Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom

Friday, 19 August 2022 00:33

Scotland: patients locked in secure hospitals

The BBC have discovered that Scots with learning disabilities and autism have been locked in secure hospitals and psychiatric wards for decades, unable to get out despite ministers saying 22 years ago they should be living independently in the community. One person with a learning disability had been behind locked doors for 25 years. Another was cleared for release eight years ago but is still in hospital. Families said their relatives had been left to rot. The Scottish government said the findings were unacceptable and that local services must do more to get people into their own homes. Freedom of Information requests revealed that 15 Scots with learning disabilities and autism had been living for twenty years or more in hospital, 40 for over ten years and 129 for over a year. Nine autistic people with learning disabilities who had never committed a crime were in a high-security psychiatric hospital which houses Scotland's most serious criminals.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 19 August 2022 00:29

Firefighting challenges

Large-scale wildfires are occurring more frequently across the UK. The challenges are enormous: in the middle of nowhere, two-metre-high flames moving faster than anyone can run. It can take days to bring a fire under control, an exhausting ordeal for even the fittest firefighter. An officer said, ‘Wildfires are unlike any other fire, they change on a minute-by-minute basis. One minute a fire is knee-high, the next it’s above your head. It is one of the most arduous fires our crews face. Left unchecked, they rage for miles across the countryside. If the wind changes direction the tail of the fire could become the head, and it spreads in the opposite direction. You can walk for an hour with hand tools wearing boots, jacket, and helmet, before getting to the area you are going to be fighting.’ Conditions are brutal. See also this week’s France article, ‘We are waiting for rain’.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 19 August 2022 00:26

Protests at drag queen’s storytelling events

In July furious parents stormed a Drag Queen Story Hour for three- to 11-year-olds in Reading central library, the first venue in a UK-wide two month library tour. The event descended into chaos after the parents broke in and screamed abuse in front of the children. As they threatened to perform a ‘citizens’ arrest’ and accused the drag queen of paedophilia, the police had to step in to bring calm. The final story hour, in Cardiff, was also targeted by protesters with placards and banners, saying it was inappropriate for children. Many people came to support the event, wearing clothes adorned with the rainbow flag. Sab (drag character Aida H Dee) says the stories provide a positive experience about queer culture and deliver a positive role model for people to look up to. Sab moved to Cardiff to capitalise on its flourishing LGBTQ community. and thinks it wouldn’t have thrived without the support Wales gives to that community. Cardiff councillors received 143 letters of complaints about these story times.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 19 August 2022 00:23

Emotions running high for students

Hundreds of thousands of students received their A Level results on 18 August. This was the first time students had actually sat their exams since 2019: during the coronavirus outbreak, they were assessed by teachers. Getting the grades needed for university or college can be really tough, and for some it impacts their mental health. Amid rising levels of anxiety in the run up to results day, Childline said it had seen large numbers of students receiving counselling for concerns about their grades. Pray that those teenagers who may not have achieved the results they wanted will be able to talk to a teacher or an adult they trust to discuss how they are feeling. Remember those who are now desperately hoping to find a university place, somewhere, through the clearing system.

Published in British Isles

During his time as a minister, and especially in the battle to succeed Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and his team have sought to present the wealthy former banker as someone nonetheless in touch with the concerns of voters. But his habit of awkward interactions with the everyday world continued when he told a TV show that he and his daughters liked the breakfast wrap at McDonald’s, saying, ‘It’s what we do.’ However, a McDonald’s spokesman confirmed the chain stopped selling breakfast wraps in March 2020. A photo shoot for the budget, when he was still chancellor, showed Sunak at a petrol station filling up a car that later turned out to be borrowed. He was also pictured trying to pay by holding his bank card up to a barcode scanner, rather than the payment machine.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 19 August 2022 00:18

