Equality and Diversity in the News
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced new measures in his most recent budget that allows parents of premature babies to receive additional leave, paid for by the Government. The campaign by Catriona Ogilvy has gained widespread support, and is now backed by Government with up to £160 a week available to support new parents. Previously, maternity and paternity leave started the day after a baby was born irrespective of due date; but with so many parents spending weeks, sometimes months, in postnatal care units, this leave can often end before the baby comes home. The new measures help to give parents the leave they need to care for their baby.
Popular culture newsletter The Conversation have featured an article this month encouraging people to be kinder to themselves during the current lockdown, recognising once more that diversity in body shapes and types is normal and you shouldn’t feel pressure to conform to “ideals” promoted in the media. The article explores how campaigns such as Dove’s This Girl Can and Aerie’s Body Positive movement are working to challenge “narrow ideals of beauty”, encouraging us to look to the wider world for what is “normal”, not the narrow source of information we sometimes focus on.
Radicalisation and Extremism
Mayfield School in Portsmouth was closed this month following an email sent to the school claiming that an explosive device had been put somewhere on site. Hampshire Constabulary conducted a thorough investigation and review of the incident, and thankfully the claim was found not to be real.
A group of Hampshire schools have pooled resources to privately hire sniffer dogs to visit in search of drugs and other illicit items. Swanmore College, Wildern School, Wyvern College, The Hamble School, Toynbee School, and Thorndean School have agreed to take collective action against reports of gangs moving to the South, which potentially could put their children at risk of being recruited into the drug trade (county lines).
New knife-crime prevention orders (KCPOs) have been introduced as part of the 2019 Official Weapons Act, and legislation surrounding them have been outlined in Parliament this month. The act intends to be preventative, encouraging individuals to change behaviours and avoid turning to knife-crime in the first place, and includes measures such as curfews, geographical restrictions, stopping individuals from associating with known gangs or other people, and educational opportunities such as life skills programmes and short courses. The scheme is currently a pilot scheme running from 6th April for a period of 14 weeks, with the intention to roll out to all police forces following an assessment of its impact and benefit.
Dame Sara Thornton, the UK’s independent anti-slavery Commissioner, has called for a change in the management of child trafficking cases, suggesting local authorities are better placed to provide support for children than the Home Office. The Local Government Association (LGA) have expressed concerns with her proposals as a reduction in funding leaves councils already at full stretch, but she argues local services will know children involved far better and have a closer interest in their wellbeing, especially for those falling into Modern Slavery and County Lines cases. The children involved are often already well-known to the local authority and so closer alignment of the reporting and support systems is required to ensure a continuity of care for those who are vulnerable. The LGA suggest councils would require a huge amount of specialist training and support to make this happen, and they are better placed in their work to prevent occurrence.
Remember those all-important contact numbers:
Anti-Terrorism Hotline: 0800 789 321
Crime Stoppers: 0800 555 111
See it. Say it. Sorted.: Text 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40
And above all, be vigilant! If in doubt report anything suspicious to 101 or 999.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has accused internet service providers of not doing “all it can to prevent access to images of child sexual abuse”. Around 450 arrests are made a month in the UK for offences relating to this subject, but law enforcement is struggling to keep up with the rate of image sharing on the internet, leading to the UK becoming the third biggest consumer of streaming abuse online in the world. The report explores the “reactive” nature of companies, many of whom adopt easy-to-bypass age verification processes, putting young users at great risk of exploitation. The report found that images of child sexual abuse can be found within “three clicks” through common search engines, and urges internet providers to utilise the technology available to get in front of this issue.
The outbreak of Coronavirus/ COVID-19 has led to the full or partial closure of colleges, schools and early years settings across the UK, as for many it is seen as the safest option for children to avoid them catching the disease. However, there are concerns regarding the most vulnerable children at risk of abuse and harm at home, including neglect. Schools and other settings will stay open for the children of “key workers” to enable them to continue going to work, and for vulnerable children who have social workers and health care plans. However, the NSPCC remain cautious about children’s safety at home as often teachers are some of the first people to identify signs of abuse. There are also concerns regarding the rise of alcoholism and domestic abuse due to poor mental health in adults that can increase the risk of harm to children; this may include children not yet on any radar with social services or similar, and their needs when returning to educational settings will be far greater. We must continue to work together as citizens and neighbours to protect children from harm during these times.
