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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 19 February 2007

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THINK YOU'VE GOT NOISY NEIGHBOURS? IT COULD BE TINNITUS!

1 in 4 people with tinnitus initially thought the noises they could hear were coming from their surroundings, such as their TV, traffic or noisy neighbours! In fact thousands of people each year make noise disturbance complaints of this nature to their local council, when what they are actually experiencing is tinnitus.  That's according to new research released by RNID, the national charity for deaf and hard of hearing people, and the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) to mark the start of National Tinnitus Week, running over the 19 February 2007 to 25 February 2007.

In a survey of more than 1,000 people with tinnitus conducted by the 2 charities, 25% of people said when they 1st experienced tinnitus, they didn't realise the noises were coming from their ears or head. Many people reported that they first thought their tinnitus was noise coming from their neighbours, traffic, or from a household appliance, such as the constant sound of their fridge or TV.  New investigations by RNID and BTA into noise disturbance complaints received by environmental health services across the UK, show that over 2,000 of complaints about noise nuisances received each year are made by people who may actually be experiencing tinnitus, but don't realise it.

Tinnitus is the medical term for any noise heard in the ears or in the head and there are a reported 4.7 million people with the condition in the UK. Many people describe it as 'ringing in the ears', but the noise can take on many different forms, which could lead people to think it's coming from within their surroundings.

Russell Grant, Astrologer and Broadcaster, has had tinnitus for 25 years, but initially didn't realise the noises he could hear were inside his ears and blamed it on noisy neighbours. He says:- "There are almost 5 million people in the UK estimated to have tinnitus, and perhaps even more who don't realise that the ringing sound they can hear in their ears or head could be tinnitus. When I first experienced tinnitus, I thought it was actually my neighbours playing music loudly! There must be many more people like me, and I urge anyone who thinks they might have tinnitus and would like help to contact RNID and the BTA for information on what they can do to manage it."

During National Tinnitus Week RNID and BTA are reaching out to those people who experience tinnitus but may not be aware of the condition, to offer support and information on how they can manage it. The charities are also issuing a guide on key indicators to help people identify if what they're experiencing is in fact tinnitus rather than a noise disturbance from an external source.

Dr John Low, Chief Executive, RNID, says:- "Tinnitus can be extremely distressing for many people and can have a profound impact on their lives. These survey results reveal that thousands of people are potentially unaware of tinnitus, meaning they could be missing out on vital support to help them manage the condition."  He continues:- "Through the work of RNID and our Tinnitus Helpline, we are making a positive difference to the lives of thousands of people each year by helping them to manage their tinnitus. We urge anyone who thinks they may be experiencing tinnitus to contact us - they are not alone and there is help available."

Ewart Davies, Chairman of BTA, says:- "People who think that they are suffering from a noisy environment can check this out by going to a very quiet place and ascertaining if the noises persist. If they do then the answer is tinnitus and they should go to their doctor or call the BTA (0800 018 0527) or RNID (0808 808 6666) free helplines. Much information and help is available at these sources and there are many special tinnitus clinics available in various parts of the country."

RNID and the BTA urge people to make an appointment to see their doctor if an external noise source is not confirmed by the environmental health services after a noise disturbance complaint has been made. It is important that people with tinnitus realise that their doctor can offer support by referring onto an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) department. They could be experiencing tinnitus and missing out on effective assessment and treatments which could give them the help they need to change the way it influences their lives.

There currently is no cure, but there are many ways to manage tinnitus through sound therapy, habituation therapy (this changes your sound response systems so that you gradually become less aware of the tinnitus), relaxation and hearing aids if a hearing loss is present. RNID continues to invest in research towards treatments and an eventual cure for tinnitus, to help the millions of people whose lives are affected by tinnitus.

For information on please call the RNID Tinnitus Helpline on Telephone 0808 808 6666.  You can get information as well by Textphone 0808 808 0007 or email

The BTA helpline on free phone on 0800 018 0527.

For further information you can also visit the following:- rnid.org.uk or tinnitus.org.uk.

Top tips for identifying the difference between external noise disturbance and tinnitus:-

If you can hear noise all the time, you may feel that it's not coming from your head or ears, but from external sources. Sometimes there is an external cause for noise, while at other times the noises you can hear may be the sound of your tinnitus. So how do you tell the difference? Asking yourself the following questions can help you work out what kind of noise you are experiencing:-

Can anyone else hear the noise?

If other people can hear the noise, then tinnitus is unlikely to be the cause. Ask friends or family if they can hear the noise too.

Can you hear the noise only in 1 place, or everywhere?

If you hear the noise everywhere - for example at home, in another house or in another place - then it is probably tinnitus. Everyday sounds can mask mild tinnitus, so that you may not notice it in the street but do hear it when you're somewhere quiet.

Does the noise only happen at certain times?

You may only notice mild tinnitus if you are in a quiet place. You might find that your tinnitus is most noticeable in bed when the background is quiet, and when you wake up in the morning. A more definite pattern to the noise may mean it is coming from an external source.

Have you recently been ill, or are you under stress?

A recent cold, ear infection or change in your hearing can sometimes be a trigger for tinnitus, which may or may not be temporary. You may also find that significant noise exposure can also trigger tinnitus.  If you are stressed, it can not only make your existing tinnitus worse, but can also be reason for your tinnitus in the first place.

Do you have any hearing problems?

If you are a hearing aid user, do the noises increase when you switch the hearing aid on? If so, this might indicate the sound is external as it is being amplified by the hearing aid. If the noises you can hear decrease when you switch it on this may suggest what you were hearing could be tinnitus, as the amplification of background noise by the hearing aid will be masking the sounds you could hear in your ears or head. If you have a hearing loss, it is more likely that the noises you are hearing may be tinnitus.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT WORKERS 2007 PAY CLAIM.

