Sir, – January is the perfect time to start to think about the challenges and adventures that 2016 will bring, and this year Parkinson’s UK is asking people to step out of their comfort zone.
Why not take that New Year’s resolution further and really challenge yourself whilst raising money for charity too?
On Sunday June 12, we are bringing our skydive series to Fife. Thrill-seekers from the local area will have the chance to experience the adrenaline rush of a skydive, freefalling for at least 30 seconds, taking in beautiful views of the countryside whilst securely fastened to a qualified instructor.
Registration costs just £55 and we ask people to raise £495. Full training will be provided on the day. You must be over 16 years of age and under 14 stone to take part.
Please see www.parkinsons.org.uk/content/skydive-fife for more information or call 020 7963 3912.
All funds raised by the skydives will go towards improving the lives of the 127,000 people living with Parkinson’s across the UK.
Take the leap and make 2016’s New Year’s resolution one you’ll never forget. – Yours, etc.,
Events fundraiser, Parkinson’s UK (East Scotland)
Discover a new side to yourself
Sir, – As we begin 2016 and the world starts to look ahead to the Rio Paralympics (and Olympics, of course!), I am writing to ask if your readers would like to volunteer with Leonard Cheshire Disability.
As well as supporting disabled people to live life the way they choose, the work will enable you to master many new skills and discover an amazing new side to yourself.
Whether you can spare a few hours a week or support us occasionally, your assistance is really appreciated.
Leonard Cheshire Disability works for a society in which every person is equally valued, supporting thousands of people in the UK and around the world with physical and learning disabilities.
You can help in many different ways, such as using your IT skills to help a disabled person to write an email or surf the internet, sharing similar interests, supporting disabled people to access sports facilities, gardening, being a shopping buddy or helping out with activities like art or cookery.
Across many parts of the country, we are particularly keen to recruit new volunteer drivers, as well as volunteers to support disabled people in the evenings and weekends.
Some people are put off volunteering because they don’t know what to expect, or may not know someone who is disabled, but this doesn’t matter. The most important thing is the willingness to support others and be a part of something bigger. In return you’ll have fun, meet new people and form lasting friendships.
Why not come and join us? To find out more about how to become a Leonard Cheshire Disability volunteer, visit www.leonardcheshire.org, call 020 3242 0296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. – Yours, etc.,
Volunteer enabling co-ordinator, Leonard Cheshire Disability
Let’s inspire young people
Sir, – As we look towards the Holyrood elections this May, hundreds of young people across Scotland have been delivering a ‘National Call to Action’ to politicians in their local constituencies, telling their own personal stories about how youth work has made a difference to their life.
We would like to thank the MPs and MSPs who have been involved in our ongoing campaign, and for their interest and support for youth work services.
We believe that if the attainment gap is to be closed for those most at risk from under achievement then a partnership between formal education and youth work at local level is essential.
This would ensure that a mix of learning styles and opportunities are available both inside and outside of school.
This requires strategic investment and a greater policy emphasis on the value that youth work activity brings to young people and society.
The youth work sector works with around 380,000 young people each week and has a key and valuable contribution to make.
Youth work needs financial investment. The youth work sector is experiencing a decline in core and project funding, and cycles of short-term funding make it difficult to plan and sustain services. YouthLink Scotland members tell us regularly that politicians and other professionals must place more value on youth work.
If we are really going to tackle the educational attainment gap then we need to realise that not all young people respond to formal education – they need another path, another approach that engages them and keeps them on their learning journey.
A solid partnership with formal education would ensure that all our young people can learn in a way that inspires them. – Yours, etc.,
Chief executive, YouthLink Scotland
Lesson in maintenance
Sir, – The problems with the Forth Road Bridge reminded me of a friend who considered servicing his car to be a waste of money.
The result was that it eventually ground to a halt and, at great expense and inconvenience, he had to fit a new engine. – Yours, etc.,
William W. Scott
Unease over positivity
Sir, – In my 35 years as a parish minister I spent countless days and nights by the bedsides of parishioners suffering from cancer whose lives were drawing to a close.
I am uneasy with the battle-field language employed by “personalities” sharing their experiences because it contributes a “tyranny of positivity” which surrounds cancer.
An elderly lady of whom I was very fond was told she had aggressive and inoperable lung cancer, after which a relative rather unkindly observed she “just gave up”.
In fact she accepted the diagnosis, put her affairs in order, said goodbye to those who loved her and quietly, without bitterness or dramatics, prepared to meet her god. – Yours, etc.,
Rev. Dr John Cameron
Sir, – It is a chilling thought that if Nicola Sturgeon was in charge of our immigration policy she would have followed Angela Merkel and welcomed vast numbers of unaccompanied male migrants to Scotland.
The result could well have been that Scottish women would have suffered mass sex assaults, as happened in Cologne, and other German cities at the New Year.
It would have made Hogmannay truly a night to remember. – Yours, etc.,
Measuring won’t close gap
Sir, – National testing in schools will measure, not close, the “attainment gap”.
How refreshing it would be to hear the SNP (or Labour for that matter) say anything about driving up standards in all schools, for all pupils.
High performing pupils in good schools in relatively well-to-do areas must feel that they are the bane of the SNP’s life, because their success helps create the “attainment gap”. If only they would not work so hard and be so clever, the SNP could claim victory in narrowing the dreaded “gap”.
‘The Left’ assume that every statistical difference is the result of one or other of their two universal causes: discrimination and poverty.
The reasons for lower academic performance in some areas are actually lower average intelligence, unstable and chaotic families, low valuing of education, negative peer pressure and schools disrupted by bad behaviour. Steps to counter these factors are to be welcomed, but so are measures to lift standards in middle-of-the-road schools and to accelerate the progress of the brightest, regardless of school.
Each of these benefits individuals and the nation.
The goal should be a highly educated nation, not a uniformly mediocre one. – Yours, etc.,
Pledge your support to veterans’ charity
Sir, – Erskine is calling on the people of Scotland to pledge their support to the veterans’ charity.
In this centenary year, Erskine is looking to find new supporters to fund the charity’s vital work in Scotland now and in the future. Unfortunately, War is not a thing of the past and Erskine cares for more than 1,000 veterans and their families every year – only with the support of the people of Scotland.
Professional fundraisers will be going door-to-door in local communities, sharing information about the work that Erskine does and the veterans the charity care for. The highly trained fundraisers are easily identifiable by their purple Erskine jackets and the ID cards they carry. Local authorities and local police forces have been advised of where they are working.
The Erskine charity
Still not too late to donate
224 coats have been donated to the animal charity ‘Give a dog a coat’, which will be distributed to homeless dogs across the UK to help keep them warm during the cold winter months.
A family-run ethical pet retailer asked customers and animal lovers to donate pre-loved, new and homemade dog coats throughout November and December by dropping them off at one of the 102 Pets Corner stores across the UK. For every coat received, Pets Corner matched the donation with a tasty doggy treat for the charity.
‘Give a dog a coat’ was set up by Lara Evans of Essex, who was upset by seeing so many homeless, cold and shivering dogs in London during winter. She felt the need to help and started knitting and sewing dog coats. When she couldn’t keep up with the demand, she started an appeal asking others to donate second hand or homemade dog coats of their own.
We have been overwhelmed by the response and we would like to thank Pets Corner for collecting the coats and everyone who has made a donation and supported us with this initiative. The coats will make a huge difference to the lives and wellbeing of homeless dogs during the colder months.
It’s still not too late to donate a coat to ‘Give a Dog a Coat’ – visit the ‘Give a Dog a Coat’ Facebook page.