Monday, 3 August 2020

Happy to house homelesss

Happy to house the homeless - Big Issue North article from 20-26 July 

Hoteliers speak of positive experience 

Kangley couple make offer for the long-term 

The owner of a Sheffield city centre hotel that has been accommodating homeless people through the lockdown says he would be willing to continue supporting them after the pandemic if he had the backing of the government and local authority. 

At the end of March the government followed the lead of California by funding the accommodation of rough sleepers in hotels and offices. Around 45,000 people, many vulnerable to Covid-19 because of respiratory and other health problems, were housed under the Everyone In policy. 

24 hour deadline 

Sheffield City Council asked Grant Kangley to accommodate rough sleepers at the 16-bedroom Dalbury and Palmer Hotel in Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter. 

Kangley, who bought the hotel five years ago to add to the two he and his wife Anne own in North Wales, said: “After meeting the council it was decided after discussions with staff that because of
the often chaotic nature of homeless people we should play safe, take just three people and see how it went. We were also concerned that some local residents would complain if all the hotel was used by homeless people.” 

But the council wanted to take over the entire hotel. People needed to be taken off the streets and safely housed within 24 hours. Family rooms at the hotel were converted within eight hours into single rooms. Almost before staff knew it homeless people were at the hotel. 

“I must admit that the first week was slightly scary,” said Zoe Burke, aged 27, who had just been appointed manager, with her partner Jordan also employed with responsibility for security. Having always worked in hospitality, she had been looking forward to priorities such as building
up business in the new restaurant. 

“We had been told only negative things about the people we were now hosting. I suppose the council has to highlight the problems that homeless people are facing, such as drug and alcohol abuse, but also there was a suspicion amongst people that we would police them and keep them permanently indoors.” 

In normal times, rooms at the boutique hotel – “each with its own story, with some nice finishing touches”, according to Kangley – cost £85-£95 during weekdays and more at weekends, when it had generally been fully booked. But all visitors had cancelled reservations just before the lockdown. 

Kangley and Burke admit they had never previously considered homeless people’s needs but they soon began to understand their new guests, some of whom were asylum seekers while others had been recently released from prison. 

“A mutual respect was quickly established. I heard some difficult stories and soon realised many homeless people have just fallen, often very quickly, on hard times and can’t recover without help,” said Burke. 

Begin living a better life 

One of those who moved into the hotel was Nick, a trained chef who had become homeless after losing his job, becoming ill and then getting into difficulties with claiming benefits he was entitled to. As well as sleeping rough Nick had been staying with friends. They had to turn him away once the advice on how to tackle Covid-19 included telling people not to accommodate anyone outside their own families. 

After the council agreed with Kangley’s request for the hotel to provide everyone staying there with breakfast and an evening meal, Nick was asked to do some cooking. The council has since found Nick permanent accommodation and he hopes to find work again once as a chef. 

Nick is grateful for his accommodation at the Dalbury and Palmer. “I hope anyone who needs it can be moved into the room I was using. Having a place to live, even temporarily, makes it easier for other agencies including the council to make contact and start helping homeless people to begin living a better life.” 

Ann Clarkson moved from Grimsby to Sheffield a year ago. She had worked full time for over three decades. Her last job, for 13 years, was a supervisor at Howden Kitchens. But she got breast cancer, which damaged her mental welfare, even though she overcame it. She loved her dog and, when it was stolen and the police refused her request to investigate the person she believed had taken it, she sought her own revenge and was arrested. 

This first ever offence resulted in just over a month in prison and she was living on the Sheffield
streets when Framework, a street outreach project run by a local housing association, found her outside Sheffield Cathedral and gave her a bus ticket to get to the Dalbury and Palmer. She too helped make meals at the hotel, laughing that it kept her out of mischief. But she knows she would otherwise have been living in a squat or doorway this summer. 

“Covid-19 might, if projects such as this can continue for a while, really help homeless people,” said Clarkson. “But I am concerned that if people are moved on without ongoing help they won’t be able to cope. The manager and staff here have helped create a community and people feel safe.” 

She wants to use her considerable work skills to set up a cafĂ© as she likes cooking and has arranged to meet the Together Women Project after lockdown has ended to discuss how to take her ideas forward. 

Like Clarkson, Burke fears for homeless people if this support is removed. 

“This is the best thing I have ever done,” she said.

“I can get quite emotional about it and I have developed some great friendships. For some guests this experience will help greatly in the future but I worry about others who currently have support, including being able to discuss things that worry them.” 

Kangley added: “The vast majority of homeless people who have stayed at the hotel have been very friendly, kept the place clean and also done many spare jobs such as gardening. I’d be happy to continue doing this for a while but that is up to the government and the council. Whatever happens I intend taking a keen interest in tackling homelessness in the future.” 

