Sunday, 29 March 2020

CV guidelines - best ones I have seen

Clear Corona Virus Guidelines
We received this clear, simple, and easily accessible information from a
young researcher who was transferred from Shenzhen to Wuhan to work with the task force that is fighting against the coronavirus epidemic,
describing exactly what the virus is and how it moves from person to person and can be neutralized as in everyday life. We gladly pass it on to you all.

The corona virus infection does not cause colds with dripping nose or
 phlegmy cough, but rather a dry, shallow cough: this is the easiest thing
 to know.
 The virus is not resistant to heat and dies if exposed to temperatures of
 26-27ÂșC: so throughout the day, drink lots of hot drinks such as tea,
 herbal tea and broth, or simply hot water: hot liquids neutralize the
virus, and it is not difficult to drink them. Avoid drinking ice water or
eating ice cubes or snow for those who are in the mountains (children)!
 For those who can do it, expose yourself to the sun!
 1. The corona virus is quite large (about 400-500 nanometers in diameter),
so any kind of mask can stop it: there is no need to wear special masks in daily life. It is a different situation for doctors and health care
providers that are exposed to high virus loads and must use special
 If an infected person sneezes in front of you, stay three meters away: the
virus will drop to the ground and not land on you.
 2. When the virus is on metallic surfaces, it will survive for about 12
hours. So, when you touch metal surfaces such as doorknobs, doors,
appliances, stand on trams, etc., Wash your hands thoroughly and carefully
disinfect them.
3. The virus can live nestled in clothes and fabrics for about 6-12 hours:
 normal detergents can kill it. For clothes that can not be washed every
day, if you expose them to the sun, the virus will die.
 What are the symptoms:
 1. The virus is installed primarily in the throat, causing inflammation and
 feeling of dry mouth: this symptom can last for 3/4 days.
2. the virus travels through the humidity present in the airway, down into
 the trachea and is planted in the lungs, causing pneumonia. This step takes
about 5/6 days.

3. Pneumonia is manifested by high fever and difficulty breathing, it is
 not accompanied by the classic cold. But you may have the sensation of
drowning. In this case, seek medical attention immediately.

 How can you prevent it:
 1. The transmission of the virus takes place mostly by direct contact, by
touching tissues or materials upon which the virus is present: washing your
hands frequently is crucial.
The virus survives on your hands only for about ten minutes, but in ten
minutes, many things can happen: you rub your eyes or scratc your nose for example, allowing the virus to get into your throat ...
So, for your own good and for the good of others, frequently wash your hands and disinfect them!
2. You can gargle with a disinfectant solution which eliminates or
minimizes the proportion of virus that could come into your throat; by
doing so you take it off before it falls into the trachea and then the
3. Disinfect your computer's keyboard and mouse [and cell phones]!
With the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), one may not show signs of infection for many days, so you may not know if a person is infected. But when we see fever and / or cough, and you go to the hospital, the lungs are usually already fibrosis at 50% and it's too late.
The Taiwanese experts suggest doing a simple test you can do yourself every morning:
Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you
successfully complete without coughing, without discomfort or tightness,
etc., this shows that there is no fibrosis in the lungs, indicating
essentially no infection.
 In such critical times, do this check every morning in an environment with clean air!

These are serious and excellent advice from doctors who treat Japanese
COVID-19 cases. Everyone should make sure that your mouth and your throat are moist, never DRY. Drink a few sips of water at least every 15 minutes.
 WHY? Even if the virus enters your mouth ... the water or any other liquid
will sweep it away through the esophagus and into the stomach. Once in the  stomach, gastric acids will kill any virus. If you do not drink water
rather more regularly ... the virus can enter your airways and lungs, which is very dangerous.
Share this information with your family, friends, and acquaintances in
 solidarity and a sense of civic spirit!

James F. Keenan, S.J.
Vice Provost for Global Engagement
Canisius Professor, Director of Jesuit Institute
Director, Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program
Theology Department, Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Dr Marion Phillips - Sunderland’s first female MP

Dr Marion Phillips - Sunderland’s first female MP

A blue plaque was unveiled at 18 Foyle Street, Sunderland in September 2019 to Dr Marion Phillips, Sunderland’s first female MP, who was also the first female Jewish MP ever. Foyle Street was chosen as its was the site of the former offices of the Labour Party whilst Marion was MP between 1929 and 1931. 

The plaque was mounted largely at the instigation and campaigning of Dr Sarah Hellawell.  This was great work by the lecturer in modern British history at the University of Sunderland. 

