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Press release for immediate release

Mon, Nov 30, 2020 06:18 EST

School delivers more than 22,000 live online lessons during lockdown Pupils only missed one days of lessons as staff worked 'around the clock' to pivot to a full digital curriculum within 48-hours Whilst schools and universities remained open through the second national lockdown, social distancing and other Covid-19 safety measures continue to impose a very different education environment to that of a year ago. Many establishments are delivering a hybrid of face-to-face and virtual lessons to reduce the numbers of pupils in attendance at one time and to offer those that are self-isolating a continued education. For the Royal Hospital School, the transition for this lockdown is seamless, having refined the process earlier this year. When the Government instructed schools across the UK to close on 20th March 2020, as part of the emergency measures to reduce the transmission of Covid-19, teachers, parents, and pupils were left confused and concerned about the immediate and long-term effects to education. Whilst head teachers across the UK waited for guidance on how to proceed with teaching and which pupils were eligible to attend school, the Royal Hospital School (RHS) was forging ahead with its digital learning journey which began seven years ago. An independent co-educational boarding and day school for 11-18-year olds in Holbrook, Suffolk, like all schools across the country, the Royal Hospital School closed its doors on Friday 20th March 2020. Staff attended the school for an intensive day of training on the Saturday and a full live online timetable of classes for every pupil resumed via Microsoft Teams on Monday 23rd March. In short, RHS pupils missed less than one day of education during a time when the majority of schools were unable to provide anything other than limited links to online worksheets and are still struggling with the challenges providing education during a pandemic brings. With staff working around the clock to pivot to a virtual timetable, RHS managed to deliver an astonishing 22,000 live online lessons as well as live assemblies and even virtual sports and choir sessions during the lockdown period. Every RHS pupil had already been using a school iPad for the previous 6 years as an integral part of learning, so there were no issues for pupils joining lessons live, or, in the cases of international students, accessing recorded lessons at a suitable time within their local time zones. Headmaster, Simon Lockyer, says: "RHS has always focused on excellence in teaching and learning, as well as pastoral care and it was important that we all took a fluid approach to delivering education during the pandemic. Every member of the RHS community, staff, pupils and parents, stepped up immediately to ensure the success of our immediate transmission to online learning. For our pupils to only miss one day of lessons is testament to the resilience of the team and the dedication of every stakeholder in the school. I am very proud of them all." Whilst the majority of students are now back at the school, there are still international students learning at home and pupils self-isolating so RHS has once again pivoted its delivery to a hybrid of on-site and online live lessons to ensure every pupil has access to the resources they need to continue uninterrupted education during the pandemic. For more information about the school visit www.royalhospitalschool.org .

2020 - the year of the booze & the best Christmas gift guide for your liver

Mon, Nov 30, 2020 05:30 EST

2020 - the year of the booze & the best Christmas gift guide for your liver

The Build to Rent Sector Set for Growth

Mon, Nov 30, 2020 04:30 EST

Purpose-built Build to Rent housing is only a recent concept, with just over 51,000 dwellings completed across the UK as of Q3 2020. This equates to only around 1% of total Private Residential Sector stock.

