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Preview: Latest news from the public and voluntary sectors, including health, children, local government and social care, plus SocietyGua

Society | The Guardian

Latest Society news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Wed, 18 Oct 2017 15:20:48 GMT2017-10-18T15:20:48Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017

PM will not reduce six-week wait for universal credit despite MPs’ warnings

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 23:06:57 GMT2017-10-17T23:06:57Z

Government says it believes advance payments solve problems with delays as Labour urges Tories to support motion to pause rollout of benefit

Theresa May will not reduce the six-week delay faced by many universal credit claimants despite being warned by Conservative MPs that the policy is hurting vulnerable families, sources have told the Guardian.

The prime minister’s decision not to budge on the issue, after a private discussion with Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston and Johnny Mercer, could lead to confrontation as Labour urged Tories to support its motion to pause the rollout of the benefit.

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'We went days without eating properly': how universal credit brought misery to Inverness

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:19:47 GMT2017-10-18T06:19:47Z

People who were never in debt before have been catapulted into crisis in trial of benefit whose rollout continues despite concerns

For many of Inverness’s universal credit guinea pigs, the past year has been exceptionally stressful. The many glitches of a malfunctioning scheme have already caused widespread misery in this city, which has been trialling various forms of universal credit since 2013. The problems unfolding here offer a taste of what is to come when the system goes nationwide.

The escalating difficulties experienced by Mhairi Thomson, a 35-year-old care worker who faced eviction from her home of 16 years, are typical. She claimed universal credit last September just before she got married; her fiance was moving into the house she shared with her 15-year-old daughter – forcing a reassessment of her benefit eligibility and shifting her on to the new system.

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They’ve suffered enough. But now veterans are battling universal credit, too | Dawn Foster

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:30:02 GMT2017-10-18T06:30:02Z

As well as mental illness, ex-soldiers like Joe are having to fight a flawed new benefits system, increasing their risk of homelessness

For six years, Joe Greensmith, 52, served in the British Army’s Coldstream Guards. After enlisting in 1989, he served in the Gulf war, as well as completing a tour of Northern Ireland and Bosnia during the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. On discharge from the army, Greensmith, a qualified sprinkler engineer, worked for over 10 years installing sprinklers in many blue chip companies and skyscrapers in London, including the Gherkin, before deciding to start his own business earlier this year. The Royal British Legion referred him to a military charity that could offer him a grant for the tools and laptop he needed to get things moving.

But Greensmith’s entrepreneurial ambitions never had the chance to get going. Instead, he has become a victim of the government’s controversial new benefits system, universal credit, which critics – including 15 Tory MPs led by Heidi Allen – say is seriously flawed and increases people’s risk of homelessness.

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The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back | Fintan O’Toole

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 05:00:00 GMT2017-10-18T05:00:00Z

George Bernard Shaw knew that the rich are no better than the poor. But though the argument seemed settled then, it now rages more fiercely than ever

If you know Alfred Doolittle only from Stanley Holloway’s infinitely lovable portrayal of him in My Fair Lady, you might not realise that he’s a bit of a monster. In George Bernard Shaw’s original play, Pygmalion, he arrives in high dudgeon at the home of Henry Higgins, who has, Doolittle assumes, taken control of his daughter Eliza for sexual purposes. He is not morally outraged – he just wants to be paid: “The girl belongs to me. You got her. Where do I come in?” Doolittle is a member of the most despised of all social classes: the undeserving poor. He has no desire to be reformed. But he asks – and answers – the most penetrating question: “What is middle-class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything.”

In the second half of the play, though, the monster who was willing to sell his daughter for a fiver reappears in a silk hat and patent leather shoes. He is clean and elegant. He is getting married. He is now, as he bitterly complains, a paragon of that same middle-class morality. What has transformed him? Money. In an outrageous plot twist, Doolittle has inherited millions and he is now obliged to appear thoroughly respectable.

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Domestic violence victims still waiting for legal aid reform, says Labour

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:00:01 GMT2017-10-18T06:00:01Z

Shadow minister accuses government of dragging its feet on promise to make it easier for victims to access legal aid

Thousands of victims of domestic violence are still being denied access to justice eight months after the government promised to make it easier for them to obtain legal aid, Labour has said.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said in February that it would scrap a requirement for victims of domestic violence to produce evidence that they have been abused within the last five years.

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'A readymade family': adoptive home sought for four Rotherham sisters

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:37:13 GMT2017-10-17T16:37:13Z

Judge has ruled girls, all under 10, cannot be separated and foster mother feels she is too old to look after them

Social services in Rotherham are looking for a new adoptive home for four sisters because their foster mother feels she is too old to look after them.

A care plan approved by a judge has ruled that the girls, all under 10, cannot be separated. Their 66-year-old foster mother, who has been kept anonymous to protect the identity of the children, said the girls needed a home for at least the next 18 years, and that she and her husband were unable to provide that.

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Two-child limit on benefit claims to be challenged in court

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:40:28 GMT2017-10-17T13:40:28Z

Campaigners are granted permission to apply for judicial review of policy, which stops benefits being paid for more than two children

The government is facing a high court challenge to its two-child limit on benefit claims, the basis for the hugely controversial “rape clause” policy, it has emerged.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said it had been granted permission to seek a judicial review of the limit, which stops child tax credits or universal credits being paid for more than two children in most cases.

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More than 60 children a day calling Childline with suicidal thoughts

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 23:01:22 GMT2017-10-16T23:01:22Z

NSPCC reports 15% rise in calls to children’s helpline as concerns grow over long waiting times for mental health services

A children’s helpline conducted more than 60 counselling sessions on suicide every day last year with children as young as 10 reporting suicidal thoughts, according to the NSPCC children’s charity.

The figures from Childline represent a 15% increase on the previous year.

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NHS data loss scandal deepens with further 162,000 files missing

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 21:27:09 GMT2017-10-16T21:27:09Z

Revelation that further documents are missing was made at inquiry into disappearance of original 702,000 pieces of paperwork

The scandal over the biggest ever loss of NHS medical correspondence has deepened with the revelation that a further 162,000 documents went missing, in addition to the 702,000 pieces of paperwork already known to have gone astray.

