Six people charged with criminal offences over Hillsborough disaster

Liverpool City Council light up 96 lanterns and illuminate St Georgeís Hall on Lime Street in red along with a banner which names those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Disaster .(Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Match commander David Duckenfield and Norman Bettison are among six people charged with criminal offences over the Hillsborough disaster.

The Crown Prosecution Service revealed its intentions in a meeting with the victims relatives at 11am this morning.

Last year it was concluded that the 96 fans that lost their lives at Hillsborough in the 1989 stadium disaster had been unlawfully killed.

Following a six month investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service, today six people have been charged for their roles in the Hillsborough disaster, including match commander David Duckenfield and Norman Bettison, who was heavily involved with coordinating the response of the South Yorkshire Police following the dissaster.

Others charged are Graham Henry Mackrell, Sheffield Wednesday’s safety officer; Peter Metcalf, a South Yorkshire Police solicitor; and Donald Denton and Alan Foster, both members of the South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster.

 

Head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime and CounterTerrorism Division, Sue Hemming, announced the charges in relation to the Hillsborough Stadium disaster.

 

Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities in the UK

Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities, at a loss to the UK of more than £1 billion, between 2012 and 2015, the latest figures from the ONS show.

In fact, there has been a general decline in the time that the UK’s unsung heroes and heroines spend volunteering since 2005, according to ONS analysis.

Despite the value of the voluntary sector to the UK, there has been a 15.4% decline in the total number of frequent hours1 volunteered, between 2005 and 2015 – a drop from 2.28 billion hours to 1.93 billion, figures from the Community Life Survey (CLS) show.

Latest figures from 2014 show volunteering represented 2% of the total value of unpaid work, and was worth £23 billion.2

Total frequent hours of formal volunteering, billion hours, 2005 to 2014

Overall, there was a decline in the amount of time put into volunteering. Between 2000 and 2015 it dropped from an average (mean) of 14.5 minutes per volunteer, per day to 13.7 minutes.

This equates to a drop from a weekly average of one hour and 42 minutes to one hour and 36 minutes per volunteer.

Young people and volunteering

The statistics suggest that those in the youngest age group of 16 to 24 have increased the time they devote to volunteering while those in the 25 to 34 age category have decreased their volunteering time.

In 2015 average time and participation in volunteering was higher for those aged between 16 and 24 (17 minutes per day and 51% participation) and was a noticeable rise as compared to those in the same age group in 2000 (nine minutes per day and 40 % participation).

It could be that, as younger people try and secure employment, they undertake voluntary work in order to enhance their CVs, but as they embed themselves in their careers, at an older age, their focus turns to building their careers.

Also, younger people have more free time, with participation rates for students rising the most – by 12 percentage points between 2000 and 2015 – from 46% to 58%.

 

Prince William has a stark warning about the stigma surrounding mental health

Prince William has spoken out about his desire to “normalise” the “great taboo” of mental health in a powerful speech.

He said that until recently, people with anxiety were considered to be “weak,” and those who were struggling to cope were deemed to be “failing.”:

“Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they.  But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it”

He said that his interest in mental health began with his work as an Air Ambulance pilot.

“It was suicide, a subject that is so often hidden. The suicide rate among young men in this country is an appalling stain on our society.  Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in this country. Not cancer, not knife crime, not road deaths – suicide.”

The prince said if any one of the aforementioned issues caused so many deaths, there would be a “national outcry.”

“But there has only ever been silence. And this has to stop. This silence is killing good people,” the prince said.

The prince said that in his work as in Search and Rescue and as an Air Ambulance pilot, he has been encouraged — along with his colleagues — to admit when they feel “overwhelmed or unable to cope”.

“This should be the norm,” he said.

Young Carer’s Day: the stress of juggling multiple responsibilities

A group of young carers have made a hard-hitting film showing how stressful it can be juggling responsibilities both at home and in school.

The film, which was made by Fixers, the charity which gives young people a voice, is being launched today on Young Carer’s Day.

You can watch it here:

Jade Dyer, 17, has been the primary carer for her mum for the past four years and takes the lead role in the film.  It shows her being reprimanded by a teacher for failing to get an essay in on time as she struggles to look after her mum who has Grave’s disease – an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the body.

Jade, from Bourne End, Bucks, says:

‘Her illness means her moods can be very up and down – when she’s down I need to be there to console her and give her support.  She might not be able to get out of bed if she’s feeling like that, so I’ll need to do household tasks like cooking dinner.  If she doesn’t take her medication or is particularly unwell she becomes quite immobile, so if she collapses I need to be there to help her up.’

There were times when the teenager struggled to cope with school.  She says:

‘My secondary school attendance was very low, and the teachers didn’t realise what I was going through so there was a huge lack of understanding.  My grades were affected and teachers could be quite harsh about it.’

