UK

Barnardo’s shines a light on the needs of vulnerable children at Diwali celebration

For most people celebrating Diwali it’s a time for fun with family, presents and delicious food but for the vulnerable children Barnardo’s supports it can be a challenging time. On Tuesday 5th November, guests enjoyed a dinner designed by Masterchef 2018 semi-finalist and Barnardo’s supporter Nisha Parmar at the Victorian Bath House, London, to raise vital funds for the charity.

During the event, which celebrated the festival of lights with a prayer, spectacular fire show and Bollywood dance performances, guests were also invited to light a diya for all the vulnerable children across the world. A number of the charity’s celebrity Ambassadors and supporters attended, including TV presenters Sonali Shah and Anila Chowdhry, and actors Nina Wadia and Ameet Chana.

One of the young people supported by Barnardo’s is 19-year-old Neha, a young carer from Leicester, who looks after her parents and her two younger siblings. As well as managing the household, she is also studying for a degree in Biomedical Sciences. She said, “Trying to juggle everything on a normal day is difficult. On special occasions like Diwali, it’s even harder as we have loads of guests who visit us and I have to cook a lot of food for everyone and serve them all tea, coffee and snacks.

“I do feel blessed that I am able to help my family and spend time with them, but it can get overwhelming and sometimes I wish could enjoy Diwali like everyone else instead of worrying about how I will cope.”

Since joining Barnardo’s Carefree service in Leicestershire, Neha’s support worker has helped her in various ways including liaising with her college, applying for grants to allow her to buy a laptop and take driving lessons, and offering her a safe space to talk about her concerns.

Barnardo’s CEO Javed Khan said,“For children supported by Barnardo’s, celebrations like Diwali can be a difficult time. Children with mental health problems, those caring for a family relative and children in care are facing huge challenges all year round and some may also feel cut off from their culture and background.It’s vital that agencies, charities and local communities come together to support young people to achieve a positive future.”

Barnardo’s Ambassador actor Nina Wadia said,“There are thousands of children and young people in the UK who are struggling with a host of issues ranging from mental health, to abuse to being in care. It is a great honour to be here today to not only celebrate Diwali, but to show my support for Barnardo’s, who provide critical support and services to children in the UK.”

Barnardo’s Ambassador and TV presenter Sonali Shah said,“Diwali is a time for celebration and reflection. Tonight’s event has given us the opportunity to celebrate as well as understand and reflect on the importance of believing in children and giving them the support they need to thrive.”

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