MPs said they were “dumbstruck” to learn that even more material relating to patients’ health had been mislaid, some of it by NHS Shared Business Services (SBS), the firm co-owned by the government that lost the documents.

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Doctors to breathalyse smokers before allowing them NHS surgery

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:54:48 GMT2017-10-18T12:54:48Z

Breath test will ensure Hertfordshire patients have really kicked habit before they are referred for non-urgent operations

Smokers in Hertfordshire are to be breathalysed to ensure they have kicked the habit before they are referred for non-urgent surgery.

The measures have been brought in by East and North Hertfordshire clinical commissioning group (CCG) and Hertfordshire Valleys CCG, which together are attempting to save £68m.

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Disgraceful conditions at Bedford prison fuelled riot, watchdog finds

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:44:06 GMT2017-10-18T12:44:06Z

Inmates were locked up for 23 hours a day and prison’s failure to consistently supply soap and toilet paper was ‘shameful’

A riot at Bedford prison that led to two wings being “totally trashed” was fuelled by frustration over “disgraceful conditions” including a failure to provide basic items such as soap, cleaning materials and toilet paper, an official watchdog has concluded.

The report by Bedford’s independent monitoring board says that before the riot in November 2016 prisoners were not being treated humanely and were being locked up for 23 hours a day, and that just 55 out of a complement of 110 officers were available for duty.

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Theresa May rules out pause in introducing universal credit

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:16:56 GMT2017-10-18T12:16:56Z

PM says decision to scrap phone helpline charges for benefit claimants shows she is listening, but that overall system is working

Theresa May has dismissed calls for a pause in the national introduction of universal credit to address problems with the system, but said the decision to scrap charges for a claimants’ phone helpline showed ministers were listening.

May was challenged on the new benefits system at prime minister’s questions, with Jeremy Corbyn saying it was “in a shambles” and arguing that the gradual extension of universal credit to new areas should be halted for a period.

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Labour MPs call for inquiry into use of vaginal mesh implants

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 11:45:10 GMT2017-10-18T11:45:10Z

Thousands of women have been exposed to unacceptable health risks, parliamentary debate hears

Labour MPs have called for an immediate halt on the use of vaginal mesh implants, as a parliamentary debate was told that thousands of women had been exposed to unacceptable health risks.

Addressing MPs in Westminster Hall, the Labour MP Emma Hardy, who called the debate, said there had never been adequate trials to support the introduction of mesh implants and that until evidence was reviewed their use should be suspended.

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Universal credit helpline charges to be scrapped

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 11:10:23 GMT2017-10-18T11:10:23Z

Work and pensions secretary says all DWP helplines will become free, one week after Jeremy Corbyn asked Theresa May about issue

The universal credit helpline will be made free, along with other Department for Work and Pensions numbers, after Jeremy Corbyn challenged the government last week over the 55p-a-minute charge for people using mobile phones to get help.

David Gauke, the work and pensions secretary, told MPs all charges would be abolished by the end of the year at the start of a grilling by the work and pensions committee about problems with universal credit.

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What is your attitude toward alcohol consumption in front of children?

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 09:41:23 GMT2017-10-18T09:41:23Z

A new study says moderate drinking could harm children and their relationship with parents. We’d like to hear your opinions and experiences

Parents risk damaging their children with even moderate drinking, according to a new study by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS).

The report, co-produced with the Alcohol and Families Alliance and Alcohol Focus Scotland, says 29% of parents believe it is acceptable to get drunk in front of their children occasionally.

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Victoria AMA criticises federal president over insensitive assisted dying tweets

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 04:50:25 GMT2017-10-18T04:50:25Z

Dr Michael Gannon tweeted his personal views against euthanasia in response to politicians revealing stories of their parents’ painful deaths

The Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association has criticised its federal president Dr Michael Gannon after he disrespected politicians who told stories of their parents’ painful deaths during the voluntary assisted dying debate.

On Tuesday politicians began debating the voluntary assisted dying bill in the lower house, on which they will have a conscience vote. The debate went past midnight and is expected to go into Friday. If it passes the lower house it is almost certain to pass the upper house, where a majority of politicians support it.

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Dyslexia: scientists claim cause of condition may lie in the eyes

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 01:52:52 GMT2017-10-18T01:52:52Z

In people with the condition, light receptor cells are arranged in matching patterns in both eyes, which may confuse the brain

French scientists claim they may have found a physiological, and seemingly treatable, cause for dyslexia hidden in tiny light-receptor cells in the human eye.

In people with the condition, the cells were arranged in matching patterns in both eyes, which may be to blame for confusing the brain by producing “mirror” images, the co-authors wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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Public bodies are on the frontline of the Brexit countdown: here's how they feel | Jill Rutter

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:42:10 GMT2017-10-18T08:42:10Z

Some UK public body chief executives say Brexit will be a way to gain new powers. But a higher workload is the biggest burden to overcome

Attention finally turned last week to some of the big implementation challenges of Brexit, including whether the Home Office can recruit the staff needed to process more than 3m applications from EU residents for “settled status”, and when the UK government should start spending to cope with the potential exit from the customs union.

Related: Home Office needs big increase in staff to deal with Brexit, MPs are told

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Stephen Chapman: ‘Slavery is alive in Wales. And there is no silver bullet for it’ | Nicola Slawson

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:00:02 GMT2017-10-18T07:00:02Z

Public bodies must collaborate to eliminate hidden exploitation – and people have to be vigilant, says the Welsh anti-slavery tsar Stephen Chapman

In the Senedd in Cardiff, home to the Welsh assembly, Stephen Chapman talks with passion about how modern slavery can be tackled. “No one person can solve the problem. It is a heinous crime and there is no silver bullet for it, so it demands a multi-agency response,” says Wales’ anti-slavery tsar.

Related: Modern slavery in the UK is inflicting misery under our noses every day | Abda Khan

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How to stop record numbers of children going into care? Help their mothers | Louise Tickle

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:00:03 GMT2017-10-17T11:00:03Z

Women whose children are removed have often been abused and through the care system themselves. Specialist therapy can help break this cycle

Some 90 children a day were taken into care last year – and the total number of children in care is now at a new high: 72,670 according to the latest statistics, and care numbers are rising at the fastest rate for five years. Financially, this is unsustainable. But in human terms too, it can’t carry on – because where does it leave the thousands of traumatised and grieving mothers, and their broken families who must stumble on with no support and no hope?

