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Libraries and their staff are part of our safeguarding and child protection community.

Dear Mr Cotton, 

I am incredibly concerned about the proposed closure and recent reduction in service of our libraries. I was born and brought up in Birmingham, learnt to read at Selly Oak library and my children learnt to read and enjoy stories and social activities at Stirchley Library. 

I have been a doctor in the NHS for 24 years. I work in Emergency Medicine and on a daily basis see increasing levels of deprivation with knock on effects to mental and physical health of children and their parents and carers. Families are often living in unsafe, temporary housing, some with black mould, poor sanitation and overcrowding. 

Being able to get out to a warm, safe space with small children is invaluable and helps prevent accidents like burns, dog bites and falls. 

It also helps adults to get out, regulate and reduces the risk of interpersonal violence and abuse in cramped accommodation. The long term traumatic effects of abusive households on children is well documented and will impact on our future police, probation and judicial burden.  

Our young people have far fewer safe spaces to be in and their mental health has been so adversely affected by Covid and the loss of school, routine and trusted adults at school. Taking away a space which had internet access, magazines, books, resources for learning and training and education as well as a communal space for group activities will make their very difficult situation much worse. The alternative is to hang out on the streets and risk criminal and sexual exploitation and violence, which we are seeing in the Emergency Dept at younger ages with increasing harm. 

Libraries and their staff are an important part of our safeguarding and child protection community. Please do all you can to keep these vital services going, not just for the most deprived communities who need them the most, but for all. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dr Katie Wright MBChB MRCP FRCEM MRCPath ME 

Consultant Adult and Paediatric Emergency Medicine 

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