Phillips was born in Australia in 1881 and moved to Britain in 1904. She began working on the Royal Commission into the Poor Laws, researching public health, medical relief and the treatment of destitute children.

In 1912 she was elected as a Labour councillor in the London borough of Kensington, where she pressed for public baby clinics, school meals, better council housing, employment schemes and the prohibition of sweated labour. She also sought better medical inspection and treatment of school children. 

Phillips in 1918 became Labour’s first chief woman officer, a role where she spoke regularly throughout Britain and one she retained until her death. On 19 May 1926 miners leader A J Cook asked Marion to organise a committee of Labour women to raise funds to prevent miners and their families from starving. This followed the collapse of the 1926 General Strike and the ongoing miners’ lock-out in a battle over pay and conditions.

The chair of the committee, which was given free premises by the Labour party, was Ellen Wilkinson, the then Labour MP for Middlesbrough. Collection sheets were printed and circulated everywhere. Wilkinson toured the country appealing for support. By the end of May over £2,000 a day was being raised. 

When the lock-out ended a special Christmas appeal was made. The fund closed on 8 January 1927 and by which time it has raised £313,874, the equivalent of £19 million today.

More information is at:- 

Phillips was pressurised by local people, especially women, to stand in Sunderland in 1929, the first election when women and men’s voting rights were equal. She was one of only 14 MPs in Parliament, but she lost her seat at the 1931 General Election and she died of stomach cancer the following year. 


Friday, 20 March 2020

Letter to my MP regarding Government handling of legislation

I would like to add my support to the letter sent by Naeem of Halifax CLP to Holly Lynch MP. I would though also like to add that I believe Labour should be insisting that all emergency legislation, which I fear once introduced will become permanent, should need renewing by Parliament on a monthly basis.

Dear Holly

I am writing to you to ask for your urgent action to challenge the government’s handling of the ongoing public health crisis associated with the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic and to ask that you make or support appropriate amendments  to emergency legislation on Covid-19 being debated in the House for its first reading.

First and foremost, it is clear that the Conservative government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic is absolutely woeful and at odds with the approach of other major states and the advice of the World Health Organisation. 

The government has failed to take the necessary steps to contain the spread of Coronavirus, test citizens or protect the most vulnerable from infection. Its failure to introduce systematic testing and monitoring of the population has created the conditions for over 200,000 people to die unnecessarily.

I am asking you, as the Member of Parliament for Halifax, to work to secure as a matter of the greatest urgency, adequate resources and funding to introduce immediate systematic testing and monitoring of Coronavirus. This is the only guaranteed way to limit the number of deaths expected to be caused by Coronavirus, as has been shown by in countries such as China and South Korea.  

I am also asking you to oppose the coercive government proposals that will only put the public at greater risk of spreading the virus, and withdraw adequate care from those who are most at risk of dying from the virus: 
• give police powers to force schools and nurseries to stay open despite having insufficient numbers of teachers or being unable to provide adequate free meals to children. 
• reduce statutory duty on local Councils’ care for the elderly, some of whom are most at risk of dying as a result of becoming infected by Covid-19; 

Instead, emergency legislation should be introduced to positively support people needing to self-isolate and so reduce the spread of the disease.  

I am therefore asking that you submit or support amendments that bring into law the following:  

• the immediate introduction of systematic testing and monitoring of Coronavirus, and the safe distribution of free medical masks. 
• extend statutory sick pay to those in insecure or self-employed work during self-isolation and illness;  
• Increase statutory sick pay in line with other European countries with similar economies; 
• Introduce rent deferrals alongside the planned mortgage holidays, so that landlords cannot evict tenants and mortgage companies cannot take action against homeowners, with an assurance that repayment does not cause hardship; 
• Wholly curtail sanctions for missed Universal Credit interviews in all cases, and substantial reduction in the five-week wait for payments; 
• Suspend council tax, water rates, gas and electric bills for those that require it; 
• Requisition private hospitals. 
• support the food suppliers to enable vulnerable groups and carers to obtain essential supplies

• Introduce a Universal Basic Income to cushion the impact of the loss of earnings from the Coronavirus

You will of course understand my concerns, given my own health condition which would be greatly impacted during this unprecedented crises. Hence making demands for prompt and appropriate action at the appropriate time is crucial. I am therefore seeking your assurance that you will make strenuous representations of behalf of the residents of Halifax and get the Parliamentary Labour Party to progress our concerns to the government.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Fears for the future.......

