Recorder letters: driverless vehicles, council meeting, help youngsters and battling cancer

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 September 2017

Driverless bus in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  Picture: HARRY BUCKLEY

Driverless bus in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Picture: HARRY BUCKLEY

Harry Buckley

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

Ditch madcap driverless vehicles

James Gilbert, Silvertown, writes:

I really don’t understand the constant thirst to roll out

driverless buses, lorries or cars on our roads.

The pilot at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (Driverless but trial at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park ), is all well and good. It’s a controlled environment and I can see it working to some extent as part of transport within venues of this scale in the future.

But the open road is a completely different matter.

The increase in cycle lanes - while admirable - has resulted in many cyclists being killed on London roads.

We have smart motorways (where the hard shoulder is used to improve the flow of traffic) which for me is a dangerous indictment of our overcrowded roads and we now want to push forward with driverless modes of transport as the future.

I’ve read stories about semi-automated truck conveys

trundling down the motorway. A driver in the front lorry will set the pace. But what happens when a lorry has a tyre blow-out, breakdown or an obnoxious car driver cuts in front during a slow moving traffic jam. The trials suggest each lorry will have a driver inside to take control if something goes wrong - so why doesn’t this person drive the lorry like normal.

All these dangers are without even factoring in the dangers we face with

terrorism and how these types of vehicles and systems could be used against us.

It’s bizarre, will surely never take off and puts more people at risk of unemployment.

Council meeting ‘unwelcoming’

A Stratford resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

I tried to attend my first council meeting in Newham on September 18.

I read there was a public gallery and people could come along and see how the council is run. My partner and I made an effort to attend promptly for the 7pm start.

Although it was daunting and unfamiliar we navigated the formal Town Hall, both with doubts and trepidation: were we doing the right thing, were we welcome or was it not really our place? The usual doubts when people have no experience of an unfamiliar activity.

We were not allowed in to the public gallery but were ushered into a TV room that had a poor quality link to the chamber. Frustratingly, there were at best 10 people with tickets in the half empty gallery. An equal amount of people were not admitted but left bewildered in the TV room.

As a person taking their first steps into local interests, I wonder if it is useful to express how confusing and unwelcoming such an experience was.

It would be desirable and polite to have information about meetings made clear, available and accessible.

After all – resident’s participation is supposed to be welcome, isn’t it?

Invest in services to help youngsters

Lynn Gradwell, director, Barnardo’s London, writes:

Just over a year ago, Theresa May spoke of the lack of help for people suffering with mental health problems as a ‘burning injustice’.

Since then, public understanding of mental health is increasing thanks to support from Princes William and Harry.

But despite encouraging steps, the crisis isn’t going away - not least for those who are particularly vulnerable, such as the thousands of young care leavers in London.

Care leavers are often expected to become independent adults abruptly at 18, but they aren’t always ready to cope on their own. Without the safety net of a family, they often struggle with the transition of moving into their own home, budgeting and starting college courses or jobs.

Many have mental or emotional issues, underpinned by their experience of difficult early years.

Research published this month by Barnardo’s examined the cases of 274 care leavers in England. Nearly half (46 per cent) had mental health problems. More worryingly, two thirds (65pc) of those with mental health problems were receiving no formal support.

Children’s mental health services stop working with young people when they reach 18, leaving some, including those who have self-harmed or attempted to take their own lives, with no-one to turn to.

Barnardo’s is calling on the government to ensure that some of the £1.4bn promised to improve children’s mental health is used to support vulnerable care leavers.

We want clinical commissioning groups to invest more in services to meet the specific needs of

young people leaving care. They could do this by placing a mental health worker within leaving care teams, developing services for people into their early 20s, and helping workers better understand mental health.

Care leavers are some of the most vulnerable young people in society, but with the right support they can go on to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Hidden cost of battling cancer

Charlie Straker, CLIC Sargent Fundraising and Engagement Manager, writes:

You may not know but September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (CCAM), and at CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, we are asking locals to get behind our campaign to raise vital funds and awareness.

For CCAM, we have revealed the ‘hidden costs’ of cancer through the impact it has on the mental and emotional health of parents.

Our new research found that more than half of parents (63 per cent) said they experienced depression during their child’s treatment, more than a third (37pc) experienced panic attacks, 84pc experienced loneliness. Worryingly, less than 40pc of parents accessed support for managing stress and anxiety during their child’s treatment.

To show your support for these families during CCAM you can get a gold ribbon by donating on our website. The money raised will help provide vital support for families of children and young people living with cancer who are affected by these issues.

It’s tough seeing your child go through cancer. Get your gold ribbon today to show your support and help more families cope. We are also inviting people to help us fight for change for young people with cancer and their families by becoming CLIC Sargent campaigners. This might involve signing a petition, making

noise on social media or writing

to your MP.

For more information visit:

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Have you spent time as an unpaid carer? If you are over the age of 25 and living in Newham, the Working for Carers scheme can help you take the first steps back to employment.

Hanson Fernandes’ journey began in 2015 when he arrived in London from Goa, India.

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