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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: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 19:21:29 GMT2016-09-30T19:21:29Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016

Mental illness soars among young women in England – survey

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:00:20 GMT2016-09-29T20:00:20Z

NHS study finds 12.6% of women aged 16-24 screen positive for PTSD, 19.7% self-harm and 28.2% have mental health condition

Sexual violence, childhood trauma and pressures from social media are being blamed for dramatic increases in the number of young women self-harming and having post-traumatic stress disorder or a chronic mental illness.

An inquiry into the state of mental health in England found alarming evidence that more women aged from 16 to 24 are experiencing mental health problems than ever before. “Young women have become a key high risk group,” it concluded.

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Adoption numbers drop steeply as government's flagship policy falters

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:00:45 GMT2016-09-29T17:00:45Z

Fall of 12% put down to local authorities misinterpreting a 2013 family court ruling that adoption should be a last resort

The government’s flagship adoption policy is showing signs of faltering, with the latest figures showing a 12% drop in the number of vulnerable children matched with adoptive parents over the past year.

Adoption numbers in England have risen in recent years after David Cameron introduced reforms designed to “tear down the barriers” preventing children from being matched with parents.

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The latest costly frivolity to be wound down? Domestic violence services | Frances Ryan

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 08:00:37 GMT2016-09-29T08:00:37Z

Charities such as Equation in Nottingham are fighting for survival as funding dries up. Their struggle shows how this government really views them

“We’re simply focusing on how to survive.” Those are the words of a domestic abuse worker in Nottingham – but the survival Chloe Cheeseman is describing refers to that of an organisation built to help women and girls in danger, rather than the women and girls themselves – an indictment of what’s happening to domestic violence services in this country

Equation, the charity Cheeseman works for, offers the sort of services any of us would want in our community: training frontline workers – police, midwives, social workers – about domestic violence; supporting men’s services to help male survivors of abuse; and going into local schools to teach young people about healthy relationships to tackle abuse before it starts.

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Media Files:

Six million low-income families 'worse off than 10 years ago'

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:00:38 GMT2016-09-29T18:00:38Z

Rising costs to housing and childcare have hit ‘just managing’ families, as identified by Theresa May in her maiden Downing Street speech

Six million working families on low incomes are poorer than they were a decade ago due to an unprecedented squeeze on pay and rising costs of housing and childcare, a study has found.

Ahead of this weekend’s Conservative party conference, the Resolution Foundation (RF) study aimed to identify those Theresa May spoke described in her first pledge as prime minister as “just about managing” to provide for themselves.

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Gaps remain in tackling child sexual exploitation, Ofsted finds

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:42:53 GMT2016-09-29T11:42:53Z

Watchdog reports improvements in cooperation between agencies but says some officials still using victim-blaming language

Some victims of child sexual exploitation are still being described as “promiscuous” or said to have made choices when found in abusive situations, an Ofsted report says.

The watchdog found improvements in cooperation between police, social care and health professionals to protect vulnerable children, but said some officials had used language that could leave victims feeling they were responsible for their own abuse, while others had an “inadequate” understanding of the signs of child sexual exploitation.

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Lead counsel to child sexual abuse inquiry resigns after suspension

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 22:17:20 GMT2016-09-29T22:17:20Z

Ben Emmerson QC hints at dispute over review of inquiry’s approach as Theresa May insists investigation will not be scaled back

The prime minister has stepped in to shore up the struggling national inquiry into child abuse, saying it was a crucial investigation to stop more children becoming victims in the future.

Theresa May insisted on Thursday that the inquiry, which she set up while she was home secretary, would not be scaled back. She spoke following the suspension of the most senior counsel to the inquiry, Ben Emmerson QC, on Wednesday night over concerns about his leadership.

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This child abuse inquiry debacle shines a harsh light on Theresa May | Gaby Hinsliff

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 19:45:07 GMT2016-09-29T19:45:07Z

As home secretary, she fought hard to set up this review. We’ll learn much as the now prime minister strives to stop it unravelling

How must it feel, to have been let down as a child by those you were taught to trust, and then in adulthood to be let down all over again?

It’s hard to imagine how painful the turmoil inside the government’s child abuse inquiry must be for survivors of abuse. Already on its fourth chair, the inquiry has now suspended its counsel Ben Emmerson QC over unnamed allegations about his leadership – hours after reports that Emmerson was considering resigning because he felt the scope of the inquiry was impossibly wide. On Thursday evening Emmerson did resign. The inquiry’s second most senior lawyer, Elizabeth Prochaska, has quit too.

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Hundreds of thousands call for legal protection of UK parks

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 06:00:12 GMT2016-09-30T06:00:12Z

Threat of budget cuts and developers prompts mass submissions to government consultation and 220,000-strong petition

Hundreds of thousands of people have called on the government to grant legal protection to the UK’s parks, amid growing fears that the green spaces are in danger of being lost.

More than 180,000 people submitted evidence to the communities and local government committee’s parliamentary consultation, which closes on Friday, calling on the government to make it a statutory duty for councils to protect and maintain the country’s 27,000 public parks. Separately, 220,000 people have signed a petition calling for legal protection and 115,000 have completed a survey, both of which were organised by the campaign organisation 38 Degrees.

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The crisis in Britain’s parks is a social justice issue | Graham Duxbury

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:53:24 GMT2016-09-29T15:53:24Z

Everyone needs green spaces. But as they fall victim to the cuts, the biggest losers by far are the young and the poor

Meeting your mates in the park and having a kickabout with jumpers for goalposts has been one of the simple pleasures in the lives of young people for generations. But it’s a joy now denied to many, and the situation might be about to get even worse.