University of Glasgow Sets Ambitious 2030 Target for Carbon Neutrality

Mon, Nov 30, 2020 03:00 EST

The University of Glasgow has pledged to go 'further and faster' in its response to the climate emergency with a raft of new commitments, including a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The ambitious aim is one of a series of actions set out in a new strategy approved by University leaders at a meeting of the University Court and made available online today (Monday 30 November). The strategy document, titled Glasgow Green: The University of Glasgow's Response to the Climate Emergency, was compiled from survey responses from 1,300 students and University staff, consultation seminars with staff and students, and discussions at the University's senior management group, senate and student experience committees. It acknowledges a consensus across the University community that the University must push its ongoing commitment to addressing climate change further. In 2016, the University of Glasgow became the first UK university to declare it would divest from fossil fuels within a decade. In 2017, the University signed the Sustainable Development Goals Accord. In 2019, it became the first University in Scotland to declare a climate emergency. In April this year, the University opened the Centre for Sustainable Solutions to support interdisciplinary, cross-campus and cross-sectoral solutions to climate change. The document sets out a clear pathway for the University to continue to reduce its carbon footprint and outlines five key sets of climate actions that the University will undertake in the coming years. Emissions across the University's campuses have already fallen by more than 13% from 2015/16 levels to 60,358 carbon dioxide equivalents, or tCO 2 e, in 2018/19. The report identifies a series of actions, including energy efficiency improvements, water source heat pump and solar panel installation, and a reduction in business travel, to further reduce the University's footprint to 32,000 tCO 2 e by 2035. To reach its target of carbon neutrality by 2030, the University will make new efforts in carbon offsetting to help push its net emissions to zero. By investing in high-quality offsetting programmes including reforesting land or restoring peatland in Scotland, and similar projects in low- and middle-income countries around the world, the University plans to not just reduce its footprint but also create opportunities for new research projects. The University's Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary, Dr David Duncan, is co-chair of the University's Sustainability Working Group, which co-ordinated the agreement of the strategy. Dr Duncan said: "Universities have a unique role to play in the fight against climate change. We are educators, researchers, and contributors to our local communities. It is vital that we rise to the challenge of shaping a liveable world for future generations. "We believe that our new strategy is a very significant plan to ramp up our existing efforts to deal with the climate emergency, both locally and internationally." Professor Daniel Haydon, of the University's Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, is also co-chair of the working group. Professor Haydon added: "There's a clear demand from students and staff that we go further and faster, and we've responded with serious new commitments to cut our own carbon emissions and offset the remainder. "As we head towards the COP26 meeting in Glasgow next year, we now have a clearer roadmap on where we need to be in 2030 to help contribute to that international effort. We're pleased to be setting out on this journey with students, staff and the local community." Liam Brady, president of the Glasgow University Student Representative Council, said: "This strategy is a strong commitment from the University to continue to become more sustainable. Students are well aware of the impact the climate emergency will have on our future so it's great to see the University recognise this and come out with this new strategy. As somewhere that prides itself on changing the world, it is vital that sustainability is a key part of that. "Universities have an immense amount of influence so it's so important to utilise that and to help lead the way in the fight against climate change." The five key sets of climate action outlined in the document are: Engaging and Empowering Our Community: This section sets out how the entire University community will become part of efforts to deal with the climate emergency, including the development a new ECO-HUB space, green careers fairs for students and more support for academics engaged in sustainability research. Promoting Efficiency: The University is committing to a series of new efficiency drives, including an asset management strategy to improve energy use and climate resilience, employing new renewable energy generation technologies, and reducing unnecessary travel through improved video and telecommunications strategies. Governance and Policy: New plans to integrate sustainability at the heart of top-level decisions include a review of existing environmental policies, continued disinvestment in fossil fuels, plans to further reduce business travel, and showcasing the University's research output and impact at COP26. Continuous Improvement Initiatives: A series of commitments to reduce waste include improving internal recycling facilities, phasing out single-use plastics from catering operations, and furthering efforts to make the University's supply chain sustainable. Building Resilience through Partnerships: The University is setting out to lead or contribute to climate change partnerships, including a continuation of the Climate Ready Clyde partnership, fundraising for new projects, and working more closely with other universities and national sustainability bodies. A complete version of the Glasgow Green: The University of Glasgow's Response to the Climate Emergency document is available at www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/sustainability/glasgowgreen/