Related: Austerity policy blamed for record numbers of children taken into care

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As a teenage boy with anorexia I couldn't find words to describe my mental illness

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 08:49:11 GMT2017-10-17T08:49:11Z

Not all silence on mental health problems is down to stigma. Sometimes it’s difficult to articulate what’s wrong

You can’t talk about mental health without talking about stigma. Personally, I don’t like talking about stigma – the more you talk about something, the more you entrench it. People often cite fear of stigma as the reason they don’t talk about their mental illness, but I think it runs deeper than that.

Before I was anorexic I’d always assumed people with mental illness knew they weren’t well. But on reflection that’s ridiculous. My Dad has diabetes. He had it for years before anyone realised and no one expected him to innately know. Sometimes you’re too close to your own life to gain perspective; it’s like trying to make sense of a painting if you’re only inches from it.

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The private sector has failed. Only councils can be trusted to build the homes we need I Rabina Khan

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 06:23:52 GMT2017-10-16T06:23:52Z

Focused on profit, not people, private developers will never help us out of the housing crisis, but local authorities are coming up with ideas that can help

There is only one way more affordable homes will get built in this country and that is if local authorities like my own borough are given the resources to build them.

As we move into the Brexit era, Britain must be far more visionary and build homes that become national assets. Private developers build the bare minimum of affordable homes; their real focus is on profits from luxury developments. Only when public institutions take the lead in housing models will we see the kind of homes being built that begin to address our housing crisis.

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The civil service has a problem with the way it treats disabled staff like me

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 09:27:04 GMT2017-10-14T09:27:04Z

Disabled Home Office staff face a wait of up to two years to secure reasonable adjustments in the workplace – we’re treated like we are a burden and a headache

I’m not surprised by the way the government treats people with disabilities – you only need to look at how poorly it treats its own disabled staff, like me. There simply isn’t the disability awareness we need from senior management and no concerted effort to address that.

Related: 'My boss called me a hypochondriac' – your stories of working with disabilities

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Everyone who lives in social housing needs action, not this chaos| Dawn Foster

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 06:27:25 GMT2017-10-13T06:27:25Z

People in social housing have been denigrated for too long. We need an urgent focus on safety, but all we have is a government dragging its heels

Tomorrow, 14 October, it will be four months since the Grenfell Tower fire: survivors, the bereaved and supporters of the community will observe a silent march from Notting Hill Methodist church to the shadow of the tower.

Yet progress on rehousing survivors and the bereaved, and work to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again, has been painstakingly slow.

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UK leads the way with its fizzy drink tax - it should cover sweets too | Patrick Collinson

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 06:14:25 GMT2017-10-12T06:14:25Z

We should mark World Obesity Day by extending the upcoming levy on sugary pop to confectionery

In the battle between Big Soda and health campaigners, it is far from clear who is winning.

Wednesday is World Obesity Day, marking yet another depressing milestone in a global epidemic where the US and the UK are bursting at the forefront. But America’s only major levy on fizzy drinks (in Chicago, affecting more than 5 million people) has been dumped following a “Can the Tax” campaign.

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Alison Michalska: ‘In Britain, we don’t seem to really like children’ | Patrick Butler

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 06:59:05 GMT2017-10-11T06:59:05Z

Not only does poverty blight youngsters’ lives says Alison Michalska, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, but it’s getting worse

After the best part of an hour spent discussing rising child poverty, the staggering pressures placed on young people to achieve academically at school, and the negative impact of austerity on children’s mental wellbeing and life chances, Alison Michalska reaches, with the sudden force of revelation, for a root cause of all this seemingly anti-youth policy: “The really big thing that strikes me is that as a country we don’t seem to really like children. We don’t value them. We don’t see them as a citizens of the future. We really don’t like them very much.”

On the face it, Michalska, 56, argues, there is a big policy focus on children by government, but this is all too often in effect about controlling youngsters, forcing them to conform to norms and stereotypes. You can see that cultural dislike, she says, in the continuing presence on housing estates of “no ball game” signs, or rising school exclusion rates, or the hardwired suspicion that loitering groups of teenagers are up to no good. “Teenagers like to hang around. As a teenager I hung around. Why does everyone think that is dangerous? Just because they have their hoods up, why are they dangerous?”

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The housing crisis will only get worse until England scraps right to buy | Jonathan Manns

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 06:33:04 GMT2017-10-11T06:33:04Z

Selling off council homes is economically and morally reprehensible. The government needs to halt its kneejerk support for home ownership

Scotland has already scrapped so-called right-to-buy schemes and Wales is pushing through reforms to do the same. It’s now also time for England to stop allowing council tenants to purchase their homes at discounted rates.

The English love of home ownership is well known, which is why, in his party conference speech last week, chancellor Philip Hammond announced an additional £10bn to extend for the existing help to buy scheme for housebuyers.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: the shortlist

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 09:42:00 GMT2017-09-25T09:42:00Z

The shortlisted projects and teams in each of the eight categories in this year’s awards

The judges have met and deliberated and we are delighted to now announce the shortlisted projects and teams in each of the eight categories of this year’s Guardian Public Service Awards.

The winners and runners-up will be announced at our awards ceremony on 28 November 2017 and a special supplement will be published online and in the paper on 29 November 2017.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: vote now for Public Servant of the Year

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 09:39:40 GMT2017-09-25T09:39:40Z

This year’s five shortlisted contenders for Public Servant of the Year have been announced. Voting closes on 9 October

Five public servants have been shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Public Servant of the Year award, which is now open online for public voting.

We’re looking for a public servant who has contributed outstanding work and made a real difference. We asked those making a nomination to explain:

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: key dates & FAQ

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 07:06:54 GMT2017-06-14T07:06:54Z

Full timeline for the awards and all your questions answered

14 June 2017: Awards launch
31 July 2017: Extended deadline for entries - entries close at midnight
25 September 2017*: Shortlist announced. Voting opens for Public Servant of the Year.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: categories and criteria

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 07:07:29 GMT2017-06-14T07:07:29Z

Our judges are looking for the very best teams and projects from central and local government, housing, health, social care and the voluntary sector

Now in their 14th year, the Guardian Public Service Awards, supported by EY, aim to showcase the improvements and innovation underway across UK public services and recognise brilliant ideas, techniques and measurable impact.

