasonable on the face of it but was it for the youngsters involved.
The Shooting Stars YFC did not think so and were appealing for their contract that be honoured.

It does seem possible that both sports could share the ground, even if it was only for the present arranged season and so compromise.

Sure, one group may be giving away their contracted space to another but at least both groups could play in the same area and so avoid travelling.

To promote sports for youngsters, it is vital to remove any blocks to them participating, and difficult travelling requirements could be one of them.

A spirit of goodwill is required by both sides to give a little and display a good sporting attitude.

It may be left to the head of parks Mr Paul Clark to make the decision but if the two groups simplify the decision by acceding to the demand by each other and agree to compromise, it can become tenable.

Resolution of this problem without acrimony would a victory off the field. Then they can concentrate on victory on the field.

A voice for parents

A woman with her husband eight months into her pregnancy.

One-in-five mums and one-in-10 fathers experience mental health concerns during pregnancy and after birth - Credit: PA Images

Margaret Gallagher, head of local campaigns, NSPCC, writes:

As many as one-in-five mums and one-in-10 fathers experience mental health concerns during pregnancy and after birth.

In some areas, they are able to access the support they need while in others, they can’t.

This could be due to a lack of services, funding, training or staff.

This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as many more are suffering but do not reach the threshold for specialist support, or feel unable to seek help due to stigma.

To ensure new parents receive the help they need during this life-changing time, the NSPCC is urging people to sign up to its Fight for a Fair Start campaign.

The call comes as the UK marks Maternal Mental Health Week, led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, between 3 and 9 May.

The pandemic has added even more pressure on families due to the anxiety and social isolation it has created.

Now more than ever it is vital no parent or baby is left behind and the services they need are there to support them – regardless of where they live.

Please help by lending your support to this important campaign so we can all give new mums and dads a voice and make them heard.

Sunny days

Dr Sarah Elliott BVetMed MANZCVS (Medicine of Cats) MRCVS, central veterinary officer, Cats Protection, writes:

With Sun Awareness Week taking place, Cats Protection would like to advise cat owners to be aware of the risks posed to their cat by the sun.

Pale-coloured cats, or those with unpigmented white noses or ears, are particularly at risk from the sun’s rays which can cause sunburn and skin cancer. 

Those affected can suffer long-term damage including, in severe cases, having to have their ear tips removed to prevent the cancer from spreading.

Following a few simple tips, owners can help protect their cat from the harmful effects of the sun.

These include keeping them indoors on sunny days between 10am and 3pm, asking your vet for advice about suitable sunscreen and ensuring you provide plenty of shade to enable your cat to shelter from the sun’s rays.

Avoiding burnout

Dr Gary Marlowe, chair, BMA London Regional Council, writes: 

Frontline doctors have very real concerns about the indirect and long-term impact of the pandemic on their patients’ health and on their own wellbeing.

Owing to more than a decade of underfunding, our NHS went into the pandemic short on staff, short on capacity and short resources.

Doctors and other healthcare workers are tired and exhausted and they must be given adequate time to rest and recuperate to avoid burnout.

Many will need timely and ongoing support from psychological and occupational health services, which can be a challenge in many areas.

We need a commitment from health leaders that we will be given the right support needed to deal with the backlog.

Patients need assuring that the NHS is still open and that they can count on us to provide them with the care and treatment they need but government and local health care providers must be honest with the public about the need for a realistic approach to doing this.

We urgently need our local health leaders to work with frontline staff to lay out their plans for how we can move forwards to protect the welfare of health workers and give patients the life-changing and life-preserving treatments they need and minimise further deaths due to excessive waits.

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