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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: Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:33:15 GMT2017-12-12T05:33:15Z

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



NHS trust boss resigns in protest over underfunding of health services

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:00:02 GMT2017-12-10T18:00:02Z

Bob Kerslake quits as chair of King’s College hospital board, claiming NHS funding ‘desperately’ needs rethink amid unrealistic demands for savings

I’m quitting as a hospital boss: dire NHS funding problems give me no choice

The boss of one of the NHS’s biggest trusts has resigned in protest at what he claims is such serious government underfunding that hospitals cannot perform their key role properly.

Related: I’m quitting as a hospital boss: dire NHS funding problems give me no choice | Bob Kerslake

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I’m quitting as a hospital boss: dire NHS funding problems give me no choice | Bob Kerslake

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:59:41 GMT2017-12-10T17:59:41Z

Our deficit at King’s College hospital, London, means we will be put into financial special measures, while what the NHS really needs is a fundamental rethink

I have this weekend decided to stand down from my role as chair of King’s College hospital, London.

This was not a decision that I took lightly. I love King’s and have the highest regard for the people who work there. But in the end I have concluded that the government and its regulator, NHS Improvement, are simply not facing up to the enormous challenges that the NHS is currently facing. This is especially true in London where the demands of a rapidly growing population are not being matched by the extra resources we need.

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‘It feels like I’m making a difference’: how Nightstop lets hosts offer spare rooms to the homeless

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:04:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:04:21Z

Charity matches young people at risk of sleeping rough with hosts who provide a bed for the night in a warm, secure home
Click here to donate to our appeal
Please help us tackle urgent problems of homelessness and destitution

When Helen Rathmill first met 18-year-old Stan he was in his rugby kit standing outside Tesco in the rain. She had gone to pick him up after getting a call earlier in the day from Nightstop, an emergency accommodation service in Greater Manchester run by the Depaul UK charity, asking if her spare room was free that evening.

The pair had never met before and yet they were about to spend the night under Helen’s roof. Helen knew little about him, other than he’d got no criminal record and had recently been kicked out of home by his step-mum. He’d been sofa surfing for the previous five months, flitting between jobs at music festivals and at Manchester United, but had run out of options and was facing his first night sleeping on the street.

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Loneliness is a 'giant evil' of our time, says Jo Cox commission

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:00:07 GMT2017-12-10T18:00:07Z

Rachel Reeves argues that welfare state architect William Beveridge would add disconnected society to list of challenges

One of the key architects of Britain’s welfare state would have added loneliness as society’s sixth “giant evil” if he were alive today, Rachel Reeves will say after completing a year-long study into the issue.

The Labour MP, who co-chaired the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness after her friend and colleague was murdered last year, will argue that the weakening of trade union, church, local pub and workplace ties have left a disconnected society.

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More than 30 child protection departments in special measures

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:02:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:02:21Z

Demand for children’s social care doubles as sector loses £4.1bn to funding cuts

The children’s services departments of more than 30 councils in England are in special measures, an Observer analysis has revealed.

The survey comes amid claims that the child protection sector is experiencing a funding crisis similar to the one that engulfed adult social care two years ago. Of the record 31 authorities currently under some form of intervention, 21 – including Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Norfolk and Tower Hamlets – are subject to statutory directions in which the education secretary legally requires an authority to take action. The remainder – which include Manchester and Surrey – have been issued with improvement notices.

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Call for more hospital beds to cope with winter breathing difficulties

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 07:01:15 GMT2017-12-11T07:01:15Z

Air pollution, an ageing population and smoking causing crisis in A&E departments, says British Lung Foundation report

Hospitals need to provide more beds in the winter months to deal with the rising numbers of adults and children who struggle to breathe, according to a report that warns this is a major cause of the crisis in accident and emergency departments.

The report from the British Lung Foundation says more and more people are ending up in an already hard-pressed A&Es because of the increase in breathing problems caused by air pollution, an ageing population and the long-term effects of heavy smoking.

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‘Shocking’ toll of women killed by men renews call for safe spaces

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:04:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:04:21Z

Women’s Aid census shows nine out of 10 victims were murdered by someone they knew

Of the 113 women killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year, 85 died in their homes, according to the Femicide Census, an annual analysis by the charity Women’s Aid.

Nine in 10 women killed during 2016 died at the hands of someone they knew. Of these, 78 women were killed by their current or former intimate partner, three by their sons and five by another male family member. Nine were killed by a stranger.