Jade, who is now studying for her A-levels at Henley College, plans to show the film at teacher training events.  She says:

‘We hope the film will show teachers just how much we have to do – we have a lot more on our plates than the average student and getting some leniency when it comes to things like essay deadlines could really help us.

‘Anyone can be in a caring role and it’s important that teachers are patient and understanding so they can help them. There are a lot of intelligent people who could miss out otherwise.  Focus on what that child’s needs are and help them in any way you can.’

 

Reports from the UK government on Domestic Violence

The Home Office have launched a range of papers recently on the theme of domestic violence and abuse.

The changes to the definition of domestic raise awareness that young people in the 16 to 17 age group can also be victims of domestic violence and abuse.

By including this age group the government hopes to encourage young people to come forward and get the support they need, through a helpline or specialist service.

A young people’s panel will be set up by the NSPCC. The panel will consist of up to 5 members between the age of 16 and 22, who will work with the government on domestic violence policy and wider work to fight violence against women and girls.

Here are some of the key recent publications:

The UK prison system is in melt down

The UK prison system is in melt down.  Currently we have riots in prisons, high staff turnover due to assaults, and high suicide rates.

Riots in prison

Violence in prison seems to be on the increase.  Assaults behind bars increased by more than 34% to 23,775 – about 65 per day – in the 12 months to the end of June 2016.  The MoJ figures show an increasingly volatile situation in women’s prisons, with the number of assaults rising by 25% in a year.

The Ministry of Justice has explicitly acknowledged that staff cuts are a factor in the rising tide of violence in prisons in England and Wales.  The MoJ commentary on the prison safety figures states:

“The rise in assaults since 2012 has coincided with major changes to the regime, operating arrangements and culture in public sector prisons.  For example, restructuring of the prison estate, including staff reductions, which have reduced overall running costs, and an increase in gang culture and illicit psychoactive drugs in prisons.”

In recent months we’ve seen a murder in Pentonville prison, riots in Lewes, Bedford, Birmingham and  Swaleside and the Prison Officers’ Association stating that Hull prison is ‘on [the] brink of riot’ after inmates arrive from Birmingham.

High staff turnover

The Prison Officers’ Association (POA) said that the National Offender Management Service, which oversees the country’s prisons, has classed 12 jails as “red sites”, meaning they do not have enough staff to operate a standard regime. A similar number are classed as “amber sites”, indicating they are also suffering acute staffing issues. The POA has estimated around 35% of the country’s prisons were experiencing some form of staffing problem.

Figures published by the Ministry of Justice show that in the past year the number of full-time prison officers has dropped by almost 600.

High suicide rates

The Howard League for Penal Reform said it had been notified of the deaths by suicide of 102 people up until 18 November – the equivalent of one every three days and breaking the record for frequency of suicides.

According to Frances Cook, the director of the Howard League:

“With five weeks remaining until the end of the year, it is already the highest death toll in a calendar year since recording practices began in 1978. The previous high was in 2004 when 96 deaths by suicide were recorded.”

Crook said:

“The number of people dying by suicide in prison has reached epidemic proportions. No one should be so desperate while in the care of the state that they take their own life and yet, every three days, a family is told that a loved one has died behind bars.

“By taking bold but sensible action to reduce the number of people in prison, we can save lives and prevent more people being swept away into deeper currents of crime and despair.”

Prison staff struggle to recognise mental health risk factors as shown in the case of Josh Collinson, aged 18, who was found hanged at Swinfen Hall young offender institution in Staffordshire on 3 September last year.  He had been transferred the previous day from Parc prison, in south Wales, where he had self-harmed on six occasions and been placed on a list of at-risk prisoners.

So what can be done?

One of the key issues is to lower the jail population.  As Kenneth Clarke, the Conservative former home secretary and justice secretary, Jacqui Smith, the Labour former home secretary, and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem former deputy prime minister, have warned that the prison crisis will do “untold damage to wider society” if it is not addressed.  The prison population should be cut from its current level, around 85,000, to what it was in the 1980s, around 45,000, they say in a letter to the Times:

“To restore order, security, and purpose to our jails, ministers should now make it their policy to reduce prison numbers. We want to see the prison population returned to the levels it was under Margaret Thatcher, herself no ‘soft touch’,”

Secondly is to review sentencing policy and to explore tougher alternatives to prison, possibly involving “visible” work punishments in the community, as suggested by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice:

“If you are sending someone to prison for a very short time, the ability of the prison to cope with that person is limited in the current circumstances. It’s very important that you have real alternatives to prison. It’s important you have tough community sentences available … and this is something at which we really need to look.

