Free Press readers have their say
Here to offer our support
As the nation turns its attentions to marking 100 years since the start of the First World War, a number of us believe that the centenary is an opportunity to learn from the lessons of the past. One lesson that stands out particularly strongly to me, is the spirit of bravery and optimism in the face of such terrible times, demonstrated not only by the soldiers at the front but by the families they left behind. We see the same courage in those we support today – be they serving personnel, veterans or family members coping with injury, illness or personal difficulties.
The song Pack Up Your Troubles encapsulated that spirit during WW1, and is still sung and played today. It became what many would call the ‘viral hit’ of the Great War, and we at SSAFA are hoping to breathe new life into it for the centenary. Members of the Military Wives Choirs and a host of famous faces have come together with many of those SSAFA has supported over the years to record a new video of this truly uplifting anthem. You can watch and share it to show your support at www.ssafa.org.uk/smile.
If you know a member of the forces family who’s currently experiencing their own troubles we are here to help. Contact us on 020 7403 8783 or visit www.ssafa.org.uk
Air Vice-Marshal David Murray CVO OBE, Chief Executive of SSAFA
Not too late to change
With disposable packaging at an all-time high the UK is experiencing levels of litter on an unprecedented scale. The impact of this has moved beyond mere aesthetic displeasure, seriously posing a threat to both public and environmental health. All is not lost, however, as we can still do something about it.
Let’s do it UK is a national anti-litter campaign, and part of the global Let’s do it World movement. This year we are organising the UK’s first nationwide Clean Up Day, and on September 13 we are calling on everyone to come out together and clean up their local area.
The disposability of our waste is a one-way road, with plastic bags and bottles taking hundreds of years to degrade. One of the biggest impacts of this disposable economy is the threat it poses to wildlife. Cigarette butts, often thought to be biodegradable - a longstanding myth - threaten urban birds, who digest these butts; along with the plastic lining and tar that comes with it.
It is not too late to make a change, but we need your help if we are to make the UK clean again.
For more information visit www.letsdoituk.net
Dr Luke Blazejewski, Campaign Coordinator, Let’s do it UK
Student hub advice tips
Heading off to university is exciting, challenging and sometimes a little daunting, not least for those new and returning students who live with the disabling illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
Symptoms of ME include chronic pain, fatigue and cognitive difficulties. But with the right support, some of those who are mildly or moderately affected are able to manage their limited energy levels so that they can make the most of university, on their own terms.
This is where Action for ME’s online Student Hub comes in. It offers advice, information and tips from other students with ME, covering topics including symptoms and study, living away from home and financial support. Students – and their parents – can access this at www.actionforme.org.uk/student-hub
Sonya Chowdhury, Chief executive, Action for ME
Roles that boys played
As the country marks the centenary of World War 1, The Boys’ Brigade is reflecting on the contribution its members made.
Looking back, it is perhaps surprising to learn that within the first year of The Great War, 100,000 officers and ex-members joined the Armed Forces to serve our country.
Our own historical records show Boys’ Brigade members and ex-members took on many different valuable roles such as buglers enlisted to sound the all clear when air raids were over, offering support at ambulance stations, guarding public infrastructure and helping deliver messages.
Among those which risked their lives, 11 were awarded the Victoria Cross and 93 the Military Cross amongst other medals for service.
This is a thought provoking time and as we celebrate our 130th year I am grateful to all who have come before us and to our current members who continue to contribute so richly to our societies.
Steve Dickinson, CEO The Boys’ Brigade