Proud to see Pride in Wokingham town
I WAS walking through Wokingham town centre on Saturday and the number of rainbow flags brought a smile to my face.
I was pleased to discover this was the town’s second Pride event, as another onlooker explained to me.
I hadn’t realised there was one last year, but from what I understand the even has grown significanlty in this time.
It was wonderful to see so many people celebrating our LGBTQ+ community, and greeting strangers as friends.
Moments like these remind me what a wonderful place Wokingham is to live.
I am a firm believer that community events foster a greater sense of togetherness.
Name and address supplied
ON MONDAY I will be staying firmly indoors. The day restrictions end, also known to others as Freedom Day, is not one I will be celebrating.
I’m still scared to go out.
Come Monday, mask wearing and social distancing won’t be required any more, and I fear being that close to people again.
As someone who is unable to receive the vaccine, I feel wary of crowds, or even clusters of people.
The Government might tell us to stay alert, but how can I stay alert to a virus I cannot see, and which could render me in hospital, if I have the misfortune of catching it.
For many people like me, who cannot receive the vaccine, and may have been on the shielding list, Monday will bring a return of what
I call forced shielding.
There will be no laws in place to protect my decision, no workers rights to demand I stay home to protect myself.
And yet I will be at home, locked away from the rest of society, as the covid infection rates continue to rise.
It feels as though the Government has given up on anyone in this vulnerable position.
With covid racing across the country, little is being done to stop this.
Instead, the focus has shifted onto the “protective wall” that vaccines have created for the NHS.
We are no longer trying to stop infections, we are trying to stop severe reactions.
But as I said before, those of us that do not fit this narrative will likely find ourselves back where we were at the start of the pandemic.
Scared and isolated.
Name and address supplied
FOR lots of people, some of the happiest and fondest childhood memories are from summer days. From beach holidays and camping adventures, to ice creams in the park with loved ones, summer is often associated with feelings of happiness, freedom and adventure.
However, for many children and young people across the UK, the reality of this time of year can be very different.
Though it can have its own challenges, school can provide a vital lifeline for many young people, often giving them a safe space in which to express themselves and to feel nurtured and supported.
Without it, as we’ve seen over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, many can find themselves increasingly lonely, anxious and even unsafe.
Summer holidays can also be a challenging time for disadvantaged families, as inequality becomes apparent through inadequate access to provisions and childcare, perhaps coupled with reduced income.
That’s why at Barnardo’s, the UK’s largest children’s charity, we have launched our Unseen Summer campaign. We would like to ask your readers to help us to continue to support some of the country’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and families by making a donation to Barnardo’s.
The money will be spent on fun summer activities for children with disabilities, the disadvantaged and young carers who can feel isolated at home caring for parents or siblings. It will also support mental health and wellbeing services, provide food parcels for those in need and help protect those at risk of abuse and exploitation. You can find out more and make a donation at www.barnardos.org.uk/unseen-summer.
On behalf of the children, young people and families we work with, a huge thank you, your kind donation will help us to make a difference.
Emma Bowman, South East regional director, Barnardo’s
Don’t forget dads whose babies are in neonatal care
BECOMING a parent and welcoming a baby into the world should be one of the happiest moments in life.
But for parents whose babies start life in neonatal care, those positive feelings of optimism and joy can quickly be replaced by doubt, worry and fear.
Having a baby in neonatal care is emotionally challenging for all parents, but for parents whose babies have been born since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been even harder.
Despite moves toward easing social distancing in the rest of society, ongoing access restrictions in neonatal units across the South continue to have a serious impact on families.
Parents have been unable to be with their baby as much as they need to be and some parents – often fathers and partners – have been unable to spend time with or be involved in their baby’s care at all.
It can be especially tough for dads who are often forced to return to work while their baby is still in a neonatal unit.
That’s why Bliss has long been calling on the Government to give both dads and mums an extra paid week off work for every week their baby is in neonatal care, to ensure the best outcomes for babies, families and employers.
We know many dads find it really difficult to talk about their feelings and often experience a sense of guilt when separated from their partner and baby.
At Bliss, we’re keen to let all dads know that our services are there for them too, whether they need information or support while their baby is in neonatal care.
For more information visit bliss.org.uk/dont-forget-dads
Peter Bradley, information and support manager at Bliss
Keeping my mask
I DON’T know about you, but I’ll be keeping my mask on for a long time.
Having built up quite the collection of reusable masks to suit all outfits, it makes sense to keep using them as I pop on the bus into town, and when I go shopping.
I’m so used to fetching it from my handbag, I’ve even got a specific pocket dedicated to the thing.
It would be a shame to see it go, I’ve become quite fond of my fabric face protector.
Come Monday, I’ll be keeping it on when I go indoors.
Jill Fielding, Wokingham