Post letters: Fuel poverty, puppy smuggling and charities

Some people are having to chose between heating and food.

Some people are having to chose between heating and food. - Credit: Archant

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

Many facing food or heating choice

Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member, City and East, writes:

One in nine households in our capital won’t able to escape the cold this winter as they struggle to meet the costs of heating their homes.

We have recently marked Fuel Poverty Awareness day (Friday, November 27) which has highlighted the stark choice facing many low-income families and vulnerable Londoners of putting food on the table or keeping warm. This could be the bleak reality for yet thousands more who are at risk of losing their livelihoods due to the pandemic. It really doesn’t have to be this way and with its Green New Deal, City Hall plans to slash household energy bills through low-carbon heat and energy-efficiency projects. In the meantime, the government need to repair the holes they have poked in our welfare system over the last decade.

It was disappointing to see the chancellor’s Spending Review fail to commit to keeping the uplift in Universal Credit payments beyond April, or increase the rate of Local Housing Allowance to cover average rents. With unemployment rising, and in-work poverty at an alarming level, government ministers simply cannot put off taking action on making our benefits system fairer any longer.

Puppy smuggling has to be stopped

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Owen Sharp, CEO, Dogs Trust, writes:

Every year thousands of puppies are smuggled across Europe in appalling conditions to be mis-sold to UK dog lovers.

Many suffer life-threatening health conditions, and some don’t survive, leaving their buyers helpless and heartbroken – as well as out of pocket.

Demand for dogs has soared during lockdown and it’s creating a lucrative market for puppy smugglers. Since lockdown started, we’ve rescued 14 heavily pregnant mums, and an incredible 140 puppies that could have fetched over £380,000 for cruel smugglers, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, November 24, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden gave evidence to a special one-off EFRA session (The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee) on puppy smuggling, to urge the government to take action.

Something has to change. For over six years we’ve campaigned to end this abhorrent trade, yet government continues to drag its heels.

Despite the three largest political parties pledging to stop puppy smuggling at last year’s general election, over 200 Parliamentary Questions being tabled on puppy smuggling since 2014, and 148 MPs joining our puppy smuggling campaign, we’re no closer to seeing this suffering end.

In fact, we have yet to see any significant action from government at all.

Current legislation is not fit for purpose. We need to cut this trade off at the source and close the loopholes which put innocent puppies at risk, and we need to do this urgently.

As the Brexit transition period draws to a close on December 31, now is the time for government to act and, dare we say, ‘take back control’ of this spiralling situation.

Government must change the law to raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to a minimum of six months to make them less desirable to buy and sell, and introduce tougher penalties for smuggling.

With every day of delay more innocent puppies will continue to pay the price.

Send stamps to cancer charity

Terri Bush, volunteer stamp appeal co-ordinator, Bone Cancer Research, writes:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Bone Cancer Research Trust to ask for your help this festive season.

More postage stamps are used in December than any other time of the year.

We are appealing for your support this Christmas by asking your readers to save their stamps and help to fund life-saving research into primary bone cancer.

It’s really easy for your readers to get involved and I’ve included some copy below to include in your publication or even share across your social media channels.

Christmas is coming and soon you’ll be getting Christmas cards in the post!

But what are you going to do with all those used stamps? The Bone Cancer Research Trust has the answer… The Bone Cancer Research Trust Stamp Appeal.

Getting involved could not be easier! All you need to do is save your used stamps or horizon labels from the UK or overseas.

If you are a business, shop or public service you could even have a collection box for people to drop off their stamps. Your stamps will be recycled and turned into lifesaving funds.

Primary bone cancer can occur at any age, but affects mostly children, teenagers, young adults and the elderly. Every 10 minutes somewhere in the world someone is diagnosed with primary bone cancer. Collecting used stamps is a simple way to make a huge difference.

You can order a free Stamp Appeal pack today by visiting: bcrt.org.uk/stamps. Or join their Facebook group: Bone Cancer Research Trust Stamp Appeal. Please send your used stamps to BCRT Stamp Appeal, 20 Bowers Road, Benfleet, Essex, England, SS7 5PZ Thank you for your time and consideration in this urgent appeal.

Charity shops need your support

Elkie Woodbridge, regional director for the South, British Heart Foundation, writes:

The UK’s leading heart charity, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) needs the support of the local community now more than ever.

Following the government’s announcement of a second lockdown, we were forced to close our shops in London until Thursday, December 3. We expect the current shop closures across England to cost us millions of pounds. This adds to the already devastating impact of the coronavirus on the charity’s income. Our funding for new research is expected to be halved by £50 million next year, which could limit future funding and delay important scientific breakthroughs that could help save lives.

Our charity shops run purely on the support of the public, which is why we are urging the local community to support us, either by shopping online or donating smaller items via post.

Our eBay store remains open for those looking for quality, unique preloved items and our online shop is the ideal place to find Christmas cards, accessories and festive gifts. You can also support the BHF by donating smaller, quality items to us by post – as part of essential shopping trips – such as branded clothing, jewellery, vinyl records and cameras.

For more details on how you can support the BHF please visit bhf.org.uk/shop

Contact GP with cancer symptoms

Dr Anthony Cunliffe, Macmillan GP advisor for London, writes:

I am writing to you to remind your readers how important it is to contact their GP if they have concerning symptoms that could be cancer during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has meant far fewer people in London have come forward with symptoms that could be cancer. In June during the first lockdown, 31 per cent (around 10,000) fewer people than expected saw a specialist for suspected cancer after an urgent GP referral. Additionally, according to recent figures, 4,500 fewer people in London started cancer treatment since the start of the pandemic compared to the same period in 2019.

Now, during the second lockdown we are urging Londoners to get in touch with their GP immediately if they experience common symptoms of cancer. These can include changes to their body, unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite, lumps or bleeding, coughs or new, unexplained pain anywhere in your body which doesn’t go away after three weeks. Surgeries are now offering appointments over the phone or virtually, which can be easily and securely accessed, and will still be seen face to face where required.

Cancer is often easier to treat the earlier it is diagnosed so GPs still want to hear from anyone with worrying symptoms. Please contact your surgery if you have concerns.

For information, support or just a chat, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 0000 or visit macmillan.org.uk

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