Gazette letters May 24th

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LONELY STRUGGLE WITH DEMENTIA

This week is Dementia Awareness Week and I would like your readers to spare a thought for the 750,000 people in the UK who are struggling with the relentless, debilitating advance of Alzheimer’s or dementia, as well as those who care for them.

I work for a disability charity called Vitalise. Each year we welcome couples affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia to our UK respite centres for much-needed breaks.

We would like to salute the courage and dignity of the unseen army of carers who are struggling day in, day out with the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s or dementia on someone they love.

Theirs is a lonely, stressful existence. All they can do is watch and wait, powerless to prevent their loved ones from slowly drifting away.

To commemorate Dementia Awareness Week we have produced a video, in which carers talk candidly about their experiences of living, coping and coming to terms with the devastating effects of dementia. We think everyone should see it. It can be viewed on our website, www.vitalise.org.uk

We support many thousands of disabled people and carers each year through our essential respite breaks, but there are so many more in dire need of help.

We don’t take a penny from central government, but rely on the generosity of individual supporters to continue providing our desperately-needed breaks. I would like to ask your readers to please support our vital work.

Please call 0303 303 0147 or visit www.vitalise.org.uk

COLIN BROOK, Vitalise, London N1 0QH

CONCERNS ABOUT DISABLED ACCESS

Western Isles Carers, Users & Supporters Network (WICUSN) would like to thank the 18 election candidates who joined us in Age Scotland’s Campaign ‘Walk in our Shoes’, to congratulate those elected and commiserate with those who were not successful this time.

The purpose of the walk was to identify and raise awareness of the impediments to inclusion for the frail, elderly and disabled in our community. These appeared to genuinely shock most of the candidates who participated.

WICUSN concentrated mainly on disabled parking bays as many people from rural areas have stopped going to Stornoway, being on several occasions unable to find suitable parking to disembark their car and reach the shops.

We met in Perceval Square where the new bays meet British Standards. The only negative aspect is their distance which is more than 50 metres (the recommended distance for a person walking with the aid of a stick) from the shops, banks etc.

We proceeded with a volunteer in a wheelchair, to Church Street where it soon became obvious that the so called ‘dropped’ kerb is still one to two inches high and although perhaps negotiable by motorised scooters, present problems for electric and manual chairs whether self propelled or being pushed. This is true of nearly all ‘dropped’ kerbs except those in the newly surfaced centre.

In Bayhead there are several businesses but only two disabled bays (not clearly marked) near the Advocacy Centre, none on the side of the road where the businesses are.

There are some ‘dropped’ kerbs between each junction and areas, which for the price of a little paint, could possibly serve as disabled bays until the area is due for upgrading.

On returning from Bayhead we crossed to the Hydro Board where there is disabled access but the only way onto the pavement is a ‘dropped’ kerb in the line of traffic as vehicles turn into Perceval Square.

We proceeded to the Optician’s past the Lewis Hotel, where the bay is not all it should be but better than nothing, because of the camber of the road when disembarking an occupied wheelchair from the back of a vehicle it is necessary to do so in the stream of traffic.

We went round by the Sensory Centre and its nearest disabled bay at the DHSS building beside the Caledonian Hotel where again there is a problem with access to the pavement. There is also a problem crossing Castle Street for those needing to attend the Sensory Centre.

WICUSN members counted 434 parking bays from Spar through the town centre including all car parks.

Regulations: - 6% of all bays should be designated for the disabled i.e. twenty six bays. Presently there are fifteen of which only nine meet British Standards.

In Kenneth Street still no sign of the two bays at An Lanntair promised in writing in September 2006. An electric wheelchair user had a very distressing experience when trying to get to the County Hotel.

His wife, in absence of a useable disabled bay in the area, parked behind the hotel and he proceeded in his chair along the pavement to the corner of Francis Street but could not turn the corner.

He reversed back to the entrance of the area behind the hotel, no easy task on such a narrow pavement, came along Kenneth Street on the road in the face of on coming traffic to the corner with Francis Street where he was unable, even with his wife’s help, to mount the pavement because of the unsuitable, broken dropped kerb, angle etc.

Eventually two passers-by manhandled the chair onto the pavement. This stress ruined their night out.