With millions set to face devastating cuts to their incomes the Government, which has already messed up its response to the CV19 health crisis by waiting too long to act and not even testing health care workers, has yet to respond adequately. Offering loans to businesses is not going to be sufficient to keep them open and the £330 billion package announced to date will be a drop in the ocean once the suppliers to the major car plants, now mostly closed, are also forced to shut down, some almost certainly permanently.

Millions are going to be made unemployed or placed on short time work, which is already the norm for millions who work in precarious sectors anyway. The loss of wages will feed into other sectors of the economy. 

Meanwhile, the Government is currently refusing to ensure anyone who needs to stay away from work due to the fear they have CV19 can afford to do so.  

Meanwhile, the public is panicking over the possibility of food shortages, which are certainly very likely in an era where 46% of our food is imported. Supermarket shelves are empty in many parts of the UK, it may be a good while, if ever, before they are even half full again. Reports of spivs buying up supermarket products and then selling them at grossly inflated profits are circulating on estates. Of course, at some point people thrown out of work won’t be able to afford any price for food, which, as is shown by the rise of foodbanks, is the situation millions already face today.

In what seems like no time at all the well oiled capitalist system, which the British economy is compared to many others, is disintegrating. A system, a country that cannot provide food and jobs for the vast majority of its population is at some point going to face the wrath of those who have nothing to lose.

The question on my lips then is what might the ruling class do? The obvious and most sensible answer would be to move to a wartime, socialised system involving significant nationalisation of industries and services and the taking over of the commanding heights of the economy.

Johnson seems I would suggest that he is being pushed in this direction BUT it is by no means certain that he and his political advisors and, in some cases masters, will inevitably act in such a fashion. If it is true that legislation has been drawn up to give various state bodies supreme powers for the next few years then this must be opposed. The question is by whom as Johnson could easily ignore this unilaterally. 

Monday, 9 March 2020

Why don’t we just... do more to save northern farmers? CHARLIE CLUTTERBUCK AND MARK METCALF

Big Issue North, 2-8 March 2020 

Leaving the EU will mean one of the biggest changes in food and farming in the last 200 years, since the Tories repealed the Corn Laws in the 1840s and Labour introduced the Agricultural Act following the Second World War. 
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy of subsidies to landowners, mainly the big ones – some of whom did not even grow food – was rightly criticised and hugely wasteful but it did at least afford smaller British farmers a degree of support. Now everything is set to change dramatically. 
Prior to the referendum, farmers were reassured that something similar to the EU subsidies would continue but immediately after the result, ministers backtracked by saying they could not promise anything. Protests by farmers led to promises to keep subsidies until 2020 and later to 2022. Yet doubts remain and Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, has warned: “The government must not sacrifice British farming on the altar of free trade.” 
We believe Batters will be disappointed as Brexit will change how much we pay for our food, who works the soil, what we eat, how our land is used and where we get our food from. It is in the rural areas round our towns where the greatest changes from the Brexit breeze may well blow in. 
A new report by consultants Strutt and Parker says net profit for the average English farmer will fall by half over the next 10 years, even if environmental payments grow. 
Most farms in the north are smaller family farms – and on the wrong side of average. They are most likely to be hit by subsidy changes. Most small sheep farmers, who in the past were ignored by all political parties over the scandal of sheep dip stuffed with organophosphates, earn around £20,000-£25,000. Probably £17,000 of that comes from present EU subsidies. 
If it’s not the end of subsidies, it is the tariffs that will kill them off over the next few years. The largest lamb export market – taking 90 per cent of our exports – is the EU. It will maintain the 40 per cent tariffs that protected our farmers, prohibitively putting up the price of our exports to the EU. 
And if it’s not the tariffs, it’s the quotas. New Zealand and Australia are given quotas that allow lamb into the EU before any tariffs kick in. Those figures must now be split between the EU 27 and the UK. The EU and UK thought they had cooked a deal on that division but Australia is challenging it at the World Trade Organisation. And good old WTO rules mean that another 14 countries, including Russia, are backing Australia there. 
Who therefore is going to stand up to the government’s plans for the countryside? The Conservatives have always dominated matters in rural areas, favouring landowners and larger farmers. The opposition to these attacks is weaker than ever, with barely any rural seats held by MPs other than Tories. 
Smaller farmers, many of whom are tenants rather than landowners, won’t go to food banks. They’d rather eat grass than resort to charitable handouts. 
For workers the prospects are even more bleak. England is the only country in the UK not covered by an agricultural wages board and already we have received reports of morning and afternoon breaks being cut, fines for lateness and holidays reduced.
Staff from Eastern Europe face being badly exploited due to their lack of English. 
As we wait for the lambs to start springing, massive decisions are being made miles away that will affect generations round here. 
There is not much sheep farmers in the north can do if they are forced out of business. Already there are reports of livestock farmers selling stock early but finding prices are falling as others clock the risks, so they are not investing in stock and machinery. 
They will be urged to diversify but the only real option – unlike in other currently underused lowland locations that could be used to grow food – is to plant trees. There will be climate change inducements to do so, especially with a handout, and cheering from the wings. But the economies round our many northern towns will be hit badly. 
It is not just the farmers who will be affected but many contractors, mechanics, butchers, bars, restaurants and abattoirs. Killing and cutting up lamb helps our local economies. Timber won’t provide anywhere near as much work. Certainly, money does not grow on trees! 

