XYLITOL

Xylitol is a common sugar substitute. It is often found in sugar-free sweets, peanut butter, chewing gum, chocolate, jellies and jams. Despite the rising popularity, few people know that xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. It causes a rapid drop in a dog’s blood glucose level and can cause life-threatening liver failure. The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) handle around 300 cases each year.

Ruth and Eamonn meet Kate Chacksfield, whose beloved dog Ruby stole two homemade brownies from the kitchen counter in October 2018. Previously, the dog had eaten brownies with no real consequence, yet this time xylitol had been used as a substitute for sugar. 36 hours after Ruby consumed the baked goods, she was vomiting and collapsed. The first vet she was taken to did not consider that she had been poisoned by xylitol and it was only when she was transferred to the Royal Veterinary College Hospital that it was mentioned as a probable cause. Seven year old Ruby spent eight days battling for her life in intensive care but sadly passed away.

Dr Nicola Robinson  is a vet and Head of Service at the VPIS and joins Kate, Eammon and Ruth in the studio. The VPIS is the only animal poison centre in the UK and VPIS have recently introduced an Animal PoisonLine (APL) helpline (This costs £30 per call, but will be refunded if the owner takes their pet to vet and the vet calls VPIS for treatment advice). Dr Robinson warns that 70% of xylitol calls are about chewing gum, with just one piece containing enough xylitol to poison a 10kg dog. She says that, with all pet poisons, “the sooner the treatment, the better the chance of survival.” Sadly, Ruby only started receiving treatment 36 hours after she had ingested the brownies which was too late, since xylitol gets absorbed rapidly.

As xylitol is a relatively ‘new trend’, having been put forward as a healthy alternative to sugar in the past few years only, a large number of vets have only recently learned that it poses a threat to pets. An even larger number of owners are still unaware of the potentially fatal consequences if their dog ingests it.

For more information concerning VPIS, visit their helpline at www.vpisglobal.com

For more information concerning the Animal PoisonLine, visit www.animalpoisonline.co.uk

If you’d like to download the Animal Poison Line Xylitol Information poster, download here

LIVES NOT KNIVES

In July 2018, the Evening Standard reported that, in the last 3 years, 1,423 children aged 10 -12  had been arrested in London, and nearly 300 of which were carrying a weapon. Those who get involved in this behaviour are usually the most ignored and vulnerable.

The Lives Not Knives campaign raises awareness about knife violence. It was started in 2007 by Eliza Rebeiro, from Croydon, after having witnessed the problems caused by the issue. Eliza wanted to make a change, and today helps over 10,000 children yearly, in over 150 schools. Lives not Knives believes that prevention is better than a cure, and focuses on engaging those most at risk. Their early intervention programme is successful and the charity aims to get young people into further education, employment and apprenticeships.

Ruth and Eamonn met with inspirational Eliza, who was removed from school at the age of 13 for bad behaviour, and told by a teacher that she would never achieve anything. She was determined to prove that she would be a success. A year after, two of Eliza’s friends were stabbed. She decided to found the campaign which began with a t-shirt she had printed with the slogan LIVES NOT KNIVES. People began to ask if they could buy the t-shirt, and awareness spread.

By February 2008, Eliza ran an event to celebrate youth in her area, furthering campaign funds from ticket sales. Eliza also spoke to local schools, working with Year 7s, 8s and 9s to educate about the dangerous effects that youth crime could have on them on their families, warning against gang involvement. In 2008, Eliza organised the ‘Speak Up and Stand Tall’ event with Safer Croydon.

These days, Eliza runs the charity out of the Centrale Shopping Centre in Croydon. Her charity receives no government funding, and donations come from the public and the Childhood Trust. Their main programme is called Link Aspire, which directly helps 45 young people across Croydon and Lambeth. Those mentored on the programme have been passed on by the Pupil Referral Unit, having been excluded from school for various reasons.

To find out more about Knives Not Lives, visit: https://livesnotknives.org/

If you’d like to get in contact with KnifeCrimes.org, visit knifecrimes.org

If you’d like to get in contact with You & Co, visit youandco.org.uk

If you’d like to get in contact Your Choice, Your Future, visit ycyf.co.uk

If you’d like to get in contact with The Ben Kinsella Trust, visit benkinsella.org.uk

If you’d like to get in contact with Victim Support, visit victimsupport.org.uk

DEMENTIA SCAMS

Whether it is via post, a phone call, an email or a trader on your doorstep, scams are everywhere. The Money Advice Service reports that, in the UK, there are eight scam calls every second, totaling 240 million annual calls. These calls can result in devastating financial and psychological consequences if an individual is unable to identify the scam.

Criminals tend to target the vulnerable elderly, and the average age of a scam victim is 75. Victims’ details are circulated between scammers on “sucker lists,” resulting in cases of people being targeted dozens of times per day from various scamming parties. Where the victim is elderly and lonely, scammers befriend them in order to earn their trust before encouraging them to part with their savings.

Ruth spoke to Paul Evitts whose mother, Barbara, was tricked by scammers into spending thousands of pounds on health products over a five-year period. In October 2018, he discovered hundreds of boxes of health remedies, mostly vitamins and Omega 3 supplements at Barbara’s house. Eventually, when Paul gained access to his mother’s bank account there was just £33 left. In total, over the years, Barbara had been scammed out of £22,000.

