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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 130

Date:- 20 December 2003

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HUMBUG...
Photographs by Crisis and Johnnie Pakington.
 

THE majority of people in the North West feel that compassion is draining out of society and want people in public life to display a more compassionate attitude, according to a MORI poll published this week, carried out for the national homelessness charity, Crisis. Ninety per cent of people said our public figures should be more compassionate and sixty nine per cent are worried that Britain has become a less caring place over the last decade.

The survey reveals how deeply people care about vulnerable people, with 75% believing homeless people deserve our compassion. But the responses reflect wider concern that Britain will continue to become less compassionate and 64% predict that in ten year's time society will have changed for the worse and become less caring.

More than 2,000 people across Great Britain took part in the survey, which was commissioned by Crisis to tap into public opinion on the place people want compassion to have at all levels in our society and on the way things have changed. The results come as Crisis prepares to open its Christmas shelters to over one thousand homeless people who are living marginalised and isolated lives on the fringes of society.

Shaks Ghosh, Crisis Chief Executive, said:- "We know how deep the capacity for compassion is amongst the British public because this year like last year, over three thousand people from all backgrounds are stepping forward to volunteer to run our shelters and give a memorable Christmas to our homeless guests. But this survey is a clear sign that more generally people fear less compassion is being shown for those who have fallen through the net and need our help. 

And it's a strong cry for better examples to be set by public figures - people in a position of influence who can show tolerance and understanding for people who desperately need it."


The survey also asked people which famous figures they think embody compassion most strongly, and showed how most people look to history rather than contemporary times for inspiring role models. Mother Theresa was ranked top by most people, with Jesus Christ in second place, and Princess Diana in third. But for 1% of people David Beckham best embodies the spirit of compassion.

And despite an overwhelming number of people agreeing that homeless people deserve compassion, kindness to animals was ranked more highly than giving money to a homeless person when it came to choosing individual acts which best sum up the concept of compassion. Seventeen per cent of people ranked taking in a stray animal as the most compassionate act a person could do, compared to 13% of people who chose giving money to a homeless person. But helping vulnerable or lonely neighbours and friends were all acts which people rated most highly with 50% or over saying running errands for a vulnerable neighbour, visiting a lonely person or helping an ill friend best summed up a compassionate act for them.

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DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS...?

WITH than 18 million cars will join the roads for the festive exodus this week and weekend, according to AA Roadwatch. Last minute panic buys, the Christmas closure of offices and journeys to far-flung family will make the roads busier places to be than usual, during both day and evening. Unpredictable weather may also add to journey time and frustration, causing aggravation and stress for drivers and passengers alike. 

But help is at hand from one roadside restaurant during the Christmas period. Little Chef, the motorist’s friend, is launching special ‘re-fuelling’ stations at its Wirrall restaurants, in a bid to encourage drivers to take a well earned break from the road.

“Christmas is stressful enough without turning the unavoidable long journeys into a toil,”
comments Little Chef Marketing Director, Ann Elliott. “Over the Christmas period more than ever, we’re recommending that drivers break their journey and refuel.

We’ve introduced a number of additional benefits that drivers and passengers can take advantage of, many of which we hope might lighten the burden of travel. Our ‘re-fuelling’ initiative will not only provide a chance for people to break their journeys, it will also offer facilities drivers won’t be able to find anywhere else on the roads.”


Free Mobile Phone Charging

Each Little Chef location is encouraging drivers to use them if they need to make mobile phone calls by introducing a designated area to recharge their mobile phone and make calls – ensuring no driver is tempted to use their phone whilst on the road.

Free Food and Drink

A number of ‘free’ food and drink facilities have also been introduced including:-

• Free baby food and Pampers nappies
• Free coffee and tea refills – ideal if you are feeling tired
• Free water – to refill the windscreen

Free Kids Activity Packs

Something to keep the children quiet, Little Chef locations have puzzles and games to help occupy a long journey.

Location Maps & Traffic Advice

Every Little Chef has a free location map available for drivers to take away. The Out and About guides have been produced to give detailed maps and information about the roads surrounding each Little Chef – enabling drivers to make quick decisions should a diversion need to be taken. A number of Little Chef sites may also be advising drivers of local traffic reports via local BBC radio stations.

Little Chef restaurants have also been briefed to provide drivers with advice on winter driving, road safety and road works in force this Christmas on the UK’s major motorways.

The Department for Transport is encouraging drivers to Think! Don’t Drive Tired This Christmas. A spokesman for the Think! campaign says:- “We welcome initiatives such as Little Chef’s ‘re-fuelling’ stations, which will help to get our important road safety messages across to drivers. If people are driving long distances during the festive season we recommend they take a break every two hours and have a power nap if they are tired.”

And those drivers who really can’t keep their eyes open are invited to stop at a Travelodge, adjacent to a Little Chef, in order to take advantage of its ‘Catnap and Coffee’ initiative. Travelodge introduced this pilot scheme in October this year, inviting tired drivers to stop for a quick nap and a strong coffee by booking one hour in a Travelodge room for just £5. The ‘Catnap and Coffee’ idea has proved so popular with drivers and has attracted praise from motoring experts and organisations, that Travelodge decided to expand the offer to all 170 of its roadside and motorway lodges as a long-term programme. 

Ann concludes:- “Whatever journeys have to be made over the Christmas period, Little Chef wants to make them as safe and comfortable as possible for UK drivers.”

Southport Reporter is a registered Trade Mark.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2003.