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Anorexia is a mental illness. Treat it properly | Barbara Ellen

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:05:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:05:21Z

Averil Hart’s death has underlined how victims of food disorders aren’t treated with the respect they deserve

So much sadness attends the case of 19-year-old Averil Hart, who died from anorexia in 2012. It’s only now, finally, after a five-year wait, full of stalling, buck-passing and evasions, that her family has managed to get clear answers, and apologies, for how she came to be failed so comprehensively by an array of doctors, hospitals and specialist units.

As an “adult anorexic”, studying at university, Hart slipped through the net so many times, it could no longer even be described as a net – just a few broken strings flapping uselessly over an abyss. It comes as a small comfort to the Harts that since Averil’s death, and others like it, £150m has been invested in NHS eating disorder services, including introducing the first-ever eating disorder waiting time standards. However, it seems that changes need to go even beyond that; into wider society, where anorexia (I’m employing it as a blanket term for all food disorders) needs to be respected for what it is – a deadly psychiatric condition, where rejection of food is merely a symptom.

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Urgent talks over future of Four Seasons care homes in UK

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 13:08:27 GMT2017-12-10T13:08:27Z

Creditor H/2 makes concessions amid crisis at health firm caring for 17,000 elderly and vulnerable people

The care homes operator Four Seasons Health Care is on course for a stay of execution before a crunch debt deadline, after its major creditor offered to drop demands rejected by directors.

Last-ditch talks aimed at staving off the worst care homes collapse since Southern Cross were continuing on Sunday.

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Rehab is a lonely place for a gay man like me

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:30:08 GMT2017-12-11T10:30:08Z

Too many services assume people are straight. Tailored, more inclusive approaches are critical – and a civil and human right

It all started with a drink. For millennium celebrations I was in Cape Town with a group of friends. One day at lunch I had what I now know to be a panic attack. To settle my nerves I drank some wine and, as if by magic, all was well. It’s at this point that my social relationship with alcohol shifted – to self-medication for acute anxiety.

How could this happen to me? I was raised in a supportive and loving environment, had an arts degree and was the director of a contemporary art gallery. Not bad for a working class lad from Oldham. But all was not this surface of perfection.

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I run a domestic abuse charity, where some staff don't last a week

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 10:17:04 GMT2017-12-09T10:17:04Z

My staff and I hear gruelling accounts of human cruelty and provide a safe space, but constant funding pressure means we may not be here in five years’ time

When I’m in the pub on a Friday night and someone asks what I do, I say I work for a small charity. “That’s nice,” is always the reply, from people who probably think I sit all day with a plate of custard creams and a cup of tea.

It’s not quite like that. For 14 years, I’ve been the chief executive of this small domestic abuse charity in Middlesbrough. Nine women a month in England and Wales die at the hands of their partners and ex-partners. I’ve been to serious crime scenes, attended home visits in dreadful properties and heard some gruelling accounts of human cruelty.

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I was one of the hidden homeless. I needed help to build my life | Sali Hughes

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 13:00:03 GMT2017-12-08T13:00:03Z

Every homeless person has a different story to tell, but all are miserable, desperate, unsafe and exhausted. Please help change their lives for the better

Click here to donate to our appeal

While never a rough sleeper, I have been, on more than one occasion, homeless. As a teenager I was one of the “hidden homeless”, the growing number of people begging or borrowing somewhere to sleep for extended periods.

During my time without anywhere to call home, I learned that homeless children and adults – whether living on the street, on a rotation of other people’s sofas, or in an overcrowded hostel – don’t magically arrive from nowhere, cap in hand, hoping to scrounge whatever they can from the state or public. They don’t want to be suffering the indignity, invisibility, humiliation – and often debilitating cold – of homelessness.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 – in pictures

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:05:39 GMT2017-12-04T15:05:39Z

The Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 celebrated the tireless work of innovative public servants and projects. An audience of 280 guests, including shortlisted candidates, journalists and sponsors, were in attendance

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: Congratulations to all our winners

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 10:29:56 GMT2017-11-29T10:29:56Z

The winners of this year’s awards have paused, thought and come up with fresh ways of delivering services that are yielding huge benefits

Related: Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 overall winner: Hertfordshire county council

It’s a well-worn maxim that insanity is doing the same thing time and again and expecting different results. Yet that is still how many of us think and behave. The winners of the Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 are the exception: they have paused, thought and come up with fresh ways of delivering services that are yielding huge benefits.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 overall winner: Hertfordshire county council

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 09:55:32 GMT2017-11-29T09:55:32Z

An overhaul of how to approach families is yielding outstanding results and has won Hertfordshire the care award and overall title

Hertfordshire county council’s new way of working with looked-after children and their families is turning lives around and saving millions of pounds at the same time. Its remarkable success is even attracting national attention, and being tested by four other local authorities.