It may not be obvious as go for your early-morning jog or take your dog for a walk, but there is a crisis in the nation’s parks and green spaces. As councils continue to ration spending in order to safeguard statutory services such as child protection and adult social care, parks are one of the big losers.

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Child sex abuse inquiry: victims anxious after counsels' resignations

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:38:00 GMT2016-09-30T17:38:00Z

Departures of Ben Emmerson and Elizabeth Prochaska leave many worried amid calls for restructured investigation

Confidence in the troubled national inquiry into child abuse is in danger of draining away following the latest resignations, lawyers for the victims have said.

A weekly meeting between survivors’ representatives and the leadership of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) lasted all day on Friday as they sought reassurance that its original, ambitious aims would be preserved.

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Letter: Andrew Veitch’s reporting of HIV in the 1980s

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 16:01:36 GMT2016-09-30T16:01:36Z

The advent of HIV/Aids in the early 1980s saw a great deal of hysterical, stigmatising journalism. Andrew Veitch stood out then, and subsequently, as the most responsible writer and observer of the unfolding epidemic. As professor of sexually transmitted infections at the Middlesex hospital and medical school, I spoke to him frequently and trusted him completely. Andrew took great trouble to understand the scientific, medical and social consequences of HIV/Aids, for which we opened the first ward in the UK, and was always well prepared. He knew what he wanted, and could be mischievous, but I never refused his calls. An ally to the gay and medical communities, in helping to educate the public about the issues he showed his belief in honest journalism.

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What next for the child abuse inquiry after its top lawyer’s departure?

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:36:40 GMT2016-09-30T11:36:40Z

The suspension and then resignation of Ben Emmerson QC as lead counsel is another major blow for the much-troubled inquiry. But there are potential solutions to the problems it faces

What does the resignation of the lead counsel to the child abuse inquiry mean?

Few doubt that departure of Ben Emmerson QC, who for the last two years has been lead counsel to the national child abuse inquiry, is anything other than a damaging blow to its operations. The inquiry emerged from the shockwaves of the Jimmy Savile revelations, which exposed for the first time how an abuser could operate in plain sight within institutions from the National Health Service to the BBC.

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World Bank to name and shame countries that fail to prevent stunting in children

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:57:12 GMT2016-09-30T09:57:12Z

Exclusive: Bank chief Jim Yong Kim vows to expose governments that fail to tackle malnourishment as part of mission to rid world of stunting by 2030

The president of the World Bank has warned he will name and shame countries that fail to tackle the malnourishment and poor growth of their children, as part of a mission to rid the world of stunting.

Jim Yong Kim, the former physician who heads the Bank, told the Guardian he would take to the podium at the World Economic Forum in Davos every year to point the finger at governments who failed to live up to promises to tackle a scourge affecting tens of millions of children.

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Reporter who quit on air to fight for pot legalization faces decades in prison

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 19:41:37 GMT2016-09-29T19:41:37Z

Pending trial of Charlo Greene raises questions about the war on drugs and could have broader legal implications as more states move towards legalization

Update | 29 September 2016: The most recent charges against Charlo Greene in her marijuana case include six more offenses than the original indictment, according to a spokeswoman for the Alaska attorney general’s office. Instead of eight counts for a total of 24 years in prison, she is facing 14 offenses for a possible 54 years.

Reached by phone on Thursday, Greene said she was unaware that she was facing a sentence twice as harsh as the original indictment filed against her last year.

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G4S equality helpline contract raises serious concern, high court told

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:50:19 GMT2016-09-29T18:50:19Z

Human rights groups seek rethink of decision to hand Equality Advisory and Support Service to scandal-hit security firm

Awarding global security firm G4S the contract to run a national discrimination helpline raises “serious and legitimate grounds for concern” and risks undermining the service’s credibility, the high court has been told.

A judicial review challenge supported by human rights groups and the Law Centres Network has called on the government to delay transferring operation of the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) to G4S.

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The super-rich and the gender pay gap | Letters

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:59:04 GMT2016-09-29T17:59:04Z

I am certain that ensuring there is an improved gender balance among the super-rich will do little, and probably nothing, for the majority of women struggling to find work that pays enough and gives them sufficient job security so that they can juggle the rising costs of housing and childcare (Women are “distinct minority” in super-rich list, LSE study reveals, 27 September). The UK already has a high level of income inequality compared to other developed countries. Closing the gender gap is crucial and we should be focusing our efforts on improving the lives of people struggling to make ends meet rather than on increasing the very small number of women who could join men in earning more in a year than the average woman does in a lifetime.
Carole Easton
Chief executive, Young Women’s Trust

• Join the debate – email

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Progressive policies can reduce poverty – as the US shows | Mary O’Hara

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:00:35 GMT2016-09-27T13:00:35Z

The US poverty rate had one of its biggest single-year falls in 50 years in 2015 – some 3.5 million fewer Americans were living in poverty than in the previous year

Like a bolt from the blue there has been a flurry of uncharacteristically positive headlines on wages and poverty in the US. The New York Times reported that the latest figures heralded a break in the “pattern of stagnation” that has haunted the country in recent years, especially in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Other headlines hailed the data as amounting to “historic gains on poverty”. So what’s behind all the trumpet blowing?

The figures from the 2015 Census Bureau reports, which span poverty, income and health insurance data, revealed that the official US poverty rate had experienced one of its biggest single-year falls in almost half a century, dropping from 14.8% to 13.5%. Just over 3.5 million fewer Americans were living in poverty than in the previous year.