Charlie Clutterbuck and Mark Metcalf worked on the 2017 book Bittersweet Brexit: The Future of Food, Farming and Labour, which argued for swapping CAP subsidies away from land and into labour.  

Calling time on loneliness

Sheffield pub helps bring people together 
Campaign encourages strangers to converse 
Big Issue North 2-8 March 2020 
A historic Sheffield pub is backing the Campaign for Real Ale in its promotion of the important role played by pubs in tackling loneliness. 
The Gardeners Rest, Neepsend on Sheffield’s outskirts is the only pub in a district once well known for its connections to the gas, rail and steel industries. When the owners, after nearly two decades in charge, decided to sell up and retire, regulars decided they would buy the premises, with its cellars, main room, conservatory, garden and upstairs function room. 
The pub was known for its friendliness and as a music venue serving good-quality, affordable real ale. The beer remains fine value, with the house ales below £3 a pint. “Many Camra members like me drank regularly here,” said Tim Stillman, a former Sheffield University employee. “Aware of the successful pub regenerations in nearby Kelham Island we approached the Plunkett Foundation to help us keep the Gardeners Rest going by turning it into a community society.” 
Creating jobs 
Paying between £100 and £5,000, 382 shareholders took over operations of the pub, right next to the River Don, three years ago. The management committee includes members with extensive experience of creating jobs for disadvantaged people. Stillman now works weekday mornings at the pub as a work supervisor with students from Freeman College. Operated by the Ruskin Mill Trust education charity, Freeman, located in Sheffield City Centre, provides residential and day provision for 16-25 year olds with complex learning, mental health and behavioural needs, including autism. Young people are encouraged to gain vocational qualifications and undertake work experience. 
Small groups of students from Freeman each work two to three mornings weekly for two to three hours at a time. “They help make and serve sandwiches and locally- sourced pork pies. They
learn to follow instructions and interact with customers. The reviews have been good. Thanks in part to his time here one student now works in a cafe,” said Stillman.
Bar manager Shaun Price had 25 years experience in the pub trade before taking up his current post six months ago. “I was attracted partly by the opportunity to work alongside the young people with autism. I feel I am putting something back into the community as well as maintaining the high standards of the beer,” he said. 
The pub won the 2019 Camra Sheffield Pub of the Year award. It has three regular ales and eight guest beers that change weekly, many from local micro and independent breweries. 
According to Mark Willson, a cricket groundsman who chairs the management committee, the pub’s beer garden is one of its main attractions. 
“It is just feet from the river,” he said. “On warm days you can sit there for hours with the sun passing slowly overhead. It can be packed. The loud conversations mean it is thankful that we are not near any residential accommodation.” 
Some visitors to the Gardeners Rest are not so chatty and so when members heard about Camra’s initiative to reduce loneliness they were keen to get involved. On a table in the conservatory a Chatter and Natter (C&N) sign was visible. This is a national scheme that aims to reduce loneliness and social isolation by getting people talking to each other. Pub customers who are happy to talk to
other customers can sit there. Except on Saturdays the sign is out every day for a number of hours. 
Brighten a day 
“Some people might go days without talking to anyone and we hope this may help if they feel isolated,” said Janet Ridler, who works as a historical interpreter and whose passion for the pub shines through. “It is done at people’s own pace. 
“We have many who come in on their own. We also have two part time staff who live in sheltered accommodation. So anything that can encourage interaction – even a short conversation can brighten up a person’s day – we will back. We do the same at the many music events that are organised.” 
Sitting enjoying a drink at the C&N table was Paul Truin. He works for the Workers Educational Association but was previously employed by a mental health project. “Thanks to the rent-free upstairs room here I have been able to organise charity events for prostate cancer,” he said. “Those suffering can struggle to come to terms with it, leading to spells of depression. So getting them in the pub to meet others, including those facing the same concerns, helps. 
“This table is a great idea. I am a shareholder and the fact that the pub continues to do well whilst supporting the community shows it’s fulfilling many of the varied needs of local people.” 

