Actor Vanessa Kirby today called on Theresa May to do more to help children left traumatised by war – as The Independent launched a petition calling for the prime minister to take action.

The Crown star urged our leaders to increase funding to support the mental health and emotional needs of children affected by conflict.

It is the next stage of our Learn to Live campaign, which has already inspired hundreds of schools in Britain to link with schools in conflict areas.

We know that even when children escape the bombs, the trauma of war can stay with them for years to come.

Along with our partner charity War Child we are calling on schoolchildren across the country to write to the prime minister demanding action.

Kirby joined year six children at St Boniface Roman Catholic primary school in Tooting to write to Theresa May. They asked the prime minister to do more to help children in war zones to talk about their feelings, overcome their experiences and be able to learn.

The actress said: “It is amazing that 10-year-olds here are writing about other 10-year-olds. It’s just as much our responsibility to take care of these children – just because they are not in our geographical area it does not mean we should not care.

“I would ask everyone to write these letters or sign the petition. This should be just the beginning.”

Since our Learn to Live campaign launched last month more than 300 schools have signed up to be twinned with schools in war zones. St Boniface is one of the latest schools to be inspired by the campaign to increase tolerance and understanding between children from different backgrounds.

It’s just as much our responsibility to take care of these children – just because they are not in our geographical area it does not mean we should not care
Vanessa Kirby

Children aged 10 and 11 were given a lesson about the work of War Child and learnt that one in six children live in war zones, before meeting Kirby and writing their letters to the prime minister.

Pupil Alicja Skurzynska, 10, said: “It’s very sad to hear about children who don’t get to have the same experience as us. More people should give more money to charities that help these children so they can have a better life and forget about the war and feel better.”

Rachel Nteeba, 10, said: “I thought it was sad because they don’t get that good an education, they don’t have enough food and medicine and they have seen a lot of violence. So I am asking the prime minister to do more to help the children. We get a lot of education and learn a lot in school so we are lucky.”

Leo Doucet, 10, said: “I am glad we are involved in this campaign. It is sad to hear that some children in the world are not having a life like us and have to be in situations where there is war.”

‘The Crown’ actor, with Siobhan and Alicja (Alex Lentati)

Year six teacher Sarah Hill said: “The children really felt like they made a difference by writing to the prime minister and they concentrated so well during the lesson.”

Head Lisa Platts said: “Writing these letters has increased the children’s awareness of what is going on in the world and is developing their persuasive writing skills. They tried to engage the prime minister and thought carefully about the plight of children. They were quite horrified by the statistics they heard. At a school like this we try to look after people who don’t have what we have. It is about making children aware of people in the world who have very distressing experiences.

“The Learn to Live campaign is ideal. It is important that children communicate with people in different parts of the world. It is a perfect thing for us.”

Each year the school remembers the 12 former St Boniface pupils who died in the First World War. Ms Platts said: “We found a book in the basement with the names of the children who went to war … It helps the children to empathise.

“We are a very tolerant school with people from lots of different backgrounds who all get on brilliantly.”

 

How you can get involved

The Independent’s Learn to Live campaign is helping connect hundreds of British schools with those in war zones, and exposing the trauma suffered by young victims of conflict. Now, with charity War Child, we are asking you to sign a petition urging the prime minister to help these children overcome their experiences.

Adults can sign the petition at warchild.org.uk/learn-to-live/petition

Schools that want their pupils to write to the prime minister should go to warchild.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigns/learn-to-live

Teachers who want to join our project can go to warchild.org.uk/learntolive

For more information about twinning your school, visit britishcouncil.org/connectingclassrooms



The Independent has, in partnership with War Child, launched the Learn to Live campaign, supporting the education of children in conflict areas around the world, and encouraging links between schools in the UK and abroad.

Teachers who want to join our project can go to www.warchild.org.uk/learntolive

For more information about twinning, visit: www.britishcouncil.org/connectingclassrooms

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