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Britain’s youngest mayor on Brexit and the challenges facing Labour | Dawn Foster

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:00:28 GMT2016-09-27T12:00:28Z

Terence Smith, Goole’s 19-year-old mayor, on why his Yorkshire town voted Brexit and giving up freshers’ week for the Labour conference

Terence Smith, Britain’s youngest mayor, is missing freshers’ week to attend the Labour party conference this week. The 19-year-old, who recently won a place at Hull University to study sociology (though he has since switched to politics), says he will be juggling studying with his political responsibilities as mayor of Goole, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Related: Terence Smith is youngest mayor in UK – aged 19

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Michael Grade: ‘Success would mean no business coming in’ | Patrick Butler

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 07:00:19 GMT2016-09-21T07:00:19Z

The chair of the new charity fundraising regulator promises a fair and speedy complaints process ahead of a keynote speech to the Media Trust

It’s been a year since the voluntary sector, reeling after a media scandal involving “vile and disgusting” tales of older and vulnerable donors being aggressively targeted by charity fundraisers, pledged to clean up its act. A string of stories – including the harassment by fundraisers of Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old volunteer poppy seller for the Royal British Legion, and the sale by charities of personal data belonging to Samuel Rae, an 87-year-old man with dementia, exposing him to conmen who tricked him out of £35,000 – led to calls for tough new controls on fundraising standards and practices.

Under threat of statutory intervention, the sector – which sheepishly admitted it had taken its eye off the ball and that the scandals had been a “wake-up call” – came up with a voluntary scheme, funded by the 50 biggest fundraising charities and designed to stamp out bad practice and restore public trust. Charities that fell foul of the new code of conduct would be named and shamed.

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David Simmonds: who’s going to pay to help child refugees? | Amelia Gentleman

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 06:59:06 GMT2016-09-14T06:59:06Z

The chair of the LGA’s asylum, refugee and migration task group says councils need more funding if they are to house unaccompanied children

Persuading councils to accommodate more refugees is a delicate art, but it is one that David Simmonds – who has overseen a successful drive to get councils to find homes for 20,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees – has begun to master.

Earlier this month the government announced that homes had been found for all the Syrian refugees the UK had committed to house, and about 2,800 had arrived. Simmonds, who chairs the Local Government Association’s asylum, refugee and migration task group, describes this (with understated satisfaction) as a “good achievement” and “one of the success stories”.

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Councils should take devolved powers now while they still can

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 12:00:00 GMT2016-09-13T12:00:00Z

Tyne and Wear’s rejection of a devolution deal casts doubt on the whole project – but it’s the only game in town for the foreseeable future

It was a package worth £900m, which would have delivered better transport links and more housebuilding, and improved skill provision in Tyne and Wear. But last week, leaders of four of the region’s seven local authorities voted against proceeding with the devolution deal that the region had spent nearly a year negotiating. Nonplussed, the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, immediately pulled the whole thing off the table, in a move that raises serious questions about where the devolution agenda goes next. Is Westminster’s determination to devolve power to cities starting to flag? Or is it councils that are losing their appetite for more powers in the face of austerity?

On the face of it, the devolution deal is a casualty of Brexit. Regional leaders wanted assurances that they would get all their European money up to 2020 and beyond, but the government would only guarantee projects signed before the forthcoming autumn statement.

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Grammar schools are yet another gamble with the futures of young people | Lewis Iwu

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 06:30:52 GMT2016-09-13T06:30:52Z

As a black man who grew up in east London, I’m an example of how a good comprehensive education can boost social mobility. It’s not too late to stop this regressive plan

Staunch advocates of grammar schools have trouble explaining why providing a lottery ticket to a lucky few is a necessary condition for increasing social mobility. It is possible for poor children to shatter glass ceilings after receiving a comprehensive education. Take inner London, where I grew up, which has no grammar schools. Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies this week argues that London schools are a better example of how to improve social mobility than grammar schools. The IFS finds that children from deprived backgrounds are much less likely to attend existing grammar schools than better-off children are, even high-achieving poor pupils, while those who don’t pass the 11-plus do much worse than in a comprehensive system. But in inner London, about half the pupils eligible for free school meals achieve five or more GCSEs at A* to C, double the proportion outside London. It has been able to both “improve results amongst the brightest pupils and reduce inequality”, the IFS concludes.

Related: Dear Theresa May, here’s what grammar schools did to my family | John O’Farrell

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Naomi Eisenstadt: ‘By comparison England is so grim!’ | Libby Brooks

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 13:00:33 GMT2016-09-06T13:00:33Z

Nicola Sturgeon’s poverty adviser discusses why social policy, from housing to child poverty, differs so much in Holyrood from Westminster

Naomi Eisenstadt is halfway through a typically quickfire survey of the Scottish government’s housing record – “ditching the bedroom tax, bringing in private-rented-sector controls, the commitment to building social housing, some of it accessible, and stopping selling council housing … that’s brilliant!” – when she pauses for breath and clarifies her enthusiasm.

“It’s very difficult, if you live in England and you’re moderately leftwing, to complain about anything the Scottish government does,” she says, sounding almost exasperated. “I’m sorry, but the comparison with England is so grim!”

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London Olympics has brought regeneration, but at a price locals can’t afford | Penny Bernstock

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 12:59:00 GMT2016-08-30T12:59:00Z

Far from the promised benefits for the whole community, Stratford’s move upmarket involves little affordable housing and steeply rising prices

The London Olympics claimed that its most enduring legacy would be “the regeneration of an entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there”. It is clear however, four year on, that without a rethink the housing legacy will be marked by the rapid gentrification of Stratford and surrounding areas and a negligible gain of genuinely affordable housing.

