Good luck Greta

I feel much more relaxed about Greta Thunberg’s trip to the US, since I’ve heard on a news story that actually one of her parents will be on the boat. It is a 60 x 12 foot boat without a toilet and amenities we are just used to.

It can’t do any harm to keep the discussion about climate change warm by constantly reporting about that trip of Greta.

What also interests me is how much Greta may miss her luxury home comforts during the journey for the sake of fighting climate change.

Lets hope all goes well.

I also hope that it will be easy to follow the media reports.


More telling off for Tower Hamlets

Now the Ombudsman has upheld a claim against Tower Hamlets Council for obstructing investigations. See report from ELA here.

What is the point in Tower Hamlets having a Mayor when nothing good comes of it. First there was the scandal around Lutfur Rahman, allegations of election fraud, led to his downfall and then the government sent in observers to shadow the council administration.

But whilst the investigators left satisfied that things are in order the Ombudsman finds otherwise. And of course the legal action against the council in respect of the illegal activities trying to close down schools make me question how effective any Mayor in Tower Hamlets may be.

There are obviously huge muddles going on, which even the Mayor cannot resolve.

I have never negatively spoken about Tower Hamlets and especially not John Biggs, with whom I sat on the Police and Community Safety Board for years until John Biggs decided to close down a 300 year old school, which is attended by my daughter. We love Raine’s Foundation school #300moreyears.





detachment is responsible

standing family near fireplace

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Family

I think that the reason for the rise in the crime rate and especially gang related crime, e.g. knife crime, gangs, drugs is the destabilisation of family life.

As I stated in my previous post about renting, currently in Britain, an average renter only stays for 4 years in a flat. People are moved around the country, into areas they do not know anybody just to get a roof over their head. Some call it de-gentrification of inner cities like London.

Renters conditions have been changed, so that a permanent tenancy is now hard to come by. the old-fashioned flats for life, people could pass on to a relative have largely gone.

Additionally the emigration rate through wars in far away lands has unsettled large amounts of people around the globe who also add to the new additions to society.

group of people in a meeting

Photo by on Work place

Families are destabilised because in families now all family members have to work. Decades ago one family member could stay at home until a child reached the age of 13, that is now reduced to the age of 5.

In practise that means if a family has older children in schools, those kids often find themselves without a parent after school.

The close family contact between people no longer exists. Employment conditions have become more and more unpredictable, income can vary tremendously with times of hard-ship, e.g. reliance on food banks.

All these uncertainties contribute considerably to making gangs attractive to young people. Especially vulnerable youngster get picked off the expelled pupils registers to work for Post code drug gangs.

It really has nothing to do with the keeping people busy, it has a lot to do with giving people the right to be the boss of their own life, to have a right to a family life and give kids the guidance they need.

man lights legs silhouette

Photo by Tookapic on     Gang member

Gang bosses can give plenty of guidance and that is why they are so successful recruiting youngsters. Those youngsters then are led to believe that carrying a knife is the only way to stay safe, its either kill or get killed. That is the terrible fact about the current crime scene.

Whilst youth funding is cut back, police officers reduced and parents are stuck into jobs through the work program, there is nobody available to give a shoulder to lean on for our young people.

Families just can’t help each other out any longer easily, they often live apart, have been moved to different parts of the country or world and have no longer any time for each other.

Until a government restores our sense of family, gives people the dignity of having permanent homes and permanent jobs, I do not see an end to the current problems. People need to belong and feel they are safe and increasing the instabilities is not going to help. The government needs to show some sympathy, emphathy for people. We are not just all robots who follow work rosters.

Lost prophet prophecies child abuse

I am just wondering is this desire to rape babies new to our time or is this a long-standing problem and we are only just being made aware of it because our new technology brings such horrendous practises to light?

Surely the question begs to be answered, why is it that health visitors are not aware of such things happening to babies? Why are not all vulnerable women and their children being put on At Risk registers?

It is obvious that such abusers like Ian Watkins can only exist because women allow them to do what they want to do!!!

Philpott makes benefit changes look good?

Just watched this TV documentary about this most sad and extremely tragic case of the death of six children in a house fire that was apparently started deliberately according to the latest media reports and that 3 people including the children’s mother are up for sentencing for only manslaughter today. I say only because if one looks at the financial implications one must wonder whether manslaughter was in fact enough to charge them with.

Learning that Mr Philpott gotten all the money from benefits for the kids and his partners straight into his account, he must have gotten loads of money for up to 2 women and 11 children. That was a source of income for the man who allowed his best friend to share his women.