Sussex beaches closed after sewage discharge

Beaches in Bexhill and Normans Bay in East Sussex have been closed after untreated wastewater was released into the sea at the shoreline. Hastings borough council also advised people against swimming at Pelham Beach due to pollution. Southern Water said they were ‘deeply sorry’ and understood ‘the distress this causes’. The liquid, including sewage, was released when the primary power and back-up system failed on 17 August. A member of Bexhill SeaGals sea-swimming group believes water companies should be ‘held accountable’, adding, ‘It is unbelievable and outrageous that they can continue to get away with this’. The head of Surfers Against Sewage said, ‘Years of underinvestment are now in plain sight. It is time that huge water company profits were diverted to properly managing water and sewage and protecting people and planet. Our rivers and beaches should not be subject to this type of industrial environmental vandalism.’

Published in British Isles
Friday, 19 August 2022 00:08

Global repercussions of Ukraine war

While explosions rocked a Crimean ammunition depot, disrupting railway services and causing 2,000 people to be evacuated from a nearby village, the Russian defence minister claimed Ukrainian military operations were being planned by the Americans and British while NATO increased its troop deployment in eastern and central Europe ‘several times over’. Vladimir Putin also said the bloc of Australia, UK, and the USA had the potential to develop into ‘a political-military alliance’. Meanwhile Russia’s Black Sea fleet struggles to exercise effective sea control, with patrols generally limited to the waters within sight of the Crimean coast, according to British intelligence reports. The fleet continues to use long-range cruise missiles to support ground offensives, but is keeping a defensive posture. Britain is training 10,000 Ukrainian raw recruits in marksmanship, battlefield first aid, and urban warfare. Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Nordic nations are also providing training.

Published in Worldwide
Friday, 12 August 2022 11:05

Cost of living crisis and cutting taxes

Public finances are under pressure from a predicted recession. Both PM candidates agree that people will need help with the cost of living this autumn, but tax cuts will only bring relief to taxpayers. Cutting health and social care levies gives no money to pensioners or anyone earning less than £12,570. The new prime minister will not start the job for another four weeks. The candidates are coming under increasing pressure to spell out their plans. Gordon Brown recently said an emergency budget was urgently needed and that Boris Johnson, Ms Truss and Mr Sunak must agree on one now. A financial time bomb will explode with the October energy price cap. Loughborough University’s Prof Hirsch said, ‘It is urgent for the next prime minister to ensure families have enough to live through this crisis and beyond.’ Some will be £1,600 worse off per year. On 11 August government ministers met with energy giants, focusing on how energy companies can alleviate pressure on consumers: see

Published in British Isles
Friday, 12 August 2022 11:02

Disappearing dentists

Nine in ten NHS dental practices across the UK are not accepting new adult patients for treatment. In a third of 200 council areas, no dentists were taking on adult NHS patients and eight in ten NHS practices were not taking on children. The Department of Health said it had made an extra £50m available ‘to help bust the Covid backlogs’ and that improving NHS access was a priority. While NHS dental treatment is not free for most adults, it is subsidised. There are people across the UK who canot afford private fees, and the subsidised rates are crucial to getting care. The lack of NHS appointments means people drive hundreds of miles in search of treatment, pull out their own teeth, resort to making their own improvised dentures. and restrict their long-term diets to little more than soup.

Published in British Isles
Friday, 12 August 2022 11:00

Downs campaigner appeals abortion law again

Heidi Crowter is hoping to change Britain’s abortion legislation through her hearing at the Court of Appeal. Currently the UK permits unborn babies with a disability to be aborted up to birth, while the limit for other babies is 24 weeks. Heidi and others want to stop this discrimination and are continuing their fight after the High Court rejected their case last year. Heidi’s mother Liz told the Christian Institute that those with Downs syndrome are still made in the image of God; they just have one extra chromosome. Heidi said, ‘In 2022 we live in a society where disabled people are valued equally after birth but not in the womb. This law is discriminatory and needs to be changed.’ A ruling will be made in late autumn.

Published in British Isles
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