EM Countries in danger of credit rating downgrades due to Covid-19

Mon, Nov 30, 2020 02:45 EST

In October, the IMF published its semi-annual Global Outlook shedding light on the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy. Using the IMF data and forecasts, I analysed the impact of the pandemic on a sample of 21 emerging economies in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. In the CEEMEA region, I looked at Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Hungary, Turkey and Ukraine; in Africa, at Nigeria and South Africa. In Latin America, my analysis included Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Chile; in Asia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Very few countries fared well during the Covid-19 pandemic. An overwhelming majority of EM economies are going to contract this year. However, three of the economies on our list are going to expand: China, Vietnam and Egypt. The Fund expects all economies in our sample to return to growth in 2021, as some bounce-back from the depths of the 2020 Covid-19 crisis is almost inevitable. Despite this upbeat prognosis, some of the economies in the sample seem to have moved closer to a crisis than they had been before the pandemic. Some of them, mostly commodity producers (Brazil, Russia, Nigeria), experienced episodes of rapid currency devaluation. In some cases, devaluations caused an already high stock of external debt to reach dangerously high levels. Others managed to reduce their total external debt as a percentage of GDP despite strong headwinds, making themselves more resilient to future currency shocks. In most of the surveyed countries, the authorities reacted to the rapidly worsening economic situation with a mix of monetary and fiscal policies. The expansionary budgetary policies caused fiscal balances to deteriorate sharply. In some cases, looser policies led to a rapid build-up of total public debt. Sometimes, twin deficits (a combination of a fiscal deficit with a negative current account balance) emerged in those countries which had not had this problem in 2019. In the chosen sample, nine countries experienced devaluations of 5% or more vs the currency in which they conduct most of their foreign trade (mostly USD and, in few cases, EUR). Thirteen out of twenty-two economies are expected to contract by 5% or more. All but one are likely to post a fiscal deficit exceeding 5% of GDP. Eleven out of twenty one will see their total public debt increase by more than ten percentage points of GDP. Analysis of IMF estimates and forecasts allows assessing which countries may have moved away from the path of debt sustainability owing to the Covid-19 shock. Also, I have looked for signs of liquidity stress that could herald the onset of a balance-of-payments crisis. In several cases, there are reasons to expect downgrades to hard currency sovereign ratings by global rating agencies (Moody's, S&P and Fitch). Each of them will be considered below. In the LatAm region, I have looked at Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Chile. According to WHO, the Americas (including the USA) is the global region which has been worst affected by Covid-19. This seems a good starting point in a search for potential crises induced by the Covid-19 pandemic. Argentina is a special case as its economy had entered a debt crisis before the Covid-19 epidemic. Despite that the government agreed on terms of debt restructuring with its creditors in August, markets have remained turbulent, and the economy has not shown signs of stabilisation yet. The situation is so fluid that even the IMF does not have forecasts for Argentina's inflation and gross debt levels in the short term. The largest emerging market economy in Latin America, Brazil , has been hit hard by the Covid-19 epidemic. The total number of Covid-19 cases has exceeded 6.2mn and is the third-highest globally, with more than 170,000 Covid-19 fatalities. As a commodity exporter, Brazil also suffered from the sharp drop in commodity prices in 1H 2020. The economy is likely to shrink by around 6% this year following a weak growth of about 1% in 2019. Owing to a sharp outflows of portfolio investments, Brazilian real has lost nearly 26% of its value vs USD in the year to date. Headline inflation, which bottomed at around 2% last summer, jumped to almost 4%yoy in October. To support the ailing economy, the government deployed fiscal support measures targeting poorest households. In combination with the fall in revenues, the countercyclical increase in spending has caused the fiscal deficit to balloon. According to IMF calculations, the general government's net borrowing this year will be equivalent to almost 17% of GDP, vs 6% of GDP last year. Next year, the fund sees some improvement in this parameter, which should shrink back to 6.5% of GDP, helped by a modest recovery in GDP growth. Despite the currency rout, Brazil has avoided a dangerous rise in external debt that could have led to problems with its refinancing down the road. As of June this year, its external debt was $78bn lower than in June 2019 and shrunk to 43% of GDP vs 51% of GDP. Brazil also has ample FX reserves, which stand at $335bn and cover its short-term external debt 1.8 times. However, the sharp deterioration in the country's fiscal metrics is worrying. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated Brazil's main problem - the questionable sustainability of its fiscal policy in the long run. At nearly 90% of GDP, its gross public debt had already been alarmingly high for an emerging market economy at the end of 2019. This year's whopping fiscal deficit has translated in further increase: the IMF sees Brazil's total debt topping 100% of GDP this year, only to climb further next year. A year ago, S&P upgraded the outlook on Brazil's sovereign debt (rated at BB-) to positive following some progress on reform of the country's pension system. During the pandemic, reform momentum stalled. In May this year, Fitch, which rates Brazil's hard currency sovereign debt at BB-, changed its outlook to "negative". The authorities in Brazil are keeping quiet on further fiscal reform. Unless this attitude changes in 2021, Brazil's towering mountain of debt should start attracting more investors' attention. The markets may punish the government for inaction with higher borrowing costs. In the absence of further reform, a downgrade to B+ by Fitch and changes in outlook by Moody's and S&P are on the cards in the coming months. Peru is another Latam country whose sovereign debt ratings may eventually deteriorate due to the adverse impact of the Covid pandemic on its economy and finances.Despite the lockdowns imposed by the authorities last spring, Peru has been the worst affected country in the region. Peru has had more than 950,000 cases of Covid-19, and around 35,000 deaths. At 1,085, its Covid death toll per 100,000 of the population is among the highest in the world. Its economy is on track to contract by nearly 14% this year. Peru's currency, the sol, has been down around 8% vs the USD since January, but the extreme demand weakness has so far kept price growth subdued (1.7%yoy in October). The IMF expects the government's borrowing needs to soar to 9.4% of GDP this year vs 1.4% of GDP in 2019. Given the expected recovery in economic growth, the fiscal deficit should shrink next year (to 4.3% of GDP, according to the IMF). This should help the country to avoid further deterioration in the debt metrics. Although this year, gross public debt will likely rise to nearly 40% of GDP vs 27% of GDP in 2019, this is still a very manageable debt level by EM standards. Owing to its historically prudent monetary and fiscal policies and low public debt, rating agencies have bestowed Peru with ratings that are relatively high for a middle-income emerging economy (BBB+ by S&P and Fitch and A3 by Moody's). So far, the leading rating agencies have not undertaken any negative rating actions. Sound policies pursued by the authorities in the past are working in the country's favour. It is worrying, however, that Peru has entered a period of political instability. On 9 November, President Vizcarra was removed from office via impeachment. Interim President Merino had to step down a few days later. With parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2021, political uncertainty is high. Hardship and the loss of life endured during the pandemic may help to usher populists in the government and prompt a switch to less responsible policies. If the current instability persists and begins to affect policies, the rating agencies should also take note. Mexico 's economy will likely contract by 9% this year, according to the estimates by both the central bank and the IMF. Headline inflation, which hit the trough of ~2% in the summer, is now running above 4%yoy. The official count of Covid-19 cases is ~1,070,000, with more than 100,000 Covid-related deaths. Owing to the deterioration in business climate prompted by the investor-unfriendly steps taken by the country's president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and tight fiscal policy conducted by the government, the economy had already posted slightly negative growth in 2019. This year, the economy is in a deep recession: the IMF sees it shrinking by nearly 9% following a contraction by 0.3% in 2019. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, the rating agencies were already unimpressed by the course taken by the authorities. In spring 2020, first S&P, then Moody's changed the outlook on Mexico's debt to "negative". At the beginning of the epidemic, the country's leadership failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the threat. Testing was scarce, and no lockdowns were imposed to stop the spread of the decease. The government's fiscal support to the economy can be described as modest, even by the standards of an emerging market country. Based on the IMF's estimate of the structural fiscal deficit of 4% of GDP, the fiscal impulse that the authorities have provided to the economy this year amounts to only 1.8% of GDP. Mexico's fiscal deficit is going to widen to 5.8% of GDP this year, according to the IMF, and then shrink to 3.4% of GDP next year. The Fund also projects that the government's total indebtedness should rise to around 65% of GDP this year, more than 10ppts higher than in 2019. While the deterioration in Mexico's fiscal metrics is worrying, it does not stand out against the generally gloomy picture of Covid-induced recessions in the Latam region. Traditionally, the Mexican peso has served as a bellwether of investors' attitude to emerging market assets. The prevailing view at the moment is that EM assets have a lot to gain next year when the global economy enters the recovery phase. Joe Biden's arrival at the White House in January should allow Mexico's relationship with the US to move into a more constructive phase. With the US economy being Mexico's by far the largest trade partner, the thaw should facilitate recovery in Mexico's output. There is still a chance that its sovereign debt could avoid downgrades by S&P and Moody's if green shoots of economic recovery appear soon enough. In the CEEMEA region, Turkey is still teetering on the brink of a new balance-of-payments crisis. Turkey can hardly blame the Coronavirus for its current problems, as it had been in a lot of trouble with investors even before the pandemic struck. Together with Brazilian real, the Turkish lira is competing for the title of the worst-performing major EM currency of the year (it has lost mor