Sheffield City Council did not respond to Big Issue North’s request for comment. 

20-26 July 2020 

Sunday, 2 August 2020

2005 article reprint on Ops linked to sheep farmers suicides

Bought for £640,000 in 2008 and since when no one has lived there

This house outside Kirkby Stephen was purchased for £640,000 in 2008, up £400k on the sale price of £240,000 in 2001. No one has lived in the place since 2008 but it has a gardener and it is regularly cleaned inside even though all the furniture in each room is in the middle. The British Countryside! 

Call to record COVID works deaths

Call to record Covid work deaths
Big Issue North article 27 July - 2 August 

Employers have not controlled work risks 
A Manchester health and safety advice centre has called for workers who have died from contracting Covid-19 to be recorded as workplace deaths.
The decision would have implications for employers, including public bodies, and grieving families of the dead workers. 
According to the Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) their were 111 fatal workplace injuries in 2019-20, 38 fewer than in 2018-19. The HSE believes part of the fall is due to reduced economic activity resulting from the impact of Covid-19 in the final two months of 2019-20. 
But the total omits deaths from Covid-19. According to the HSE separate data about deaths associated with the coronavirus will be available at a later date. 
Lack of PPE 
The Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC) lobbies and advises workers on occupational health, safety and welfare issues. Co-ordinator Janet Newsham believes workers have died because workplace risks have not been controlled and is particularly critical of the lack of PPE for health and care workers. Employers found guilty of breaking health and safety laws can be fined, or, in some cases, imprisoned or lose the right to be a company director. 
“There wasn’t a precautionary approach taken to PPE,” said Newsham. “A higher level of stock was needed for health workers and anyone coming into contact with the virus.” 
GMHC wrote to the HSE when the coronavirus crisis crisis began, asking it to make it easier for workers to report concerns about employers not providing PPE. The HSE agreed to the Trades Union Congress producing an online form that sends concerns direct to the safety enforcement agency. 
The HSE also increased the number of people taking calls from employees. But Newsham said: “We have seen, for example, how the construction industry has been widely working and social distancing has been flouted. There has been only a handful of cases that have resulted in HSE or local authorities action.” 
According to an HSE spokesperson “all cases reported to HSE and local authorities are being assessed and investigations initiated where incidents meet our published incident selection criteria”. 
In the US a union is suing meat companies including Smithfield Foods and JBS USA, as well as retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, on behalf of workers who have become infected and died. The first multiple victims case at one workplace during the pandemic was filed in court recently. 
Newsham said: “Unions and families here should be considering legal action against the government, perhaps in a similar fashion to that by soldiers’ families who successfully sued over a lack of adequate equipment and protection in the Iraq conflict.” 
In response to a series of questions an HSE spokesperson told Big Issue North: “With the Covid-
19 virus prevalent in the community at large it is very difficult to be certain that an individual case of the disease resulted from occupational exposure... It is too early for us to comment on potential lines of enquiry.” 
HSE’s response concerned Unite member Abdul Tan Rashid, a Middlesbrough bus driver who has seen colleagues die across the country. “I hope it does not mean Covid-19 deaths among people with underlying health problems are recorded as due to the natural progression of a naturally occurring disease. Employers might then escape their responsibilities.” 
One potential avenue of enquiry was closed down in April when the chief coroner said an inquest was “not the right forum for addressing concerns about high-level government or public policy” and “by no means will all Covid-19 deaths be reported to the coroner”. 
For Newsham though the priority remains “to get high standard PPE and more effective workplace practices in place while not letting down workers who have died by allowing them not to be recorded as workplace deaths”. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2020



WALK THIS WAY + FOOD FOR THOUGHT - how most locations can be used to harvest trees & food, whilst providing pasture for sheep & cattle and many species of birds & insects 

We produce around half the food we eat. Now, partly due to Brexit, Britain’s food system faces its biggest challenge. 

Yet we can do all sorts of things with land & the soil that makes the Earth what it is. It can take a lot of toil to make the soil healthy. Soil & toil. Land & labour. If we want to change the food we eat, it starts here as we are going on a healthy 4-mile round walk that also includes honouring the Pendle Witches exactly 218 years on.

TUESDAY AUGUST 18 - bring your car to Slaidburn Car Park (sat nav: post code BB7 3ES), where will rendezvous and sort out cars. This is around 2 miles from where walk will commence, and can you be there no later than 11.30am. Bring walking shoes, charged phones, food, water  & a mask. Booking is essential because a maximum of 12 can attend, due to very limited parking space. Note - this is the first of a series of planned walks. 

Guide - Charlie Clutterbuck, with help from Mark Metcalf
Enjoy a beautiful walk whilst seeing how even difficult locations can be used to grow food 

Fresh air and a chance to walk up on the hills will never feel so good.  Please accept an invite to come to the Croasdale Valley, near Slaidburn, Lancashire and see the landscape like you have never seen it before.

