Letters, November 27 2020


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At the start of the pandemic in March we took the decision to make online access to our news free of charge by taking down our paywall. At a time where accurate information about Covid-19 was vital to our community, this was the right decision – even though it meant a drop in our income. In order to help safeguard the future of our journalism, the time has now come to reinstate our paywall.

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Celebrate Christmas with community advent calendars

There is still uncertainty about arrangements for Christmas 2020, but the communities of Southend and Carradale have decided to bring people together in making ‘community advent calendars’.

Starting on December 1, different houses in each parish will decorate a window, and reveal their window on a different day of the month. So there will be one window on 1st December 1, two windows on December 2 and so on – and they should stay in place until Twelfth Night.

Everyone is invited to walk or drive around the parishes and spot the decorated windows. A guide will also be available in the village shops.

In this way, we hope to brighten the preparation for Christmas for everyone.

Reverend Christine Fulcher, South Kintyre Team Ministry.

Help to raise £300,000 for 30,000 children this Christmas

More than 12,000 children are admitted to hospital every day in the UK and it has never been a scarier time for them.

With unfamiliar wards, health professionals in additional PPE, only being able to have one parent with them, and no visits from their brothers or sisters during the pandemic, it can be very worrying and lonely.

That is why play and distraction services in hospitals are now more vital than ever. Having access to toys and entertainment, when recovering or waiting for treatment, or using play as a distraction for procedures can help to alleviate pain, aid recovery and bring joy back into children’s lives.

At the children’s charity Starlight, thanks to our supporters, we provide hospitals with boxes filled with toys, games and puzzles to be used on wards.

This year, Starlight’s fundraising income has fallen due to many cancelled events, which is why we have started our Time to Play campaign. Our goal is to raise £300,000 before the end of the year to help 30,000 children get access to play in hospital and limit the negative effects of illness on their childhood.

It’s easy to support and our website has fun ideas of how to take part, including our Stream for Starlight fundraiser for computer gamers.

Or, if you are able to, please considering making a simple one-off donation. However big or small, it will help Starlight to continue to be there to support children and their families this Christmas.

I’m hoping your readers will join together and help support Starlight, to bring back joy into the lives of the 98,000 seriously ill children living in the UK this Christmas.

Please visit www.starlight.org.uk/time to help us. Thank you.

Cathy Gilman, CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Online bullying of children

Every year thousands of children contact Childline about being bullied online and tell us that they feel it is hard to escape from.

Lockdown has intensified these feelings for many and since April we’ve counselled more than 1,500 children and young people across the UK about online bullying.

Children have told us about people sending threatening or abusive messages and being pressured into engaging in sexual conversations. Others have shared that they’ve been excluded from online games by other children, while some spoke of online identities being stolen to embarrass or cause trouble while using their name.

Before lockdown measures were first introduced this year, the average monthly number of counselling sessions with children about online bullying was 134. Between April and October that value increased by 70 per cent to a monthly average of 228.

This is worrying, particularly as we continue to adhere to strict social-distancing restrictions across Scotland and children continue to spend more time online. Bullying can have a long-term impact on the mental wellbeing of a child and, as we mark Anti Bullying Week this month and beyond, it’s important to ensure that every child knows who they can turn to for support.

If a parent thinks their child is being bullied online, it can be hard to remain calm, but it’s crucial not to overwhelm a child with questions. Taking their device away is likely to make them feel like whatever has happened is their fault; instead, it’s helpful to listen to their worries, suggest they take some time away from certain apps, and provide them with reassurance.

Adeniyi Alade, service head of Childline at NSPCC Scotland.

Devolution is under threat

Boris Johnson’s comment that devolution has been ‘a disaster north of the border’ and ‘Tony Blair’s worst mistake’ should hardly come as a surprise to anyone.

The Tories have never been great supporters of devolution, vehemently opposing both the referendums in 1979 on establishing a Scottish Assembly and in 1997 on the Scottish Parliament.

Most recently the devolution power grab that is highlighted in the Internal Market Bill simply reinforces this stance.

The Scottish Social Attitudes survey (2019) on constitutional preference found that only seven per cent favour abolition of the Scottish Parliament and it found that trust in the Scottish Government sits at four times that of the UK Government. This points to it hardly being a disaster.

For those accused of scaremongering that there is a threat to Holyrood, Mr Johnson’s comments are clear vindication. The irony of all this being that devolution has given new life to the Scottish Conservatives after its wipe out in 1997 and it is now the opposition in the Scottish Parliament.

Be under no doubt that the Scottish Parliament, which was hard fought for, is under threat and we must do all in our power to defend it.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

Help to manage diabetes at Christmas

While this year Christmas is going to be different from usual for many of us, it is still a time for preparations and extra food. As a charity for people with type one and type two diabetes, we recognise that it can be a difficult time for people with both types of diabetes, especially if it is their first Christmas with the condition.

It can be a time of temptation, unpredictable or delayed meals, extra nibbles, excitement and stress, all of which can make managing their diabetes more of a problem.

We have just published our free December newsletter and we also have a free booklet, Diabetes at Christmas, to help families who live with the condition.

It gives various options for Christmas dinners, a recipe for homemade, lower carbohydrate and calorie Christmas pudding and many other tips. We also have a booklet, Diabetes – Everyday Eating, which may also be useful. We hope that the newsletter and these two booklets will help to make life easier over the festive season.

We are happy to send out these, free-of-charge, to any of your readers if they could contact InDependent Diabetes Trust by emailing email enquiries@iddtinternational.org or calling 01604 622837.

Jenny Hirst, co-chair, InDependent Diabetes Trust.