From the start there was a degree of vagueness about what the housing legacy would be, though terms such as “much” and “many” were used in reference to the proportion of affordable housing that would be provided and this won over opposition to the demolition of existing housing. There was also tension between the vision of the Greater London Authority with ambitions for 50% affordable housing on new developments and the London Borough of Newham which while supportive was keen to encourage more market housing in Stratford.

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US starts to turn its back on private prisons | Mary O’Hara

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:00:08 GMT2016-08-30T11:00:08Z

The nation that led the way on privatising incarceration has declared its intention to reduce the use of for-profit prisons. The UK should take note

The country that locks up the most people has been reassessing its decades-long surge in prisoner numbers, with initiatives ranging from presidential pledges on solitary confinement to cutting the number of young people behind bars. This month, the reform agenda took yet another turn with a vow by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in Washington to phase out privately run prisons.

For-profit prisons simply are not as efficient as their state-run counterparts, and don’t save substantially on costs

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The importance of making carers feel welcome at hospital | Donna Cummings

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:01:37 GMT2016-08-26T15:01:37Z

Donna Cummings, senior sister in adult critical care at Manchester Royal Infirmary, describes how she not only welcomes carers but enables them to be involved in the critical care of their loved ones if this is what they want

As a senior sister in critical care, I know that welcoming carers is the right thing to do for everyone. Our head of nursing, John Logan also knows this and had instigated the foundations of our critical care carer support scheme with a large sign at our entrance reception and the purchase of yellow “carer” name badges so that carers could easily be recognised by the team, allowing them unrestricted access to the person they care for, a free parking permit and overnight accommodation if needed.

I wanted to take this one step further, I wanted to the team to realise that it is OK for carers to get involved in care delivery if they wish to do so, something that isn’t always seen as possible in our environment. I was also worried that the carer would have to explain their involvement each time there was a shift change and how frustrating that would be.

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Care home residents deprived of liberty in record numbers

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:17:02 GMT2016-09-28T19:17:02Z

Campaigners fear mistreatment as number of requests received by councils to deny freedom jumps to 195,840 in 2015-16

Record numbers of care home residents are being deprived of their liberty by being put in straps, locked in or given behaviour-controlling drugs, fuelling fears that some are being mistreated.

Campaigners have voiced concern that some residents, including dementia patients, are being wrongly denied their freedom and treated as “second-class citizens” – for example, by being locked in their rooms.

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Flashing Christmas lights are a danger | Letters

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 18:26:46 GMT2016-09-28T18:26:46Z

Glastonbury, like nearly every town and village in the UK, is about to suffer an annual outbreak of flashing. It will start in the high street and spread all over town – maybe even to your garden or front room.

Around three in every 100 people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy. Various types of seizure can be triggered by flashing or flickering light: tonic-clonic, absence, myoclonic and focal seizures – all disabling and some dangerous.

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Junior doctors fail in high court challenge of new contract's legality

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:43:44 GMT2016-09-28T16:43:44Z

Judge rejects claim that Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, exceeded his powers, but junior doctors say ruling is a victory for them

Junior doctors have lost a judicial review challenging the legality of a controversial new contract, which is now set to be introduced next week.

In a judgment published on Wednesday, Mr Justice Green rejected arguments presented at the high court by five junior doctors that the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, had exceeded his powers.

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Women taking pill more likely to be treated for depression, study finds

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:03:40 GMT2016-09-28T15:03:40Z

Danish research finds that women on combined contraceptive pill are 23% more likely to be prescribed antidepressants

Women who take the contraceptive pill are more likely to be treated for depression, according to a large study.

Millions of women worldwide use hormonal contraceptives, and there have long been reports that they can affect mood. A research project was launched in Denmark to look at the scale of the problem, involving the medical records of more than a million women and adolescent girls.

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Widow of Falklands war veteran wins legal battle to save frozen embryos

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:10:25 GMT2016-09-28T14:10:25Z

High court victory gives Samantha Jefferies ‘last chance’ to have child by husband, who died after they started fertility treatment

The widow of a Falklands war veteran has won a high court declaration giving her a “last chance” to have her late husband’s child.

Samantha Jefferies, 42, from East Sussex, was forced to go to court after the shock discovery that the 10-year period for storing the frozen embryos the couple had created had been inexplicably amended to two years and had since expired.

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Concern over bowel cancer patients with symptoms year before diagnosis

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 23:01:49 GMT2016-09-27T23:01:49Z

Researchers found a fifth of those who received an emergency diagnosis had symptoms that might have seen disease caught earlier

A fifth of bowel cancer patients who received an emergency diagnosis in one year in England had characteristic symptoms the year before, suggesting their disease could have been caught earlier, researchers say.

With the majority of patients having seen a doctor in the 12 months before their diagnosis, whether emergency or non-emergency, the authors of the new study say multiple factors could be behind the finding.

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Hospital overcrowding caused by 'political maladministration', say MPs

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 23:01:49 GMT2016-09-27T23:01:49Z

Governments’ failure to link health and social care means ‘bed-blocking’ patients are stuck on full wards or are sent home too soon, report warns

Hospitals have become dangerously full and discharge patients too soon as a direct result of “political maladministration” by successive governments, according to a committee of MPs.

Related: NHS 'in perpetual winter of Narnia' as waiting list reaches record 3.9m

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BMA facing backlash from members over handling of contract dispute

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:36:28 GMT2016-09-26T18:36:28Z

Junior doctors cancelling membership in protest over union’s ‘appalling’ handling of campaign against imposition of new working arrangements

The British Medical Association is facing a major backlash from angry members and an exodus by medics disillusioned with its “appalling” handling of the bitter junior doctors’ dispute.