FAIR PAY CALL BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIONS
As fuel bills soar and inflation rises, UNISON, TGWU and GMB public service unions will today submit a local government pay claim to employers covering some 1.3 million workers. This will be a crucial year for public sector pay, given that the Chancellor wants a 2% ceiling. Local government unions will be warning of the folly of sticking to such a pay ceiling.

UNISON Regional Head of Local Government, Ray Short, said:- "During the past few years local public services workers pay has fallen well behind inflation, fuel and housing costs. This has got to stop. We urgently need a fair deal which keeps pace with living costs and alleviates some of the financial distress and low morale of, particularly, our lower paid members."

Peter Allenson, T&G national organiser for public services, said:- "Our members pay over the last three year deal has not kept pace with either the cost of living or the rise in average earnings. It is time to put that injustice right. It is time for local and central government to properly reward the army of low paid and mainly women workers who are delivering the 'continuous improvement' demanded of local councils."

The claim to be put to employers includes:-

1. One year only

2. 5% or £1,000 whichever is the greater

3. To ensure a £6.30 underpin on the minimum hourly rate

4. An increase in annual leave of 1 day for all employees

5. An increase in basic annual leave entitlement to 25 days per year as the minimum entitlement for all employees

6. A reduction in the standard working week to 35 hours, without loss of pay

7. To increase the night shift allowance over a 3 year period from a time and a 3rd, to time and a half, to time and 3/4, to double time in the final year.

8. An increase in the sleep-in allowance to £60

Workers covered by the pay claim include many groups, such as care assistants, cleaners, teaching assistants, librarians, refuse collectors among others, that are among the UK¹s poorest paid workers with the worst annual leave entitlements.  Over 60% of those covered by the NJC pay claim earn just £15,825 or under annually, some £8,000 less than the national average. 75% of these workers are women.

A MORI Poll of 10,000 members in local government carried out by UNISON in 2005 showed work morale to be low, with 57% of members saying it had worsened over the last year. This was on top of declining morale in previous years.  And between 2004 and 2006 pay in Local Government rose by only 8.9%, falling behind the rise in national earnings and the huge increase in fuel, housing and living costs. Householders now have to pay on average £20 a week for electricity and gas - £9 more than in 2003. And the Inland Revenue panel of experts expect average earnings growth to run at 4.3% during 2007.

School of fish!

THERE’S something fishy going on in Liverpool’s school kitchens…  The city’s school cooks are teaming up with a friendly feline to find out how to make his favourite food a favourite with kids.  And they’ll be looking forward to receiving the purr-fect guide to cooking nutritious and tasty seafood dishes for children at all Liverpool schools. Murdoch the Cat, a 6-foot-tall moggy mascot, and around 200 catering staff are uniting at a special event called Eat, Meat and Greet, which aims to improve food standards in school kitchens across the city.

Liverpool City Council’s Schools Catering team has just signed up to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an independent charity which promotes sustainable seafood. The MSC works to safeguard the world’s seafood supply by promoting responsible fishing practices and urging everyone to play their part in looking after the oceans.  The city council will now be promoting the MSC’s ‘Fish and Kids’ project, aimed at bringing sustainable fish into schools and teaching children about marine environmental issues.  And in honour of the new partnership, MSC’s official mascot Murdoch the Fisherman’s Cat. is attending the ‘Eat, Meat and Greet’ event as guest of honour.

Catering Business Manager at Liverpool City Council is Suzanne Halsall. She said:- “This event is all about thanking our heroic school chefs for their hard work, and equipping them with new skills. It will be a fun, educational day which we hope will inspire our chefs to serve up even more nutritious and delicious food for children. And, of course, we’re delighted Murdoch the Cat will be joining us as guest of honour!  Our partnership with the MSC is about us educating children about the importance of sustainable fishing and caring for our seas. We’ll be working with schools to ensure we only supply seafood which comes from well-managed and sustainable sources."

The ‘Eat Meat and Greet’ event won’t be all about fish. Catering Staff will be brushing up their culinary skills in many different areas, including cooking from scratch with Schwartz and how to treat meat. They’ll even be getting to grips with the council’s new hi-tech food blenders!  As well as meeting Murdoch the Cat, each cook will also receive a goody bag including a free pass to any of the city’s lifestyle leisure centres.

The City Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Paul Clein, said:- “This event is part of our drive to continue improving food standards at Liverpool schools. Our school cooks do a hugely important job and we’re committed to investing in them and helping them develop their skills.  Fish is one of the best foods we can give our children – it’s tasty and very nutritious. We all have a responsibility to try to help conserve the world's seafood supply and through the new partnership with MSC, we’ll be taking this message into Liverpool schools.”

Shaping the future of cancer care:- have your say!

WHAT should cancer care look like in 10 year's time? That's the question Macmillan Cancer Support is putting to the public today. The leading cancer care charity wants people to give their big ideas for cancer care services of the future.  This year over 270,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer. By 2016 it is estimated that nearly 330,000 people will be diagnosed each year. Macmillan wants to ensure that cancer care can meet all the needs of those affected by cancer in the future.

Perhaps you have a big idea that could change how people living with cancer in 10 year's time are cared for? Or perhaps you want to suggest how people with cancer in the next decade should be treated and supported?  If so, you can share it with Macmillan on their interactive Idea's Tree which is on the home page of the website at macmillan.org.uk.  Anyone can post their ideas on the tree and you can also view or rate other people's suggestions. The Ideas Tree will remain live from February to May 2007.

All ideas and suggestions will feed into Macmillan's Future of Cancer Care research project which aims to find out what people affected by cancer want cancer care services to look like in ten year's time. The results of the research will be used to help influence future Government cancer strategies and Macmillan's own service and campaigning priorities.

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