England’s chief social worker for children and families, Isabelle Trowler, believes the model being developed by the home counties authority could have a “profound” effect on the national system. “I think Hertfordshire might just be our national treasure.”

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 Public Servant of the Year winner: Stephen Smith

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 09:55:32 GMT2017-11-29T09:55:32Z

Smith has spent 25 years encouraging other people with learning disabilities and campaigning to improve the quality of services

Stephen Smith, who has been voted by the public as Public Servant of the Year in the 2017 Guardian Public Service Awards, has been an avid campaigner for people with learning disabilities for the past 25 years. After volunteering his time with organisations including Jigsaw (a self-advocacy group), People First, and Castle Supported Living in his home county of Lancashire, Smith became a project worker with the peer advocacy project React (Research in Action) six years ago.

Smith draws on his own insight of having a learning disability to shape and improve the quality of services for others. Those who work alongside him describe Smith as an inspirational character.

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NHS bosses 'bloody stupid' to expect £4bn cash injection

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:56:28 GMT2017-12-11T19:56:28Z

Ministers will have been annoyed by ‘negativity’ of health service’s leadership, says outgoing NHS Improvement chief

The NHS’s leadership was “bloody stupid” to expect an emergency £4bn cash injection in last month’s budget, the official who until last week ran the service’s financial regulator has said.

Related: The Guardian view on NHS funding: hospitals are hurting | Editorial

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NHS trust treating brain-damaged boy gets anonymity over abuse fears

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:30:00 GMT2017-12-11T19:30:00Z

Charlie Gard case sparks harassment concerns as doctors at unnamed trust in the Midlands seek to turn off life support

Bosses at an NHS hospital trust who wanted to stop providing life-support treatment to a brain-damaged baby boy recently won an anonymity fight after telling a high court judge that medics might be harassed by members of the public.

They feared a repeat of the abuse that staff at Great Ormond Street hospital in London received this year after a judge ruled that 11-month-old Charlie Gard should be allowed to die.

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NHS trust will greatly miss Bob Kerslake | Letters

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:18:06 GMT2017-12-11T19:18:06Z

It is a sad day for the NHS and for King’s patients when someone of his calibre feels they have no alternative but to throw in the towel, writes Andrew McCall

Your report on Lord Kerslake’s resignation as chair of King’s College Hospital, London (Head of top NHS trust quits over cash squeeze, 11 December) finishes with a statement from NHS Improvement saying “We will replace him with a highly experienced chair to take charge of the trust’s position”.

This is an inaccuracy. Under the constitution of foundation trusts, it is for the trust to select and appoint their chair, who is an independent director. I assume that, as usual, King’s nominations committee will soon start the process of appointing a new chair. But I know that we will struggle to find one so skilled, so experienced, or so dedicated as Bob Kerslake.

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Return of the rhythm method – how natural contraception went digital

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:15:47 GMT2017-12-11T16:15:47Z

An app which allows women to use their phones to employ the fertility awareness method is becoming hugely popular. What does that mean for other contraceptives?

It’s a contraceptive your great-grandmother would probably recognise, only these days it has to, of course, involve an app. The rhythm method, more commonly known now as the fertility awareness method, appears to be making a small comeback, at least if you go by the number of users of the Natural Cycles app. Among British users, it has gone from 5,000 to 125,000 – although NHS figures don’t show an increase, reporting that over the past five years, a steady 1% of women in England have used natural family planning as their main contraceptive.

Natural Cycles, which costs £39.99 a year, was developed by particle physicist Elina Berglund, who previously worked at Cern. “Around the same time as we discovered the Higgs particle,” she says casually, “I stopped using hormonal contraception because I knew I wanted to have children in a few years and I wanted to give my body a break from hormones. I developed [Natural Cycles] from my own need for a reliable contraceptive method.”

