IoS letters, emails and online postings (23 August 2015)


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It is rare to hear the media rightly celebrate “the most promising generation this country has ever raised” (“A new generation to celebrate”, leading article, 16 August); elsewhere in the world this lack of recognition has much greater consequences than unfair stereotypes.

African youth are too often demonised as dependent and dangerous, but the truth is also far from that: there is a generation emerging that is increasingly demonstrating its leadership and public spirit – notably in response to the Ebola epidemic, when thousands volunteered to be on the front line in communities to drive down the disease, even while international responses faltered. World leaders are faced with a wake-up call. By 2020 we will pass the point, for the first time in modern history, when more people on the planet will be over 30 years of age than younger. Out-of-date perceptions of young people will be what prevents us from turning a threat into an opportunity.

Nik Hartley OBE

Chief executive

Restless Development, the youth-led international development agency, London SE1

As an examinations invigilator at an academy and a governor at a primary school, I too feel we have a lot to celebrate in our young people. Young people today are faced with untold stresses and pressures. They survive the rigours of constant testing from a very early age and evolve into sensitive and caring people, sometimes purely by the strength of their own characters which have been formed in an ever-changing educational scene.

Their endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn is ringing loud and clear because so many are disenchanted by mainstream politics. This government would do well to heed this clarion call, because to ignore their needs is a recipe for disaster.

Judith A Daniels

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

It’s interesting to read of Equity’s criticisms of Trevor Nunn’s casting decisions for The Wars of the Roses. Too white, apparently (“Nunn defends all-white Shakespeare histories”, 16 August).

Having been one of the lucky people who a year ago obtained a ticket, I have at last seen the Barbican’s Hamlet. I have many issues with this production, one of them being the “colour blind” casting. In this case the result is that we have a white couple, Polonius and his wife, who have a white daughter, Ophelia, and a black son, Laertes. The irony of this particular decision is that there are four excellent black actors in this production, so Polonius and his family could all have been black. A black Ophelia would have been an interesting, even exciting, innovation.

I’m all for doing things properly, but not to the extent of producing nonsense. Equity, please note.

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Jane Merrick (“Nothing to lose but your fears”, 16 August) writes very well on the increased participation and positive energy of the Labour Party leadership election. This is a gift to help Labour move forward. Can the party seize the opportunity? Or is blame and self-conceit preferred? It won’t be Jeremy Corbyn’s fault if Labour is marginalised in 2020.

Michael Harley


I am a sous chef in one of the UK’s large hotel chains and couldn’t agree more with the analysis of the hospitality industry presented in Jamie Merrill’s article “Recipe for disaster” (16 August).

The situation at my hotel is one of a chronic chef shortage. When I started at the hotel seven years ago, we had a brigade of more than 25 chefs. Now we have barely 12. Half the team is made up of agency staff of mixed skill levels. They are routinely worked into the ground till they go off sick (with exhaustion). Add this to intense heat, relentless pressure and poor terms and conditions, and you have the reasons for the national chef shortage in a nutshell.

It’s time the industry engaged with the union Unite to improve the lives of chefs across the UK. To do so would make sense, both for the workforce and an industry struggling to recruit and retain staff.

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