There has been a spate of resignations from the doctors’ union after it announced, then called off, a series of five-day all-out strikes in a failed attempt to stop the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, imposing a controversial new contract on the 54,000 trainee medics in the NHS in England.

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Junior doctors angered by suspension of strike | Letters

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:22:47 GMT2016-09-26T18:22:47Z

Saturday’s decision by the BMA (Junior doctors suspend strike plans due to ‘patient safety’ concerns,, 24 September) has angered junior doctors throughout the country. It was unexpected and, seemingly, unaccountable; despite about 100,000 doctors paying £400 annually to the union that represents us, no one has yet been informed of the breakdown of the vote.

In line with nationwide concerns by junior doctors, consultants and other healthcare practitioners, the Junior Doctors’ Alliance pressure group (JDA) has reaffirmed its commitment to raising public awareness about the dangers to patients in particular, and the NHS as a whole, of the new contract. In the wake of the decision to suspend the strike, it is now more vital than ever to engage in public discussion and affirmative action to ensure this contract is not imposed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

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Parents of baby awaiting heart transplant appeal for public's help

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:55:12 GMT2016-09-26T12:55:12Z

Nick and Amy Brace launch petition calling for opt-out donor system as 19-week-old Marnie struggles for life

The parents of the youngest child waiting for a heart transplant in the UK are hoping that the plight of their 19-week-old baby will help change the law on donor transplants.

Marnie Brace was born with a serious heart condition in May, and her parents have been told that without a heart transplant she will not survive. Nick and Amy Brace are calling on the public to sign a petition to urge Westminster politicians to follow Welsh lawmakers and create an opt-out organ donor system. Currently people wishing to donate their organs after their death have to sign the organ donor register or inform family members of their wishes.

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Environmental health officers call for smoking ban in playgrounds

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 23:01:14 GMT2016-09-25T23:01:14Z

Zoos and anywhere children play should become no-smoking zones, says Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

Smoking should be banned in all parks and playgrounds to reduce the chances of children growing up thinking that using cigarettes is normal, environmental health officers have told ministers.

Zoos, theme parks and anywhere else children play should also become no-smoking zones, in a significant proposed expansion of the outdoor areas in which smokers cannot light up.

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Hospitals and care homes fail food safety inspections

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:30:25 GMT2016-09-25T21:30:25Z

Data shows more than 500 places caring for vulnerable people, including nurseries and playgroups, require improvement

More than 500 care providers in the UK, including 19 hospitals and other NHS facilities, have failed hygiene and food safety inspections, Guardian analysis reveals.

Food Standards Agency (FSA) data shows that care homes fail to meet food hygiene standards more than any other type of care provider, with more than 200 residential, nursing and care homes receiving low grades at their latest food safety inspections.

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It’s never been easy being a teenager. But is this now a generation in crisis?

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 23:04:18 GMT2016-09-24T23:04:18Z

In 1976, the pioneering Open Door charity for young people with mental health problems launched. Forty years on, it’s asking whether it’s harder than ever to be an adolescent

Mollycoddled and cosseted or stressed and over-pressured. Energised and engaged or bored and turned off. Young people have so many labels and stereotypes slapped on them it’s a wonder these are not visible on their endless selfies. What is undeniably true is that the evidence suggests that rates of depression, self-harm and anxiety among young people are at unprecedented levels.

Youth unemployment is more than 13%, the cost of higher education is rapidly rising, a drought of affordable housing coupled with low pay is keeping many young people sealed under the parental roof and trapped in what one report called “suspended adulthood”. The ubiquity of the internet and social media, with its dark underbelly of hardcore pornography, body shaming and cyberbullying, is encroaching on their wellbeing, while a relentless focus on academic high-achieving is turning up the pressure in the classroom. Youth, traditionally thought of as the most enviable time of life, can now look like a deeply challenging and sometimes unpleasant time of life.

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Junior doctors suspend strike plans due to 'patient safety' concerns

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 20:14:23 GMT2016-09-24T20:14:23Z

BMA’s junior doctors committee voices opposition to contract changes but cancels strikes after member feedback

Junior doctors have suspended plans to go on a series of five-day strikes to protest against changes to their contracts after a “vigorous debate” following a change in leadership.

The British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee (JDC) said it would not go ahead with the industrial action, but was “planning other actions over the coming weeks”.

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Could ants be the solution to antibiotic crisis?

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 11:17:33 GMT2016-09-24T11:17:33Z

Bacterial defences of fungus-farming ants could help in medical battle against superbugs

Scientists have pinpointed a promising new source of antibiotics: ants. They have found that some species – including leaf-cutter ants from the Amazon – use bacteria to defend their nests against invading fungi and microbes.

Chemicals excreted by the bacteria as part of this fight have been shown to have particularly powerful antibiotic effects and researchers are now preparing to test them in animals to determine their potential as medicines for humans.

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Two in five children in England failed to visit an NHS dentist in past year

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:23:13 GMT2016-09-23T17:23:13Z

Experts urge parents to limit sugary foods and call for revenue from planned sugar tax to go towards improving dental health

More than two out of five children in England did not visit an NHS dentist in the past year, figures show, despite official health advice urging regular checks.

Experts described the figures as “woeful” and called on parents and carers to limit children’s consumption of sugary treat foods and for part of the revenue from the planned sugar tax to be put into improving dental health.

