Recorder letters: Volunteer shortage, 1946 Dutch visit, zero hours, Brexit, RAF veterans

PUBLISHED: 16:24 12 February 2019

David Stephens, civilian committee chairman for the RAF Air Cadets says there are not enough volunteers in the area. Photo: STEVE POSTON

David Stephens, civilian committee chairman for the RAF Air Cadets says there are not enough volunteers in the area. Photo: STEVE POSTON


Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Distinct shortage of volunteers

David Stephens, civilian committee chairman, 4F (Ilford) Squadron RAF Air Cadets, full address supplied, writes:

Where have all the volunteers gone?

It seems that nowadays the people who want to help local voluntary organisations or local youth groups are few and far between – and getting fewer every year.

Is this because we are no longer a caring society – too wrapped up in satisfying our own needs at the expense of the needs of the community around us?

Or are people put off by the misguided thought of “Big Brother” wanting them to satisfy lots of red tape and jump through hoops?

When my children were young and I was a member of various parent-teacher groups there was never a shortage of volunteers to join the committees or help out at the spring fair or events for the kids.

My children are adults now and I am much older, having retired some years ago. I am active in the community but I am finding it very difficult to get others to join me as volunteers for a local youth group.

It is not a role requiring contact with the young people but instead means getting involved with the group’s essential administration and control of non-public funds.

So, if you have some time to spare and are interested in giving something to your local community why not contact me and find out more (email me at There is no obligation but you could achieve a lot of satisfaction from a task well done.

Remember 1946 visit of Dutch?

Lyn Jones, Bournemouth, full address supplied, writes:

I am writing to try and find out more about something that happened in 1946. That summer, a group of Dutch children who had suffered in the war to the extent that they were very badly undernourished, came to Ilford and various families took them in, I think it would have been a two-three week stay.

My family in Eccleston Crescent, off Barley Lane, took in a girl called Ellie. I think she was 14.

My parents bought her clothes, fattened her up (despite rationing) and some days the whole group of them were taken on outings. I remember once we went to Chessington Zoo. My family also took her to the seaside, I think it was Folkestone.

I should like you to print this in case any other very old readers (like myself) remembers any more about this event. After her return, she corresponded with my parents (she learnt English very quickly) but eventually the correspondence dried up.

The girl we had to stay was called Ellie Van Dam and her home village was Hamstede. As I was only eight then (81 now), there are no adults left to ask. I wondered if anyone had any records of this event.

Zero hours contracts unfair

Bob Archer, secretary, Redbridge Trades Union Council, full address supplied, writes:

A zero hours contract is one that gives you no guaranteed minimum number of hours of work each week.

So, they make your work unpredictable – one week you could be doing 30 hours, the next just three. Everything is at the whim of your employer. How do you budget for your mortgage or rent, or arrange childcare?

Redbridge Trades Union Council are this week joining with similar bodies all over the country to campaign against these unfair zero hours contracts. We would also like to highlight the problems of bogus and marginal self-employment.

If you are affected by zero hours contracts or any other aspects of precarious or casual employment, why not drop in on our campaign stall outside Redbridge Town Hall from 11am-1pm this Saturday, February 16?

People’s Vote will enhance democracy

Richard Newcombe, chairman, London 4 Europe, Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, writes:

The current options that the prime minister has put on the Brexit table are her deal or no deal. Let us not forget that both these deals will make the United Kingdom poorer. The government’s own forcast.

We can already see the impact this uncertainty is having on the City of London as more and more firms move offices and work to European cities, on car production as Nissan moves production of a new model to Japan and on the drop in investment in UK companies. What will the economic landscape look like for our children and grandchildren?

In his autumn statement the chancellor talked of ending austerity. But he said if Brexit did not go well then these aspirations would not be achieved.

Nobody was told they were voting to be poorer. It didn’t say that on the side of the red bus that toured the UK in 2016.

Now we know much more than in 2016 and can start to see the impact of what is proposed it is time for the people to make the decision about their future. The old political parties are split and are trying to keep themselves from dividing even further rather than doing what is best for the country.

A second referendum, a People’s Vote, will enhance democracy, putting the question back to a much more informed public.

Be careful what you wish for

Will Podmore, Clavering Road, Wanstead, writes:

Corbyn supporters who want a second referendum should be careful what they wish for.

Do they really want to endorse the idea that the establishment can legitimately overrule a majority vote that it does not like?

Help us to reach RAF veterans

Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, chief executive, RAF Benevolent Fund, writes:

Last month’s vandalism at the Bomber Command Memorial highlighted the very worst and the very best of our communities. I cannot thank your readers enough for their incredible support in the wake of this shocking paint attack.

To date we have received more than £25,000 in donations to help the RAF Benevolent Fund meet the repair bill. Repair works have now been completed on the memorial and it is now returned to its former glory.

As the fund enters its 100th year of support for the RAF family, we must not forget those veterans who are still with us.

Our aim this year is to ask for the public’s help in reaching more of these veterans and their families, while we still can.

If you know someone in need of support, contact our free support line 0800 169 2942 or email

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