Letters: Coronavirus, care leavers and TakeAway Feb

The Model Boating Pond at Hampstead Heath. Picture: André Langlois

The Model Boating Pond at Hampstead Heath - Credit: André Langlois

Keep your distance out on the Heath

Tony Edwards, Lissenden Gardens, Highgate, writes:

In Hampstead Heath this Christmas, a lot of people do not consider the guidelines apply to them, especially not “stay two metres apart and wear a mask in busy places”. It is exceptionally busy, with paths very crowded.  

Many seem wealthy and educated, and cannot claim ignorance. I need to take care at age 77. You cannot walk on the deep muddy off tarmac.  

So tarmac paths are frequently blocked by family groups spreading across whole path. Also groups stop to chat, occupying whole width of paths, with no concern for making space to pass.  

Only a few make a bit of space when asked, not the full 2m between elbows as the many signs advise.

I have started raising my arms a little, to which some people do respond to. I sometimes ask “two metres?”

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Sometimes say: “if you can touch someone, you are 55 times more likely to get the virus than at 2m”.  

Remember long Covid. There was a recent US medical study of University virus sufferers, all athletes, one in four got permanent heart damage. It is not low risk for the young and healthy.

Bringing colour

Linda Grove, primary school teacher, Belsize Village, writes: 

People have become more depressed during lockdown this time around, I believe, because of the weather at this time of year. Babies and small children have only seen masked people so they think this is the norm. This is tomorrow’s society who won’t know how to react to people by facial expression, it’s a bit like, “Brave New World.”

Our schools cannot be expected to be open during this pandemic, sadly, teachers have families and with the new wave of infection, younger people are becoming sick.

Not every child has access to outside space so it’s important that we, in Belsize Village, are lucky to have our square where families gather for their children to scoot or chalk and share our space. We are all responsible for the future and welfare of this future generation, so let’s bring some colour into our public square by planting daffodils with our children.

Wherever you live get your children connected with nature and plant some colour, inspire them to be positive and look ahead, to have projects, even to grow something like watercress on a piece of blotting paper on a window ledge, right now crocus bulbs are a good thing to plant on a jam jar wedged on blotting paper so the children can see their roots.

I beg everyone to think about the young children and to make their lives as colourful as is safely possible at present otherwise they won’t understand how to help their children grow.

Protect the NHS

Brenda Allan, Muswell Hill NHS campaigner, writes:

Despite all the praise for the NHS (“In 2020 doctors at the Whittington Hospital taught me to walk again”, Ham&High, Friday January 1)), this government refuses to enshrine protection for the NHS in any future trade deals.   

We urge all MPs to vote to exclude the NHS from future trade deals when the Trade Bill Report Stage returns to the House of Commons from January 7.

This bill threatens to open the NHS to private foreign competition, unless two amendments passed by the Lords, but vetoed by MPs in July, are passed. The NHS Protection Amendment protects the NHS from inclusion in trade deals and the Scrutiny Amendment gives MPs the power to scrutinise trade deals. This would not only protect the NHS but also environment, labour and food standards.

The risks, if health services are not excluded from future trade deals, include exorbitant drug prices, NHS data held in countries with weak data protection and  private healthcare companies taking over clinical and back office services, with all the downsides seen in the US.

Three-quarters of the public want the NHS to be protected in future trade deals, so if MPs listen to their constituents, we call on all MPs to follow the example of the Lords, and support the Scrutiny and NHS Protection amendments.

As a regular user of NHS services here and with family and friends in the US, I am so aware of their   anxiety about healthcare, and by comparison, my assurance of free healthcare, delivered without regard to clinician financial advantage, or patient ability to pay.

Time to give

Cllr Pat Perryman (Haringey, Lab, Bounds Green) writes: 

2020 was a horrible year, there is no doubt about that. However, there are always silver linings and one of highlights of the council year in Haringey in 2020 was the appointment of our energetic new mayor, Cllr Adam Jogee.

Taking the baton from our oldest member, Cllr Shelia Peacock, Haringey Labour’s youngest ever councillor took over as the 1st Civic Citizen in October at an AGM that was delayed by several months due to Covid complications.

Despite the restrictions on normal business and movement since then, Adam has still managed to brighten people’s days with his visits, meeting appearances and stories and articles in places like the Ham&High. He has also nominated three good charities for his first term as mayor.

I have decided to make a donation equivalent to 20 per cent of the members allowance I received in 2020 as a Haringey councillor from the time of the first lockdown in March to the year end. There are three reasons I am doing this. 

Firstly, with so many council meetings cancelled in 2020 and it not being possible for us to host our usual councillor surgeries I feel that to some extent I was “furloughed” in 2020 as a councillor. Yet I never took a financial hit in the way say, a cleaner at Spurs furloughed in the Spring had to. As a politician we have received all our allowance despite not being able to be out and about meeting residents as much as we would like . 

Secondly, I want to draw attention to the predicament of teachers. With the partial closure of schools in January 2021 teachers are coming under attack for taking full pay while not working. But this isn’t correct. Schools have remained open the whole of 2020, and though pupil numbers fell in the school building, teachers continued to work setting lessons, marking, adapting to online learning and continuing to support students. 

I’m not saying it has been a good experience, it most definitely hasn’t for many kids or teachers… but let’s not accuse teachers of taking a paid holiday when that hasn’t been the case.

Lastly, it feels like the time has come for politicians to feel what it is like to take a bit less home in this crisis. It may help concentrate a few minds.
So, I am giving my 20pc to the Mayor’s Fund and hoping in 2021 there won’t be a need to repeat this as life eventually returns to normal.

FakeAway Feb

Roz Rosenblatt, London Head, Diabetes UK, writes:

This February, we’re asking people across London to keep up the new year motivation by signing up to take part in Diabetes UK’s first ever FakeAway Feb.

Challenge yourself to swap processed foods and takeaways for healthier alternatives throughout the month of February, while raising vital funds for diabetes research.

With Diabetes UK by your side to provide advice, support and, most importantly – delicious recipes, FakeAway Feb is here to kickstart your home-cooking journey. When you sign up, you’ll receive access to our online community where members can share cooking tips and tricks, as well as access to our FakeAway Feb Toolkit – where you can download your free meal planner.

It’s simple – one month, totally homemade. Sign up to FakeAway Feb today, and kickstart your journey to a healthier you.

Listening works

David Holmes CBE, chief executive, Family Action, writes:

It can be frightening and lonely for young people when they leave the care system. Many may be living on their own for the first time and often will not have a network of friends and family around to offer them support. 

The charity Family Action runs Listening Works, a free virtual helpline specifically for young care leavers aged 18-27 years old across the UK. We are here all evening, every evening 6pm to midnight. So if you are a care leaver, whether you’ve got something on your mind or you just fancy a friendly chat, we’re here for you when many other services are shut or not available. You can call us on 0808 802 0222, text us on 07860 065 169 or you can have a web chat with us via our website – whatever kind of listening works for you, we are here.

Our trained volunteers can offer you someone to talk to – a listening ear, a friendly voice and a chance to talk openly about whatever’s on your mind. We also offer signposting to useful resources if any specific issues come up and information about other support out there and how to get it.