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The cost of the NHS is a matter of perspective | Letters

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:24:45 GMT2016-09-22T18:24:45Z

The half-truth as you quote Tim Farron as saying about paying for the NHS is that the money has to come out of people’s pockets (Editorial, 21 September). This is not as difficult as it may sound at first if we work out the value to the community of the services provided by the NHS and compare it with the costs. The consistent increase in longevity since 1948 must owe a great deal to its existence, and the addition to the national income year by year must run into billions of pounds if we put a proper value on such things as enabling people to return to work after injury or illness after a shorter absence, or even at all. Reduction in pain and anxiety runs into many more billions, as well as the benefits from improved drugs, new and simpler methods of surgery, treating conditions in outpatients departments, or regular visits to GP surgeries (instead of hospitalisation).

If a monetary value were to be put on these and many other of the NHS’s activities, this would produce a “profit”, year by year. Part of this could then be ploughed back into the service in a similar way to part of commercial and industrial profits being used to finance expansion. It is time to stop nit-picking on the cost side of the NHS and get down to working out just how much we owe it.
Harvey Cole
Winchester, Hampshire

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Keep button batteries away from children, doctors warn parents

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:06:26 GMT2016-09-22T14:06:26Z

Great Ormond Street hospital reports sharp rise in number of children treated after swallowing the potentially fatal metal discs

Parents are being warned to keep button batteries under lock and key as doctors report a sharp rise in the number of children admitted to hospital in the UK after swallowing the metal discs.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital in London say about one child a month is admitted after swallowing a button battery – a dramatic increase on two years ago when just one child a year was admitted.

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Shambolic child abuse inquiry is failing in its most important role

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:48:37 GMT2016-09-29T09:48:37Z

Secrecy and lack of transparency may have delivered fatal blow to inquiry’s primary requirement – to gain trust of survivors

Trust and confidence are the two things stripped away from children who are sexually abused by adults, often for life. As adults themselves, many describe how they struggle and fail to trust anyone, particularly authority figures who wield power in institutions.

Perhaps the primary requirement of a national public inquiry into the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children over decades within England and Wales was to seek their trust and gain their confidence.

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How child abuse inquiry lurched from 'catastrophe to catastrophe' – timeline

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:27:17 GMT2016-09-29T09:27:17Z

Suspension of Ben Emmerson from inquiry into institutional child abuse follows resignation of three previous chairs

Ben Emmerson QC has been suspended from the the troubled inquiry into institutional child abuse before he was expected to resign over disagreements with the fourth chair, Alexis Jay. His suspension is the latest setback to an investigation that has lurched from “catastrophe to catastrophe”, according to leading campaigner and child abuse survivor Ian MacFadyen.

The former director of public prosecutions, Lord MacDonald, said the inquiry had been “careering out of control since its inception”.

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Suspension of child abuse inquiry lawyer a 'devastating blow'

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 07:57:08 GMT2016-09-29T07:57:08Z

Abuse survivor expresses concern about Ben Emmerson’s suspension, as lawyer says inquiry is likely to become a fiasco

The suspension of the most senior lawyer to the troubled public inquiry into institutional child abuse has been called a devastating blow to survivors of abuse.

Ben Emmerson QC was suspended before he was expected to resign over apparent disagreements about the remit of the inquiry under its fourth chair, Alexis Jay. It is the latest setback to the inquiry after the resignations of three previous chairs, and has fuelled fears that the process is “careering out of control”.

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Counsel to child sexual abuse inquiry suspended amid 'leadership concerns'

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:56:43 GMT2016-09-28T19:56:43Z

Secrecy over announcement that lead lawyer Ben Emmerson QC is to be put under investigation raises concerns among victims’ groups

The most senior lawyer on the public inquiry into institutional child abuse in England and Wales was suddenly suspended on Wednesday over what the inquiry said were concerns over aspects of his leadership.

Ben Emmerson QC had been expected to resign in the coming days, apparently over disagreements over the remit of the inquiry under its fourth chair, Alexis Jay. But in a move that surprised those close to the discussions, the inquiry announced late on Wednesday that Emmerson, a respected human rights lawyer, was to be suspended and put under investigation.

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Property firm invites activists to set up art space in squatted office

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 17:36:23 GMT2016-09-28T17:36:23Z

Camelot, which provides security for empty buildings, makes offer to squatters occupying its former HQ in London

A company which protects empty buildings from being squatted has invited the group of activists who occupied its former headquarters to stay and establish an art and culture space in the empty building.

The surprising offer was made by Mike Goldsmith, chief operating officer of Camelot Europe, on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after squatters clashed with security personnel at the site.

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Record numbers left homeless after eviction by private landlords in England

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:15:03 GMT2016-09-28T15:15:03Z

End of an assured shorthold tenancy cited by nearly a third of newly homeless households, figures show

Record numbers of families are becoming homeless after being evicted by private landlords and finding themselves unable to afford a suitable alternative place to live, government figures show.

The end of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) was cited by nearly a third of the 15,170 households in England who were classed as homeless in the three months to June – a number that was up 10% on the same period last year.

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Wanted: a Cathy Come Home for the 21st century | Brief letters

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 18:04:50 GMT2016-09-27T18:04:50Z

Housing policy | Chartists | Cymru am byth | Flava | Radio 3 and birdsong

Matt Wilde’s article on housing (Our immoral housing policy is set up to punish the poor, 26 September) was heartbreaking. I was truly shocked to hear how easy it is to put someone out on the streets in this rich country, in this day and age. Can someone please make an updated version of Cathy Come Home? And can you please ensure that all our party leaders receive copies of the article?
Jeff Lewis
Exmouth, East Devon

• Good to hear about the amount of time and money spent on authenticating the colour of Queen Victoria’s eyes in the ITV drama (How producer’s eye for detail cost Victoria, 27 September). Just a pity a fraction of it wasn’t spent on Chartism, the depiction of which was risible.
Martin Crawford
Alsager, Cheshire

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London protesters occupy former HQ of property management firm

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 15:53:47 GMT2016-09-27T15:53:47Z

Building was used by Camelot Europe, which rents empty properties to tenants who prevent them from being squatted

A former headquarters of a property management company that rents empty buildings to tenants who act as guardians to prevent them from being squatted has itself been occupied by protesters.

