Readers' letters - March 9

It's our choice whether or not we give to beggars

Friday, 9th March 2018, 2:14 pm
Updated Friday, 9th March 2018, 3:15 pm
There are many reasons why a person would resort to begging says a correspondent

In reply to Chris Moncrieff’s article, This Tolerance Beggars Belief (WP March 8). I remember olden times when we lived in dire poverty. But relatives lived nearby and there was a ‘community spirit’. We live in another world today. We hardly know our next door neighbours due to people always on the move and a lack of community spirit.Many communities were destroyed in the 1960s.As for people begging on the streets, there could be many reasons for this. These could be social problems like drug addiction, alcoholism, and a lack of support services. There are also more family break-ups today. Has there not been a change in policy, resulting in cuts in benefits? Does this mean homeless people are resorting to begging on the streets? They should not be punished for begging unless they are aggressive or intimidating, then it could be a breach of the peace. Also, is there a change in policing methods towards begging?For instance, councils may find the beggars make the streets look untidy. This could create an increase in statistics. Why don’t we design new homeless shelters and build them? I remember large lodging houses for homeless men ‘down on their luck’ in old Glasgow but many were a step up from the poorhouse.When some people see a person in the street begging, it makes them think of a relative or friend who suffered social problems and they will always put a few coppers in the beggar’s cup. Or else people can just walk by. We have a choice. No one is forcing us to give to beggars. There are many valid reasons for the increase in begging. Pat O’ConnorAddress supplied

Come on in to FairtradeWith the second week of Fairtrade Fortnight in full swing, people are celebrating the difference Fairtrade makes and standing with the farmers and producers who make the products we love.This year we are inviting people to ‘Come On In’ to Fairtrade and find out about the lives of the people who make the things we love to eat, drink and wear. We want people to stop and think about the people behind the products they enjoy every day, and find out how Fairtrade helps producers in developing countries.It’s a sad fact that exploitation is still rife in our food chains. It’s not easy to think about but when you consider that one in three people in Kenya’s coffee and tea growing regions live in poverty, or that the average cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire lives on less than 40p a day, you can see that Fairtrade is as needed now as it ever was.So, next time you buy a coffee or tuck into some delicious chocolate, pause for a second and think about where it came from, the farmers who grew the coffee beans or the cocoa, and consider choosing Fairtrade to ensure they get a fair deal.You can find out more at Cheryl McGechieDirector of Public EngagementThe Fairtrade Foundation

Opt-out system will save lives

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For the thousands of people waiting on an organ in England and their family and friends, the news that MPs voted in favour of a change in the law towards presumed consent will be very welcome.After many years of tireless campaigning, this is a positive step given that, over the past decade, hundreds of people in Greater Manchester have died while awaiting an organ transplant and, every day, there is a similar picture throughout the rest of the UK, as too many people needlessly die each year awaiting an organ. A BMA poll revealed that two-thirds of people wish to donate their organs when they die. However, the current obstacles mean that, every year, hundreds of people miss out on life-saving treatment because families don’t know their loved ones’ wishes.For those who object to organ donation, the change in the law should enable them to opt out quickly and easily.Ultimately, an opt-out system will maximise the number of lives that can be saved by making it easier for those wishing to donate to do so – something that will be a source of hope for many.Dr John ChisholmBMA medical ethics committee chairman

This isn’t the Arctic or Siberia

On the radio, there was a British teacher, working in central Russia, saying it was fairly mild at -25C and when asked when the schools would close due to winter conditions, replied: “Junior schools are okay until it’s -30, older kids just keep going.” The entire ‘news’ of the ongoing winter conditions was ridiculous. This is not the Arctic nor is it Siberia, it’s England on a cold day.Paul ShervingtonAddress supplied