This year the Guardian’s Society networks, which serve communities of dedicated staff working in housing, health, social care, the voluntary sector,criminal justice and central and local government, and SocietyGuardian, have set out once again to recognise and reward excellence across public services.

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New approach to ageing: older people lead project to improve later years | Paul Burstow

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:25:03 GMT2017-10-18T08:25:03Z

Community research has identified challenges of ageing. Now social entrepreneurs are being invited to develop solutions

By the time the NHS celebrates its 100th birthday in 2048, there will be more than 100,000 centenarians in the UK. This age shift is both global and personal. We are living longer and many of us are living better too. But too often, ageing seems to be more a source of consternation than celebration.

“For more than half a century now, we have treated the trials of sickness, ageing and mortality as medical concerns. It’s been an experiment in social engineering, putting our fates in the hands of people more valued for their technical prowess than for their understanding of human needs. The experiment has failed,” says surgeon Atul Gawande in his book Being Mortal.

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Labour calls for immediate end to use of vaginal mesh implants

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 23:01:37 GMT2017-10-17T23:01:37Z

Sharon Hodgson, shadow public health minister, says use of mesh implants is a ‘public health scandal’ as they have left some women in permanent pain

Labour has called for an immediate halt to the use of vaginal mesh implants and urged the government to launch an independent inquiry into the “ongoing public health scandal” surrounding the treatment of women for urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse.

Sharon Hodgson, the shadow public health minister, said the government must stop allowing the use of mesh implants before a debate in parliament about their safety, after reports that some women have suffered debilitating complications including perforated organs and chronic pain.

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Will a sugar tax work? Well, it did at Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurants

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:00:05 GMT2017-10-17T05:00:05Z

Researchers say the chef’s 10p levy on sugary drinks led to a significant drop in sales – boding well for the government’s sugar tax plan

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

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Midwife shortages blamed for home births falling to 15-year low

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:51:30 GMT2017-10-16T17:51:30Z

Only one in 50 babies born at home in 2016, raising concerns that women in England and Wales are not given range of choices

The number of women having a home birth has fallen to a 15-year low as concern rises that some expectant mothers are being denied one because there are too few midwives.

Only one in 50 babies in England and Wales were born at home last year, according to National Office of Statistics data – the lowest number since 2001 . Just 2.1% of the 676,271 babies born were delivered at home.

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No such thing as an ideal heating setting | Letters

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:14:20 GMT2017-10-16T17:14:20Z

A thin lady is likely to feel colder than a plump one. A recent sample in English homes recorded living-room temperatures from 10C to 25C, explains thermal comfort researcher Sue Roaf

As a thermal comfort researcher, men often complain to me that their wives turn up the thermostat because they prefer warmer conditions (Why women secretly turn up the heating, G2, 12 October). There is no such thing as a single comfort temperature. A thin lady is likely to feel colder than a plump one. A recent sample in English homes recorded living room temperatures from 10C to 25C. Thermostat settings are driven by many factors including environmental beliefs, customs, daily routines, incomes or different approaches to heating. The heating and energy industries would love us to heat whole buildings, but all we often need to do is heat the people inside them. Average winter living-room temperatures in New Zealand are around 14C where people sit by a small heater when relaxing. In Japanese homes temperatures can fall to 5C indoors because people keep warm with a “Kotatsu”, a small heater by their chair covered by a shared rug, as in parts of Spain. We all adapt to those temperatures we normally occupy. If uncomfortable, and we can afford to, we change our environments.
Emeritus Professor Sue Roaf

• Join the debate – email

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Tackling the silent epidemic of loneliness | Letters

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:13:33 GMT2017-10-16T17:13:33Z

Mike Adamson would like to see more services that prevent, reduce and delay loneliness, and Susan Daniels says it is not just a problem for older people

We welcome the focus given by Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard on the toll that loneliness is placing on our healthcare system (Loneliness as harmful as diabetes, says top GP, 12 October).

Every day our staff and volunteers see the devastating impact that social isolation is having on people’s lives, and the additional strain placed on our public services when these impacts are left untreated.

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Supersized chocolate bars and sweet bags banned from hospitals

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 23:01:43 GMT2017-10-15T23:01:43Z

Stepping up fight against obesity, NHS CEO instructs hospital shops not to stock confectionery with over 250 calories

Supersized chocolate bars and “grab bags” of sweets are to be banned from hospitals as the NHS ratchets up its fight against obesity.

Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive, has warned that obesity will bankrupt the health service and has stated his determination to do what he can on hospital premises.

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Broadening the debate on mental health | Letters

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 17:52:04 GMT2017-10-15T17:52:04Z

David Dodd wants employers to assume a degree of responsibility for employees’ mental wellbeing, Justin Harper makes a case for income protection and Gary Fereday says psychoanalytically informed therapies should be more widely available. Plus letters from Keir Harding and Rob Davies

Jeremy Hunt has once more propelled mental health up the political agenda with the promise that an extra £1.3bn would be invested annually in mental health services by 2021 (Report, 10 October). However, while such promises constitute a significant step forward, it will take a lot more than policy and funding to resolve a problem reaching pandemic proportions in the UK. In light of World Mental Health Day, we need to broaden the debate from how to resolve mental health issues – to how to prevent them. And data suggests that at least part of the onus should be on employers.

Our research has found that almost half of UK employees believe that their workplace has a negative impact on their physical or mental health; it’s time for UK employers to assume a degree of responsibility for their employees’ mental wellbeing. Introducing measures such as resilience training, mindfulness and mental health first aiders could make a significant difference to both the support offered to employees and UK business – alleviating the impact of our tech-enabled 24/7 work lifestyles, reducing employee absence and fundamentally improving business productivity.
David Dodd
Consulting director, Thomsons Online Benefits

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STI warning as clinics close in London and self-testing is delayed

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 17:14:43 GMT2017-10-15T17:14:43Z

Six long-established sexual health clinics have shut as part of a move from face-to-face consultations to online services

People are being denied care at overburdened sexual health clinics after a wave of closures and huge delays to a controversial new self-testing scheme for diseases such as syphilis, health experts are warning.

