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Articles we didn't have space for in September 2022 Link:

Citizens Advice:

If you're worried about someone's gambling

If you’ve been affected by someone else’s gambling, you can get help. You might want to:

  • get emotional support for yourself
  • talk to them about their gambling problem
  • get help for them
  • check if you’re responsible for any debt
  • get help if you’re struggling with debt
  • protect money or belongings you share with them

Get emotional support for yourself 

Dealing with someone’s gambling problem can be very stressful. Their behaviour can affect your wellbeing - it’s normal to feel anxious, angry or hurt. 

You can get support from the charity GamCare. Find out how to get support on the GamCare website.

Talk to the person about their gambling problem

It can be difficult to start the conversation. You might want to tell them how their behaviour is affecting you and ask them how big the problem is. You can also let them know they can get help.

You can find out how to talk to someone about their gambling on the GambleAware website.

If the person who gambles makes you feel anxious or threatened, it might be domestic abuse and you can get help.

Get help for the person who gambles

You can get support to help them with their gambling problem, including advice on how to:

  • limit how much they gamble
  • deal with debt
  • get mental health support


If you have a problem about Gambling or any other issue such as Benefits, Debt, Employment, or Housing, please contact us to see how we can help you.

Call us on 0300 3309 064

Chat online:


Or search on the National Citizens advice website


St Michael’s Finishes Important Refurbishment

St Michael’s Hospice was delighted to finish the refurbishment work to its in-patient unit on time and the results have delighted everyone. The work was vital to bring the flooring in the corridor areas up to required infection control standards and the Hospice took the opportunity to have other upgrades done to the unit. The lighting was totally changed to more-energy-efficient spotlights, redecoration was completed, and soundproofing was added to corridors and some of the busier working spaces.

The refurbishments were completed; after two weeks the unit was open again and patients were being admitted. The Hospice shared pictures online after the work was done and the response was unanimously positive with people commenting on how much brighter and airy it looked as well as what a fabulous transformation it was.

The Hospice was assisted by the support of the wider healthcare services with hospices in Winchester and Andover stepping in where inpatient unit care was needed.

We would all like to thank you for your patience and support whilst the refurbishments were taking place. These changes would not have been possible if it weren’t for our amazing supporters, with less 16% statutory funding, the whole team at St Michael’s Hospice are forever grateful to the amazing people who help fund the work that Hospice carries out. These changes will aid our staff for many years to deliver high quality, specialist, palliative care to our patients and families.

The Hospice will now move on to the next phases of its upgrade schedule with the next being a complete refurbishment of its family rooms, further improving the environment for patients and families but this work will be carried out with no disruption to the care it provides.

Sue O’Flinn, Communications Manager

Basingstoke Civil Service Retirement Fellowship

There were 44 members at the meeting held on Wednesday 3 August who gave details of the forthcoming trips and events planned for the coming months.

Unfortunately, our planned speaker for this month was unable to attend but fortunately Alan Jones offered to come and he gave us a talk titled “Keep Your Hair On!”. He gave a fascinating insight into something which we all take for granted but is at the centre of a multi-million pound business - HAIR. There are in general between 90,000 and 150,00 hairs on the head depending on hair colour and age The hair itself is dead, it is the follicle that is alive and grows for about 6 years before resting for 2 more. It is one of the most visible parts of the body and Alan pointed out that how it is worn, shown or hidden can either represent our personality or be a religious requirement. It also has many uses especially as it is very rich in nitrogen. It can also, of course, be used in the manufacture of wigs which have had many forms throughout the ages. He ended by displaying some of these which nowadays are mainly made in China and sometimes made from synthetic fibres.

The group’s next outing will be on Thursday 15 September with a visit to the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre and then on Thursday 13 October there is a “Do as please Day” to Brighton with time to visit some of the local attractions followed on Thursday 17 November with a trip to the Country Market, Bordon for your pre-Christmas shopping.

Anyone is welcome to come on any of these trips and if you would like join us please let us know.