Ruth also spoke to Bernadette Lawrie BEM, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer about dementia crime and protecting our loved ones.

And Marilyn Baldwin OBE from the charity Think Jessica gave also gave us a statement:

Think Jessica’s belief is that education is the best form of protection. The charity generates awareness through booklets, leaflets and a film. Along with awareness-raising events, Think Jessica organises national poster campaigns, which have been displayed on billboards in train stations, supermarkets and shopping centres nationally.

To find out more about Think Jessica, please visit www.thinkjessica.com/

To find out more about Operation Signature, please visit sussex.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/fraud/operation-signature/

If you’d like to seek advice from ActionFraud about dementia scams, please visit www.actionfraud.police.uk/contact-us

If you’d like to seek advice from AgeUK about dementia scams, please visit www.ageuk.org.uk

If you’d like to find out more about the Little Book of Big Scams, visit: www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/The-Little-Book-of-Big-Scams-–-Third-Edition.pdf

OLED TVs

Studies have shown that the British public believe we are in a ‘golden age’ of television. Not only are the standard and choice of shows bigger than ever before, but picture quality is incredible. In addition to their light weight and eco-credentials, Organic Light-Emitting Diode (‘OLED’) TVs boast the truest colours available on the market. Yet for some consumers, it seems they may not be the right choice.

Sue Croskery and her partner Barry talk to Ruth and Eamonn about their enjoyment of watching sport, films, soaps and series on a variety of channels. They are also avid football fans, and at the weekends they keep up with the very latest results from live fixtures by watching a sports channel typically for a few hours a day. Their shared passion meant that, when Sue inherited a small amount of money from her parents, she decided to spend a large part of it on a new television set. They bought a £2,499 OLED TV in February 2016; a “once-in-a-lifetime treat”.

After two years of ownership, an issue emerged with the TV. The colour and shape of the sports channel logo and it’s news ticker were constantly visible in the top right corner and across the bottom of the screen, regardless of the show or channel being watched. Sue says these images first appeared faintly in March 2018 and have become increasingly visible over time, totally ruining the couple’s viewing experience.

The TV came with a five-year warranty, so Sue assumed the issue would be easily resolved. However, when she complained to the retailer about her situation, she was referred to her TV’s user manual. The document warned “avoid displaying a fixed image on the television screen for a prolonged period”. She was then consult the online manual which also said “avoid displaying a fixed image on your television’s screen for a prolonged period of time (one or more hours for OLED”.

Sue says she had never heard of image sticking before and claims she was not warned about it during the process of purchasing her TV. She says that even after being referred to the manual she still assumed a ‘still image’ referred to a paused scene. Yet as she pursued her complaint via multiple avenues, Sue says she was repeatedly told that the damage to her TV was her own fault, caused by watching ‘too much’ of one channel with a permanent channel logo displayed on screen, and not covered by any guarantee.

Image retention and burn-in issues with OLED technology have been widely discussed by the tech industry. The emerging conclusion seems to be that burn-in is a phenomenon which, though rare for domestic consumers, is a definite risk in very specific circumstances. Do The Right Thing tries to identify exactly when that risk emerges, and how it can be avoided.

When we raised Sue’s experience with LG, they told us:

It would be impossible to state the number of hours at which point a static image may cause on-screen retention, as this is based on a number of factors including TV settings (eg brightness level and colour settings) and content displayed but screen retention is rare under normal conditions

If you’re seeking advice concerning a television you’d like to purchase or that you may already own, visit www.which.co.uk.

FANCY DRESS GONE MAD

While a fancy dress code party is typically intended to be a fun and carefree event, Kent University Student Union has proposed bans on certain costumes. In a time where exceptional measures are taken to avoid any criticism of being offensive, the UK custom of costume dressing seems to have fallen victim.

The Union has posited a ban on students dressing up as a particular race, culture or stereotype that it deemed to be ‘inappropriate and offensive’ in order for student events to remain inclusive. The long list of unacceptable costumes includes Mexican-style sombreros and fancy dress ‘chav’ and tory outfits, cowboy, Native Americans, crusader, priest and nun.

Students were also warned against using props, such as maracas, to ‘emphasis racial stereotypes’. The union also proposed banning people dressing as a gender or sexuality they “don’t identify with” if the purpose is to belittle. The union also provided a list of acceptable costumes including cartoon characters, letters of the alphabet, aliens, cavemen, ancient Greeks, Romans, doctors and nurses.

The Union Student President justified their proposed ban by pointing to certain complaints over the past few years. The president describes the ban as a ‘guideline as a ‘discussion point’, and explains that it is “part of a proactive approach to ensure that student events remain inclusive”. When we asked Kent University Student Union if they had a timeframe in mind when the draft proposal might become approved, they confirmed that there was no date or in mind to finalise these plans.

Kent University’s statement:

Over the last few years we have received complaints about some student groups choice of fancy dress. The fancy dress policy is currently a draft proposal and we will be consulting with our executive groups to gain further feedback. We of course want students to enjoy themselves and events remain inclusive.