Letters, Friday, April 19, 2013

Have your say

A new image for forces help group

LAST year SSAFA Forces Help was identified as Britain’s most trusted military charity. At the same time researchers found many people, among them both volunteers and staff, felt it needed to modernise its image.

 So from April 10, we have shortened our name to “ssafa”, in a national move to underline the range of help we provide. While we give more comprehensive life-long support for forces’ families than anyone else, we find we are increasingly helping younger veterans, many of them in their 20s or 30s.

 The charity is also one of the oldest, with a history stretching back more than 125 years.

 Nationally we support about 50,000 people a year, from D-Day veterans to the wounded coming home from Afghanistan. The re-branding initiative spells out, in a clear and consistent way, what we offer to all those who are serving or have served, as well as their families.

 Reaching more clients by spelling out the support available is particularly important in County Durham where teams of trained volunteers work hard to ensure help and advice is close at hand. A single day’s paid service in any of the three armed forces is all that is needed to qualify.

 We provide a non-judgemental, confidential advice service and our volunteers can help individuals apply for state and local benefits or war pensions, as well as seek monetary support from service charities and benevolent funds. Additionally we assist in organising and funding home adaptations or special mobility equipment for the elderly and disabled, as well as offering practical and emotional support to the lonely, ill or bereaved.

 Last year the Durham branch supported 500 veterans and their families. We feel the work we do now is more vital than ever.

Arthur W Charlton,

ssafa Durham branch secretary,

0191 383 9452

A lack of vision

MYSELF and many other readers have commented on the appalling lack of vision from our councillors.

 The leader is a glaring example. He recently stated that he had had the river dredged. Yes, up to the end of Corporation Quay. Surely it should have been dredged up to the site of the new bridge.

 Sections for this should be built in the Pallion Shipyard and floated to the site or, as I suspect, does he know that the plan is another Vaux-like debacle.

 When I see our allowance takers posing with massive gold chains around their necks the saying from Animal Farm pops up (some more equal than others).

 When I see them posing on greenfield sites with full safety helmets, I ask why? It will be because a jobsworth from the civic told them to.

 I think the majority of our Labour representatives should do nothing more important than sit round their respective parish pumps discussing the water levels in the horse trough.

 Surely there must be real socialists in Sunderland who would stand against these charlatans.

Michael Dodds,


No one listens

IS it just me or is our editor living somewhere other than Sunderland?

 It is regarding the comment made on April 5: “Trust that if enough people object to double yellow lines being introduced along Hylton Road then the council will act.”

 When has our council ever acted democratically and listened to the people?

 Look no further than the situations with the mosque and Crowtree Leisure Centre. How many people objected to those announcements, only to be ignored?

 The councillors seem to be completely unaware they are supposed to listen to their constituents. It appears “they always know best”.

 How many complaints have been raised about union officials on the council payroll, the cost of bottled water and the lease cars to the select few at the Civic Centre.

 They keep very quiet about the Mayor’s Ball which is still going ahead despite the cries of poverty. Unfortunately, it has had to be moved to the Stadium, of Light as Crowtree is now closed, but will we find out how much that costs? I don’t think so

S Gibson


Back to 1980s

THIS week feels like I’ve been transported back to the 1980s.

 Political protesters in Trafalgar Square, football fans fighting at Wembley, a Newcastle fan assaulting a horse after a derby day hammering and endless debates on Thatcher.

 Even in death she has stirred the nation and not in a good way as the newspapers and TV stations bear witness.

 Even Radio One has banned the playing of the song from the Wizard Of Oz. I’ve heard that song many times and for the life of me I’ve never heard Thatcher mentioned in it.

 What next I ask? I thought the days of strikes and riots were a thing of the past when the Conservatives got rid of Thatcher. But as we are finding out even in death she is brings the worst out in people.

Ged Taylor


Strange world

WHEN a couple out walking told me that their dog was a Havapoo I was almost certain that it was a wind-up.

 But sure enough (Google it) the Havapoo is a hybrid between the Havanese and the Poodle.

 I’m now waiting to meet a dog that is a hybrid between the Havanese and the Shih Tzu.