Shell Faces the People in Court: Historic Dutch Climate Case Starts 1 December 2020

Mon, Nov 30, 2020 00:00 EST

Taking Shell to court- groundbreaking Dutch climate litigation case begins Thousands of co-plaintiffs and supporters around the world demand Shell stops climate destruction The groundbreaking Dutch climate case against Shell reaches the courtroom this December, with public hearings on 1, 3, 15 and 17 in The Hague, Netherlands. If successful this court case would rule that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) director Donald Pols: "This is a unique lawsuit with potentially significant consequences for the climate and the fossil fuel industry globally. We are confident that the judge's final verdict will force Shell to adhere to international climate goals and stop causing dangerous climate change." Led by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie), this case against one of the most powerful and polluting corporations in the world is backed by 17,379 Dutch co-plaintiffs, around a million global supporters from 70 countries, and six other Dutch organisations (1). Pols is clear on what the goals are: "This is a historic moment because we are backed by so many people. This is actually 'the People versus Shell', a company that has got away with greenwashing for too long. This case will make it clear to everyone that more than 95% of what Shell does is causing dangerous climate change. This has to change as soon as possible." For decades, Shell has known that its exploitation of fossil fuels has been destroying the climate (2), yet still it plans to expand fossil fuel operations while devoting a tiny percentage of its portfolio to renewables. The plaintiffs argue that Shell is violating its duty of care and threatening human rights by knowingly undermining the world's chances of staying below 1.5°C. They accuse Shell of violating Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to life and the right to family life. (3) In the historic 2019 Urgenda case against the Dutch state, the Dutch Appeals court created a precedent by ruling that a failure to achieve climate goals is a human rights violation. The court ordered the Dutch state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020. A successful outcome in this court case would force Shell to reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. Sara Shaw, international program coordinator for Climate Justice and Energy with Friends of the Earth International, says: "Shell is taking this case very seriously, and so should every climate wrecking corporation, CEO, board member and investor. A mere 100 corporations are responsible for the majority of global emissions, and the broader climate litigation movement is on the precipice of finally holding corporations to account and legally requiring change. For too long fossil fuel corporations have continued with business as usual, leading to devastating human and environmental impacts, especially in the global South. We urgently need a just transition away from fossil fuels if we are to have any hope of avoiding a climate catastrophe." A public live stream of the hearings will be available through Milieudefensie's website (in Dutch only): www.milieudefensie.nl/livestream . We will also host an online press conference in English after each hearing. Please register at these links to attend: 1 December / 3 December / 15 December / 17 December . References and notes for editors: (1) With 17,379 co-plaintiffs and six organisations: ActionAid, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of the Earth Netherlands and the Waddenvereniging. (2) "Smoke and Fumes: The Legal and Evidentiary Basis for Holding Big Oil Accountable for the Climate Crisis (Nov 2017)", CIEL: www.ciel.org/reports/smoke-and-fumes/ (3) "Article 8: Respect for your private and family life", Equality and Human Rights Commission: www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-8-respect-your-private-and-family-life Shell's reply to court summons in historic climate case shows its stubborn refusal to stop destroying the climate: www.foei.org/features/shell-reply-court-summons-climate On 5 April 2019, Friends of the Earth Netherlands delivered a court summons to Shell to legally compel the company to cease its destruction of the climate, on behalf of more than 30,000 people from 70 countries. www.foei.org/press_releases/climate-legal-summons-submitted-shell Legal Summons summary: www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/english-summary-of-legal-summons.pdf Legal Summons in full, unofficial translation from Dutch original: www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-04-05-SUMMONS-dagvaarding-unofficial-translation-of-the-Dutch-original.pdf Interview with Roger Cox, leading lawyer in Friends of the Earth's case against Shell: rwr.fm/interviews/friends-of-earth-netherlands-has-presented-shell-with-a-court-summons-to-stop-its-destruction-of-the-climate/ Legal letter to Shell, 4 April 2018: www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Milieudefensie_legal_letter_Shell_4-April-2018.pdf Shell's response to legal letter, 28 May 2018: www.foei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Royal-Dutch-Shell-plc_legal_response_28-May-218.pdf