Six long-established sexual health clinics around London have shut in recent months as part of a planned switch from face-to-face consultations to online services.

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Gay rights activists welcome NHS questioning of patients over sexuality

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 12:07:41 GMT2017-10-15T12:07:41Z

People visiting their GP or hospital may be asked to confirm whether they are straight, gay, bisexual or other

Gay rights campaigners have backed an NHS policy demanding that doctors and nurses start asking all patients from the age of 16 about their sexual orientation.

NHS England has issued a new standard requiring staff to “record sexual orientation at every face to face contact with the patient, where no record of this data already exists”.

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Children’s tsar savages NHS over 'unacceptable' mental health care

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 09:38:44 GMT2017-10-15T09:38:44Z

Anne Longfield accuses NHS England chief of ignoring young people’s experiences

The children’s commissioner has launched a savage attack on the head of the NHS, accusing him of denigrating research that shows an “unacceptable” lack of children’s mental health provision.

In a highly unusual move, Anne Longfield has published an open letter to Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, accusing him of ignoring young people’s experiences of the service and the frustrations of their parents. Laying out a list of grievances against him and his team, she also threatens to use the law to compel him to hand over data on waiting times for children’s mental health services.

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Can an app really provide effective birth control?

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:25 GMT2017-10-15T08:00:25Z

Technology that tracks women’s fertility has been hailed as being more effective than the pill – and without side-effects. Is this a genuine revolution in sexual freedom?

When Apple launched their health tracking app in 2014 and didn’t include any features that allowed women to monitor their reproductive health the company was widely ridiculed. As critics pointed out women have been tracking their periods for hundreds of years – in many ways they were at the forefront of the quantified self movement. Apple corrected their blunder but it drew attention to the nascent group of start-ups who were developing apps that claimed to track a woman’s fertility.

Today, the choice is staggering, from Kindara – a free app that allows you to track all manner of fertility markers, from your body temperature to the appearance of your cervical fluid – to Ovia, which includes in-app purchases, and allows you to monitor your moods and periods as well as other metrics.

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MPs urge action on lengthy wait for autism diagnosis

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 23:04:14 GMT2017-10-14T23:04:14Z

Cross-party group asks Jeremy Hunt to impose uniform standards to ease the burden on parents

Parents of children with suspected autism are having to wait at least 44 months for diagnoses, prompting a cross-party group of more than 140 MPs to write to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, demanding urgent action.

The startling new figures, revealed in response to a freedom of information request, relate to children under the age of five who need a specialist autism assessment after being referred by a GP or other health professional.

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How rap therapy workshops help foster children tell stories

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 10:35:40 GMT2017-10-17T10:35:40Z

Ric Flo, who spent part of his childhood in foster care, is helping others express themselves in a creative way

Where should I hide? / Where should I go? / I don’t know, I follow my soul / No sense of time, no home/ We’re just playing / If I take that, would they know? / I’m in a dark place, call me mole / Dig deeper, the roots grow / Will they get exposed?

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We cannot afford to fund 'dementia tax' proposals, councils warn

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 05:00:05 GMT2017-10-17T05:00:05Z

Tory leaders say care home providers could face collapse if financial threshold for state support is increased

Conservative council leaders have warned that county councils cannot afford to be hit by a £308m rise in care home costs if controversial social care plans dubbed the “dementia tax” go ahead.

Tory-dominated shire councils have warned they cannot afford the extra burden of the manifesto proposal that would offer state support to people with assets of £100,000 or less – a sharp increase on the current £23,250.

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Meet Pepper the robot – Southend's newest social care recruit

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:19:26 GMT2017-10-16T11:19:26Z

Humanoid robot can read emotions, play memory games, send emails and show videos

Pepper, the newest recruit to the people team at Southend-on-Sea borough council, has many of the skills and characteristics of a model social care employee. He perceives emotions and adapts his behaviour accordingly, and he can memorise personality traits. He can also speak 12 different languages, dance to Gangnam Style and does a mean impression of R2D2. But Pepper’s not like any other member of staff – he’s a 120cm, 28kg humanoid robot.

Developed by Japanese company Softbanks, Pepper was first envisaged as a companion robot but is already being used in a variety of settings worldwide. He guides patients to different hospital departments in Belgium, welcomes bank customers in Canada, and sells coffee machines in Japan. But in the UK, Southend-on-Sea is the first local authority to buy a Pepper to work in its services.

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Frontline social workers reluctant to move into management, leader warns

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 12:11:55 GMT2017-10-13T12:11:55Z

The profession is losing too many staff early in their career, says British Association of Social Workers chief executive

Too few social workers feel they can step up to be future managers in the sector, one of the profession’s most senior leaders has warned.

Huge amounts of talent are being lost because many frontline staff do not feel they can have an impact at a higher level, said Ruth Allen, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).

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Many disciplines, one goal: a new way to care for children and families

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:41:24 GMT2017-10-13T10:41:24Z

When working collaboratively, social care workers can draw on a broader set of skills to get the best result for children

A new way of working is transforming the lives of “looked-after” children and their families in Hertfordshire and saving millions of pounds at the same time. Social worker caseloads have shrunk, the time children spend in the care system has dropped by 50% and the number of new child protection plans has been cut by more than half.

But the statistics tell only half the story. The true success of the approach is borne out by feedback from the social workers and the families they care for. Sue Williams, director of family safeguarding at Hertfordshire county council, says: “The families tell us we have changed their lives. The social workers say they feel relieved – and are able to work without fear and develop their skills. They can feel the buzz of child protection – it’s not about rescuing children, but protecting them to allow them to grow up within their own families.”

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Talking to vulnerable children on their terms helps to build trust

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 07:22:01 GMT2017-10-13T07:22:01Z

A case-by-case approach trumps any ‘tools’ when it comes to social workers building a meaningful relationship with children

Polly Cowan has been verbally abused and intimidated with knives. Once, a desperate mother threatened to kill her if she tried to take her child away.

“I didn’t really believe her,” says Cowan, a social worker in Edinburgh. “She was a new mum, in a desperate situation; and it is not the case that we want to remove children from their families – quite the opposite. As social workers, we have to have empathy for families who are in difficulty, often from one generation to the next. They are usually very scared and vulnerable and the course of action you think is best may not align with what they want for their children.”

