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Advice on Momo

THE so-called ‘Momo challenge’ has been making headlines and causing concern for parents. Momo is a creepy doll-like figure which is said to appear in social media, videos and games online. This is what parents need to know, and what you can do to protect your child:

1. Set age-appropriate boundaries. Children of any age should be very cautious about adding anyone they don’t know to their networks.

2. Have open conversations about online safety, and let your child know they can come to you if they see anything that upsets or worries them.

3. Report any Momo-related content to the platform (eg YouTube, Instagram).

4. Teach your child what it means to be assertive and explore saying no to doing things they don’t want to do – whether face to face or online.

5. Get help: our website www.kidscape.org.uk has advice for families about online safety.

Momo may be frightening to children, in particular younger children. Memes like the Momo challenge draw their power from fear, so make sure your children see that you’re not scared of Momo, and it’s a problem you can solve together.

Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO Kidscape, Grosvenor Gardens, London

PCC is in charge

I READ with interest the response from retired police officer George Murray to my campaign to increase police effectiveness in Wiltshire. To label the Police and Crime Commissioner as merely a “bean counter” is a common misconception.

The partnership between the PCC and the Chief Constable needs to be strong to enable the wishes of local people to be translated into operational practice.

The 2011 Act of Parliament, which established PCCs, gives them legal responsibility “for the totality of policing within their force area” and this is expanded in the policing protocol laid down by the Home Secretary.

Although police officers remain operationally independent, the PCC is required to set the strategic direction and objectives of the force through the Police and Crime Plan and this includes agreeing the allocation of budget objectives with the Chief Constable.

It is my opinion that the PCC must ensure that policing is delivered in accordance with the wishes of the community that elects him or her. I firmly believe that to be effective, policing must be visible and this is the principle that has formed the basis of my recent campaign to increase local police officer numbers.

Effective and visible policing will also be the central platform of my campaign to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.

Wiltshire Councillor Jonathon Seed

Local care is best

CLOSING community birthing units and centralising such services on the already cramped Royal United Hospital site is not an isolated incident, it is part of an overall continuing strategy. The physical restrictions of the Combe Park site and major and ongoing inconvenience to patients, visitors and staff seems to be regarded as irrelevant.

The controversial plans to relocate services from the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, which had been taken over by the RUH, follows the same pattern.

The fact that the ‘Min’, as it was called, was seen as a community asset, showing a significant part of Bath’s heritage, was disregarded. The building has been sold to a private developer, and the hospital services asset stripped by the RUH.

This follows the same predatory path as the asset-stripping of midwives from the community birthing unit, concealed under the smokescreen of the Maternity Transformation charade.

If the RUH was on some spacious site, with plentiful parking, easily accessible by patients and visitors, then this centralisation might make some kind of sense.

But when car parking is problematic, widely seen as a fundraising device by both patients and visitors, as well as being very restricted, and the actual buildings are cramped, labyrinthine and confusing, no wonder there is concern.

How many more ‘acquisitions’ are to be jammed on to the limited Combe Park site by RUH managers?

This centralisation process is aided by the ‘alliance’ between the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, (WCCG), with the CCGs from Bath and Swindon. The intention is to have one single executive team across all three CCGs.

Obviously on such a team, the interests of the urban areas of Bath and Swindon will dominate at the expense of the more scattered rural populations and small towns of Wiltshire and Somerset.

The closure of the birthing units is just the thin end of the wedge, the centralisation of health services along the M4 corridor is planned. The fact that it makes much more sense for consultants and staff to provide greatly increased outreach services to more scattered communities is disregarded.

Providing many more local services, keeping the birthing units open and preventing the clogging up of the already cramped RUH site with people who would much prefer to travel a much shorter distance for health care makes so much more sense.

A P Milroy, Bellefield Crescent, Trowbridge

Proud of us all

I WRITE to thank the Wiltshire Times for its support in last week’s edition and editorial over the vote by Wiltshire Council to acknowledge the Climate Emergency. Thanks are also due to the local members of Extinction Rebellion for raising the issue in the first place and to the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, in particular Professor David Waltham, an earth systems scientist from the University of London, who helped me fashion the motion to fit Wiltshire’s situation.

The biggest thanks must however go to the members of Wiltshire Council who were prepared to listen and participate, and whose views were swayed by the debate, such that they felt able to vote on the basis of doing what was right for all our children’s futures. The ‘rugby- like’ score on the day of 36 for, 32 against and 7 abstentions showed how hard fought it was.

Wiltshire now joins other local authority areas who have declared or acknowledged the Climate Emergency. So far over a quarter of the population of Great Britain now lives in areas where this has happened and the numbers are growing by the day.

It is perhaps interesting to reflect that this is also half the total number of people worldwide who have so far been covered by a local authority that have done this.

Interesting and also appropriate, as the country that started the Industrial Revolution, we are now at the forefront of those that are now seeking to find solutions for the environmental problems it has caused.

I for one am proud to be of a nation that is seeking to do its bit to make things right, and to lead the world and humanity out of this environmental crisis.