Fixing Britain's broken asylum system means taking more refugees

Sun, Nov 29, 2020 18:30 EST

Migrant rights campaigners and the Home Office should agree a truce and work together on an approach that could see Britain accepting more refugees through safe and legal routes, a think-tank says today. The Social Market Foundation says that despite public rows over Home Secretary Priti Patel's rhetoric on asylum and illegal migration issues, refugee campaigners and ministers have more common ground than they realise on the best way to secure protection in the UK for refugees. Sensible co-operation between the two sides could lead to a new approach that could see the UK agree to accepting more refugees via international resettlement schemes and as a result receiving fewer direct claims for asylum, the SMF said. Such a system would reduce the numbers of people trying to enter the UK by crossing the English Channel or via people-smuggling routes, the cross-party think-tank suggested. In a paper on the political and policy challenges around asylum claims and refugees, Jonathan Thomas of the SMF argues for increasing the UK's refugee resettlement commitments and associated community sponsorship programmes. Receiving more refugees through resettlement could be attractive to both the Government and migrants' rights groups, Thomas has said, as it could: Save lives and save money. Mitigate tensions around direct asylum seekers coming to the UK. Allow refugee families a better chance of staying together. Mean refugees can work and integrate as soon as they arrive in the UK. Gain more support from the British public in a way that allows more refugees to come to the country. Taking more refugees through resettlement would however require both sides to shift their positions. Refugee advocates need to accept: Not all asylum seekers are refugees; no amount of 'improving' the Home Office decision-making process will make that so. Public support for refugees and for the UK asylum system is undermined if the public see the system as allowing those who fail in their asylum claims in the UK to simply remain and swell the irregular population here. The wider asylum system in the UK costs a lot of money and takes up large resources which the Government would understandably like to reduce. The Home Office needs to accept: Not all direct asylum seekers in the UK are 'bogus'; some are refugees. Countries that have improved the speed, cost, credibility and efficiency of their asylum determination procedures have generally done so not by keeping lawyers out of the process, but by integrating them more comprehensively into the process. The Australian-style approach of pushbacks at sea and offshore processing of asylum claims is unlikely to be palatable to the British public. How can both sides find more common ground to extract the most value for their respective positions: Identify the existing common ground - both sides seem to agree:The current system is broken. On the need to help those most in need fleeing desperate situations and that the UK should provide protection to refugees in accordance with international law. That safe and legal routes to the UK can save lives and save money. Are there therefore ways that - like the Swiss have done - that both sides could find a way to work together to make the asylum system work more fairly and effectively, accepting that:Efficient processing needs to be for those who are successful in their claims as well as those who are not. Legal advice and support is key but needs to cover all options. Some asylum claims will fail and those claimants who have no other rights to stay will need to be removed. Jonathan Thomas, author of Fixing Britain's Broken Asylum System, said: "There are a number of potential advantages of refugee resettlement from the British public's perspective; greater trust in the system as well as allowing refugees to contribute and integrate in the UK from day one." "While Priti Patel's rhetoric may be challenging for refugee supporters, her recent comments could open up an opportunity for real improvements in the way that refugees can access safety and security in the UK without having to split up their families and risk their lives." "Those refugees in the most desperate situations never get a chance to come to the UK. Resettlement could be the fairest approach." Contact For an embargoed copy of the report or other media enquiries, please contact SMF's Impact Officer Linus Pardoe - linus@smf.co.uk - 07402 576995 About the report: The SMF briefing paper, entitled Fixing Britain's Broken Asylum System, will be published at 7am on Monday 30 November at www.smf.co.uk/publications/fixing-britains-broken-asylum-system