The next meeting is on 7 September with Alan Copland giving us “Tales of the Unexpected” and then on 5 October Alan Jones is giving us a presentation on Body Language. The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Brookvale Village Hall from 10 am to 12 noon and all retired Civil Servants, their relatives and friends are welcome. Further details about the group and information about our meetings and trips can be obtained by contacting: [email protected].

David Cowling


Articles we didn't have space for in August 2022 Link:


Finding an approved Trader (from Citizens advice)

I’ve got loads of problems with my house that I’ve been putting off fixing - a faulty boiler, a window that won’t shut properly, broken light fittings. The list goes on! I want to sort it out but I’ve had bad experiences with dodgy builders in the past. How do I find someone I can trust?

Making home improvements can be stressful, but there are a few steps you can follow to help it go smoothly.

First, find a Trading Standards ‘approved trader’. You can look for one in your area online or use the Government’s approved trader scheme TrustMark.

It’s also worth checking if they’re a current member of a trade body. Trade bodies have codes of practice and can help resolve problems if things go wrong. Ask who they’re registered with and then check the trade body’s website.

For any gas and electric fixes, only use certified traders - it’s dangerous to use someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. You can check the Gas Safe Register for a list of traders and use a registered electrician who can certify their own work.

It’s always helpful to get references or recommendations where possible. Ask your friends, family, or neighbours if they know of anyone they’d recommend. You can also ask the person you hire for examples of work they’ve carried out in the past. Try to avoid contractors who won’t give references - it’s a sign they could be dishonest.

When you find someone, ask for a written quote - this is different to an estimate. A quote is legally binding, and the tradesperson can’t change it without a good reason - for example, if you ask for extra work to be done. It’s worth comparing quotes from several contractors to make sure you’re getting a fair price.

Next, get a written contract. This should cover exactly what you’re paying for and everything you’ve agreed on, including timings, payments, who will pay for materials and any subcontractors if needed. When it comes to payment, it’s best to opt to pay in stages rather than upfront. Try to pay by card if you can - this can give you extra safeguards if something goes wrong.

Finally, make sure your trader is fully insured. Keep copies of receipts and your written contract. These will be important as evidence if things go wrong. It’s also helpful to take photos of any problems if they arise.

If you have a problem please contact us to see how we can help.

Call us on 0300 3309 064

Chat online:


Or search on the National Citizens advice website

News from the Hospital

As most of us are increasingly aware, the NHS is in crisis, and one that is steadily getting worse.  Trying to speak to a GP is difficult, but worse still is the effort to try and see one – always different each time, negating any chance of a doctor getting to know their patient, and being more proactive in early disease diagnosis.  All of this means that people are increasingly resorting to going to their local A & E department, adding additional load on the hospital.  Often serious illnesses are now not being identified early enough to result in a good clinical outcome. 

So what is happening?  Perhaps a clue: of the £1.5Bn extra funding recently announced for the NHS, only £4M will come towards the hospital, and then with strings attached!  Looking more deeply, whilst the hospital has increased its clinical staffing over the period of the pandemic by 17%, not only raising its rating from “needs improvement” to “good”, it has also had to cope with Covid. By contrast, as identified by the Policy Exchange think tank, staffing levels at Government departments and the central bodies running the NHS have doubled their headcount!

As a result of a very successful recruitment programme, vacancies in the Trust are now down, and it is hoped that as more normal working expands, the use of expensive agency workers will subside.  In particular, a large number of student nurses have been offered places and many more midwives are now employed, adding to safety in that department.  Shortly we should also benefit from a new group of nurses who complete their degree courses this summer.  However, with the new NHS focus of ‘Care in the Community’ there is real concern about the ability to recruit sufficient trained staff and funding to meet this aspiration.

The number of inpatients with Covid has started to rise again as a result of the BA4 and 5 mutations of the virus (which are much more transmissible and more likely to affect the lungs).  Many of these have been admitted for other ailments, but the Trust’s screening has identified them as positive.  At the time of writing there are 119 patients across the Trust – also there are more staff impacted and unable to resume normal working.  Although spacing is being relaxed, mask wearing has been re-introduced.  Considerable effort is being made to increase the volume of elective work, although this is still not yet at a level to start significantly eating into the backlogs.  Again, with cancer treatment there is improvement, although there is real concern that due to Covid many cases are yet to be identified, and there could soon be a big increase of patients now needing urgent treatment.  The Wessex region, of which we are part, has been particularly successful in finding these lost cases.