Dr Brian Mathew, Liberal Democrat Prospective MP for North Wiltshire & Wiltshire Councillor for Box & Colerne

Plan is flawed

THE proposal to close Larkrise and St Nicholas and vastly expand Rowdeford is seriously flawed. It will hugely extend travel times for current and future pupils at St Nicholas and Larkrise. It will completely change the character of Rowdeford School, and it will separate children with special needs from their local communities.

Parents of children at these popular schools are clear that they do not want this to happen.

Children with special needs should grow up integrated in their local community. They should not be bussed out of their local area. The extra time consumed by travel will make it more difficult for them to make friends, and get to know and be known by their neighbours at home – effectively isolating them in holidays. When they leave school, they will be relative strangers in their own home neighbourhood.

Just over 30 years ago my son lived near Trowbridge. To get special education appropriate to his needs, he had to be bussed to a large school in Bath.

The school was too big for him, he hated the journey, and he was separated from his existing friends. Arriving at school, he was already too tired to learn.

He ceased being the lively, curious child we had known, and instead became grumpy, inactive, and overweight, a deterioration that took years to mend.

With a local school, he might have had a very much better early adolescence.

Closing Larkrise and St Nicholas will inflict the same misery on many children with special needs.

Rod Evans, Coate, Devizes

Our health at risk

SAM Selman makes a number of very good points about hygiene at the Royal United Hospital (Letters, March 1), but norovirus infections can also be airborne, so everything possible needs to be done to strengthen the immune system of patients and staff.

Apart from improving levels of stress and morale, a good place to start would be to protect people from the microwave radiation used by the wifi system on the wards and the communications masts on the hospital roof.

These are well known, even in quite small amounts, to affect both the body’s cells and its electrical fields (though Public Health England persists in the primitive belief that if it can’t heat you 1 degree C in six minutes it’s safe) and over time can be the cause of many diseases.

Those who install phone masts have instructions not to hang around when the beam hits the ground, but apparently it’s alright for hospital patients.

Dr Andrew Tresidder, who is an expert both on self-care for professionals and electro-sensitivity, will be addressing a public meeting on Electromagnetism and Health at the United Church, St Margaret’s Street, Bradford on Avon at 7pm on Friday, March 15 to which all readers are invited.

The subtitle Is 5G on street lamps such a good idea? refers to proposals for fifth generation higher intensity mobile phone signals to be rolled out in Bath later this year and across Wiltshire towns in 2020.

Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, has recently (reported February 25) raised doubts about how sensible it is to use a system (which is effectively also a weapon if the signal is focussed as an energy beam) manufactured and controlled by the Chinese state corporation Huawei. It could all turn out to be something of a Trojan horse.

Following the defeat, by community opposition, of a fourth generation mobile mast near Christ Church in September 2017, Wiltshire Council (following Government orders to achieve full coverage) and telecoms providers appear (in spring 2018) to have boosted signals on existing masts round Bradford and also begun using the aerials on top of town street lights for 4G. People, plants and wildlife have been affected. At a minimum, this technology needs to be brought under democratic control and the rule of law.

Martin Valatin, St Margarets Street, Bradford on Avon

Beware of rogues

MARCH is National Bed Month - an awareness campaign launched by the National Bed Federation (NBF) 30 years ago to promote the benefits of a good sleep routine to a healthy lifestyle and the importance of a supportive bed to that.

The NBF is the recognised trade association representing UK manufacturers of beds and their suppliers, and its members account for about 70-75 per cent of the total UK bedding turnover.

While the vast majority of UK bed manufacturers produce safe, legally compliant and ‘as described’ products, readers should be aware there are those who flout the law and try to con consumers with shoddy or even unsafe mattresses.

From fake flammability labels to used, dirty mattresses stuffed into a new cover, rogue traders will stop at nothing to make a quick buck. A popular trick by a ‘back of a van’ trader is to claim they have an unsold mattresses they will sell for a fraction of the usual price.

If an offer is too good to be true - it usually is.

Others will make wild claims about luxury products at cheap prices. Often the reality is the mattress is far inferior to that advertised, with fewer springs and cheaper fillings. But without opening up the mattresses, how can you tell your bed is what it says it is?

The answer is simple - look for the NBF Approved label. For more information on rogue traders and how to report them, visit our website www.bedfed.org.uk

Simon Williams, Marketing manager, National Bed Federation

Run for stroke

RESOLUTIONS can be hard to stick to. I think of resolutions as my New Year’s “intentions” instead which take the pressure off. This year, I am proud to be an ambassador for the Stroke Association’s Resolution Run events and I’m looking for everyone in Wiltshire to get involved.

We all know someone who has been affected by stroke but sadly it is still a condition that far too many people don’t understand or think will happen to them. The truth is that stroke is closer than most people think.

The charity has research that shows regular exercise is one of the key ways to help reduce your risk and the good news is you don’t have to be an athlete to get started. Just dust off your running shoes, get your friends and family together and head out there. Every step counts on the road to recovery and prevention.

By taking part you’ll be helping to support stroke survivors and their families as they rebuild their lives. These events are a great opportunity to stay fit and make new friends too.

Resolution Run events are open to all ages and abilities and you can run, jog or walk to the finish line. To sign up and for more information and training tips visit www.resolutionrun.org.uk/

Sally Gunnell, Stroke Association House, London

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