Thanks kids – you’ve been amazing!

But we still need your help...

Andy Lambeth

2021-05-29 3 min read

In the Commons this week, Jeremy Hunt hinted that it was time to start thinking about a mass Covid vaccination programme for school children. Thank heavens someone was brave enough to stand up and make this crucial suggestion. I know... “blood clots, blood clots!” all the snowflakes are hysterically screaming out. Snap out of it! Children are tough little cookies and they’ll be able to take the odd thromboembolic event here and there. They have proved how resilient they are by the fact that they’ve been completely unaffected by the virus itself, so vaccinating them against it is really the obvious thing to do now. This is a wonderful opportunity for our children to step forward and do their bit to protect the over 80s and the obese. They have already made us proud by sacrificing their schooling and mental health and I’m sure they will now be very happy to go the extra mile to be on the receiving end of a harmless bit of jib-jabbing.

Indeed our children are wholeheartedly embracing the new normal and valiantly aiding us in our fight against Covid-19. But once they are all vaccinated, we then need to start thinking beyond Covid. As we become more health and safety conscious we need to ensure our children are proactively involved in helping us to develop a risk free society. For instance, they could play a vital role in tackling another invisible but lesser known threat: Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Blocked chimneys or flues allow carbon monoxide to seep into your home and badly affect your health - or even kill you! The NHS website explains:

After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body) to form carboxyhaemoglobin. When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the body's cells and tissue to fail and die.

Last year there were 62 deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales, which was a rise of 10% on the previous year. If the current downward trend of Covid cases continues then carbon monoxide poisoning will soon overtake it as the number one health risk. It’s looking increasingly likely that carbon monoxide poisoning will be the next curve we need to flatten once we have beaten Covid. Of course, all the monoxidiots will try to play this down and scornfully declare that sixty-something deaths a year is nothing to panic about. But carbon monoxide poisoning is a dreadful, debilitating malady that affects your breathing, your heart and your nervous system. Could you look into the eyes of someone suffering from this condition and tell them that you’d done all you could to help them keep their chimney clean? Even one death from this terrible illness is one too many.

So how can our children help?

One reason for the recent surge in cases is that, as energy companies are hiking up their prices, more households are going back to burning coal or wood. Moreover, to make further savings many property owners are not getting their chimneys cleaned the recommended minimum of once a year. Even when they do, some chimneys from old Victorian buildings can be quite narrow and difficult for the chimney sweeps to negotiate. This is where our children can be an invaluable asset. Not only will they be able to work more efficiently by getting up into all the little nooks and crannies (particularly the six to ten year olds) but also they will be able to work at a fraction of the price of a professional chimney sweep. It’s common knowledge that the practice of child chimney sweeps started after the Great Fire of London in 1666 and it continued until 1834, which is almost 200 years. The fact that it lasted so long can mean one thing only: It was a very good idea.

Our children are our future and so we need to invest in them. Developing new skills and contributing to a healthy society would be greatly rewarding for the younger generation. As their academic studies have regrettably been set back so much by the pandemic we should start looking at alternatives like apprenticeships and vocational training so that together we can build back better. What better way to give children a sense of community whilst at the same time teaching them new skills that could set them up for life?

The pandemic has been a devastating blow for us all and yet there have been so many positives arising from it. Rethinking children’s place in society and what they can do for the greater good is one example. Have children complained at all about being isolated, not seeing their friends, sacrificing their education, having to wear masks all day or having experimental substances injected into their veins? No, they have felt empowered by being allowed to play their part in this struggle. Now let’s empower them even more by sending them up the chimneys.

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