Letters, August 28 2020

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Help for families with disabled children

Recent research from the Disabled Children’s Partnership found that 66 per cent of families with disabled children in Scotland have been providing a lot more care during lockdown and many continue to do so despite restrictions easing.

The current national emergency has compounded the challenges many parents of disabled children faced. And added layers of new ones as respite, therapies, care and schooling arrangements were largely stopped or changed and usual routines disrupted.

Contact, the charity for families with disabled children, is offering a helping hand to families in Argyll and Bute during this difficult time.

Family support appointments: We’ve launched free one-to-one telephone appointments with a family support adviser for parent carers looking for a listening ear, reassurance and practical and emotional support.

Workshops: We are running free virtual workshops on topics such as sleep, behaviour, wellbeing, money matters, and speech and language, to provide additional support for families who may be struggling during this crisis.

Families who have a disabled child can make an appointment or find out more details on the Contact website: www.contact.org.uk/covid-response-services/

Susan Walls,
Contact Scotland.

Join Age Scotland’s Big Wheesht challenge

Age Scotland is asking people living in Argyll to join Scottish comedian and broadcaster, Fred MacAulay, in supporting our latest fundraising challenge to Haud Yer Wheesht.

The Big Wheesht launches on September 1 and we are urging as many people as possible to sign up for a sponsored silence with a difference.

The fundraising challenge invites individuals, families, businesses and other organisations to choose an innovative way to Haud Yer Wheesht. Participants can be sponsored to switch off their phones, stay away from social media, hold a silent disco or simply sit in silence.

The challenge is fun but the message is designed to highlight the unwelcome silence that so many older people live with every day.

Isolation and chronic loneliness affect tens of thousands of older people across the country. Recent Age Scotland figures showed that more than 200,000 older people can go up to half a week without talking to anyone.

The situation has grown significantly worse during the coronavirus pandemic, with older people who were shielding feeling increasingly cut off from family, friends and their community.

The Big Wheesht will raise money for Age Scotland’s free national friendship line, which is a life-enhancing resource for older people looking for someone to chat to and a friendly ear to listen. The more money raised, the more friendship calls the service will be able to offer those in need.

For most of us, the prospect of some peace and quiet might sound like a welcome break from the daily chatter. But take a moment to think about what it feels like to know that the silence won’t be broken with a phone call or a knock on the door.

That is the sad reality for thousands of older people in Argyll who can go up to half a week without hearing from or speaking to anyone. We believe that figure will be even higher now for older people who have been shielding and endured four long months unable to get out and about or see family and friends in person.

The severe effects of prolonged loneliness on older people’s health include greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and developing dementia. We need to do everything we can to stop older people feeling isolated.

I would urge everyone to sign up to the Big Wheesht. The more people who take part, the more money we can use to combat the scourge of loneliness and help older people at a time when they need support more than ever.

So I ask you, will you Haud Yer Wheesht to raise funds to improve the lives of older people in Scotland? We look forward to welcoming you on board.

Anyone who would like the take part in Age Scotland’s Big Wheesht can register online by visiting www.age.scot/bigwheesht

Brian Sloan,
Age Scotland’s chief executive.

Put your best paw forward to help poorly pets

At PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), the UK’s leading vet charity, we provide life-saving care to pets in need and believe no pet should suffer due to financial hardship. But the coronavirus pandemic has left us facing a national crisis.

With the country plunged into financial uncertainty, and more than a million extra Universal Credit claims, we expect the number of pets needing our help to increase by around 50,000. So support from local animal lovers is needed now more than ever.

We’re urging dog owners and their four-legged friends to put their best paw forward and support our vital service by signing up to the World Big Dog Walk Challenge.

Joining celebrities and animal lovers across the UK, all you need to do is choose a suitable distance for you and your dog to complete during September. This could be your regular ‘walkies’ route around your local park or why not stretch yourself and take on a more challenging distance?

Whatever the distance, every small step will make a big different to the lives of poorly pets in desperate need of life-saving treatment.

Our veterinary service has been a lifeline to so many pets and their owners across the UK during the crisis so by choosing to support PDSA through this fun virtual event, we can continue our vital work saving sick and injured pets in need.

Visit www.pdsa.org.uk/worldbigdogwalk for more information and to sign up.

Lynne James,
PDSA vet.

Franchise for independence referendum vote

I was struck to note the recent furore over the idea that those Scots in in the rest of the UK should be given the right to vote in any forthcoming independence referendum.

This, of course, highlights the worst excesses of ethnic nationalism. The actions of a British government which, it should be remembered, excluded EU nationals from the right to vote in the EU referendum despite the fact they live here, yet allowed British citizens living abroad the right to participate.

This is opposed to the civic nationalism of the Scottish Government, that those living in Scotland should dictate the nation’s constitutional future, pure and simple.

The precedent for this franchise was established in the devolution referendum of 1997 and the independence referendum of 2014, so it would be odd to alter it on this occasion.

Not trying to be too cynical, but with the Unionist side now well behind there may be a belief that this vote can somehow be gerrymandered by opening it up to those Scots, however that is defined, living in the rest of the UK.

One can imagine the outcry there would be however should those Scots, who don’t even live in Scotland, tilt the balance in favour of the nation remaining in the Union or indeed becoming independent.

It is, of course, only right and proper that those living in Scotland should dictate our future and all attempts should be made to resist any alternative.

Alex Orr,
Edinburgh.