With the new benefits restrictions coming into force, a bigger house would not have solved Mr Philpott’s problems it would have increased them because less benefits and more rent would not be profitable at all. For somebody who is so financially suave, starting a fire for a bigger house, does not make sense when it is quite obviously clear that less money is going to come in.

Remember all those TV shows about his lack of living space were made prior to benefit changes in regards to maximum benefits a family can get.

I think manslaughter is too lenient!!!!

But still I think the utmost consideration when looking at benefits is the quality of life it brings for families and responsible parents would always try to make the best out of what they got. I cannot comment on the quality of life for the Philpott children, what they did as extra-curricular activities if any.

But for parents who want well for their children, the withdrawal of benefits can mean no ability to pay for out-of-school clubs for example. But then the Philpott case looks as if the reduction of benefits was justified because people can just produce children as their sole source of income.

Remember, always put your kids first. Children are not a commodity.

Doctors against obesity

I am really glad that doctors have spoken out on obesity and about taking positive steps to make the purchase of fizzy drinks and sweets more difficult.

Of course it also doesn’t help to constantly get junk food shops, junk food advertisements and the sweets always near the cashier’s desk at the shops.

Yet I think fizzy drinks have gone up in price. A bottle of coke is dear and so are cans of fizzy in small shops though they are cheaper to buy in supermarkets.

Often parents buy a carton of fries at the nearest take-away shop rather than prepare a healthier option at home. It is now cheaper to buy ready meals rather than cook yourself.

I can testify to this because when I raised my own children 25 years ago, it was cheaper to cook at home. Nowadays it is cheaper to purchase the ready made product, from cakes to Hot Cross Buns.

But when I make my own I know what’s in it, I choose the ingredients and I tend to cook more healthy and with a conscience.

But I would like to point out that I was at my leanest and healthiest when my washing machine was broken and I had to wash by hand the laundry for a family of 7, and could not afford taxis and had to walk 2 miles to the nearest supermarkets to get the cheapest offers. We had no computers and the TV was so small it could hardly be seen.

Reporting suspected child abuse

I wonder why it has not been possible to nail Jimmy Saville whilst still alive and think that the networks of power are much too strong still to do anything in time about institutionalised child abuse. Such cases often come out only when it is too late. Jimmy Saville had threatened to take others with him if he gets prosecuted and that I think is what led to him being able to have a peaceful retirement, as others were too scared to hold him to account as he would have told unwelcome stories to the police and it would probably have caused severe embarrassment to the nation, more than it has already.

The latest arrests of a priest and former care worker are only the tiny tip of a huge iceberg. There are now calls to inform the NSPCC of any concerns by calling free phone 0800 800 5000.

But in practical terms when a parent wants to voice fears about a teacher for example then the Education Authority makes an initial enquiry by asking other child care professionals like allocated police officers and so on, like a panel of people, and if they give a good character reference and the incident was relatively minor then a council would threaten the complainant with legal action if they ever as much as mention the fears again as it has already been investigated and found to be harmless.

So parents think there is no point in raising any concerns unless it is a severe form of abuse with immediate physical evidence. Otherwise such complaints get completely swept under the carpets and councils even threaten parents to not mention it ever again or they get sued by their legal departments because the councils’ education departments have to protect their staff.

So if you voiced concerns and the education department has declared the teacher harmless and served you with a legal notice, you can then not go to the NSPCC and report the same matter again as your council can then sue you.

Perhaps checks on that teacher could reveal that they purchase illegal material online but if those checks are not carried out by the first investigation then it will stay undetected for a very long time indeed. It is a scandal.

The problem with old school buildings, reasons to reduce hours of education

In the days when many smaller primary schools were built, they were built for one class per year with kitchens, a playground and hall. In those days, kids were kept in line with either caning or other barbaric disciplinary methods so that one room per class was enough to keep them sitting down all day; with PE, meal and play breaks of course.

Today, we have new laws that forbid the smacking or physical punishment and often also certain forms of verbal or mental punishment, a measure I wholly support. But that means that schools have to deal with many kids of various behavioural or learning requirements still in those 1 class per building schools and that simply doesn’t work out.

There are now much better methods with greater variants, which have discovered a variety of learning disabilities like autism, dyslexia, HTAD and of course also gifted and talented pupils.

The hours of schooling get longer and longer with increasing attempts to send all mums to work all day long too. There are after-school clubs, morning breakfast clubs.

All these requirements need to be housed but the old buildings do not just expand, they are not like balloons that can be blown to expand.

