Gazette letters: Foxes, refugee crisis, LD50 and theft

A fox in a local park. Picture: STEVE PLASTOW

A fox in a local park. Picture: STEVE PLASTOW - Credit: Archant

Aaaauuurgghaawww! Eeeeaaaauuurrgh, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Have you heard it too? Mistaken it for the screams of a spoilt child, or feared for what atrocity is occurring in the bushes? Visitors to London have been amazed when I’ve corrected them – cautioning them against taking too close a look for fear of seeing London’s ginger wild dogs at their most eager. The most astonishing fact I learnt this week is that after doing the deed, they sometimes stay in the same position, howling their heads off, for up to an hour afterwards.

The mating season of foxes is a well-known cacophony to anyone regularly cycling home at night or living beside an overgrown path. I most recently heard the year’s ugliest chorus calling up from the rail tracks as I walked back from Dalston Kingsland a couple of nights ago. Slightly late in the season to be banshee-wailing; I thought foxes were generally done with that sort of thing by Valentine’s Day. Indeed, most fox cubs are born in late March and then spend a couple of months hiding in their den before emerging into the big bad world (beneath the garden shed is a popular place, and I reckon there’s at least one den along the southern section of New River Path behind Essex Road).

The sad news, however, is that for a young fox cub our city is most definitely not an easy place to grow up. About 80 per cent of urban foxes die before they get the chance to serenade us with their late night love songs.

Tossing pancakes is the traditional way some churches in Hackney have begun to mark the season of Lent, which started last week on Shrove Tuesday or “Pancake Day” as it is popularly known, write Hackney Ecumenical Borough Deans Group – Cathy Bird (Methodist), John Macaulay (United Reformed Church), Rosemia Brown (Anglican), Pascal Ryan (Roman Catholic), Cllr Ian Rathbone (group convenor), Junior Spence (Independent Churches), Lee Johnson (Baptist), Ruth Gray (Salvation Army) and Joyce Daley (Independent churches).

It was the last day of feasting before fasting for 46 days (40 excluding Sundays). However, fasting can take different forms!

In modern times this season, which goes up to Easter, can be a time of reflection, less about “me” more about “us”. How can we strengthen and transform the communities we live in?

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We can ask: “Who is my neighbour?” Across the world, 65 million people have been forced to flee by conflict and persecution and don’t have a safe place to call home. Does separation by a strip of sea mean they are not our neighbours?

We think about what the prophet Isaiah wrote about what God wanted: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?”

Here in the UK, many communities and churches have joined together welcoming those seeking refuge and asking for refugees to be treated with dignity and compassion.

And in Hackney, some churches, schools and others have decided to raise funds to help finance Syrian families which Hackney Council is trying to bring here through the United Nations programme. We have been supporting CitizensUK as they campaign to find landlords willing to let flats to those families. And we support the Borough of Sanctuary Group which is co-ordinating some of the work.

We are also looking to establish networks to give support to those families and others coming here from other parts of the world where war has torn apart their country and their lives.

Two Hackney churches have decided to give over their church flat to be used by a Syrian family through the United Nations UNHCR programme.

Jesus himself was a refugee, fleeing with his family to Egypt from persecution as a child. He would have known what it was like to grow up in a country different from your own and try to fit in.

During Lent, whether or not you follow such seasons, would you join us in supporting refugee and migrant families?

We are glad the Speaker of Hackney, Cllr Rosemary Sales, is raising funds for Hackney Migrant Centre as one of her charities for the year. Buying Fairtrade-branded goods is another way of supporting those struggling in the developing world. Whatever faith you hold to, or none, please join us in some way as we strive to “provide the poor wanderer with shelter”.

The choice of name of the right-wing gallery “LD50” appears worrying, writes Tony Whelan, Hackney, full address supplied.

In biology, the LD50 test is about the amount of a toxic agent that is sufficient to kill 50 per cent of a population. What potential deaths were involved in their choice of name?

According to the Met, Hackney has the eighth-lowest shoplifting rate in the capital based on number of incidents, writes Terry Wood, Deepdene House, Manor Road.

As a shopper, and with daily visits to coffee shops, I can tell you the following.

Customers can see thieves take sandwiches and drinks in front of them daily. Staff are demoralised as they say the police will not attend or give it low priority.

People in Hackney should not be fooled by these figures, because shoplifting is not being reported because of lack of action does not mean it is not a problem.