Letters, April 30 2021


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Design a stamp for pandemic heroes

I hope parents will encourage their children to take part in Royal Mail’s stamp design competition, to honour the heroes of the pandemic.

The competition is open to children aged between four and 14. Eight designs will be chosen to become stamps which will be on sale across the UK.

Children may choose to illustrate frontline workers in health or social care.

They may want to celebrate other key workers who have kept the country going, such as refuse collectors, cleaners, teachers, supermarket workers, public transport staff, delivery drivers or, indeed, postmen and postwomen.

Or they might highlight the volunteers who have helped in their local communities or raised money for charity, such as the late Captain Sir Tom Moore.

The competition is open until Friday May 28. A special panel of judges will select the winners. As with all special stamps, the final eight designs will be sent to HM The Queen before they can be printed and issued as stamps. The winners will be announced in the autumn.

We cannot wait to see who children choose to honour on their stamp. The past year has been very difficult for everyone, so let’s show the heroes of the pandemic just how much we appreciate what they have done for us.

Full details can be found at www.royalmail.com/stampcompetition

David Gold, director of external affairs and policy, Royal Mail.

Children’s mental health must be a priority

As a coalition of leading providers of care and support to vulnerable children and young people, we welcome the consensus there is between the major political parties in the Scottish Parliament election to tackling the growing mental health crisis in our young people.

We have for some time raised concerns over a potential lost generation of vulnerable children and young people, whose mental health is being impacted even further by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The commitment by the political parties to focus on mental health, increasing investment in support services and intervention strategies, is therefore to be appreciated and must be a priority for the next parliament.

Our children are remarkably resilient, but the frightening statistics on the deteriorating mental health of many of them presents a compelling case for a national crusade to address what is a mental health pandemic, underpinned by considerably greater resourcing.

This mental health crisis is one we can address, but it will require a similar energy and commitment to that which was demonstrated for Covid-19 if we are to achieve this and prevent many young people giving up on their futures – and themselves.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Kenny Graham, Falkland House School; Lynn Bell, LOVE Learning; Stephen McGhee, Spark of Genius; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations.

Create a hedgehog haven in your garden

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society is asking people create their very own haven for the UK’s only spiny mammal this Hedgehog Awareness Week, from May 2-8.

Gardens are a stronghold for hedgehogs, and we can make their lives so much easier with very little effort.

Tips will be given out on our social media accounts during the week using #hedgehogweek with daily competitions to win hedgehoggy prizes.

There are many things we can all do to help hedgehogs. Here are just a few:

  • Make sure hedgehogs can access your garden with a ‘hedgehog highway’, a five inch square gap in the bottom of fences or walls should do it! Once created you can log these on the BIG Hedgehog Map at www.bighedgehogmap.org;
  • Create a log pile that will offer shelter and natural food;
  • Build a hedgehog home – see plans at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/hedgehog-homes;
  • Move piles of rubbish to a new site on the day you are burning it and check it carefully before setting light to it, lighting from only one side so that there’s an escape route should you have missed anything;
  • Check areas carefully before mowing or strimming;
  • Ensure netting is kept at a height that allows hedgehogs to pass safely under it;
  • Check compost heaps carefully before digging the fork in;
  • Stop using pesticides and poisons;
  • Cover drains or deep holes;
  • Ensure there is an easy route out of ponds and pools.

Our gardens take up such a lot of habitat, and by each making our own plot more hedgehog-friendly, we can improve a huge amount of habitat for them.

If you don’t have a garden yourself, you can still help by contacting public space managers, neighbours, family and friends to ensure they are all doing their bit.

We urge everyone to become a ‘hedgehog champion’ for their area at Hedgehog Street – a project run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and our partners, People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

Join more than 93,000 ‘champions’ by signing up, free, at: www.hedgehogstreet.org – you will get an email with top tips on how you can help hedgehogs each month and there’s even a Hedgehog Street app you can download from the App Store or Google Play.

Fay Vass, chief executive, British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Supporting families during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Despite lockdown restrictions easing, many parents of neonatal babies in Scotland continue to face challenges in being with their premature or sick baby.

In the past year, parental access at many units has been restricted, with parents often unable to attend together and some limits on the length of time they can stay.

As part of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Bliss is raising awareness of the devastating impact of these restrictions.

In a Bliss survey of over 500 UK parents of neonatal babies born in the past 12 months, who are already at a high risk of experiencing mental health difficulties, 92 per cent said they felt isolated and 69 per cent said their mental health has become worse.

Bliss is calling on the NHS to introduce a national roadmap for a return to usual 24/7 parent access on neonatal units as a matter of urgency, and to work with NHS Trusts in Scotland and beyond to implement it consistently across the country.

Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive, Bliss Scotland.