Yet the government imposes the school league tables on all schools the same without giving them equal facilities to deliver the education services. Some Conservatives started to shout bring back caning and seriously held public meetings for that purpose.

I think the type of whole day education that the government is used to delivering is no longer deliverable in the facilities available and the nation cannot afford to extend all small school buildings 2 storeys higher or make buildings wider to accommodate the space needed to deliver all those extra education requirements. Instead they dismiss governing bodies, replace them with Ofsted selected boards or offer the ability to build Free schools with government funding.

New rules for free schools will mean they can open in offices,shops and places like hotels from this summer. This will make monitoring education for statutory quality much more difficult indeed.

How expensive excellent education can be is shown with the example of the Westminster School, an independent secondary school, that charges pupils from 5 – 10 1/2 K per term and uses splendid buildings and facilities.

City of London School for Girls charges around 5 k per term within splendid grounds. It is very concerning that education can now be delivered in back-street establishments and that the statutory monitoring of such schools is obviously more difficult and that facilities in shops or offices do not have the necessary facilities to deliver an overall excellent education that includes play time and sport.

The policy to deliver education in all sorts of cramped places obviously is couched around the primary concern that wants to see women go to work and not have to divert their way to work for bringing children to a local school near the place that they live.

I would say the easiest solution to the current dilemma would be to extend and build onto existing schools but since this government was so busy to sell off playing fields, an educational infrastructure is systematically being demolished.

It still seems like a downgrading of education to allow it to happen in all sorts of building crevices rather than well thought out school buildings that without any doubts include better social value.

Without a doubt it causes continuity of educational services to be more disruptive if education takes place in shops and offices as those sort of buildings quite often change owners, they become unaffordable if the rent goes up or workers using the building vacate to another location.  I think this concept greatly endangers children safety, I am very concerned.

One most obvious solution would be to follow the German model and reduce education to 4 hours per day and give more home work, that would be better manageable in existing buildings. Furthermore it would be much more sensible to reduce then the hours required to work by adults with child care responsibility too.

Intolerable rise in homelessness

The rise of homeless people  in London has risen to enormous proportions, I read today.  The percentage of families with children living in B&B has risen by 385% in 2012.  The number of rough sleepers has risen by 40%.

This is the totally irresponsible housing and housing benefit policy this government has introduced that is responsible for this trend.

It doesn’t really matter that the DWP constantly wants to push people into jobs, when they have nowhere to stay permanently; how can they plan for employment, their children’s education, any health care they may need long term.

It seems cynical that the government now offers a £500 set up grant to allow setting up child care to enable mothers back into work, when those mothers have not even got permanent accommodation. Parents’ worries are needlessly increased by various risk factors, such as no permanent housing, being cut off from benefits for weeks on end when parents are accused of not doing enough to find work and mothers and children are left without any money and they have nowhere permanent to call a home.

Government these days is obsessed with pushing mothers into work and stopping women from having children or making them beg for food in soup kitchens as soon as their children reach age 7 or less. The age goes down all the time, that mothers can no longer receive Income Support and are forced to change to Job Seekers Allowance or get nothing at all for themselves to live on.

Birmingham Council has practically been bankrupted by a recent ruling that forces the council now, in a time of national austerity to pay out compensation for women’s under-payment through equal pay.  Yet that is fine for the women who have the jobs and are established in their lives but for those women who are now told that work is better than benefits but who have nothing to call even a home, the hope of an equally well paid job is just a far away illusion, that has not even realised yet.

It is always easy for those on the top to look down on those who have not achieved the same level of luxury in their lives and edge them on to achieve, but when you are at the bottom of the ladder, it is quite clear that the steps on that ladder are cracked and that those at the top have not even an idea what it is like to struggle day after day with simple things.

downtrodden mums

It doesn’t surprise me at all to read that both ante-natal and post-natal depression amongst mothers is on a steep rise. After all the DWP makes sure that every new mum doesn’t enjoy their motherhood.

Especially single mothers are ordered to attend employment interviews within a day of being due or 3 days after having given birth or they get threatened that their benefits are cut. Many young mothers get their benefits withdrawn completely once their child reaches the age of 7, with the excuse that they do not do enough to find work.

Being a mother has become out of fashion in public perception and Iain Duncan Smith’s department has a lot to do with that.

It used to be more fun getting pregnant and becoming a mum as one used to get much more support from benefits agencies in the past.

Even if a woman is not on benefits, the expectation of having to earn before conception is very much greater nowadays.

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