Post letters: Coronavirus - Positive Aging, posties, pet food and universal credit

PUBLISHED: 12:30 03 May 2020

There is an assumption that all over-70s are frail and vulnerable., Picture: PA Images

There is an assumption that all over-70s are frail and vulnerable., Picture: PA Images


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

Grandparenting would disappear!

Chris Walsh, chairman, Positive Ageing in London, writes:

The prospects of some continued lockdown for anyone over 70 (and now possibly 60+!) is harrowing news for older people. We at Positive Ageing in London( PAiL) - London’s Age forum - have been told by many of our members about their concern over this.

There is a worrying assumption prevailing that all older people are frail and vulnerable, which isn’t the case. Not only are people living longer but they are also leading active lives: 71 per cent of over 50s are in employment, 1.2 million pensioners are in work, while the majority of carers are aged over 50.

To suppress that activism would have calamitous consequences for the contribution older people make to society. A large number of older people are actively engaged in and involved with economic and social activities, playing a key role in volunteering, caring and civic roles. And continued lockdown would harm the physical activity of older people.

It would be ironic if restricting physical activity led to increased physical and mental health demands in the near future for a fully stretched NHS.

But there are also the other severe consequences for the UK if continued lockdown for over 70s only were to happen. Grand-parenting would disappear as we know it; the 2 million carers over the age of 65 would find their role extremely difficult; charities would face the lack of involvement of older people (29pc of over 65s volunteer regularly); the more than half a million workers over 70 would suffer and the silver economy once argued as essential to the UK’s prosperity would collapse.

On a civic front, one in four local councillors are over 70 and would find their important role challenging. And presumably, the 28 MPs over the age of 70 would need to be the first completely-online-only elected representatives, working as best they can from their own homes, not to mention a large number of over 70s members of the House of Lords!

We understand that, like everyone else, seniors will only be safe to come out of lockdown when the government can guarantee sufficient PPE for all front line staff and patients, that there is widespread testing and tracking, and travellers can avail themselves of protective masks. However, when it is safe it should be safe for all active citizens.

Any thinking about a continued lockdown for over-70s needs to look at the adverse consequences and be more evidence-based around medical risk and look at what other European and Asian countries are doing in their exit strategies, rather than what some might see as simple ageist perceptions.

Give your postie a cheery thumbs-up

Shane O’Riordain, managing director, Regulation, Corporate Affairs and Marketing, Royal Mail, writes:

We have been inundated with messages and pictures from our customers across London in praise of the lengths our postmen and women have been going to during the coronavirus crisis. Thank you to your readers for taking the time to show their appreciation.

We know how much people like to say hi or have a chat with their postie on the doorstep, but during this time, we need to find new ways of staying connected whilst also protecting our communities. This is why we’ve launched our ‘Thumbs-up’ campaign. It’s a simple way for the public to say thanks and stay connected with their local postie, while respecting the government’s social distancing rules.

You may also want to watch:

This safe distance is just over the height of a Royal Mail postbox away. Giving a thumbs up is also a handy reminder not to reach out to try and take parcels direct from your postie to ensure contact free delivery.

We’ve made it easy for your readers to become involved. ‘Thumbs-Up’ templates are available from to download, decorate and put in their front windows. And we’d love to see your Thumbs Up selfies, using the hashtag #ThumbsUpForYourPostie.

We’re really proud of what our postmen and women are doing in these challenging times. We look forward to seeing your colourful creations, and stunning selfies.

Pets, food and salmonella risk

John Burns BVMS, MRCVS, veterinary surgeon and founder, Burns Pet Nutrition, writes:

Coronavirus has made us acutely aware of the increased risk to particularly vulnerable people such as the elderly, very young and those with underlying health issues. We should remember that these groups are particularly at risk from another source. Pets which are fed on raw meat also pose a risk, by virtue of the potential to pass on infectious pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, E Coli and Campylobacter.

Although there has not been a great number of confirmed cases in humans so far, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that, even when the pet itself is not affected, dissemination of these bacteria into the environment does occur.

A few months ago, I randomly selected several samples of branded frozen dog food which I sent for testing. One sample came back positive for Salmonella.

Oddly, neither the Food Standards Agency nor the pet food manufacturer seemed at all concerned by this. The World, American and Canadian Small Animal Veterinary Associations, (but not the British Small Animal Veterinary Association), have all advised against feeding raw food

to pets.

Another potential hazard is that raw feeding to pets has also been shown to increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics. When this becomes a widespread problem, as it surely will, it could cause public health problems on a par with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tips on claiming Universal Credit

A “concerned resident”, full name and address supplied, writes:

If you are not able to make a claim for Universal Credit online, call 0800 328 5644 and select option 2 and then option 2 again; you might get a message asking you to call back, which you must keep doing until it rings; when you must hold on to speak to someone.

Explain to them that you are not able to make a claim online: they are trained to take your information to make a claim over the phone - have your details ready before you call: eg national insurance number, wage slips, etc.

You can ask for your claim to be backdated to when you stopped working, but it’s not guaranteed. You can ask for an advance payment, but remember that it will be deducted from any future weekly amount, so only request it if you really need it. Lines are open from 8am to 6pm.

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