He raised his glass in salute.

Thursday, 5 March 2020


Published January 2019 in Big Issue North magazine 
Future looks bleak for Whitehaven Academy 
Closure would mean pupils bussed miles 
The multi-academy trust that has replaced the disgraced Bright Tribe in running Whitehaven Academy is being urged to make rapid improvements to ensure pupils leave with a good education and that the school has a long-term future. 
Academies are state schools directly accountable to the Department for Education (DfE), rather than local authorities. Teaching unions contend that this has led to a lack of financial transparency within the education sector. 
Panorama investigation 
Bright Tribe, which took over at Whitehaven in 2014, is being investigated by the Education and Skills Funding Agency over allegations, recently aired on a BBC Panorama programme, that
it received public money for building work, lighting and fire safety improvements at Whitehaven and its Colchester school that were never started or not finished. 
Two-thirds of the dilapidated Whitehaven site was closed by 2017. In April 2018 part of the school was closed following the discovery of asbestos, prompting local MP Trudy Harrison to call
for it to be demolished and rebuilt. 
Julie Rayson, founder of Whitehaven Academy Action Group (WAAG), said most local people would have welcomed the chance to explore all options, including returning the school to local authority control, when Bright Tribe was forced aside. But in December last year, the school instead became part of the Cumbria Multi-Academy Education Trust (CET) of seven schools. 
Rayson, an independent councillor and former pupil at the school, said she was concerned about the future of the school. 
“CET, which is only three years old, has said they will be different to BT. Yet the head, Mr Turner, left in mysterious circumstances just as CET assumed control. Consultation with parents appears to have consisted of a letter going out informing who was taking over. 
“The young people are brilliant and are very resilient but these are the most important years of their lives. They have already been badly let down. That mustn’t be allowed to continue. Six months is enough time to make improvements.” 
Ignoring the views of parents and a lack of accountability have created many critics of the academy system, which began under the Labour government in 2000 and expanded massively since the Conservatives entered government in 2010. 
Head left unexpectedly 
Rayson formed WAAG in 2016, her son leaving the school after completing his GCSEs a year later. 
“We raised funds for the little extras,” she said. “We became concerned that public money for school repairs was not being spent. 
“Our fears were heightened when Mr Grant, a really popular headteacher, left in July 2016. No one from the trust could provide an explanation.” 
A month later Bright Tribe disbanded the school’s governing body, on which two long-serving parents sat. 
“WAAG made multiple Freedom of Information requests as we knew things were not right,” said Rayson. “I began attending and raising concerns at town council meetings. When a vacancy arose in my own ward of Hillcrest I stood and was elected unopposed.” 
Rayson has used her position on the council to raise her fears that Whitehaven children are being badly let down. 
WAAG began demanding that the DfE account for its backing for Bright Tribe, a 16 school multi-academy trust that included Oldham’s Werneth Primary and Haltwhistle First and Middle Schools. 
WAAG and Harrison successfully urged the DfE to drop Bright Tribe. All of these schools are now being transferred – re-brokering is the official term – to new sponsors, none of which will be local authority controlled. This is despite an overwhelming vote at a packed Whitehaven public meeting in November last year for Cumbria County Council to take control of Whitehaven Academy. 
Tony Gavin, a former Yorkshire secondary school head teacher, said re-brokering Whitehaven Academy was the wrong move. 
“Academies get away with poor practices because of a lack of democratic oversight,” he said. “[Oversight can be maintained] if a school is run by the local authority so that parents can approach their elected councillors if they have serious concerns.” 
From personal experience, Gavin is concerned that academies do not have to employ qualified teachers and are excluding children who they do not believe will pass their exams. 
Whitehaven Academy pupil numbers have collapsed from around 1,000 a few years back to about half that figure. Gavin, aware that the only other academy in Whitehaven is oversubscribed, fears this might make the school financially untenable. 
“Closure would mean pupils being bussed many miles to other schools,” he said. ”Whitehaven is a former industrial town that has been left to go to ruin. A good education is something every parent wants for their children, all of whom need a chance to gain skills to find work that will allow them to have a good life. 
Big Issue North sent a series of questions to the DfE. In response a spokesperson said: “CET has worked in consultation with parents and is committed to parental engagements and is currently assessing applications from parents to be part of the local governing body. 

“CET has the experience to make the much needed improvements. We will be working closely with the trust to ensure this happens.”