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NHS managers in England back Kerslake's underfunding claim

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:02:02 GMT2017-12-11T14:02:02Z

As King’s College hospital trust is put into special measures, NHS Confederation urges government to give service more funding

NHS managers have backed the claim by Bob Kerslake, the outgoing chairman of King’s College hospital, that the health service is being denied the money it needs to meet the rising demand for healthcare.

The NHS Confederation, which represents 85% of the NHS’s 240 trusts in England, urged the government to ditch its policy of giving the service small increases and instead realise that it deserved a greater share of national income.

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Have you been rejected by insurers because of mental health problems?

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 06:35:59 GMT2017-12-11T06:35:59Z

Insurance companies can only deny people with mental health problems in certain circumstances. We want to hear your experiences

If you have a mental health condition it can be harder to get insurance and in some circumstances you have to pay more.

However, this should only be the case if the insurer can provide evidence that you are at a higher risk of making a claim and if the information they used to access your application was applied in a reasonable way.

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Ban window blinds with accessible cords to protect children, experts say

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:15:12 GMT2017-12-11T05:15:12Z

Despite safety improvements, fatal accidents linked to children becoming entangled in window blind cords and chains continue to occur, say researchers

Window blinds with accessible cords or chains should be banned, say researchers, as figures show children continue to die from strangulation despite improvements in safety.

The team say that on average about one child a month in the US has a fatal accident, typically after becoming entangled in cords or chains, and many more are injured.

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Alarm over restraint of NHS mental health patients

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:05:00 GMT2017-12-10T00:05:00Z

New figures reveal that girls, young women and black people are more likely to be held down by staff on wards

Patients in mental health units were physically restrained by staff more than 80,000 times last year in Britain, including 10,000 who were held face down or given injections to subdue them, new NHS figures show.

Girls and young women under the age of 20 were the most likely to be restrained, each being subjected 30 times a year on average to techniques that can involve a group of staff combining to tackle a patient who is being aggressive or violent.

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For the poor, it’s just one thing on top of another | Letters

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:05:46 GMT2017-12-08T19:05:46Z

Robert Holland on the impact on children, Paul Nicolson on the endless pressure on benefit claimants and Steven Dorner on the psychological impact

Visitors to foodbanks are often in distress, so Heidi Allen MP is right to cry (Tory MP cries at universal credit impact speech from Frank Field, 5 December). The most distressed person I’ve seen as a foodbank volunteer was a man making his first visit ever after Christmas. After spending on rent, fuel and food, he and his partner had no present for their four-year-old daughter on Christmas Day. He told me between tears: “She kept on asking if she had been naughty. We reassured her, but she just asked again and again. She doesn’t realise about money and could not understand.” (In the Salvation Army we had a suitable book and another toy for her, donated by the public.)
Robert Holland
Keighley, West Yorkshire

• Frank Field is right to highlight the very unreasonable state-imposed stress that leads to suicidal thoughts among benefit claimants. “It’s just one thing on top of another,” was the cry from a 50-year-old single adult in London trying to pay off rent and council tax arrears, which had piled up when he had no income as a result of a three-month benefit sanction, out of £73.10 a week jobseekers’ allowance. He was then forced by the jobcentre into a zero-hours contract and moved on to universal credit, both leaving him without income again for weeks at a time. Then the bailiff called at 7.30am demanding £400 for a TV licence fine, and his fees, to be paid the next morning.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers against Poverty

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Digital disruption: the role of tech entrepreneurs in improving healthcare

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 10:54:51 GMT2017-12-08T10:54:51Z

Join us for a panel discussion on technology in the NHS on Wednesday 7 February in London

Technology in the NHS is the bane of many healthcare professionals’ jobs. Clinicians have spoken about decrepit computer systems on hospital wards and not being able to access patient information at the right time.

Other sectors, such as the airline industry, banking and retail, are years ahead and incorporate the latest technology to make life easier for customers and employees while also protecting users’ data. The NHS, which uses one in 10 of the world’s pagers and still relies on fax machines, has yet to catch on to some of the more modern developments in technology.

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'Clear failures of care': scathing report into student's anorexia death

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:01:27 GMT2017-12-08T00:01:27Z

Averil Hart’s death was ‘an avoidable tragedy’ which shows problems with NHS eating disorders services, says ombudsman

A talented young student died of anorexia because of numerous “clear failures of care” by GPs, hospitals and specialists in eating disorders, a scathing report by the NHS ombudsman has concluded.

