RECENT articles are right to highlight poverty as a major problem in Scotland; a root cause of much hardship, conflict and trauma. Poverty is a major factor in bringing families to the attention of public services. However, we were disappointed to read The Big Read article ("How Scottish children are ending up in care ... for being born poor", August 20), which over-simplified the relationship between poverty and the difficult, important decisions about safety and risk that professionals must make with families, day in, day out.

We agree entirely with much of One Parent Families Scotland’s report. The report is a shocking read about how the social security system acts against family reunification. It can be incredibly hard for parents and families to fight the challenges which arise from poverty – including poor mental health, addiction issues and neglect. Children and their families should have the support they need to navigate themselves to more stable waters.

Catriona Stewart’s recognition of the trauma of family separation on everyone in a family is accurate ("We need to talk about parents of kids in care", August 22). Our communities are living through critical and difficult times, and life for some families can feel extremely precarious. We all want families to stay together, and the balancing act between protecting children from harm and having the tools and resources to support families is an incredibly difficult one.

These two articles confirm the need for action in two key areas:

• Social security that supports families to remain together through challenging periods, and when separation of a child from a parent is necessary, then facilitates family reunification.

• Social work services that are made accessible as soon as some support is needed, not restricted to crisis response. By destigmatising involvement with social work, and giving social workers enough time to do the work they are trained to do, more families can be kept together, and flourish.

Social workers are committed to The Promise, and supporting children and families. That has been evidenced by their willing collaboration on an individual and collective level. But the bigger, and more fundamental issue here is that without the right action and resources to tackle poverty at its root causes, our society’s care system will have to continue responding to poverty’s effects.

Alison Bavidge, National Director of SASW (The Scottish Association of Social Work and Social Workers), Glasgow, and Ben Farrugia, Director of Social Work Scotland, Edinburgh.

Read More: How Scottish kids are being put into care for simply being born poor

The threat from Big Tobacco

IT is good news that Scottish drug misuse deaths have fallen for a second year in a row. Drugs Minister Elena Whitham said: "We must never underestimate the scale of the challenge we continue to face, including responding to new threats such as synthetic opioids and stimulant drug use.”

What the minister did not mention is the new threat to our children and young people, from single-use vaping, which is the new route into highly addictive stimulants. Nicotine, the stimulant delivered by vaping, is exactly the same as that from smoking. The minister’s reason for not even mentioning that serious new drug trend is because smoking and alcohol are covered by another minister, as it is not considered as a drug misuse issue.

There have been discussions for decades about the need for one minister to cover all drug use and misuse problems. Sadly the Westminster Government does not want that to happen, because to admit that tobacco and alcohol are powerful drugs will threaten the lucrative tax and duty income of £10 billion from smoking and £12.4bn from alcohol in 2022/23.

The 20 years of good work done in Scotland in reducing children and young people’s smoking rates to under 7% is now being undermined by single-use vaping rates of over 11.6% and rising. One in three young vapers are converting to smoking.

All Scottish political parties must now act urgently to completely ban single-use vaping products. These products have no health-giving purpose. This form of vaping is creating a new generation of nicotine addicts, some of whom will move on to using illicit drugs. Scotland is the second worst country in the world, after America, for drug deaths. Smoking was our number one cause of drug deaths in the past. Our drugs minister must never underestimate the power of Big Tobacco, the owners of most vaping products, who are on a mission to addict our children and young people to nicotine to sustain their failing business.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.

The folly of this vanity project

YET again, islanders face further delays in CalMac's new super ferries entering service. With the Glen Sannox not now expected to enter service before the start of the summer season 2024, it seems that further disruption will be inevitable.

The newly-announced need to build in extra staircases and widen doors to satisfy safety requirements seems to be something that should have been taken care of in the original design. Ever since the Titanic hit the iceberg there has been an emphasis on safety, an essential aspect which appears to have escaped the attention of the Scottish Government and CMAL in their bid to build the ferries, the eco-friendliness of which would surpass anything else on the planet.

With the costs of the vanity project tripling to over £300 million, what more revelations will be unleashed on the taxpayer before the first fare-paying passengers take to the high seas?

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

Read more: We are still paying a heavy price for forced closure of our industry

We need real practical solutions

OVER the summer I have read with interest the debate on air source heat pumps but didn’t get involved. However, last Sunday Editor Catherine Salmond explained that The Herald was working hard to deliver a balanced view on the subject and invited us to continue to provide our views ("None of us can be blind to the reality of environmental damage", August 20). With direct experience, I have decided to taken up this invitation. I will start by stating that I am neither a climate activist nor a climate denier, but I do believe passionately in energy efficiency and energy conservation.

A few years ago (would have been a shorter time span but for the pandemic) I engaged in a project to modernise a well-built but wholly run-down sandstone tenement flat and bring it up to a standard for modern living. I committed to completing the renovation using sustainable materials wherever possible, with the entire under-floor insulated with sheep’s wool, all external walls insulated and all gas appliances and gas supply ripped out (Scottish Gas doesn’t make this easy or do it cheap) .

My piece de resistance in the renovation was the installation of a renewable system for heat and hot water; Patrick Harvie’s air source heat pump immediately sprung to mind.

The modernised, well-insulated ground-floor flat has its own front and back garden with ample external wall space that you would expect would be a great property for Mr Harvie's scheme. However, after applying to several companies and being turned down immediately because the property was a flat, I eventually got a large energy company to survey the property and provide me with a quote for an air source heat pump.

During the survey and following significant discussions with the energy company’s technical team to try to get a solution that would work, they confirmed that it was not possible to install an air source heat pump system to my property.

Disappointed as I was, the following discussion with the technician was enlightening when he told me “don’t be too disappointed, the air source heat pumps don’t work, they would never heat a flat like this with high ceilings, the radiators would be huge and you would need an upgrade to the electricity supply as they need 45kw supply”.

I now intend to install an electric shower, an efficient water heater and high-heat-retention heaters; all at a significantly reduced capital cost and running cost to Mr Harvie’s scheme.

I like Mr Harvie as a politician but he needs to take proper engineering advice and offer incentives to install real practical energy efficient solutions rather than follow fashionable, expensive and impractical options provided by the uneducated climate activists.

Tom Cassells, Ayr.

How to avoid need for DRS

IT is reported that the registration fees paid by drinks producers who signed up to the failed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) are to be refunded at a cost to Scottish taxpayers of £210,000. The Scottish Government has now laid itself open to large compensation claims from drinks companies with taxpayers again picking up the bill for a flawed DRS scheme engineered by Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater.

This DRS scheme was unnecessary since all 32 local authorities in Scotland already have excellent recycling facilities. It was a false claim that this would "save the planet" since it was and is the idiots who throw away their bottles, cans and fast food containers who are to blame. Catch them and impose draconian fines and jail sentences and there will be no need for a DRS and certainly no need for Mr Harvie and Ms Slater as ministers on £94,841 plus £30,000 pension contributions.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Aberdeen's war on motorists

WHEN other cities in Scotland are trying to attract footfall in their shops Aberdeen City Council is effectively closing the city centre to cars by making it impossible to navigate with bus gates and traffic restrictions everywhere and heavy fines imposed to ensure that drivers dont come back.

The message to motorists is crystal clear: you are not welcome.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen.