Recorder letters: Brexit, homeless veterans, suicide rates, first aid and working animals

PUBLISHED: 12:30 29 September 2019

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), during a press conference at the Treasury in London. Picture: PA

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), during a press conference at the Treasury in London. Picture: PA

PA/Press Association Images

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

EU wants to become an empire

Will Podmore, Clavering Road, Wanstead, writes:

Richard Newcombe writes that we now know more about issues around Brexit (Recorder letters).

Indeed we do. We now know, for example, that the newly appointed (not elected, never elected) Commissioners are all ardent federalists, determined to create a single EU state to which we would owe our primary loyalty.

We now know that the EU wants to become a 'European empire', as EU chief Guy Verhofstadt told us all.

We now know that the EU really does want to create a European army, of which our armed forces would be a key part.

We now know that EU economic policy will be run by Catastrophe Christine Lagarde, who wrecked France's economy when she was its finance minister, Greece's economy when she was a commissioner and Argentina's economy when she ran the IMF.

Mr Newcombe calls, yet again, for a 'People's Vote'. Who does he think voted last time? Oh, yes, the wrong people. He calls for 'a once and for all referendum', which is what politicians like David Cameron promised us the 2016 one was.

Veterans losing on housing support

Ed Tytherleigh, co-chairman, Cobseo (Confederation of Service Charities) Housing Cluster, writes:

No one who has served their country should be homeless, but our analysis of government data shows that homeless veterans are being missed by local authorities and are losing out on the enhanced support and housing available to them.

On September 24 we launched a campaign to tackle this issue and help reduce veterans' homelessness as close to zero as possible. The No Homeless Veterans campaign ( calls on local authorities, homelessness charities and advice agencies to 'Think Veteran' in order to identify former servicemen and women and signpost them to the best support available to them.

The fact there are still veterans sleeping in inappropriate accommodation, in hostels and on the streets is unacceptable.

Worrying rise in suicide rates

Dr Andrew Molodynski, mental health lead, BMA consultants committee, writes:

For those of us working in frontline mental health services it is extremely worrying to see a rise in suicide rates in the UK for the first time in five years.

According to figures published recently by the Office for National Statistics, there were a total of 6,507 suicides registered by coroners in the UK last year; that is equivalent to 11.2 per 100,000 people - up 11.8 per cent on the previous year.

In 2018, London had a suicide rate of 13.8 per 100,000 population for males and 4.1 per 100,000 for females.

Every suicide is a tragedy and devastating for families and friends; however, suicide is often preventable and more must be done to make sure this increase is not the beginning of a more sinister trend.

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Demand for mental health care has been rapidly rising for a number years, but frontline services have not seen the investment so vitally needed in order to keep pace.

It is shameful that in the 21st Century patients are being failed by reduced services and longer waits for treatments, while frontline mental health staff continue to placed under more and more pressure.

This situation is not tenable for much longer.

While there has been some recent focus on suicide prevention strategies, there must be a greater focus on improving public mental health in the UK, with more investment for local services. A life-course approach is required, ensuring support for mental health during childhood, education, employment and into later life.

It must now finally be time for kind words from health leaders to become actions - parity of resources and care, not of esteem.

Compulsory first aid lessons for all

Marina Fogle, campaigner and co-founder of the Bump Class, host of The ParentHood podcast and married to British Red Cross ambassador and TV adventurer Ben, writes:

You never know how you would act in an emergency, yet our actions could save a life.

This is why I think it's fantastic that, after 10 years of campaigning by the British Red Cross, it will be compulsory for first aid skills to be taught in all state schools in England from 2020. It's an impactful way to give young people the confidence they need to help someone.

As parents, Ben and I are so thrilled our children will be able to learn these important skills so that they never feel completely helpless in an emergency situation.

It's also a relief knowing that if anything were to happen to them in the future, more people might be able to help.

So many women I know, especially those weaning their babies, are terrified of the possibility of their child choking. But children learning first aid could make all the difference if one of their younger siblings was choking at home.

This new legislation, however, is just for schools in England. At the moment teaching first aid in schools in the rest of the UK is optional. We support the British Red Cross's calls for it to become a compulsory part of the curriculum throughout the UK so all school children get the same chance to learn how to save a life.

Help needed for working animals

Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive, SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad), writes:

With almost half of adults owning a pet, Britain is truly a nation of animal lovers - and the benefits are clear. New research shows that 83 per cent of pet owners in the UK believe their animals help reduce their stress levels and improve their emotional wellbeing.

However, few people are aware that working animals are vitally important to the health and survival of people in the world's poorest communities.

These horses, donkeys, camels and other animals help provide millions of impoverished families with a basic income for food, transport to hospital, and other necessities for life, such as water and firewood.

Just like pet owners in the UK, the owners of working animals would be lost without their animals. But hardworking animals in developing countries often have no access to vital veterinary treatment when they are sick or injured.

This World Animal Day (October 4), I'm asking everyone to recognise the value and importance of every single animal, be they the ones we share our homes with, or working animals overseas that support the livelihoods of over half a billion people worldwide.

Please help us to give working animals the care they so desperately need by visiting

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