As is widely known, there are plans for a new hospital for Basingstoke.  The national plan is for about 40 new hospitals in the next few years, with Basingstoke scheduled for the 2025-2030 building slot.  It was encouraging that recently, at Maria Miller’s invite, the minster responsible for this new build programme was invited to visit the present facility, gaining a sound insight into why a new hospital is so critical in view of the declining structure on the present site.

Keith Bunker

Former Hospital Governor

Articles we didn't have space for in July 2022 Link:

Basingstoke Civil Service Retirement Fellowship

There were 43 members at the meeting held on 1 June who were welcomed by the Secretary Tony Brazier in the absence of the Chairman, David Cowling. Tony Brazier then gave details of the forthcoming trips, particularly the itinerary of the Thames cruise from Runnymede on 16 June.

The speaker this month was a return of Mel Rees who had titled his talk An entertaining talk which it definitely was. Mel’s motto is to see the humour in things and he certainly does. Mel said that the talk was “nothing deep and meaningful,” however it certainly had all the members laughing at his memories. The talk covered many subjects about everyday life. including Covid and how it has taken 2 years of our lives, his Nan’s shop in Clapham Junction which she had from 1930 to 1972 and he remembers incidents from the age of about 10 or 12 years old. He revisited the area recently with his daughter and, although the area had changed dramatically, the shop was still there. In his own words Mel said that “You can’t make it up” Mel writes and publishes his own books. They were available for members to buy.

The group's next outing on Thursday 16 June is a Cruise on the Thames from Runnymede, with lunch included, followed on Thursday 14 July by a visit to Hever Castle, and on Thursday 25 August a visit to Hatfield House.

The next meeting is on 6 July and is a light-hearted presentation by (Able Care) called Life in Care. The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Brookvale Village Hall from 10 am to 12 noon and all retired Civil Servants, their relatives and friends are welcome. Further details about the group and information about our meetings and trips can be obtained by contacting [email protected]

Christine Broadbent

Citizens Advice

Your payment card was used without your permission – distance sales

A distance sale is when you buy something without face-to-face contact. For example, shopping by internet, television, mail order, phone or fax.

Do you know who used your card?

Is it possible that a family member used your card without your permission? In the world of card fraud, this can be quite common. If it was a family member who used your card, think carefully before you take any action with your bank. They may get the police involved.

Contact your bank immediately

If the unauthorised payment was taken from your bank account for a purchase over the internet, by telephone, TV or teletext, you may have a right to get your money back.

Usually, the bank will have a team of investigators who look into it for you. If you claim the use of the card was not authorised by you, it is for your bank to prove otherwise. The bank may be able to cancel the payment or put the money back into your account. If your card provider will not give you your money back, report them to Trading Standards.

When you can’t get your money back

There are certain distance sale contracts that are not covered by the law. You would not automatically have the right to your money back if the fraudulent purchase was made for the following:

  • financial services, for example, insurance and banking
  • sale of land or buildings except for certain rental agreements
  • sale of land plus construction of buildings (a contract to construct when the land is already owned by the consumer would be covered)
  • rental agreements of 3 years or more (one year or more in Scotland)
  • purchases from vending machines or automated commercial premises
  • the use of a telecommunications operator through a public payphone
  • auctions, including internet auctions, unless a ‘buy now’ option is chosen and you bought from a business trader

If your card has been used fraudulently for buying goods or services listed above, you should still contact your bank. They will probably investigate for you but you may not be able to get your money back.

If you have been a victim of fraud, you can contact Action Fraud, who offer advice, guidance and support for victims of fraud. You can contact them on telephone 0300 123 2040.

If you have a problem, please contact us to see how we can help.

Call us on 0300 3309 064

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