READERS LETTERS: As seen in Wokingham.Today of June 3, 2021

Picture: Imogen Shepherd-DuBey

Thank you, from our hearing impaired

I AM a volunteer for Healthwatch Wokingham, an organisation set up to help make life a little bit easier for people who struggle.

I recently saw a small sign in Waterstones bookshop in Wokingham, telling hearing impaired people to ask the cashier to lower their masks to allow them to lip read.

As a wearer of two hearing aids myself I found this a wonderful thing for them to do.

Inspired, I contacted my Healthwatch manager and we printed off some signs bearing the hearing impaired mark.

We were bowled over by the number of businesses willing to display this sign on their clear screens.

These include Morrisons in Woosehill, British Heart Foundation, Millets, Card Factory and Coast to Coast.

I think these shops all deserve a pat on the back for helping our hearing impaired community.

Thank you.

Lynne Antink, Wokingham

Congestion plan is a flawed system

IN LAST week’s Wokingham.Today our council leader describes his plan to ease congestion on our roads by increasing capacity, using a “real time information system”.

This is a flawed plan.

There is a large and growing body of evidence that increasing road capacity fails to reduce congestion in anything more than the short term.

Congestion happens because people choose to travel by car.

Adding capacity merely makes this choice easier and, over time, congestion returns to the level at which people will tolerate it before making different choices.

Increased air pollution, CO2 emissions and lover levels of activity in people’s lives follow.

The only sustainable way to reduce congestion is to make the alternatives more attractive, be they public transport or improved facilities for walking and cycling, for the two-thirds of car journeys which are less than five miles in length.

The £18 million committed to this scheme is more than the total being invested in the alternatives.
We need to address congestion with solutions which look to the future, not those which embed the mistakes of the past.

Adrian Betteridge, Wokingham

Vaccination paranoia

ALL our service users have now received their covid vaccinations – with the exception of a handful of paranoid schizophrenics – who believe the vaccine to be poison, or that it would be injected so that their thoughts could be monitored by external forces.

My own local service was perfectly organised, and executed, so I have nothing but praise and gratitude for those delivering it.

I am immensely relieved.

As a result of our being here for people, throughout the pandemic, not only have we had no covid infections, but we have had no, actual, nor attempted, suicides, either – though the general rate for these, and all mental health problems, has increased enormously, as a result of the crisis.

One cannot argue with paranoid schizophrenia, because it is not amenable to reason.

It is no good asking sufferers why doctors would want to give them treatment that they don’t need – especially, judging by Wokingham.Today’s coverage of the situation at Wokingham’s Medical Centre, the doctors, here, are hard-pressed enough, to give people the treatment that they do need, and are willing to have.

Paranoid schizophrenics, have, what is known in psychiatric jargon, as ‘fixed, false, beliefs’, and nothing can shift them.

This poses an interesting problem for the medico-legal experts.

Contrary to popular mythology, mental patients do not have to be, either a danger to themselves, or to others, to be treated compulsorily, under the Mental Health Act.

People can also qualify for compulsory treatment, on grounds of their own health.

Presumably, therefore, a paranoid schizophrenic, who is also diabetic, and is refusing insulin, because he believes it to be poison, can be sectioned, and given the treatment, compulsorily.

I am currently dealing with one such case.

But covid vaccination presents a different problem, and is less straightforward, legally.

Strictly speaking, vaccination is prevention, and not treatment.

We are dealing, here, with semantics, and this is where the legal argument comes into play.

Can one have ‘treatment’ , where there is, as yet, no illness?

Pubs, restaurants, and holiday resorts, may, legitimately, refuse entry to people who will not have the vaccinations, but the Wokingham Mental Health Crisis House, can hardly refuse entry to people because they suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, and we will not do so.

Nevertheless, I would greatly prefer, for everybody’s protection, that all our service users were vaccinated, and I would like the lawyers to look at this dilemma.

Pam Jenkinson, The Wokingham Crisis House

Political pamphlets in Shinfield

MEMBERS of Shinfield Parish Council have become concerned by the factual content of various pamphlets and newsletters published by local political parties during 2020 and 2021.

Shinfield Parish Council is a non-political council formed by from a wide range of members of whom some may be affiliated to political parties outside the parish council.

Members have been elected or co-opted on the basis of their independence with no members are serving with a political allegiance.

Shinfield Parish encompasses the South of M4 Strategic Development Location and has seen in excess of 3,750 new houses consented with 500 – 700 expected to follow.

Shinfield Parish Council is working with developers and the University of Reading to build the best possible community for existing and new residents that can be created with this massive house building programme.

Members are concerned that political parties, who are not directly involved in these discussions, are giving inaccurate and sometimes misleading information.

Members have been concerned by the inclusion of parish council achievements, such as opening the new Spencers Wood Pavilion, in newsletters and pamphlets from which the residents may infer that the council is aligned to one political party or another which, as I have stated, it is not.

Members have been further concerned that newsletters and pamphlets have indicated that detailed work by the parish council to provide safe movement around the area is not happening at all.

