Dear Editor, On a daily basis, we are exposed to an unrelenting stream of negativity in the media. We face gloomy stories about our youth, horrific statistics on knife crime, and a gangland culture which seems to have gripped our cities.

A new survey conducted by BT in partnership with UK Youth Parliament reveals that over two thirds of young people feel adults in positions of responsibility do not “stick up” for them. A further 75 per cent say adults do not know what’s important to them or what the big issues in their lives are.

With this in mind I want to draw your readers’ attention to a campaign which, refreshingly, focuses on the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of young people – the BT Seen & Heard Report. Celebrating the exceptional efforts of young people to change their lives for the better, the report is being presented to MPs, ministers and other business leaders at the Houses of Parliament today.

The Seen & Heard Report highlights the positive work of young people and raises the issues that matter to them. The 20 projects included in the report cover a range of issues from youth activism to conservation.

Young people across the globe are changing their worlds for the better and demonstrating admirable virtues of acceptance, tolerance and cooperation. Yet we very often fail to give them enough credit for their achievements and prefer to focus solely on the negative stereotypes of youth.

The BT Seen & Heard Report goes some way to change this – celebrating young people who have collaborated to achieve a better future. As the guardians of their future, we have much to learn from this determination to overcome barriers and differences and unite behind common goals. More information on the report is available at

Andy Hamflett, chief executive, UK Youth Parliament


Vital to keep opt out on working time directive

Dear Editor, As the lead UK MEP on the Working Time Directive, representing the Liberal and Democrat Group in the European Parliament, I have been pushing to ensure that the UK can keep its opt out of the working time directive.

I believe the right to opt out of this directive is vital, so long as this is a truly voluntary decision by workers, who are of course already covered by existing health and safety legislation including the dangerous machinery directive. As Peter Matthews rightly points out, Labour MEPs have in the past gone against their Government in trying to force the UK into getting rid of the opt out. In my mind this would be a disaster not only for businesses but for many hard working people who want the flexibility to be able to earn extra money in what are difficult economic times.

Liz Lynne MEP


Chance to help charity for the homeless this Christmas

Dear Editor, Like many of your readers, I’m already looking forward to Christmas and the excitement in the run up to the big day. Decorating the house, putting up the tree and stocking up on food are all part of enjoying the festive period.

Home is certainly where the heart is at this time of year, and whether you’re catching up with family or taking time out for yourself, being in the warmth and security of your own home adds a certain glow to whatever you get up to.

But not every family is so fortunate. With repossessions rising, an increasing number of families face the prospect of losing their homes this year. Many others will be forced to spend Christmas in housing that is damp, overcrowded, cold or in disrepair.

Worse still are the 505 homeless households in Birmingham trapped in temporary accommodation. Many families have children whose health, education and future chances are being ruined by homelessness. For them, their only Christmas wish is to have a place they can call home.

However, this year we can all do something very simple to help. If you drop in to your local Marks & Spencer and buy one of the specially labelled Food to Go products available in M&S Food Halls and M&S Cafes M&S will donate five per cent to the housing charity Shelter.

As little as £10 pays for an emergency call to Shelter’s free housing helpline while £100 could pay for a Shelter adviser to give specialist support to a family threatened by homelessness.

Thank you.

Suranne Jones


Incensed by Afghan war

Dear Editor, Letter writers are incensed by privatisation and post office closures. I’m incensed by our seven years war in Afghanistan!

Three previous wars against Afghanistan ended in victory for them, defeat for us. It was reported recently that, so far, 132 British soldiers have died – four Marines this week while 2,500 Afghan soldiers and police were killed this year and 1,500 Afghan civilians killed by insurgents and our side’s air attacks this year. How many Afghan insurgents have we killed? We manufacture the weapons that kill the Afghan men, women and children. Why this iniquitous behaviour?

Tim Weller, Hunnington Cres Halesowen


Forward-looking bank move needs support

Dear Editor, Every now and then, this great city of Birmingham makes a huge and brave attempt to live up to our motto “Forward”. The city council being ready to launch its own bank illustrates just one of those attempts and presents an exciting and positive response, to the trials of the future economic challenges facing small and medium enterprises in the city.

It is unfortunate therefore that John Lamb, representing the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, chooses to live up to his name by taking a rather sheepish attitude to the idea and bleating out the usual mantras of, “Will it mean more staff?”, “How much will it cost?” etc.

It would seem logical to me, Mr Lamb, that more staff will be employed. Not only is this a good thing in itself but, it is painfully obvious that you cannot operate a successful bank without staff.

As for the question of “How much?” I would ask, “How much would it cost to pass up this opportunity?” Surely even Mr Lamb must see the potential benefits to be had from this course of action.

The previous Birmingham Municipal Bank was a huge success and proved to be of great benefit, both to the citizens and businesses of Birmingham and the Midlands.

I see no reason why this should not be the case again or, why this bank should not be of great help in regenerating the economy of this area. I am not suggesting that we should charge headlong and gung-ho into this enterprise but I do suggest that, as on so many occasions in the past, Birmingham is trying to lead the way forward.

Let’s hope that the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce can find the sense to offer their expertise and wisdom in support of this effort. I am sure Mr Lamb didn’t really intend to pour cold water on this idea but, if this initiative is going to succeed, it needs people of influence to take a positive attitude.

After all, we already have enough negative influences with which to contend.

Chris Jones

Bloomfield Road, Moseley