Royal Brunei Airlines Cabin Crew Win World Leading Award

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 21:30 EST

Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) has won the World's Leading Cabin Crew 2020 category at the 27th annual World Travel Awards (WTA) held virtually in Moscow yesterday (November 27th). The prestigious title was awarded to RB after the national airline of Brunei Darussalam received the most number of votes in a world-wide poll of guests, travellers and travel professionals across the globe. It comes just a month after RB was awarded the Leading Cabin Crew honour in the WTA Asia Awards. The prestigious accolade was awarded to RB from a field of 17 airlines competing for the title, including the world's leading airlines. Two years ago RB conducted the biggest cabin crew recruitment campaign since its launch in 1974, taking on 60 Bruneian nationals, following a big expansion of its flight network. Today the airline employs a total of 365 cabin crew. The WTAs were established in 1993 and are regarded globally as the benchmark of industry excellence across all sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality. Mr Karam Chand, RB's Chief Executive Officer, said: "The award of the World's Leading Cabin Crew and Asia's Leading Cabin Crew by the prestigious World Travel Awards is well earned and a reflection of our service strategy and single mindedness to establish RB as a well-respected global brand. "The award demonstrates we have won the hearts and minds of our guests and travel professionals worldwide and a stamp of approval of our hard work, dedication and world class service over a number of years. "Winning the World category as global leader in cabin crew marks a new chapter in our proud history and more recently as a boutique airline standing above the much bigger and well-resourced global airlines. Being a boutique airline requires us to clearly differentiate ourselves from others and there is no better way than with the Bruneian hospitality that comes from the heart combined with our service vision through the thought of the little things we do and one that cannot be duplicated by the competitors." Mr Chand added: "I would like to congratulate every Cabin Crew member, Cabin Crew management and staff, the trainers, the project team behind this award and Team RB." Graham E. Cooke, Founder, World Travel Awards, said: "Congratulations to Royal Brunei Airlines for being voted 'World's Leading Cabin Crew'. The entire team possesses an incredible passion for raising inflight service to an entirely new level, and I am delighted that this has been acknowledged by both the travel trade and consumers." Notes to Editors: To demonstrate its high service standards and Bruneian hospitality, RB used 25 of its own employees in the current marketing campaign 'The little things we do that make our service special ' The airline has also been voted Regional Airlines Asia winner in the Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Awards for the past three years RB holds the APEX Official Airline Ratings™ Five-Star Award and the International Air Transport Skytrax Four Star rating following a detailed audit of the overall quality of products and service standards.

Fans amazed as 30-year secret cache of Gerry Anderson material includes items so rare they have never been seen in public before

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 20:58 EST

Highlights from the landmark auction of Gerry Anderson material from Bray Studios to be held at Ewbank's Auctions in Surrey on November 30. Live bidding will take place online via the auction house's website at www.ewbankauctions.co.uk Captain Ochre Captain Ochre puppet head used on screen in the classic 1967 series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons . Estimate £5,000-8,000. Battlehawk Battlehawk used in the production of Terrahawks , approximately one metre long. Estimate £4,000-6,000. MEV MEV used in the production of Terrahawks . The MEV can be seen in shots on the lunar surface when it faces the Space Cyclops. It measures approximately 57cm long x 24cm high. Estimate £1,500-2,500. Space Tank Space Tank used in various filming scenes throughout the series of Terrahawks, the 1980s British science fiction television series produced by Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson in conjunction with Christopher Burr. Estimate £3,000-5,000. T Force A hand-drawn concept design artwork for T Force - a Thunderbirds remake that never happened - showing Penny (Lady Penelope) with Parker in front of the FAB 1, all made famous by the original Thunderbirds series. Estimate £400-600. Thunderbirds Are Go Thunderbirds Are Go (1966), a 30 x 40in British Quad film poster, created by Gerry Anderson, United Artists. Estimate £300-500. HIGH RES IMAGES HERE : https://we.tl/t-7UPgvDLxXj

Music Giant, Dre London Joins Fyooz to Help Musicians Engage With Fans Again

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 14:45 EST

Music giant, Dre London joins Fyooz, the World's leading social money platform. Building momentum for tokenization as an innovative way for musicians to engage with fans again. Fyooz, the world's leading social money platform, announces that Dre London , a Variety Hit Manager of the Year, has joined Fyooz. Dre, who manages Post Malone amongst others, will advise Fyooz as momentum builds around the launch of Lil Yachty's token. Dre London is proof the path to success is real. With the vision of the American dream and a one-way ticket from London to New York in 2008, he hasn't looked back. Dre manages Post Malone, who with over 41.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify, has the number #1 debut platinum album of all time - Stoney . Other artists on the Dre roster include, @tyga and @TylaYaweh and producer @tankgod . Hip Hop is the largest music genre and Dre continues to blaze a trail on behalf of these gifted artists. Dre is renowned for identifying new revenue models and mechanisms for bringing artists closer to their fans. He was a pioneer in launching stars on SoundCloud in order to mass market via the web, email and SMS. Streaming now dominates music consumption and Dre's clients reign the ranks of streamers. Dre is centre stage to the challenges facing the music industry. On demand streaming is the fastest growth sector, up 16.2% in the first half of 2020. Finding new ways of connecting artists directly to their fans is more crucial than ever, as artists only receive on average 16% of streaming revenue, leaving many suffering , particularly up and coming talent. Commenting, Dre London said: "Fyooz has created a new way for artists, actors, athletes, gamers and all influencers to engage with their fans and offer them an exclusive experience that they can't get anywhere else. With my vision, I hope to forge a new access asset class that can revolutionize the whole entertainment business. As awful as the pandemic has been, we have to find new innovative ways to engage our fans again". With crypto-currency and the underpinning technology Blockchain, it is now possible to forge a new type of financial bond between artist and fan. Fyooz allows artists to connect with their fans and fans to buy access to their heroes by tokenizing artists and their work. Fans who own artist tokens have exclusive privileges and access to the artist, possibly in ways never before imagined. Strategically, Fyooz has radically simplified onboarding fans into the crypto economy by enabling fans in 136 countries to buy artist tokens with a credit card, basically removing any barriers to mainstream crypto adoption. Remo Prinz of Fyooz said: " We're excited that Dre sees the potential of social money and the possibilities it enables for the democratization of the music industry. His joining our team is a powerful endorsement, and we need visionaries like Dre if we are going to bring about real change.'

