In response to the editorial in last week’s Gazette entitled ‘Reality of life in the Islands’.
I would like to point out that it contained what I can only describe as a very blinkered and one sided viewpoint and one loaded with denial.
It may well be that this is one of the safest places to live in the UK but the true picture can only really be understood when looked at in the context of scale.
Wikipedia states that the population of the Western Isles (2001 census results) is about 26,500 spread over 15 inhabited islands, with close to half of those i.e. 12000 living in the Stornoway Parish area.
The Western Isles have an approximate land area of 850 sq miles, compared with Greater London that is 607 sq miles, yet holds a population of 8.17 million.
With such a thinly spread population of course it might appear to feel safe but perhaps one might solicit the opinions of the beleaguered law abiding and responsible citizens who live within the confines of Stornoway Town Centre.
One cannot help but wonder how they feel having to live with the drug and alcohol fuelled behaviour that is displayed in the Town Centre on a Friday and Saturday night before making such sweeping statements.
It is an interesting fact that the Western Isles sustains 19 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week yet we are being led to believe that there is no demonstrable alcohol problem?
As for drug addiction and the drug problems that exist here, again that is matter of scale and it is not all about youths in hoodies.
In a conversation last year with the then recently appointed specialist drug worker for the Islands, they expressed a real dismay at the number of cases of addiction to prescription drugs and described it as being the direct result of scandalous and inappropriate prescribing over many years.
As for being a safe place to live I have a close personal friend, in his late 70s who lives in one of the villages.
He has been systematically terrorised in his own home over the last two years, yet is told repeatedly by the authorities, that they are powerless to help and have advised him variously to either move himself or to lock his doors and become a prisoner in his own home for fear of his own protection and safety. Tell him that this is a safe place to live perhaps?
The reality of life in the Islands and despite what seems to be a cultural pattern of denial is that we as an island community do not have immunity to the same cultural and sociological problems that exist in the rest of the UK.
Simply continuing to sweep these things under the carpet and denying the problems exists not only leaves vulnerable folk, like my friend, in jeopardy but leaves those who face the horrors of alcoholism and addiction and who need our help with no where to turn.
A classic example and evidence of this denial at work would be the closure last week of the Lifestyle Centre’s Drug and Alcohol counselling service, brought about by a total lack of locally available funding.
STEVE ADAMS, North Tolsta
The Parent Council are of course extremely disappointed with the announcement that Carloway School is to close.
It is hugely upsetting for our children and a devastating blow to our community. Carloway School has served the Community well since 1882 and taught our children for generations.
The Parent Council would like to thank everyone involved in trying to keep our school open for the last three years .
We have had enormous support from members of the community who signed petitions, set up online campaigns, attended meetings, wrote letters, lobbied MSPs and fought for pre –school provision.
On a personal note, the chair of the Parent Council would like to thank everyone who was involved in researching and creating Consultation Documents.
This was a tremendous amount of work over a period of years which often had to be written in the wee small hours after day jobs.
Special thanks should go to our Secretary, whose dedication and efficiency has been unflappable. Everyone involved in the community should be justly proud of their efforts as we really couldn’t have tried any harder.
The transcript from the most recent court hearing shows that there were errors in the consultation process but the judges felt that these were not significant enough to overturn the CNES decision to close.
The support that Alastair Allan and Mike Russell have given Carloway School has also been tremendous. They have kept the best interest of the children and the community as their primary concern throughout.
Like us, they knew that our children were receiving a top class education in the heart of their community.
The excellent teaching and support staff at Carloway School deserve extra special praise because they continue to teach and look after our children at a very busy time in the school calendar while simultaneously managing transition and closure.
Mrs. Gunn and Mrs. Macloed have spent most of their working lives in Carloway School and will be sorely missed.
Our thoughts are also with the Parents, teachers and pupils in Shawbost School who are managing the transition of pupils moving up to Stornoway and arriving from Carloway.
The knowledge that Shawbost School is also a brilliant school does give parents in Carloway comfort.
As we come to terms with the decision, we will focus on working with CNES to protect the future of our children and our community.
Representatives from CNES have informed us that it is unlikely that the council will have use for the school buildings so the buildings will probably be offered to the community.
CNES are honouring the Cattle Show let this year as it was booked prior to closure. CNES have advised Community members and groups to think quickly if they wish to take on the buildings to avoid them falling into disrepair.
ELEANOR MAULE, Chair Carloway Parent Council
EDITORIAL - A Gold Standard of Care in the Islands?
Providing care to those in need is one of the gold standards of a modern, civilised society. We care for the vulnerable: the sick, the young, the disabled and the elderly. But the question is do we do this well or in a haphazard, off hand manner?
Every day we are assailed with shocking reports of a lack of decent care in hospitals, in care-homes, abuses of children, advantages taken of those who are vulnerable.
And locally this week we see our own Council wash its hands of the domestic care required by the islands’ elderly, who receive help for their needs at home, as care workers will no longer provide basic aid to ensure the cleanliness of their environments – is this the ‘care’ we should expect when we are old and are no longer able to do for ourselves? It is a shameful decision, of course it will save £125,000 and along with the £105,000 being saved by the provision of microwave meals, that is really what we are talking about here.
It will be interesting indeed to see how that cash is re-invested. But it makes me wonder what will it bring to the elderly’s quality of life if they gain in personal care but their environment is grubby, their clothes are shabby and all they have to look forward to is a microwave meal?
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