Soil scientist Charlie Clutterbuck will be back where he farmed over four decades ago. As Britain will need to rethink its food and farming policies after the CV19 crisis has exposed some major faults, then this day out will be a chance to take in some remarkable scenery plus an opportunity to discuss how to recapture the countryside so it can be more effectively used for all. 

You will hear about oats, swede that can be grown as a fodder crop for cattle such as  Belted Galloways, that require virtually no bought-in food and graze lightly, skylarks, hay, birch and forests.  

There will also be opportunities to see how large landowners are being subsidised because the walk takes in a section of the hillside set aside for grouse shooting.

Finally, you will be able to honour the Pendle Witches, all but two of whom were tried at Lancaster Assizes on 18–19 August 1612, and ten of whom were forced to trudge the 11-mile long walk from Slaidburn, along the route we take, to Wray in 1612 to be executed. 

You will see that the Grand Mansions of the landed gentry still exist whilst the hovels of those accused are harder to find.

More details &/or to book a place contact either 07392 852561

or Charlie on 07809 571612 

Medical professionals and health campaigners in Sheffield have set up a coronavirus track and trace scheme because of their frustration at government inaction.

Taken from Big Issue North magazine 13-19 July 2020 
Sheffield group set up for track and trace 
Frustration with the government’s inaction 
Medical professionals and health campaigners in Sheffield have set up a coronavirus track and trace scheme because of their frustration at government inaction. 
Paul Redgrave, a former South Yorkshire director of public health, and Andrew Jackson, who runs regeneration charity the Heeley Development Trust, have established Sheffield Community Contact Tracers (SCCT), which has trained six volunteers to speak to people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and find out who else they may have been in contact with. 
Abandoned proposals 
In its pilot scheme, SCCT has taken referrals from local GPs, although attempts to persuade people have met with mixed results. However, the founders believe community-led track and trace can be effective, and have urged the establishment of similar groups across the country. 
Redgrave became concerned when the government abandoned proposals for contact tracing in March, even though the World Health Organisation had said testing, isolation and tracing new Covid-19 cases should be the “backbone of the response in every country”. 
According to UK testing chief Professor John Newton, fears that over a million cases would be uncovered, overwhelming any capacity for track and trace, led to the proposals being ditched. Britain’s attempt to create a track and trace app has also met with little success. 
At the same time, a friend of Redgrave’s, whose partner was a GP, contracted Covid-19 and was frustrated in her attempts to get healthcare, despite her knowledge of the medical system. Redgrave, who had worked on tracking meningitis outbreaks in his career, decided to act. 
“The press were reporting how many people were dying within 24 hours of entering hospital,” he said. “People were waiting too long to ask for help.” 
He sought support from former colleagues and SCCT was the result. Heeley Development Trust’s Andrew Jackson calls its role “structural back-up”. HDT, which was already supporting people by delivering medicines and food supplies to coronavirus patients, has been particularly helpful in helping SCCT make contact with hard-to-reach Yemeni and Kashmiri communities. 
“The national system does not appear to be functioning well,” said Jackson. “I already knew the people who approached me from the good works they had done to improve public health. 
“SCCT is educating people to alter their behaviours. This will help reduce the spread of the virus. 
“The group is also making contact with people who have the virus and actively looking to find and advise and help those they have been in contact with. 
“Crucially, they are sharing their expertise and learning from doing.” 
Redgrave admits SCCT’s initial 13 cases are a “tiny number” and that it does not have the statutory powers environmental health officers had when he was investigating meningitis cases. 
“Ten were happy to work with us but three refused to engage after becoming unhappy at being asked to isolate,” he said. 
Those 10 passed on details of 58 people they had contact with. Of those, only 19 were prepared to engage. 
Redgrave said: “Not good, but amongst those we discovered one new case and we supported everyone, including the original 10 people, for the two weeks – or longer if they remained unwell – with a daily call. We also offered specific needs like collecting medicines or food supplies or dog walking. People really appreciated our help.” 
Of the remaining 38 people, Redgrave said: “An 88-year- old women broke her hip and was in hospital. When she got home she came down with the virus. She identified 10 carers who she had been in close contact with. She only knew them via the supplying care agency, who told us they could not afford to lose so many staff. There was not anything we could do.” 
‘Local angle’ 
He also referred to a staff nurse with the virus who had passed on details of five work colleagues. SCCT’s initial call was welcomed by all five but their attitudes later hardened after they had been told by senior management not to respond to the organisation. 
Redgrave said: “The assessment shows contact tracing is complex, a local angle can strengthen neighbourhoods to become self supporting, that we need official and potentially legal back-up from environmental health officers, and that local volunteers can be trained and can support people to make the system work, as has been the case in other countries.” 
SCCT has written to the government calling for more support for community- led Covid-19 responses. Its research and details of how to establish similar groups is online. This has encouraged the establishment in the Upper Calder Valley of a Covid-19 contact tracing and support association, whose members are Covid-19 Mutual Aid volunteers and others with clinical or public health experience. 
“We have got support from many different local groups,” said the association’s Jenny Shepherd, who is worried that those fearing they have contracted coronavirus have been directed towards contacting 111 rather than their local GP. 
“Covid-19 is a notifiable disease and the process for notifying such diseases is through GPs who have been cut out of the process. It is crazy. GPs have people’s trust and should have been central to tackling Covid-19.” 
Shepherd praised SCCT. “New groups can be set up much more easily and on our own new website we have also added our experiences to the already accumulated information,” she said. 
Tight deadlines 
Big Issue North asked the Department for Health and Social Care why it had chosen not to immediately follow WHO’s advice to test, trace and isolate new Covid-19 cases, had marginalised GPs and given itself little time to develop an effective app when it is known that large software projects with tight deadlines have historically had a high failure rate. 
In response, a department spokesperson said: “This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have been guided by the best scientific advice at all times. 
“NHS Test and Trace has already helped to stop more than 100,000 people from unknowingly spreading the virus and we have been working closely with our local partners to provide them with the resources and tools they need to take swift action to deal with any new local spikes in infections.” 
The spokesperson said an improved version of the app was being worked on with Google, Apple and others. Public Health England did not respond to questions about whether it would be contacting groups such as SCCT to share experiences and about why the government has been unwilling to use environmental health officers during the pandemic. 