Music giant, Dre London joins Fyooz, the Worlds leading social money platform.

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 11:13 EST

Music giant, Dre London joins Fyooz, the Worlds leading social money platform. Building momentum around the launch of music industry tokens.

Simply the Best and Now at An Unbeatable Black Friday Price!

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 10:19 EST

The mega macs 56, direct from HGS Hella Gutmann Solutions (HGS) is ending the year on a high with an unmissable Black Friday offer on its superb mega macs 56 diagnostic tool, with £1,000 off of its normal retail price, when purchased direct and while stocks last up to 31st December 2020. With the complexity of vehicle technology increasing with every new model, keeping abreast with the latest developments and being equipped to find the answer and fix the problem is more difficult than ever, which is why, drawing on its reputation for quality and unrivalled market experience, HGS developed the mega macs 56. The mega macs 56 is the ideal diagnostic solution for all multi-brand repair businesses that are keen to ensure the widest possible range of services and ease of use. The compact tool has an impressive range of features, including reading and deleting fault codes in all electronic control units, precise vehicle identification via VIN, car history and also symptom and fault code based solution proposals, in real time, and it naturally incorporates PassThru technology. With more than 30 years of knowledge in the field of vehicle diagnostics, HGS provides the independent workshop with the repair solution for virtually every service related problem. The company is also the market leader in ADAS (advanced driver assistance system) camera and radar calibration, providing a multi-brand solution for the aftermarket, the software for which is also a standard feature on the mega macs 56! To take advantage of this amazing offer simply click here and for more information about the products available from Hella Gutmann Solutions, please call the sales team on: 01295 662402

hero Aims to Tackle the 33% Rise in Job Burnout With a New Superstar Team of Preventative Health and Wellbeing Experts

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 08:47 EST

hero strengthens preventative health delivery team - appoints specialist wellbeing coaches to drive Mindset programme and help tackle the 33 per cent increase in job burnout/pandemic fatigue. Health-tech and wellbeing provider, hero, has added a comprehensive selection of wellness specialists and coaches to its Mindset preventative health education programme. The move further strengthens the Mindset service, which empowers individuals and teams to manage whole-person health across physical, mental, social, and financial health. Each new specialist and coach will focus on a particular area of wellness - and will help deliver evidence-based support tools, tips and guidance to Mindset customers. The new additions have been hand-selected to complement hero's existing Mindset offering. The four new additions are: Jamie Peacock (Leadership Development Specialist) Cara De Lange (Burnout Specialist) Dr Heather McKee (Behaviour Change Specialist) David Drake (Performance Coach at Ulster Rugby) Considered one of the best players of his generation, Jamie Peacock MBE has won every honour in the domestic game of rugby league. At hero, he will begin offering his No White Flag programme, which looks at developing leadership skills and goal setting, while improving self-belief, attitude and honesty. De Lange is an international wellbeing coach and burnout expert, helping both individuals and teams to create a more harmonious, peaceful and productive life. For hero, De Lange will offer 'Prevent Burnout Find Balance' and 'Compassionate Leadership' programmes, which together focus on helping leaders and employees to develop methods to thrive through change, proactively prevent burnout and focus on a positive mindset. According to a recent LinkedIn survey , burnout signs have risen by 33 per cent in 2020 due to the changed working conditions/environments created by the pandemic, so this is an increasingly important issue to address. Dr McKee is a behaviour change psychologist and habits specialist delivering behaviour change courses on creating healthy habits and maintaining motivation, understanding how our beliefs impact our health and happiness, how to harness the power of self-care, and ultimately how to develop healthy habits that actually last. Drake , currently the performance coach at Ulster Rugby, is an experienced athletic performance coach with a successful record of helping coaches, athletes and teams achieve their performance goals. As part of the strengthening and expansion of the Mindset programme, hero has also expanded its team of expert wellbeing coaches, who will be involved in the delivery of Mindset sessions. These new coaches include: Rowena Wood (Women's Health) Georgie Britt (Performance Coach) Rebecca Nix (Nutritionist) Laura Schober (Positive Psychology) Shannon Casey (Preventative Health) Samantha Gaunt, Head of Content & Delivery at hero, said: "We're excited to be able to add a brilliant group of specialists to the Mindset team. By strengthening our delivery team, we will be able to add further versatility and expertise, which can only benefit our Mindset customers. "It will be a great addition to our unique learning and development programme, which offers CPD-accredited courses, complementing any new or existing wellbeing strategy within an organisation." Joe Gaunt, founder of hero - who was named the 2020 Health and Wellbeing Entrepreneur of the Year for the North West - said: "At hero, our goal is to empower individuals, as well as teams, and to ensure they are given the tools they need to manage all aspects of their health - from physical and mental to social and financial. "Our end goal is simple - to enable individuals to live healthier, happier lifestyles." For more information about hero, visit: www.herowellbeing.com Notes: Mindset offers a wide selection of options for customers, ranging from single-session workshops and seminars on topics such as Better Sleep, Food & Mood and Managing Anxiety, to multi-year programmes, where employees can go on a journey through foundation to advanced level courses, across all health-related subjects.