The upmarket building in Shoreditch, east London, was used by Camelot Europe and has been targeted by activists who say the property guardians are not getting a good deal and do not have full tenancy rights.

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Footballers' £400m social housing dream unveiled

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:00:25 GMT2016-09-24T06:00:25Z

Brighton’s Bobby Zamora, West Ham’s Mark Noble and Rio Ferdinand, now retired, present project to build 1,300 homes near Luton

The movers and shakers of the property world will descend upon London’s Olympia next month for the UK’s most prestigious real estate conference.

Among the investors and developers at MIPIM UK, an offshoot of the annual conference in the French Riviera resort Cannes, will be three famous faces who grew up on London council estates and who now have an ambition to boost the provision of social and affordable housing.

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Right to buy: one-for-one replacement pledge not being met, data suggests

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:16:00 GMT2016-09-22T18:16:00Z

National Audit Office says fivefold increase in number of new homes created is needed to keep pace with 2014-15 sales

The number of new homes created under the government’s flagship right-to-buy scheme is nowhere near the amount needed to deliver its headline “one for one” promise, the latest figures suggest.

A fivefold increase is needed just to keep pace with homes sold in 2014-15, according to the National Audit Office (NAO). But new data from the Department for Communities and Local Government reveals that the number of homes started or acquired by local authorities in England between April and June this year fell by 41% on the previous quarter.

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Young people living in a 'suspended adulthood', finds research

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 06:49:10 GMT2016-09-22T06:49:10Z

Significant numbers of under 30s lack self-confidence and are at risk of mental health problems, with women worst affected, says report

Despair, worries about the future and financial pressures are taking a toll on millions of young Britons, according to a poll which found young women in particular were suffering.

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Housing crisis ‘driving younger and older generations apart’

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 23:05:00 GMT2016-09-17T23:05:00Z

Soaring property prices are making more neighbourhoods inaccessible to the under 50s, report reveals

Britain is becoming more segregated due to high house prices, a report reveals, as it emerged that the number of new “social rent” homes funded by the government fell to fewer than 10,000 last year.

Official figures show that 70% fewer social rent homes, where rents are capped, came on to the market in 2014-15 compared with five years earlier at the end of the Labour government. An additional 40,000 “affordable rent” properties also became available, but at up to 80% of the market rate – considerably higher than for social housing.

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Government blocks plan to force out London estate residents

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 22:30:19 GMT2016-09-16T22:30:19Z

Controversial proposal to issue tenants of Aylesbury estate with compulsory purchase orders a ‘breach of human rights’

A controversial plan to force people out of their housing estate to make way for a rebuild that would leave more private and less social housing has been dealt a blow after the government decided it would breach residents’ human rights.

A south London council request for permission to issue people on the Aylesbury estate with compulsory purchase orders “adopted extremely low valuations”, the government said. The communities secretary, Sajid Javid, rejected it on Friday.

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Government announces housing benefit cap exemptions to housing benefit cap after criticism

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 18:10:55 GMT2016-09-15T18:10:55Z

Work and pensions secretary says local housing allowance cap will be deferred after opposition from charities and Labour

People living in hostels and supported housing will be exempt from a planned cap on housing benefit payments, the government has announced, following a campaign against the changes by MPs and charities.

Groups working with homeless people and those with mental illnesses, among others, had warned that the local housing allowance (LHA) cap could mean widespread closures of hostels and shelters, forcing thousands of people on to the streets.

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Will charities be able to deliver on plans to tighten fundraising rules?

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 07:35:20 GMT2016-09-27T07:35:20Z

New proposals endorsed by the NCVO board aim to ‘put donors in control’ – but these big commitments could prove costly hostages to fortune

The cleaning of the stables goes on following the fundraising scandals that rocked the voluntary sector in 2015, sending public confidence in charities plummeting and exposing an alarming fault line between the values and practices of some of the sector’s leading names.

Proposals by a working group convened by charity umbrella body the National Council For Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), endorsed by its board, aim to “put donors in control of fundraising” by tightening sharply the terms of trade between charities and the public.

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My clients assumed I had a new job – I couldn't say I had cancer

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 06:30:35 GMT2016-09-29T06:30:35Z

As a therapist, personal boundaries are essential but when my own counsellor died of the disease I wished I’d been more open

Some years ago I found a lump in my right breast. In the week between tests and diagnosis I prepared a contingency plan, not for me but for my clients. My intuition told me this was cancer and, if so, I would need to stop working with immediate effect.

The day after the diagnosis I agreed with my then employer a hand-over plan, and what I would tell clients. Therapists are encouraged not to disclose information about themselves to clients. Personal boundaries are essential to avoid anything that might distort and take away from the story of the other, who is seeking support.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2016: the category shortlist

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 13:24:02 GMT2016-09-14T13:24:02Z

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

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

The winners and runners-up will be announced at our awards ceremony in November 2016 and a special supplement will be published online and in the paper on 30 November 2016.

