Javed Khan is Chief Executive of Barnardo's, the UK's oldest and largest children’s charity. Barnardo’s runs 1,000 services in local communities, including support for children who have been sexually exploited, young people leaving the care system, children with a parent in prison and families struggling to cope. Barnardo’s also finds loving adoptive homes and foster placements for children in care. Last year it helped transform the lives of more than 272,000 children, young people, parents and carers.
Many of these children take on all the stresses and strains of running a house at a very young age and this inevitably has an impact on their school attendance, their emotional health and their future.
We're lucky in the UK. From traveling around Europe and the world, I've always felt the UK is one of the most cohesive countries on the planet. We lead our lives, for the most part, sheltered from the most extreme forms of intolerance.
Having to tell your story over and over again means having to relive the trauma, and repeated questioning can mean that children feel like they are to blame for their own abuse. This can be hugely distressing for a child or young person who has already been through so much and can lead to them questioning whether anyone believes them.
Despite encouraging steps, the mental health crisis is not going to go away anytime soon. Not least for those who are particularly vulnerable, such as England's 26,340 young care leavers. Barnardo's runs 22 care leaver services across the UK, used by 2,000 in England, all of which aim to bridge the gap for children leaving care and moving into independent living.
We need people from all cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds to come forward. Our foster carers are of various ages. You can be single or married, male or female, a homeowner or renting, straight, lesbian, gay, trans or bisexual. It doesn't matter. We believe you can be a foster carer and so should you.
A survey of our specialist child sexual exploitation services last year showed how nearly two thirds of children groomed online who were referred to us were sexually exploited after meeting the attacker they met online.
Things have come a long way. Public attitudes towards LGBTQ people have improved over the last few years and we're slowly seeing better representation of our country's diversity, both in the media and in politics.
As tragedy after tragedy unfolds on our own doorstep here in the UK it becomes a little easier for me to imagine the kind of horror people fleeing war have experienced - the horror they are running from and the horrors they have seen while trying to get their families to safety.
Politicians who want to engage young people need to set out what they want to do and what change they want to make, but they must also stress how it will happen, what steps will be needed and that things are unlikely to change over night - these things take time.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of Barnardo's. It's their hard work and dedication which allows us run over 1,000 services which support and help transform the lives of the most vulnerable children, young people or families in across the UK.
The number of young people in care in the UK has soared to a 30 year high of 94,396 - that's 145 for every MP in the House of Commons. Of course, that rise means the number leaving care is also increasing, many of them having faced unimaginable trauma including abuse and neglect.
We support these children through services ranging from work in schools, where youngsters learn it's okay to talk and ask for help, to trauma focused practice. Through all our work we make them realise there is help out there, not just on International Children's Day but every day.
We believe the best way of preventing the practice is by working with girls and their families, raising awareness in schools and communities and training professionals like teachers and social workers to spot girls at risk of FGM and know how to report it
22/05/2017 17:00 BST
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.