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Finding solutions to the UK’s housing crisis | Letters

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:16:18 GMT2017-10-16T17:16:18Z

Readers respond to Britain’s chronic shortage of affordable housing with solutions of their own

Larry Elliott suggests five steps to fix the housing market (Britain’s broken housing market – and how to fix it, 9 October) which include Kate Barker’s idea of “acquiring” large sites abutting urban areas at a modest premium to their existing use. That would effectively part-nationalise development value and might help supply, although the Tories wouldn’t do it because they reversed Labour’s two attempts at taxing development value, the Land Commission Act 1967 and the Community Land Act 1975/Development Land Tax 1976. Increased housing supply doesn’t automatically lead to lower prices of course (unless builders were to build at a rate that forced them to drop their own prices, which they wouldn’t) because, as Elliott says, the housing “market” isn’t a market at all in the traditional supply-and-demand sense.

Before more of this crowded country’s open space is concreted over and its amenity value taken from those abutting urban areas, other expedients could be deployed, like penal taxation of empty property and progressive taxation of inherited property wealth, the latter of which continues to snowball for the haves and push prices further beyond the have-nots. Those two measures would do more to bring prices back closer to a manageable multiplier of local earnings and improve the rising generation’s chances of ownership. Whether the banks’ loan books could stand the strain of falling prices – and how hard the Treasury would fight to avoid them – is another question.
John Worrall
Cromer, Norfolk

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Rochdale charity’s demolition plans spark ‘social cleansing’ claims

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 22:30:24 GMT2017-10-15T22:30:24Z

Residents ‘devastated’ by redevelopment of landmark Seven Sisters towers that could mean loss of 400 homes

They have been a landmark on Greater Manchester’s skyline for half a century. But four of Rochdale’s Seven Sisters tower blocks are facing demolition, prompting opposition from hundreds of residents and accusations from the council’s housing boss of “social cleansing”.

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Sainsbury’s faces anger over London plot with just 4% affordable homes

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 16:14:17 GMT2017-10-15T16:14:17Z

Campaigners say number of homes offered in supermarket’s Ilford high-rise development is ‘insulting’

Sainsbury’s is facing housing campaigners’ anger over a proposed high-rise development surrounding an east London superstore that includes just 4% affordable homes.

Local opponents have described the supermarket’s proposal that just 27 of the 683 homes in the Ilford project will be available for affordable rent as “insulting”.

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Housing benefit cuts leave poor vulnerable to rent rises, says report

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 07:45:02 GMT2017-10-13T07:45:02Z

Housing costs take up more of low-income households’ money, as they shoulder risk of rent increases, says thinktank

Households on low incomes are being left particularly exposed to rent increases as housing costs eat up a growing proportion of their money, a thinktank has said.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that “substantial” cuts to housing benefit in recent years had led to rental payments now using up an average of 28% of the non-housing benefit income of low-income private renters – up from 21% in the mid-1990s.

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Life in the block: high-rise living in London – in pictures

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:00:08 GMT2017-10-12T16:00:08Z

Photographer Slater King visited three tower blocks in Camden, north London, without prior arrangement, hoping to capture images of as many residents as he could

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Extra-care housing offers older people independence and reassurance

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 07:37:42 GMT2017-10-12T07:37:42Z

‘Very sheltered’ housing offers specialist services as an add-on – but is it, increasingly, only for the affluent?

Raymond Knotts took the decision to move into a “care village” in Crewe two years ago. He’d had a fall at home, where he had lived alone since the death of his wife, and his family felt he needed some support. He has no regrets.

“I came here straight after recovering from the fall and it was definitely the right place for me,” says Knotts, 92, a former engineering worker with Rolls-Royce. “The garden was a big factor, as I like gardening, and the staff are always on hand if you need something and we always have plenty to do here.

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George Soros gives $18bn to his charitable foundation

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 09:16:58 GMT2017-10-18T09:16:58Z

Hungary-born financier’s donation makes his Open Society Foundations the third largest charitable foundation in the world

The financier George Soros has transferred about $18bn (£13.7bn) to his human rights foundation, bringing his lifetime giving to $32bn and making the foundation one of the world’s largest.

The donation makes Soros’s Open Society Foundations the third largest charitable foundation in the world, behind the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

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The best way for charities to spend money is to challenge austerity | Fiona Weir

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 06:36:52 GMT2017-10-16T06:36:52Z

My work with single parent charities has shown me that we need to call out government social policies, including Brexit

  • Fiona Weir is chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust

There has been shockingly little movement by the government since Brexit to seriously address the disconnection and disadvantage on which the referendum vote shone a light.

We face a high risk of people feeling betrayed a year or two from now, including the young people up to the impact of leaving the EU and leave voters who have not seen their lives improve.

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OFM Awards 2017: Local Food Hero – The Pop Up Soup Kitchen

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:28 GMT2017-10-15T10:00:28Z

The remarkable story of Trevor Blaney and his DIY mission to feed the homeless on the Isle of Wight gets the OFM award for Local Food Hero

Trevor Blaney sees a different Isle of Wight to the one enjoyed by day trippers and tourists. Driving with him in his 4x4 on one of the last days of summer you start to see his version too. “There’s a lad living in the hedge over there, who we help out,” he will say. Or he will point out derelict holiday chalets or boarded-up hotels in which people have made their homes. Blaney is a native of south Yorkshire but he has lived here for 30 years. He first started to see the island in a new way when he volunteered at a council-backed homeless shelter. “It was OK,” he recalls, “but it was clear that the real problems lay with people who were excluded from the night shelter because of their addictions or mental health. Being a rural place these people take to the woods and the fields rather than shop doorways. They are less visible. I decided to go out and find these people and try to look after them.”

At the end of 2014, Blaney borrowed a catering trailer from a friend and started a Facebook page, with some of the images of people he had found sleeping rough in November – two young men living in a three-sided corrugated-iron shelter, others in makeshift tents in the woods or on the beach. The page had a slow start but it gained momentum. “To begin with only my friends saw it,” Blaney says. “Oddly, people who I had been to school with and hardly seen since, first donated a fiver here and a tenner there.”