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Want an affordable rented home? Don't rely on a Labour council

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 06:36:21 GMT2016-09-30T06:36:21Z

Too many Labour local authorities are alienating residents over regeneration and compulsory purchase

At the Labour party conference this week, there was plenty of good sense to be found in terms of housing policy. Teresa Pearce, the shadow housing and planning minister, made clear her priorities were increasing social housing numbers, detoxifying the debate around council housing, targeting rogue landlords and closing the tax gap when it comes to private rent. In the leader’s speech, Jeremy Corbyn announced that “Labour will remove the artificial local borrowing cap and allow councils to borrow against their housing stock”, a measure councils have been seeking for years.

As Pearce told the Guardian, the London mayoral election was very clearly a referendum on housing. But concerns about housing go far beyond the capital, and will figure highly in the concerns of any voter around the country. Without good housing policy, Labour will get nowhere electorally. Explaining the roots of the crisis and the solutions that work for all in need will be key to winning over voters in the 2020 election.

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Our new network helps adult siblings of disabled brothers and sisters

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 07:39:35 GMT2016-09-30T07:39:35Z

Peer support groups are crucial for sharing experience and tackling isolation

The role of people who have grown up with a brother or sister who has a lifelong learning disability or autism is rarely acknowledged.

Adult siblings often advocate and care for their brothers and sisters while also juggling support for their elderly parents, their own children, and their work. Many have always come second to another person and, with no contact with others who share their experience, are vulnerable to isolation, anxiety and depression.

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Top tips to ace the civil service fast stream – what you told us

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:36:31 GMT2016-09-29T10:36:31Z

‘Prep, prep and prep again’: readers share insights about making it on to one of the UK’s most competitive graduate schemes

Applications have opened on 29 September for the 2017 civil service fast stream, one of the most popular graduate schemes in the country.

This year, about 1,000 new fast streamers will be recruited and there have been changes to the assessment process from previous years, but as ever there will be fierce competition for places.

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Is hip Portland over? How the rent crisis is displacing the city's creative soul

Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:31:37 GMT2015-11-23T16:31:37Z

The hipster haven is facing a ‘housing emergency’, as affordability, gentrification and homelessness threaten the very residents who helped make the city cool

Last month, Portland’s city council declared a “housing emergency”, but it may have come too late to save the city’s creative soul.

For Henry Wise and Cindy Cedeno, at least, the Portland they moved to from Tacoma half a decade ago no longer exists. Their neighbourhood – in the city’s inner south-east – used to be cheap and filled to the brim with other young musicians and students. “It’s already so different in so many ways. Everyone we know has been recently pushed out of their homes.”

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Why class won’t go away | Lynsey Hanley

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 05:00:17 GMT2016-09-27T05:00:17Z

The vote to leave the EU was said to be a protest by a despairing working class that had been ‘left behind’. But was anyone really listening?

Something has gone wrong in Britain, and the EU referendum result showed us – or at least, those of us who weren’t already aware – what it is. The campaign and its aftermath exposed a society that has split along lines of class, region, age and culture, with fewer binding threads than at any point in recent history.

On the day, huge swaths of the country voted by class and geography. This was hardly surprising, considering how tensions between the classes have been exploited mercilessly by politicians. Social and economic inequalities, particularly between the south-east and the rest of the country, and between major cities and outlying towns, have grown, and that growth been tolerated, for decades – to a point where it now threatens social and political stability.

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Inside 'Billionaires Row': London's rotting, derelict mansions worth £350m

Fri, 31 Jan 2014 18:15:45 GMT2014-01-31T18:15:45Z

The North London street where billionaires can buy homes, never live in them, let them rot and still make millions

A third of the mansions on the most expensive stretch of London's "Billionaires Row" are standing empty, including several huge houses that have fallen into ruin after standing almost completely vacant for a quarter of a century.

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The sugar conspiracy | Ian Leslie

Thu, 07 Apr 2016 05:00:15 GMT2016-04-07T05:00:15Z

In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?

Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.

A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.

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Homeless below the Las Vegas Strip: where city's vices exist in the shadows

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 11:00:11 GMT2016-09-14T11:00:11Z

There’s an even darker side to the gambling mecca – a homeless community in underground tunnels that struggles with addiction

Broken glass crunched under shoes, alerting tunnel dwellers that outsiders had arrived. Deeper in the dark, squat-ceilinged space, 25ft below the Las Vegas strip, Kregg Nattrour rested on a pile of gutted mattress foam.

“I wanted to make this my last month down here,” he said. “I can’t handle another month of this.”

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What actually is the Mediterranean diet – and does it work?

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 15:11:26 GMT2016-09-02T15:11:26Z

Hard to define, but famously good for us, this way of eating is far from universally followed even in the countries it came from

It is said to be better at lowering cholesterol than statins, and able to prevent dementia and heart disease, and will not make you fat. Anything that good for you might be expected to smell foul and come in a medicine bottle, but the Mediterranean diet is generally considered to be delicious, except by those who hate olive oil.

It is a potential answer to the obesity crisis crippling healthcare systems, but few understand exactly what the diet is and most of us do not follow it, including increasing numbers of people who live in the Mediterranean. The scientist Ancel Keys and the cookery writer Elizabeth David, two of the pioneers who helped open the eyes of northern Europeans to the wonders of the Mediterranean diet, must be turning in their graves.

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'Horrible spike' in hate crime linked to Brexit vote, Met police say

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:11:02 GMT2016-09-28T14:11:02Z

Eastern Europeans ‘particularly targeted’, Hogan-Howe reports, with more than 2,300 offences recorded in period after referendum

A “horrible spike” in hate crime after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was at least partly linked to the referendum, Britain’s most senior police officer has said.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, told a hearing at London’s City Hall that hate crime was showing signs of decreasing after a sharp rise in June and July, but it had still not returned to pre-referendum levels.

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