Letters: 2020, FakeAway Feb, care leavers, recycling and Covid

Supporters and speakers gather outside Highbury and Islington Station on February 27, 2019 at a rall

Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE, remembers 2020 - Credit: Polly Hancock

My heart goes out after tragic year

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, president of Shomrim North and East London, writes:

The year 2020 has truly been an exceptional year. In all my 62 years as a Hackney resident I have not seen anything like it.

First of all, I would like to convey my sincere condolences to all those who have suffered during this year. 

My heart goes out, to all those that have lost a loved one, to those whose lives have been turned upside down, to those who have been in isolation, and to those who have been adversely affected in any way by Covid-19 and the tragic affects and inconveniences of the “new normal”. 

My heart goes out to each and every one of you.

We have also witnessed this year, tremendous and exceptional acts of altruism.

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Expressed in many heart-warming examples of care and empathy for others, including for complete strangers, performed by many Hackney people, both as front-line workers and as volunteers. Often even in both capacities.

We have seen the best in many people, unsung heroes, everyone a star who deserves our heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation for their quiet, devoted care for people in our borough, and beyond. 

Our inner-city boroughs have large immigrant and Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities who have suffered disproportionally from the pandemic.

They have also been disproportionately among those heroically dealing with the ravages of the situation on behalf of us all, both as front-line workers and as volunteers.

In addition, very sadly, many of these communities have had to suffer the indignity of increased hatred and violence by those with an irrational fear and loathing of the “Other”. 

I am informed that many members of minority communities, including some front-line workers, are so afraid of attacks on London Transport that they have to take cabs to and from work, despite their meagre salaries!

The brutal murder this year of George Floyd in the USA, by people acting as agents of the state, has shone a light here as well, on the discrimination against Black and other minorities and served as a wakeup call for the need for real and meaningful change in the way Black and other minorities are treated in our society.

The Jewish community has also suffered a very disproportionate number of deaths from Covid-19.

This painful situation has been further compounded by a massive increase of daily antisemitic attacks on random men women and children, which sadly shows no sign of abating.

This year is also the year of Brexit. 

In our borough’s there are many people from EU Countries who have made their home here and have contributed very significantly in improving and enhancing our lives and welfare. 
Many of them are deeply concerned and worried about their future here.

We have a moral duty now, to reciprocate and to demonstrate our recognition of the good and benefits that we have received from them, by assisting and caring for them now in their time of need. 

With the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine which I hope and trust we will all take up and benefit from, though we are not out fully of the woods yet, there is, thank God, a more optimistic feeling of hope and anticipation for better times ahead in 2021. 

This is an appropriate time to remember all the kindness and devotion of so many people during this past year, and to build further on the good communal spirit and unity with which our borough is so blessed.

With my best wishes to Everyone for a good, happy, and healthy New Year.

Go healthy with FakeAway challenge

Roz Rosenblatt, London Head, Diabetes UK, writes:

This February, we’re asking people across London to keep up the new year motivation by signing up to take part in Diabetes UK’s first ever FakeAway Feb.

Challenge yourself to swap processed foods and takeaways for healthier alternatives throughout the month of February, while raising vital funds for diabetes research.

With Diabetes UK by your side to provide advice, support and, most importantly, delicious recipes, FakeAway Feb is here to kickstart your home cooking journey.

When you sign up, you’ll receive access to our online community where members can share cooking tips and tricks, as well as access to our FakeAway Feb Toolkit – where you can download your free meal planner. 

It’s simple – one month, totally homemade.

Sign up to FakeAway Feb today, and kickstart your journey to a healthier you.

Listening Works

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL of a teenage girl showing signs of mental health issues. PA Photo. Picture da

Family Action offer support for lonely young people who have left the care system - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

David Holmes CBE, chief executive, Family Action, writes:

It can be frightening and lonely for young people when they leave the care system.

Many may be living on their own for the first time and often will not have a network of friends and family around to offer them support.

Christmas can be a particularly difficult and isolating time for care leavers as they find themselves having to spend the festive season on their own, especially this year when Covid-19 restrictions meant it was difficult to go out to socialise and the usual large-scale Christmas dinners for care leavers did not take place.

However, the charity Family Action runs Listening Works, a free virtual helpline specifically for young care leavers aged 18-27 years old across the UK.

We are here all evening, every evening, 6pm to midnight. 

So if you are a care leaver, whether you’ve got something on your mind or you just fancy a friendly chat, we’re here for you when many other services are shut or not available.

You can call us on 0808 802 0222, text us on 07860 065 169 or you can have a web chat with us via our website at family-action.org.uk/listening-works – whatever kind of listening works for you, we are here.

Our trained volunteers can offer you someone to talk to – a listening ear, a friendly voice and a chance to talk openly about whatever is on your mind.

We also offer signposting to useful resources if any specific issues come up and information about other support out there and how to get it.

So if you are a care leaver, or know a care leaver who might benefit, please remember Listening Works is here for you and was not just for Christmas.

Please get in touch.

Call for more recycling bags

A Hackney resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

I have been informed that Hackney Council will be reducing waste collections to one a fortnight this year in order to encourage householders to recycle.

What would help is an increase in the number of recycling bag deliveries as I have not had any bags for nearly a year.

Quite often when it does decide to deliver, the distributors leave bags for the houses but not for the flats. I have noticed an increase in black bags being put out in recent months reflecting that others are in the same boat.

I have now got into the habit of disposing of everything in the domestic waste as I’m sure many others have.

Working together

Cllr Georgia Gould, chair of London Councils, writes:

It is heartbreaking that once again we are facing a national lockdown, but it is absolutely the right decision. Covid-19 cases are increasing at a dangerous rate and the NHS is in crisis.

This will be devastating news for all Londoners and will hit disadvantaged families, children, clinically vulnerable people and local businesses hardest of all.

Boroughs are digging deep to protect and support all our communities across the capital, drawing strength from the resilience they have shown over the past year.

However, we will also be clear with national government and others that more resources will be needed to deliver vital local services and support businesses struggling to survive.

Despite the fatigue we all feel, we must all continue to follow public health advice - hands, face and space - if we are to bring down the number of coronavirus cases and hospital admissions in our city.

By working together over the next few months, we have the best possible chance of keeping ourselves, our loved ones and our community safe as the vaccine rollout continues.

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