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OFM Awards 2017: Outstanding Achievement – the Trussell Trust

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:28 GMT2017-10-15T10:00:28Z

Without the charity’s nationwide network of food banks, hundreds of thousands would go hungry

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, the Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest food bank network, isn’t entirely thrilled at having won OFM’s Outstanding Achievement for 2017. “Obviously, awards can be quite difficult, can’t they?” says Mark Ward, the charity’s interim CEO. “It’s like when we reached 300 food banks – you can’t celebrate that because it’s terrible.” He shakes his head, “Well, it’s terrible and it’s not terrible because it means now there are 300 places where if somebody’s struggling they can go to. So we wish we didn’t have to do it, but it is lovely to have recognition of the service that has been put in place.”

The Trussell Trust was founded 20 years ago by Christian humanitarians Carol and Paddy Henderson, initially to help the 60-or-so children sleeping rough at the Sofia Central Station in Bulgaria. In 2000, while fundraising in their hometown of Salisbury, the Hendersons began to realise just how many people were going hungry closer to home. The Salisbury Food Bank opened, in their garden shed and garage, not long afterwards, offering three days’ of emergency supplies for locals who were experiencing a short-term crisis.

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OFM Awards 2017: Best Ethical Food Project – Cook for Syria

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:27 GMT2017-10-15T10:00:27Z

A campaign involving 100 restaurants, supper clubs and a cookbook: how a hashtag raised money for Syria

Instagram does not seem like a powerful vehicle for social change. After all, the app consists simply of users posting photographs, mostly of themselves, often of their food. To its critics it is the epitome of a narcissistic age, and the idea it could be brought to bear on something such as the Syrian crisis might seem silly.

Over the past year, however, Cook for Syria has done exactly that, harnessing social media to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Unicef. It spawned a 100-restaurant campaign, a cookbook and hundreds of smaller events, almost all of them under the hashtag #cookforsyria, which has been omnipresent on food lovers’ social media.

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Old £1 coins: don’t get short-changed after Sunday’s switchover

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 09:32:40 GMT2017-10-15T09:32:40Z

You will still be able to spend old round pounds after the deadline. Here’s where …

British households have got rid of £60m-worth of the old “round pound” coins over the past week – but there are still more than £400m-worth still in circulation – and down the backs of sofas – with just this weekend to spend them.

From midnight on Sunday the round pound will no longer be legal tender. Many retailers have made it clear they won’t take them anymore, including Sainsbury’s, M&S and Lidl. But there’s no need to panic as Tesco, Aldi, Iceland and Poundland, plus lots of small retailers, say they will continue accepting them for a short period, while the big banks will let you deposit them into an account for months yet.

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Not Just Tourists expands medical 'voluntourism' project with Bristol branch

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:37:50 GMT2017-10-13T13:37:50Z

Canadian non-profit organisation, which enlists willing travellers to help transport essential medical supplies to developing countries, now has a Bristol base and is looking for UK volunteers

Suncream, swimsuit, paperbacks … the packing list for a holiday usually follows a formula. However, one non-profit organisation hopes travellers will take the opportunity to fill their suitcases with something more altruistic, helping deliver vital medical supplies to developing countries.

Launched in Canada in 1990, Not Just Tourists facilitates the collection and delivery of surplus medical supplies to some of the poorest and most remote clinics in the world. This week, the organisation launched a new branch in Bristol, meaning UK travellers can join a volunteer-run movement that has so far delivered more than 10,000 suitcases of supplies to 82 countries.

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It's not the law that's silencing charities: it's their own lack of imagination | Katherine Rake

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 06:33:25 GMT2017-10-13T06:33:25Z

Charities need to learn fast from an inspiring new wave of campaigns making a real difference to people’s lives, from cancer badges to bookburning parties

When things fall silent, it takes a while to notice. Like the freezer that no longer hums after being accidentally unplugged, the silence creates a niggle that we often ignore, until there’s a mush of once-frozen peas and melted ice cream.

I had just such a niggle when I realised I hadn’t seen any inspiring charity campaigns for a while.

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Don’t write off young people. They care deeply about a better society | Elspeth Hopkins

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 11:52:23 GMT2017-10-11T11:52:23Z

The Polish teens caught on CCTV giving a homeless man a duvet went viral as it confounds our negative expectations. Let’s start listening to young people

Earlier this week, three Polish teens were captured on CCTV giving a duvet to a homeless man. As he lay shivering from the first frost of autumn, they offered him a duvet. The footage subsequently made waves.

It partly went viral because stories like these give us a warm, fuzzy feeling, and go some way to restoring our faith in community. But the surprise with which it has been greeted in some quarters shows the extent to which negative stereotypes of younger generations still prevail.

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'It's time to recognise the contribution arts can make to health and wellbeing'

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:17:49 GMT2017-10-11T10:17:49Z

The arts help meet challenges in health and social care associated with ageing, loneliness, long-term conditions and mental health

Arts and Minds, a leading arts and mental health charity, has been running weekly art workshops for people experiencing depression, stress or anxiety in Cambridgeshire for the past seven years. Led by an artist and counsellor, its Arts on Prescription project offers a chance to work with a range of materials and techniques, including printmaking and sculpture. The impact has been outstanding.

An evaluation revealed a 71% decrease in feelings of anxiety and a 73% fall in depression; 76% of participants said their wellbeing increased and 69% felt more socially included. As one participant says: “I feel so much better having had the time and space to do some art. It makes such a difference.”

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Bernard Jenkin's attack shows his hatred of Europe has got the better of him | David Walker

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 06:38:41 GMT2017-10-10T06:38:41Z

MP Jenkin has overstepped the mark with a lily-livered, contradictory attack on Whitehall over Brexit

If some obscure backbench MP came out and attacked the civil service, we’d shrug: all too predictable. Whitehall is well used to getting it from both sides (though shadow chancellor John MacDonnell’s proximity to power seems recently to have tempered left-wing criticism).

But when the assailant is Bernard Jenkin, the harsh words reverberate. Jenkin has been chair of the Commons public administration committee for seven years and has been a temperate but persistent inquirer into the operations and principles of our permanent government – different from, but a worthy successor to Tony Wright, who established the committee under the Labour government.