One of our councillors has recently submitted an update on finalising producing maps, notice boards and wayfinding signage for cycleways and footpaths which the parish council will implement over the next few months.

The council has worked with developers and landowners to plan new routes, join up disparate sections of pathways, create alternatives to using busy roads and improve existing routes.

We are in the last four months of completing a new community centre at School Green and hope that this will provide the community with an excellent focal point.

Members, who are unpaid, have made a tremendous effort to deliver this scheme for residents.

I look forward to working with local parties and would simply ask that you are careful in your publications and indeed seek information from us to ensure accuracy of content and that they don’t imply points which in relation to the activities and achievements of Shinfield Parish Council, are incorrect.

Andrew Grimes, chair, Shinfield Parish Council

Unite against dementia with cake

EVERY three minutes, someone will develop dementia – that’s arguably how long it will take for you to read my letter.

And this past year, life has become much tougher for those living with the condition and their families.
I know how crucial Alzheimer’s Society’s work is and have been an ambassador of the charity for many years.

As we finally see a way through the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for us to make sure no-one faces dementia alone.

So if you’re one of the many millions who have spent this past year perfecting your banana breads and practising your piping, why not put those efforts to good use to help Alzheimer’s Society reach even more people?

Join me in dusting off your aprons for Cupcake Day on June 17.

Whether it’s the last hurrah before you give baking a break, or you need the perfect excuse to bring loved ones together, every Cupcake Day held will fund Alzheimer’s Society’s vital services, which have been used over five million times since the pandemic began.

You could organise a delivery ‘drop off’ of goodies to your neighbours, host a driveway bake sale in your area or have a virtual ‘bake-off’ with colleagues, friends, and family.

Whether you’re a baking novice or a seasoned pro, please join me in whipping up a treat on Thursday, June 17, and let’s get baking — or buying in my case — to beat dementia together. Sign up for free at alzheimers.org.uk/cupcake-day.

Jo Brand, comedian and Alzheimer’s Society ambassador

Welcoming back volunteers

IT IS Volunteers Week.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on national healthcare charity, Sue Ryder, has been immense.

Not only did it have a financial impact on the charity but it also meant that many of our incredible volunteers were unable to support us because of lockdown restrictions.

We are extremely excited that plans are underway to welcome our much missed volunteers back into our hospices, and share a warm welcome back to our retail volunteers who’ve been able to return since the roadmap allowed non-essential shops to reopen.

Sue Ryder has more than 7,100 dedicated volunteers across the country and every single one is an invaluable part of the Sue Ryder organisation; they enable us to continue providing the expert and compassionate palliative, neurological and bereavement support that we are so well known for.

This Volunteers’ Week we wanted to recognise their fantastic contribution over the past 15 months, through what has been such a difficult time for so many.

During the pandemic many of our volunteers have had to stay at home shielding at a time they’ve wanted to continue to be there; many other volunteers have worked hard developing new skills to help
us continue to provide virtual support via our befriending, family support and bereavement services; and many volunteers have leapt into action taking on amazing fundraising challenges from home to help raise vital funds so our care can continue.

We want to share our thanks with all our volunteers for sticking with us and supporting us during such difficult times.

Our hospices are only part funded by the government, with just 30% of their costs covered on average.

The continued support of our volunteers – whether volunteering their time and skills in our hospices, organising their own fundraising activities or working tirelessly in our Sue Ryder shops across the UK — play a critical part in helping the charity continue to be there when it matters.

Sue Ryder is committed to making volunteering with us a rewarding, inclusive and empowering experience for everybody. We’d like to appeal to any of your readers who would like to find out more about joining our team. However much time you have, we’d love you to hear from you.

To make a difference as a Sue Ryder volunteer, visit: www.sueryder.org/Volunteer for more information.

Maria Turnbull, hospice director, Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice

Colin v Cuthbert

For thirty years Colin’s been king
Now he’s worried about his buttercream
There’s a new caterpillar on the block
Cuthbert! A cheap, upstart, impersonator!
He’s not as good as me, Colin cries
His shiny chocolate may deceive your eyes
But look beneath his curvy shell
You’ll taste quality far inferior.
M&S in their wisdom all culinary
Worry shoppers may confuse their bakery
Cuthbert is not Colin we insist he’s removed
Our standards are higher and we’re gonna sue!

Ha, ha, replied Aldi we don’t care
There’s more than Cuthbert caterpillar out there.
Cecil, Morris, Curly and Calli, need we go on
Take us to court, your customers aren’t fooled.
In steps Chris Packham to remind us all
There’s a climate emergency, don’t be absurd
Only first world could have cake caterpillar wars
Send legal fees to butterfly conservation causes.
I guess it’s been a little light relief
From lockdown and the queen’s consort deceased
But who cares where one gets their cake
There’s enough to go round for goodness’ sake!

Let’s hope common sense prevails
And caterpillar cakes can avoid a trial
Customers can choose what to buy
Enjoy whichever you decide to try.

Juliet H, Wokingham

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