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Caring doesn't make people stupid cranks.

THANK you so much on your article about that poor chicken (Rugby team's roasting over chicken fowl play, May 9) and the Sunday Mercury comment.

People think we who care are cranks and stupid and we have even been called scum.

We are not any of these. I care about all creatures and I try to help in all ways I can. Whether it be criminals or homeless people, I just care.

It may not seem like much but you now have three new Mercury readers.


Pupils should pay

AFTER reading your article "Schools break law over exam cash charges" (Sunday Mercury May 9), I feel I must write and give my view.

I am a student about to sit my GCSEs and I feel it is quite reasonable for a school to charge pupils who have no desire to pass their exams.

My school insists on entering every single child who has even the minutest chance of passing their exams - as long as they are hard-working.

My school also gives help and as long a time as possible for a child to complete coursework before first talking to the child and then, if coursework is still not handed in, informing the parents.

They do not, as your article seemed to suggest, decide that if the work is not in on the exact day they will tell the parents that they must pay for the exam.

I feel that if a child is not willing to try then the school should use the money for better causes.

MISS R. ARNOLD (aged 16)

Tamworth, Staffs

Time for revolution

THE reason for the fall of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union was solely economic rather than failed ideology (Andy's bid to keep the red flag flying, May 9). While the corrupt American system was being supported by loans from equally corrupt western governments, the unrivalled natural wealth of the USSR was diverted to the arms race.

Under Brezhnev the Communists failed to utilise the vast reserves of oil, coal, natural gas and minerals that the Soviet Union possesses and stagnation set in.

However, I feel that the future is bright for communism. In the former satellite republics, one-time communists are being elected to government positions as the people see for themselves that capitalism attracts corruption like no other creed.

Regarding communism in Britain, I doubt whether it will become a dominating factor in the political scene because the population of Britain is politically apathetic at best or ignorant at worst, and the infiltration of what was our leading socialist party by unprincipled career politicians and middle-class parasites has corrupted the political system and the way of life of the working classes.

As for America, the frequent abuse by its presidents of the words "democracy" and "freedom" must stick in the hearts of the people of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada and Panama like arrows.

If this is the future of Britain then the time is surely at hand for revolution.


Corrupt in practice

IN an odd way I have always had a little admiration for the communist ideal.

Sadly, communism in practice has always been corrupt, much as has post-war socialism - just looking after number one.

It reminds me of that jumped-up little corporal who used to bawl at us: "As I say, not as I do."

The word Socialist or Labour is merely a vehicle on which to ride but we have room for all creeds.


Sutton Coldfield

Excellent show

WITH reference to the letter "Callow Flop" (Talk About May 9), I also saw the show Pajama Game and as people had told me bad reports about it I was a bit concerned if I would enjoy it.

Well I did - very much. I couldn't fault the show at all. All the cast looked as if they enjoyed performing. The singing was excellent too.


Handsworth, Birmingham

Expensive refugees

I READ George Tyndale's column about the Albanian refugees and he is spot-on (May 9).

I wonder who is running our country - Mr or Mrs Blair?

With our handouts the refugees think our streets are paved with gold.

Who is paying for them? We taxpayers, that's who. They will never go back or work.

We have our own people homeless and waiting for medical treatment and millions unemployed yet we still bring them in.

How many will go back to rebuild after the bombing is over? The Serbs must be laughing their socks off.



Dedicated group

IAM writing to give my support for Friends Of The Animals (Sunday Mercury May 9). I have been a voluntary helper for them for the last eight years.

I support them because they are a very honest and extremely dedicated group.

They are often the animals' last chance as other charities wouldn't or couldn't help. These other charities, including the RSPCA and PDSA, refer people to FOTA.

FOTA specialises in preventative treatments. In the last two years alone they have spent pounds 140,000 on veterinary treatment, most of this in the Birmingham area.

It will be a very sad day for the animals and people of Birmingham if FOTA has to close.



Successful service

YOUR article and editorial on the Crisis Carers Scheme for Mental Health (May 2) struck a note of scepticism for a service that offers short-term supported accommodation and care to people with mental health problems.

The scheme offers a place in the homes of people in the community who are paid a modest fee for extending hospitality to someone who needs a break from their usual surroundings.

The idea itself is not new. It has been around for centuries and has been on offer to other groups in need for decades in the form of foster care and in the informal networks of support that mental health services are only just beginning to value.

While it is right to question the levels of support available from professionals to ensure training, regular visits and on-call back-up from the mental health teams, let us encourage the services to recognise and value the capacity of ordinary people in the community to embrace the needs of others.

Perhaps the Zito Trust could have informed themselves about the success of these schemes around the world before they dismissed local initiatives up and running here in Birmingham.

Professionals do not have a monopoly of caring and people who have used this extra level of service often praise the warmth and individuality of a lived-in home as a more welcome option than the impersonal environment of a communal hospital ward.

A successful service such as is provided in Madison, Wisconsin, will be making a presentation at a Day Workshop on June 4, 1999, at the University of Central England. Details are available from International Mental Health Network on 0121 623 5878.


Birmingham Positive Mental Health Group
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 16, 1999
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