In that area there is a Health Centre which one man had to stop attending, necessitating the doctor to make a home visit, because his wife could not get a suitable parking area to help him out of the car and into his wheelchair. Another aspect of his life gone!

The Post Office has a sign indicating disabled access at the back, a very small area shared with the Health Centre which is actually a back door up two steps and there is a sign, ‘Please ring for attention.’

WICUSN hope that we are entering a new period where awareness of and the correct provision to meet the needs of the less able leap-frogs up the priorities’ ladder.

JINTY MORRISON (Chairperson WICUSN)

MARRIAGE DEFINITION

I always appreciate the irony when ministers of the gospel express in your letters column their concern about the prospect of the self-styled “Scottish Government” redefining the institution of marriage.

Given that all four of the mainstream political parties in Scotland support with varying levels of enthusiasm the concept of same sex marriage, it seems odd that those who insist on voting for the usual suspects are in any way surprised by the consequences of so doing.

One party has made it crystal clear that they oppose any redefinition of marriage, namely the UK Independence Party. Check our website for confirmation.

Yet when I last checked we had not a single member in the Western Isles and I suspect were we to field a candidate in any election in the constituency, our vote would be derisory.

Might I respectfully suggest to the Presbyterians of Lewis that they ought to reconsider their political priorities and stop voting Labour, SNP etc because my father, grandfather always did.

These parties are political machines, long departed from their original principles and take full advantage of the admirable loyalty shown by well meaning people who do not pay attention to what they actually do.

DONALD MACKAY, Lanarkshire ML11 9YD

THE PROVERBIAL ‘SCAPEGOAT’

We may be caricatured as being sabbatarian but there is pretty little evidence there is any left: says Rev. I D Campbell, Gazette View Point 17/05/12.

The problem seems to me to be is that church leaders have made Sunday which they call Sabbath the touchstone of spirituality.

When that fails, that which they have made the key of faith and practice the blame for spiritual and economic failure is apportioned to the so called Sabbath descentors. They become the proverbial scapegoat.

The Sabbath as the minister would define it is all but gone says Rev. I D Campbell but it’s not for the lack of publicity or emphasis on their part, as they by all appearances have made it the be all and end all.

The Sabbath or rest day of Sunday has become a national institution - is that not enough.

In my opinion Sabbath publicity in Lewis over the years has been extreme, unnecessary and obsessional even though there is not an instance or example in the new testament that Sunday was considered to be such a day.

Sabbath or sabbatical year is not a feature of new testament faith and practice.

It has been made the cause of everything negative in society and blaming it for the economic down is a preposterous accusation if the real concern is the gospel.

There are many other ways of reaching people and ministers need to get out of their pulpits and if everyone is gently led to hear it once, then we can move on and leave the rest to God.

DONALD MURRAY, Inverness IV3 8PD

INTERESTED MEMBERS

The Highlands and Islands Society of London members who have retired back to the islands are having a lunch on Saturday the 4th August at a venue which will be decided when we have the numbers attending. Will all wishing to attend please contact me at my home address.

JOCK MURRAY, Isle of Lewis HS2 0NB

THANKS FOR SUPPORT

I would like to thank the 130 runners from across the UK, who ran for The Children’s Trust in this year’s Virgin London Marathon in April to help raise over £225,000 for the Trust.

The Children’s Trust, Tadworth, is a national charity that provides specialist care for some of the UK’s most severely disabled children, and rehabilitation to children with an acquired brain injury. The money raised from the marathon will help to enhance the lives of these very special children.

Running for a charity, being part of a team and being cheered on by supporters at key sites around the marathon course adds to the enjoyment of taking part in this famous event.

I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has applied for a ballot place in the 2013 Virgin London Marathon and would like to run for The Children’s Trust next year. Runners will receive advice on training preparations, including diet and will be able to attend various training days.

For anyone wishing to run in costume, or perhaps attempt to break a Guinness Book of Records challenge, I would love to hear from you.

Further information can be viewed at www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/londonmarathon or phone me on 01737 365018.

Once again, a huge thank you to all the runners who supported The Children’s Trust this year.

BRYONY EIDA, The Children’s Trust