Averil Hart’s death in December 2012 at the age of 19 “was an avoidable tragedy” caused by an array of health professionals failing to appreciate how dangerously unwell she was, the ombudsman said in a report released on Friday.

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Community approach to social work delivers more personalised care

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 09:44:31 GMT2017-12-11T09:44:31Z

Nine councils have adopted a new programme, which has led to a quicker response, better staff morale and budget savings

Gail* has a learning difficulty, mobility problems and is prone to angry outbursts. Leeds council adult social care staff have supported her intermittently over a few years, helping with self-care and chaotic living conditions.

Recently, it considered commissioning weekly visits from a support worker to help Gail manage her home. But instead, under a new approach launched in Leeds last year, Gail met social work staff at community “talking points” – venues such as libraries and churches instead of at home or at the council. The neutral environment sparked different conversations about support. Gail said she wanted to volunteer and staff felt able to be more creative with her care.

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Family carers must get the financial support they deserve | Letters

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:50:17 GMT2017-12-10T18:50:17Z

Mike Stein says kinship carers provide a strong family and cultural identity; Nina Lopez, Micheleine Kane and Kim Sparrow say mothers must be supported so that their children can stay with them; a kinship carer who wishes to remain anonymous has nothing but praise for his social services team; Stan Labovitch says the two-parent family is still the bedrock of society

Louise Tickle importantly identifies the legal barriers to kinship carers receiving financial support (Family carers need our help, 8 December). The statistics are stark. In 2017 only 6,310 (3.5%) of the 180,000 children in kinship care were legally entitled to financial and professional support. It is also of note that in England only 9% of “looked after” children are placed with kinship carers compared to just under half in Spain, and there is also the injustice of opportunity arising from great variations between English local authorities.

Research shows that kinship carers provide a strong family and cultural identity, the child not seeing themselves as “in care”, and they stick with them through troubled times, even when lacking financial, practical and personal support. This evidence clearly suggests the urgent need for all kinship carers to receive legal recognition and resources as part of a continuum of preventative and care services for vulnerable children and their families.
Professor Mike Stein
University of York

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It took decades after leaving care to get the mental health help I needed

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 09:22:07 GMT2017-12-08T09:22:07Z

It took a crisis for me to get the specialist support that children in care should receive from the start

Almost 30 years later, my heart still pounds when I think about the night before I was taken into care at the age of 10. Left alone in the house and sleeping with a knife under my pillow. To this day I have nightmares about it.

Trauma in childhood creates physical changes in the body; it makes us more likely to develop serious illnesses and increases the odds of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder later in life.

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There is no silver bullet for social care, but ministers must not dodge the issue | Colin Noble

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 13:17:28 GMT2017-12-07T13:17:28Z

With services under severe strain, the government must catalyse a culture shift that puts prevention at the heart of care

There has been a plethora of social care papers from governments of all stripes in recent years. The planned green paper on care and support for older people – due next summer – is the 13th, so you’d be forgiven for taking this latest review with a pinch of salt.

Yet there is a feeling that the stress on services cannot go on much longer. County areas are withstanding some of the greatest pressures in delivering and procuring social care services, and have had some of the biggest cuts in core government grants.

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'Women lie about abuse to get rehoused': dangerous misconceptions about domestic violence

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 07:23:15 GMT2017-12-11T07:23:15Z

Housing professionals are ideally placed to identify domestic violence. With a bit more understanding, tragedies could be avoided

The housing sector plays a key role in enabling women and men to move on from violence and abuse. But the misconceptions some housing professionals still have about domestic abuse can cost people their lives. Every day there are tragedies that could have been avoided with a bit more understanding.

Related: Women's lives at risk from changes to funding for refuges, say charities

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Here’s how we can fix Britain’s housing crisis | Letters

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:06:27 GMT2017-12-08T19:06:27Z

Kate Macintosh says the housing shortage is not caused by a lack of accommodation but by mal-distribution; Trinley Walker of the Campaign to Protect Rural England writes that channelling a greater proportion of land value away from landowners to communities is key; Carol Wilcox says that land value tax would help save £10bn a year in housing benefits; plus letters from Brian Kazer and Andrew McKeon

In Owen Jones’s otherwise excellent article (Don’t let the Tories fool you: we must borrow to invest, 7 December), he has allowed the Tories to fool him in one important respect: namely that there is an absolute shortage of housing. Danny Dorling has demonstrated that the cause of the so-called “housing crisis” is not a lack of accommodation but a malaise of acute mal-distribution, whereby those with the financial muscle over-consume in an orgy of “buy to leave” while social cleansing and rough-sleeping escalates. This was confirmed by ex-Treasury official Ian Mulheirn in an interview on Channel 4 News on 16 November when he confirmed that the rate of house-building had for years outstripped overall population growth.

