Letters: Students offer valuable contribution

Ed Miliband. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Ed Miliband. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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Have your say

John McLellan’s column on the contribution that students make to our city was a breath of air (News, January 30).

Too often we hear ill-informed voices lamenting the presence of students in our midst, as if they were a nuisance we could all do without.

Remember, students are citizens too and their contribution to the economy, health and wellbeing of the city is enormous.

Many students volunteer, take unpaid placement work, support charities, start their own enterprises or join sports and social clubs.

These young people are making a significant contribution and Edinburgh would be significantly poorer economically, socially and culturally, without them.

Of course, rowdy parties and antisocial behaviour is unacceptable and where students are involved should be dealt with firmly. But there is ample evidence that purpose-built residences for students lessen rather than increase the likelihood of problems in that department.

So thank you John McLellan for speaking up for students. And let’s give them the accommodation they deserve.

Graham Birse, director, Edinburgh Institute of Leadership and Management Practice, Edinburgh Napier University, Craiglockhart Campus, Edinburgh

Syriza success shows Labour way forward

Despite Ed Miliband’s lukewarm response to a Greek society ravaged by austerity electing a leftist Syriza party that puts hope and dignity before fear and self-interest, 16 Labour MPs have called on him to support Syriza’s socialist agenda.

The ‘Syriza 16’ published an open letter demanding that their party imposes a levy on the ultra-rich, returns railways into public ownership and increases the power of the unions.

So, could Syriza move Labour closer to its socialist roots?

Many believe that only a general election defeat followed by another exodus will force Labour to reverse its rightist tendencies.

Other suggest if Labour wins the election but does not have a majority and the SNP do as well as polls indicate, a Labour/SNP alliance could push Labour back to the left.

Still clinging to the tired mantra that the election is a choice between Labour or the Tories, is Ed Miliband out of touch with the change in British politics post-referendum?

Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh

Humanists speak out on assisted suicide

Humanist Society Scotland representative, Jennifer Buchan, will give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee on the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill today.

Jennifer will join a team of campaigners to give evidence to the Committee on the Bill. Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) supports the measures outlined in the Assisted Suicide Bill.

HSS has also indicated that it would, if the Bill passes, be willing to take on the role of ‘Licensed Facilitator’.

Jennifer will tell MSPs how her previous experience as a nurse, and now as a humanist celebrant, have led her to believe that assisting someone to end their lives at a time of their own choosing is a compassionate and caring response to the significant minority of people who are suffering from an incurable life-shortening condition.

As a trained nurse who has worked in hospitals and in the community, she nursed some people who were quite fearful, as they were dreading the time when living with an illness or condition would become actually unbearable. She also looked after people who had stopped wanting to live and who asked every day to be allowed to die.

Like the majority of people in Scotland today, she firmly believes that individuals living with an illness or a life limiting condition, should live their lives to the full, while having the knowledge and reassurance that when the time comes, they can choose to end their own life, with support, and be treated with kindness and compassion.

This bill gives that reassurance, so that people can make the most of every minute, knowing that if living does become unbearable, they have the choice to end their own life. This bill is about dignity, compassion and choice.

Gary McLelland, policy and public affairs officer, Humanist Society Scotland

Home Heat Helpline offers free support

The recent heavy snowfall in Scotland is stranding thousands of people in their homes. As the weather takes a turn for the worse, people need to be aware of how they can cope with both their energy bills and also optimise their house to deal with the temperature drop.

I would urge anyone who is worried about keeping their home warm to contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699 or visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk to see how the Home Heat Helpline can offer free support, help and advice.

Helpline advisors are able to put callers in touch with services such as supplier trust funds and schemes that offer financial support towards a new boiler and better insulation, as well as energy saving tips for homes.

More than one in 10 households in Britain are eligible for this kind of help, so they’ve got nothing to lose and likely a lot to gain by getting in touch.

Lawrence Slade, head of Home Heat Helpline