The NSPCC have reported that the number of calls from children who have witnessed serious forms of domestic abuse have risen by 25% in the past year. This alarming statistic has led to the charity lobbying for a change in legislation to include “more protection” for children within the Domestic Abuse Bill, including specialist support and counselling to help them overcome the “devastating impact” living with domestic abuse can have. The BBC report features an account of a child who lived in shoes, ready to run away at any given moment – truly heart-breaking.
Health and Well-Being
Featured Topic: Maintaining your Mental Health during COVID-19
We are currently facing a threat to our mortality; the news is saturated with stories about coronavirus related deaths. We do not know what the outcome will be or how many people will die. Fear is a normal response to threat, ultimately designed to keep us safe. But when faced with this level of uncertainty about what the future will hold, it can easily spiral out of control, especially if you already experience high levels of anxiety.
Fear commonly involves a ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response – it is normal to experience feelings of anxiety and panic, for your heart to be racing, your breathing more rapid/shallow, to experience fatigue, concentration and sleep difficulties. You might find yourself preoccupied and overwhelmed with thoughts of contaminations and death.
Making an extra effort during this difficult time will not only keep everyone connected, but will help you not to feel as if you’re losing touch with the outside world. Talking to others also helps to maintain cognition and prevent depression. This is especially important for the over 70s who will potentially be isolated for a long period of time, as the government has suggested could happen. If you’ve got a grandparent or parent who’s that age, make sure to check in once a day, or once every other day. Age UK has a “befriending service” where anyone over 60 call a volunteer for a chat at an agreed time.
Recent studies suggest that maintaining day-to-day normal activities can help during uncertain times. Set yourself daily/ weekly lists and feel the sense of achievement when things are ticked off! A study carried out by Harvard found that solving problems like maths equations, sudoku and word puzzles all helped to maintain sharpness and mental positivity. Brain training also helps you to switch off from the working day.
You can’t choose what’s happening. You can choose how you respond. We will have all our feelings – anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, everything. And those are just right. We are wired to feel. We share those feelings with our safe others, and it helps us feel better. Now is the perfect time to start yourself some goals—such as starting a new hobby, or learning a new skill. There are so many benefits of hobbies for mental health. The best hobbies relax you, make you happy, and can even prevent or cure problems like anxiety and depression. Even if you’re at home working remotely, getting dressed like you’re going to work and maintaining your morning routine will help to provide some sense of normality.
How about trying some of the activities below?
- Learn Sign language – The BSL offer free online taster courses: https://www.bslonline.co.uk
- Painting / drawing -YouTube have some fantastic tutorials
- Yoga or Pilates have amazing health benefits and is a perfect exercise to do anytime in your home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaoV1PrYft4 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio/pilates-for-beginners
- Meditation: https://www.mindful.org/meditation-for-beginners-video
- Learn a new Language: This website offers many free courses https://www.inc.com/larry-kim/9-places-to-learn-a-new-language-online-for-fre.html
There are many sources for support and some great websites are listed below aimed at both adults and children:
The Royal Navy have also published an article on how they cope with isolation, recommending routines as the best solution:
If you are concerned at all for your health and well-being, physical and mental, please speak to someone urgently. This could be your tutor, Showcase’s Safeguarding Officer or Deputy (contact details below), GP, Manager, or a trusted friend or family member.
Upcoming Cultural and Religious Events
- 2nd April: World Autism Awareness Day
- 3rd April: The Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascent (Islam)
- 5th April: Festival of Pure Brightness (China)
- 7th April: World Health Day
- 8th April: Hanamatsuri (Buddhism)
- 13th April: Songkran (Buddhism)
- 14th April: Vaisakhi (Sikhism)
- 14th April: Rama Navami (Hinduism)
- 14th April: Palm Sunday (Christianity)
- 14-20th April: Holy Week (Christianity)
- 17th April: Mahavira Jayanti (Jainism)
- 18th April: Maundy Thursday (Christianity)
- 19th April: Good Friday (Christianity)
- 19th April: Hanuman Jayanti (Hinduism)
- 20-27th April: Passover (Judaism)
- 21st April: Easter Sunday (Christianity)
- 23rd April: St George’s Day (England)
- 30th April: Beltane (Paganism)