“Should you have some really tough kind of work for [offenders] to do? Should you make the punishment visible? What’s essential is that you have a tough alternative to prison … These are things on which it would be good to have a proper open debate.”

Thirdly, young offenders up to the age of 25 should be kept out of adult prisons because of “irrefutable evidence” that the typical adult male brain is not fully formed until at least the mid-20s, MPs have said.

The House of Commons justice select committee says young adults, who make up 10% of the adult prison population but account for 30-40% of police time, should be treated differently by the criminal justice system and be held in young offender institutions with 18- to 20-year-olds.  The MPs say that the most recent evidence shows that young people are reaching adult maturity five to seven years later than they did a few decades ago, which is affecting the age at which most typically grow out of crime.

 

 

Oasis College to no longer recruit undergraduate and postgraduate students

oasis-college-tweet

I was sad but not unsurprised to hear that Oasis College will no longer be recruiting students to their undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

You can read Adrian Smith’s statement (College Principal) in full here.  Here’s some key parts of the statement:

Unfortunately Oasis College has also seen a steady decline in students, despite having a positive recruitment strategy in place, supported by staff and resources. We have failed to recruit our minimum target of students for a number of years. Consequently this has put a stress on the financial resources available and as a result, the College Board has had to re-consider the future direction of the College.

In the light of the financial implications specifically brought about by low recruitment levels for the current 2016-2017 academic year, the decision was taken by the College Board to no longer recruit to our undergraduate and postgraduate courses. In practice this means that no new undergraduate and postgraduate students will commence studying at Oasis College.

Oasis College will still seek to provide short and continued professional development courses for the foreseeable future and will continue to recruit for these courses.

Changes to the landscape of higher education always made this likely.  Ever since the development of higher fees for undergraduate degrees through the Higher Education Act 2004 universities funding has become increasingly consumer driven.  The top Russell group of universities are able to fund their budgets through a combination of high students numbers willing to pay the higher fees (now £9,000 plus inflationary increases) and large research grants.

For smaller colleges or departments it is impossible to compete because the research funding has often been cut in the more specialist areas not linked to industry (which Brexit will potentially only make worse by losing more EU funding) and they are not able to attract sufficient student numbers to balance the books.

What this means for the future of youth work and youth ministry isn’t clear.  The sector itself is much smaller, but with fewer teaching and research institutions, representing a narrower brand of youth work I don’t see this being a positive step.

 

 

 

 

Number of children in poverty increased by 250,000

child-poverty-1

The number of children living in poverty soared by 250,000 in just one year under the Conservative-led Government, new figures have shown.

HM Revenue and Customs figures obtained by the Daily Mirror show the number of children living in low-income families rose from 2.5m to 2.75m between 2013 and 2014.

This meant that during the last Coalition Government the proportion of children living in families which have fallen below the poverty line reached one in five.

The HMRC report defined children in low-income households as those from families in receipt of out-of-work benefits or those in receipt of tax credits with an income of less than 60 per cent of the national average.

It said the figures were down to rise in lower incomes failing to keep pace with the rise in higher pay and insisted the data did not reflect a real terms fall.

But campaigners accused the Government of failing to protect vulnerable children.

Woman wins year of free pizza, donates it to youth homeless centre

pizza

Hannah Spooner, a 19-year-old Detroit resident, was delighted to discover she and her boyfriend had won a year of free pizza after entering a raffle at Little Caesar’s.

But instead of keeping the pies for themselves, they donated them to Covenant House, a nonprofit that offers shelter, classes and three square meals a day to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth.

Spooner told a local FOX affiliate that she always knew she’d donate the pizza if she won — even when her boyfriend asked her whether she’d keep just a couple of pizzas for herself.

She said:

“I just know there are other people out there who have nothing.  And I don’t think I should be eating a year’s worth of free pizza when there are people who go hungry at night.”

Syrian children use bomb crater as makeshift swimming pool

Life under siege: Children in Aleppo use bomb crater as swimming pool

More than 2 million people in Aleppo have no access to clean water as the conflict in the Syrian city continues to escalate, according to UNICEF. But that hasn’t stopped some children from playing around in a murky pool that has formed in a crater left behind by a missile strike.

 

Children accidentally added to the menu of wedding dinner

The moment when are “kid’s menu” becomes “children on the menu” rather than “a menu for children”.

A fancy wedding accidentally made that less-than-fancy mistake on RSVP invitations they sent out. In a photo uploaded to Reddit’s r/funny, the RSVP card asks you, sir or madam, for your name, whether you’ll be attending, and whether you’d like to eat beef, pork or young children (12 and under) for the entrée.

Just check off your favorite dish, and let them know about any dietary restrictions. They’re free range, completely organic and just a bit whiny.

children-on-wedding-menu