In repeating the Tory mantra that we must increase the housing stock at all costs, Owen adds to pressure for so-called “regeneration” of council housing estates, as recommended by Andrew Adonis, resulting in an overall reduction in social housing, while buy-to-leave and buy-to-let landlords increase their obscene accumulation of wealth and the vulnerable are deported to ghettos of the already needy.

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Please help us tackle urgent problems of homelessness and destitution

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 13:00:03 GMT2017-12-08T13:00:03Z

Youth homelessness and extreme poverty among asylum seekers are overlapping and compelling issues which cuts to services are making worse

Click here to donate to our appeal

The themes of this year’s Guardian and Observer charity appeal are youth homelessness and destitution among asylum seekers. These are overlapping causes which are both compelling and urgent, and which highlight the dire risk that austerity and the erosion of the social security safety net pose to some of society’s most vulnerable people.

Related: I was one of the hidden homeless. I needed help to build my life

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Welsh lesson: why the housing crisis is turning into a very English problem | Dawn Foster

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 07:33:36 GMT2017-12-08T07:33:36Z

With Wales and Scotland tackling homelessness and housing affordability, the English housing crisis lies squarely at the door of the Tories

On 6 December, the Welsh assembly passed a bill designed to try to halt the death of social housing in the region by banning right to buy. The bill is due to come into force by May 2021 and is crucial at a time when the number of social homes in Wales has fallen by 45% due to housing being sold off under the right-to-buy scheme.

Wales is leading the way on working to combat the housing crisis, using what tools it can. The Welsh assembly has more limited legislative powers than Holyrood or Stormont, but the devolved region has managed to implement a different homelessness strategy to England, and gives everyone the right to housing, wherever they come forward for help.

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Four in 10 right-to-buy homes are now owned by private landlords

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 06:01:34 GMT2017-12-08T06:01:34Z

Tenants living in homes sold under Margaret Thatcher’s scheme now pay twice the rents charged by local authorities

Four out of 10 council homes sold under Margaret Thatcher’s flagship right-to-buy policy are now in the hands of private landlords, with their tenants paying more than twice the rent levels charged by local authorities.

Freedom of information (FoI) requests sent to 111 English local authorities by Inside Housing magazine reveal that 40.2% of housing stock sold by councils to then tenants are now rented out, rising to 70.9% in Milton Keynes, which it dubs the “right-to-buy-to-let capital” of England.

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Australian charities 'self-censoring' political advocacy out of fear of retribution

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 01:44:38 GMT2017-12-12T01:44:38Z

Report finds charities and non-government organisations operate in ‘insidious’ environment where ‘self-censorship’ is rife

Australian charities are avoiding political advocacy and “self-silencing” out of a fear that dissent will attract political retribution, a new report has found.

Published by Pro Bono Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre, the Civil Voices report found that charities and non-government organisations operate in an “insidious” environment where “self-censorship” is rife because of funding agreements, management pressure and the “implied repercussions” of political speech.

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The Guardian view on Hastings pier: in need of support | Editorial

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:30:10 GMT2017-12-10T17:30:10Z

The community worked hard and gave generously to save one of Britain’s great coastal landmarks. Their efforts must not be in vain

Hastings pier is a beautiful reincarnation of a Victorian extravaganza, a 21st century reimagining of one of the most familiar playthings of the seaside culture of a century ago. It has been saved through an innovative financial structure that involved setting up the first ever community benefit society, raising nearly £1m in shares from local people, and a multimillion-pound investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

When it was first opened in 1872 it was described as the peerless pier. This year it was voted the people’s pier of 2017; and in the ultimate accolade, in October its lovely new pavilion, clad in wood recycled from the original pier that had largely been destroyed in an arson attack in 2010, won the year’s most prestigious design award, the Stirling architecture prize. Then, within a matter of weeks, this ambitious project in heritage regeneration and civic engagement ran out of money and went into administration. The outlook is tough, but it is not beyond hope. And its revival should be a matter of national concern not only for the pier itself, but for what it stands for: a model of what can be achieved through the efforts of civil society.

