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Recorder letters: Covid-19 - grandparenting, internet access for all and support posties safely

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

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

Lockdown alert: grandparenting could 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 two 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 are 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.

A wish: digital access for all

Richard Sheppard, Stratford, full address supplied, writes:

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I have had to adapt to live on my own for many years now and although it isn’t easy, self-isolation and social distancing are nothing new to me.

But with everything shut down I am worried about the lack of good internet access in my home. I have never been able to afford my own computer or smart phone or the monthly subscriptions you have to pay for it.

This makes it difficult for me to get information, access public services or do the other everyday stuff online that others take for granted.

I already get a small amount of Universal Credit, for what it is worth.

I have spoken to some people in the same boat as me who are having trouble making new claims as you can’t do it over the phone; all you get are recorded messages telling you to do it online.

Another aspect of this that is worrying me it that the end of lockdown involves the use of smart phones and apps and I wonder where that leaves those of us who don’t own smart phones.

All this is why, if I had a wish, it would be that a way could be found so that in the future everyone has the right to basic internet access in their own home and are at least provided with a smart phone for everyday use.

President Macron, the French leader, already apologised to poor French people for the lack of good internet access in their homes but he is the only world leader I have heard to do so, so one can only hope this is one of those things that changes after Covid-19.

Just give postie a thumbs-up

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

Over the last few weeks we have been inundated with messages and pictures from our customers across London in praise of the extra 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.

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 can become involved and show their appreciation. ‘Thumbs- Up’ templates are available from royalmail.com to download, decorate and put in their front windows. The bolder, the more creative and colourful the better. 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, and we know you’ll want to join us in thanking them for everything they’re doing. We look forward to seeing your colourful creations, and stunning selfies.


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