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I was sexually assaulted in the back of my ambulance. Frontline staff need protecting

Sat, 07 Oct 2017 09:57:18 GMT2017-10-07T09:57:18Z

For all the ‘zero tolerance’ stickers on display, I was put in a dangerous situation that should have been avoided

As an ambulance technician for many years, I have learnt to cope with the many difficult situations and challenges thrown at you in the line of duty.

But a night shift in the centre of town can be tough at the best of times. And I remember this particular night shift as though it happened yesterday.

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Lifting the cap on police pay won't magically raise morale

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 06:23:21 GMT2017-10-04T06:23:21Z

Seven years of cuts have left police officers angry and dismayed. Lifting the pay cap isn’t going to help forces with recruitment and retention

The Conservative government may have hoped that lifting the public sector pay cap for police officers would make it easier for police forces to recruit and retain officers.

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Want to build more homes, Theresa May? Then stop selling off public land

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 10:16:50 GMT2017-10-06T10:16:50Z

Official government policy is to make a quick buck by selling public land to private developers. It’s no way to fix the housing crisis

Despite recent trembles in the private housebuilding market as Brexit negotiations have taken hold, the government has continued its policy of selling off public land, much of it owned by departments like the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health, at an almost unprecedented pace, to plug depleted budgets and attempt to stimulate the development of new private homes.

On Wednesday, Theresa May announced that her government will “get back into the business of building houses” – and said that local authorities have a key role to play in this. But building houses requires land – and public land is in ever-diminishing supply as the central government continues to offload surplus public assets as quickly as possible.

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Benefit advisers like me are turning to food banks – and so are other council staff

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 09:12:29 GMT2017-09-30T09:12:29Z

I lie awake at night worrying about money. All public sector workers need a pay rise, not just police and prison staff

I work as a housing benefit adviser for a local authority in the West Midlands. Every day I meet and help people who need assistance paying their rent, and sometimes I have to give bad news to those who do not qualify for any help, because their income is slightly above the amount we are told a family can live on.

Many people get upset when they are given this news, but what most do not realise is that myself and many of my colleagues are in a similar situation.

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Even moderate drinking by parents can upset children – study

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 23:01:37 GMT2017-10-17T23:01:37Z

Children who see parent tipsy or drunk are less likely to see them as a positive role model, report says

Three in 10 parents say they have been drunk in front of their children and half have been tipsy, and such behaviour can trigger family rows or make children anxious, research suggests.

Even moderate drinking by parents can leave children feeling embarrassed or worried or lead to their bedtime being disrupted, according to the study led by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS).

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Select political leaders on EQ, rather than IQ | Letters

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:20:53 GMT2017-10-17T16:20:53Z

Perhaps it should not be the class of the degree obtained by which we should judge or select our leaders, writes Mike Elwood, but rather other criteria. Plus letters from Ian Lowery and David Nowell

Perhaps it should not be the class of the degree obtained by which we should judge or select our leaders, but the subject (Letters, 14 October)? Of the two examples cited, Eden studied Oriental languages; Cameron read PPE. Perhaps we should be selecting leaders who, for example, can build (and have built) bridges, or who understand the molecular structure of vitamin C or soap, and could synthesise them, or who can cure, and have cured, people of serious diseases. Or instead, or as well, perhaps we should be selecting leaders not on IQ, but on EQ – emotional intelligence.
Mike Ellwood
Abingdon, Oxfordshire

• Although Roger Bardell is correct in asserting that the prime ministers ultimately responsible for the debacles of Suez and Brexit were both Oxford firsts, he fails to mention that they were both also Tories.
Ian Lowery
Kensworth, Bedfordshire

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What does pelvic mesh do and why are women suing over it? – explainer

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 18:00:22 GMT2017-08-31T18:00:22Z

Urogynaecological mesh is used to treat stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse – and it has triggered class actions in the US, UK and Australia

Urogynaecological meshes (sometimes known as transvaginal meshes) are used to treat stress incontinence, a condition that can lead to women leaking from their bladder when doing impact activities such as running and jumping, or when sneezing or coughing. The condition is very common in women after childbirth and at the menopause – around 20% of women are affected sufficiently for it to be a problem in their daily lives. Mesh surgery has a low complication rate for incontinence.

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Socialist Workers Party leadership under fire over rape kangaroo court

Sat, 09 Mar 2013 08:00:00 GMT2013-03-09T08:00:00Z

Woman says she was asked about her sexual past branded a slut by senior party members after she accused one of rape

A woman has claimed she was subjected to a series of offensive questions about her sexual past and drinking habits after bringing an allegation of rape against a senior member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

The UK's most prominent far left organisation is already facing a major showdown over previous handling of separate rape accusations against a senior party figure – identified by the party only as Comrade Delta. This weekend up to 500 members could quit the Marxist group over the alleged whitewash.

Continue reading...The Socialist Workers Party leadership has been accused of putting party interests above those of women. Photograph: Ben Cawthra/Rex FeaturesThe Socialist Workers Party leadership has been accused of putting party interests above those of women. Photograph: Ben Cawthra/Rex Features

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Have you experienced hate crime since the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack?

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 10:45:35 GMT2017-10-17T10:45:35Z

As a spike in hate crime offences in England and Wales was recorded after the attack in March, we’d like you to share your experiences with us

The number of hate crime offences in England and Wales recorded by police saw a four-month surge after the Westminster Bridge attack on 22 March, with figures reaching a higher level than what followed the EU referendum.

The police recorded a monthly peak of 6,000 incidents in June compared to 5,500 in July 2016. According to provisional police figures, since March 2017 the number of hate crimes continued to increase after the attacks in Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.

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Jamie Oliver is right: people with dyslexia really do look at things differently

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 15:43:24 GMT2017-09-05T15:43:24Z

The chef calls those with dyslexia ‘lucky’ – and the long list of famous people with the condition proves his point

The idea that successful famous people can have dyslexia is familiar. Sir Richard Branson has talked at length about his experience with the learning difficulty, and scientists have suggested that Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci had it, too. But few have been as effusive about the benefits of dyslexia as Jamie Oliver.

“I genuinely think that when someone says to you, ‘Johnny’s got dyslexia’, you should get down on your knees, shake the child’s hand and say: ‘Well done, you lucky, lucky boy’,” the chef said this week. He is among the estimated one in 10-20 of us who have dyslexia, which he credits with helping him to build a one-man brand worth an estimated £240m.

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