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Ed Sheeran versus the super-idiots | Victoria Coren Mitchell

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:05:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:05:21Z

Attacking the singer’s charity efforts takes a rare type of stupidity. But guess what...

According to a Dropbox survey published last week, most people believe that “only 68% of their work colleagues” are capable of the job.

This is a staggering figure. Why so high? Nobody’s capable of the job. Nobody’s capable of anything.

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Secret Teacher: I'm working full time but struggling to make ends meet

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 07:00:00 GMT2017-12-09T07:00:00Z

I love my job, but can barely afford to do it. A pay increase might help tackle the recruitment crisis the government is failing to address

I’m a primary school teacher and I love my job. Despite the long hours – 12 hours a day Monday to Friday and most of the afternoon on a Sunday – the rewards are significant. I had various jobs before coming to the profession and they didn’t come close to giving me the sense of achievement I now feel. My colleagues and I are working hard to improve the life chances of children. But the sad reality is that I can barely afford to do this job.

I’m a single parent of two young children and it’s almost impossible to sustain living near my school in London. I earn £32,000 a year, and my rent – the cheapest I could find in a one-mile radius of work – is £1,250 a month. After tax and student loans, my take-home pay is about £24,000. My rent eats up 60% of that. Then there’s council tax, gas, electricity, internet, food and clothes to pay for. With one week left until pay day, it’s quite normal for me to be able to count the number of pounds I have left in my account on two hands. Christmas is a particularly difficult time of the year.

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Public leaders network editorial board 2018: nominations open

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:14:38 GMT2017-12-04T12:14:38Z

Each year, we ask our members to put forward public service leaders for our advisory board. You have until 8 January 2018 to make a nomination

Every year, we ask you, the members of our network, to help us in our search for leaders to shape what we do over the next 12 months. Nominations are now open for the 2018 Guardian Public Leaders editorial advisory board.

Here at the network, we take an independent view of public leadership and policy, and in this, we have been very grateful for the valuable input by the members of our 2017 board: Michael Beaven, Niall Bolger, Dwayne Branch, Kate Carr, Aisling Duffy, Peter Fleming, Karen Holmes, Hayley Lewis, Steve McGuirk and Matt Stevenson-Dodd, all of whom have been a fantastic resource and have helped us see the Public Leaders Network achieve even wider audiences this year. A big thank you to them all.

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Only 23% of the world's politicians are women. It's time for that to change

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 07:13:28 GMT2017-11-29T07:13:28Z

Progress to close the gender gap in politics has been glacial. At their global summit, female politicians from around the world are demanding faster action

In July, the leaders of the G20 nations gathered for a group photo as they kicked off their summit meeting in Germany. Of the 36 people in the picture, how many were women? Just four: Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, Theresa May, prime minister of the UK, Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund.

Related: Too few women at the top means we are all losing out | Jane Dudman

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Library closures mean lonely people will be left out in the cold this Christmas time

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 10:16:09 GMT2017-12-02T10:16:09Z

For many people their local library is the place where they come to fill the gaps in their life. We librarians continue to be passionate and fight the good fight

In my eight years working in libraries across the country, I have known librarians trudge nearly ten miles through the snow because the roads were closed rather than leave library visitors stranded in the cold.

Librarians across the country are pulling together to make positive changes out of challenges

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Doctors 'not told about full risk of vaginal mesh implants'

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 01:01:41 GMT2017-12-12T01:01:41Z

BBC Panorama investigation also found pharmaceutical giant Ethicon launched a product having only tested it on 31 women and a sheep

One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies failed to update doctors on the full extent of risks posed by vaginal mesh implants, an investigation by Panorama has found.

Known as trans-vaginal tape (TVT), the implant is a small mesh support that is used to treat urinary incontinence or prolapse occurring after childbirth. For the majority of women the procedure is quick and successful, however some patients have suffered debilitating complications such as severe pelvic pain, the mesh eroding through the vaginal wall or perforating organs.