Friday, 3 July 2020

How much longer will the referee control the game on the pitch?

Article from Sunday Mirror of 28 June 2020 

IT is 129 years since the champions of England resided at Anfield for the first time.
And as Liverpool prepare to lift the Premier League trophy at the end of a season that has brought the introduction of VAR, it's ironic that the 1890-91 campaign was also shrouded in refereeing controversy.
That first Merseyside triumph, during the reign of Queen Victoria, belonged to Everton.
The Blues were the pioneers of the game in a city now synonymous around the world with football.
And they played at Anfield for seven years, until an attempt by chairman John Houlding to increase the rent on the ground he owned ended with Everton moving a mile across Stanley Park to Goodison.
Houlding took his revenge by setting up a rival club, Liverpool – and the rest is history.
This is Liverpool's 19th title, while Everton have nine. No City in England has more.
But the Toffees are the originals – and when they clinched the championship in March 1891 it was thanks to a remarkable chain of events linked to how football was refereed.
When the Blues lost their final game of the season 3-2 at Burnley, it seemed they had handed the crown to reigning champions Preston North End.
Preston had finished top in each of the first two years of the fledgling Football League and needed only to win at Sunderland to clinch a hat-trick of titles.
These were the days when clubs appointed their own umpires, each applying the laws of the game in opposite halves of the pitch.
A referee, positioned on the halfway line with a whistle, would be the final arbiter of all decisions.
But the sight of all three officials arguing with each other was commonplace.
And when Preston chairman and umpire Major William Sudell took exception to a decision made by referee Mr Cooper in the decisive game at the Wearsiders' Newcastle Road ground, he stormed off the pitch and refused to continue.
North End were already two goals behind and eventually lost 3-0 to a Sunderland team that finished seventh in their first season in the 12-team league.
The Newcastle-based newspaper The Journal reported: “One has not heard the last of Mr Sudell walking off the field and leaving his side without an umpire, for the referee Mr Cooper felt it keenly.
A man of his experience should have thought twice before taking such a drastic action, especially as the referee's decision seemed correct.”
It was to be a watershed moment in how the laws of the game were applied.
In October 1890, in an experiment to see how officiating standards could be improved, the FA Cup tie between Gainsborough Trinity and Lincoln City saw referee Arthur Kingscott given complete control of the game.
It didn't go well, with Kingscott criticised for his inconsistent decisions and failure to send off a couple of Lincoln players for violent tackles.
But following the fall out from the events witnessed at Sunderland, the FA decided that appointing neutral referees and linesmen was the only way forward.
Even so, international games were refereed in the old style, with each country nominating their own linesman.
It wasn't until 1947 that the annual Home International clash between England and Scotland was refereed by a neutral official, with Frenchman Charles Delasalle helped by a linesman from each country.
More than 70 years later, each Premier League game requires no fewer than 10 officials following the advent of VAR.
The referee is aided at the stadium by two assistant referees, a fourth official, two additional assistant referees and a reserve additional referee.
In the VAR booth at Stockley Park, there is a VAR official and two assistant VAR officials.
And once again, it can be argued that the final decision no longer belongs to the man in the middle.