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Muslim foster parents: ‘We'd never had a Christmas tree - it made them so happy’

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 11:43:35 GMT2017-12-03T11:43:35Z

News that a Christian child was ‘forced’ into Muslim foster care caused a furore earlier this year. But, despite the challenges, these families play a vital role in bringing up vulnerable children

About 100,000 young people go through the fostering system every year. In recent years an increasing number of these have been child refugees from Muslim-majority countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, many arriving here traumatised and in need of care.

“We estimate there is a shortage of 8,000 foster carers,” says Kevin Williams, chief executive of the Fostering Network, “and there is a particular shortage of Muslim foster carers.”

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Dying to get clean: is ibogaine the answer to heroin addiction?

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 08:00:31 GMT2017-12-10T08:00:31Z

Ibogaine is a drug harvested from the roots of a plant found in Gabon. When all else fails, some heroin addicts have used it to conquer their cravings. But is it effective and are the serious risks it carries worth it?

At the age of 12, Jay was smoking cigarettes and weed; by 16, he was snorting coke; two years later he was taking heroin and crack – but he says by the time he left university he was a “functional drug addict”, able to get up in the morning, put a suit on, travel from his parents’ home in north London to his job as a banker in the City.

Then his marriage broke down; his health deteriorated; he got hooked on the powerful painkiller Tramadol following an unrelated operation on his stomach; and when doctors stopped that dose, he replaced it with heroin.

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Stephen Hawking joins lawsuit aimed at foiling Hunt's NHS shake-up

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:37:41 GMT2017-12-08T17:37:41Z

Physicist’s dispute with health secretary is reignited as he joins action against changes he fears could lead to more privatisation

Stephen Hawking has reignited his public dispute with Jeremy Hunt by joining a legal action aimed at scuppering an NHS shake-up that he fears will lead to greater privatisation and rationing of resources.

The physicist has become a party to a lawsuit that is seeking to stop the introduction of the first accountable care organisations (ACOs) into the NHS in England in April.

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Radical diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, new study shows

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 17:12:28 GMT2017-12-05T17:12:28Z

Low-calorie diet caused remission in 90% of trial patients who lost 15kg or more, even those who had been diabetic for six years, say researchers

A radical low-calorie diet can reverse type 2 diabetes, even six years into the disease, a new study has found.

The number of cases of type 2 diabetes is soaring, related to the obesity epidemic. Fat accumulated in the abdomen prevents the proper function of the pancreas. It can lead to serious and life-threatening complications, including blindness and foot amputations, heart and kidney disease.

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Dartmoor prisoners 'being released without proper preparation'

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:01:18 GMT2017-12-12T00:01:18Z

Chief inspector of prisons says failure to adequately prepare high-risk offenders for life after jail is ‘shocking and unacceptable’

Hundreds of high-risk prisoners, many of them sex offenders, are being released each year from Dartmoor prison without proper preparation, in a “shocking and unacceptable” public protection failing identified by the chief inspector of prisons.

Peter Clarke said more than 200 men had been released from one of Britain’s oldest prisons in the past 12 months, and an even higher number of releases was expected next year.

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Steroids, syringes and stigma: the quest for the perfect male six-pack - video

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 10:25:43 GMT2017-11-29T10:25:43Z

In the search for a quick route to a muscular physique, many young men turn to controversial anabolic steroids to achieve their goals. But in the wake of deaths in the bodybuilding community, do the statistics showing a fourfold increase in their use, really add up?

  • This video was amended on 7 December 2017 to remove potential for misunderstandings about who in the video was a steroids user. No one in the video other than those who say they use or used steroids should be taken to have done so.

Under Construction footage courtesy Dave Crosland / JG Films

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Young people and gamers’ gambling: what are your experiences?

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:28:16 GMT2017-12-11T15:28:16Z

The head of the Gambling Commission said it would crackdown on computer-game currencies and upgrades which are being used to gamble for real money

Gambling webpages linked to computer games could face a crackdown, the betting industry’s chief regulator has warned.

In August, the head of the Gambling Commission, Sarah Harrison, said that “skins” betting, where computer-game currencies and upgrades can be used to gamble for real money, is a priority for the regulator. Harrison said one in five of the illicit operations shut down by the watchdog since 2014 facilitated “skins” betting.

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The Barcelona design studio for people with Down's syndrome and autism – video

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:07:59 GMT2017-12-04T12:07:59Z

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we visit Casa Carlota, a Barcelona-based design studio that includes people with Down's syndrome, autism and intellectual disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities tend to have less obvious approaches to design and creativity

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