HS2: Balfour Beatty and Vinci Accused of Allowing 'Scrooge' Activities at Old Oak Common

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 08:39 EST

Unite, the UK's construction union, has discovered that workers operating on the flagship HS2 project at the Old Oak Common site, are being systematically denied the correct pay rates, resulting in them losing hundreds of pounds a month. HS2's Old Oak Common site is operated by a joint venture between major construction contractors Balfour Beatty and Vinci. The joint venture is using logistics contractor Munnelly to recruit workers to the site. Following concerns raised by Unite members working on the project, Unite has learned that Munnelly has employed workers on contracts paying only a basic rate for 55 hours a week and that they do not receive any increased overtime rates until they clock up additional hours. However, following agreements between HS2, the TUC and Unite, it was agreed that the project would follow and abide by the relevant industrial agreement. In this case the relevant agreement is the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) working rule agreement. The CIJC clearly states that a standard working week is 39 hours and that all hours worked above this should be paid at enhanced overtime rates (initially time and a half rising to double time for some weekend working). The CIJC sets minimum rates of pay but clearly states that overtime rates apply to the agreed basic rate of pay. Unite has raised the contract issues concerning Munnelly with Balfour Beatty and Vinici and has been rebuffed. The joint venture has wrongly claimed that as Munnelly pay above the London living wage and above the CIJC minimum wage rates, it is not required to follow the overtime rules. Unite has suggested that the joint venture and the union enter into conciliation with the joint secretaries of the CIJC to resolve the issue but Balfour Beatty and Vinci have failed to respond to this suggested way forward. Unite will instead be raising the matter directly with the CIJC, to ensure a resolution. The union has also made HS2 aware of the issue. It is anticipated the client will ensure that its contractors follow the rules on employment that it has established. "Unite regional officer Paul Lomax said: "As we approach Christmas it is sad to see that Scrooge is alive and well at Old Oak Common, where Balfour Beatty and Vinci are deliberately allowing workers to be underpaid for working on HS2. "Balfour Beatty and Vinci appear to have given Munnelly the green light to undermine existing agreements, thereby denying workers on their sites the correct rates of overtime pay. "HS2 is the largest construction project in the UK and clear rules have been established to ensure that workers are treated fairly and decently. It is essential that HS2 ensures that these are followed, to avoid the project suffering from delays and poor productivity. "Unite is entirely committed to ensuring that our members employed by Munnelly at Old Oak Common are treated fairly, we will use all our influence both politically and legally to ensure this occurs. We will also be seeking an industrial solution. "It is hoped that Balfour Beatty and Vinci realise that workers need to be treated fairly and receive the full benefits of the CIJC agreement and work with Unite to ensure that these initial problems are quickly resolved." Note: During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

Companies Should Carefully Consider the Payment of Dividends

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 08:34 EST

Companies with associated defined benefit pension schemes should carefully consider decisions regarding the declaration and payment of dividends for 2020-year ends, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg. Sunil Bhavnani, Technical Director at the firm said" The effects of COVID-19 pandemic continue to be far reaching on company financial performance and results. Companies will be focused on operationally riding out the storm in the short term to survive and remain a going concern. A range of measures will have been taken to stabilize the business and preserve cash through deferral of rent payments, access to rent concessions, deferral of VAT and tax payments, access to government or local authority funded grants or subsidies such as the job retention scheme etc, and management of discretionary expenditure. "Those companies with associated defined benefit pension schemes will have other considerations towards the scheme and its members alongside the measures taken to protect the sponsoring employer during this period of uncertainty. The majority of such schemes are closed to new entrants, and pension liabilities relate to pensioners, deferred pensioners and current employee members. Companies will have deficit reduction plans agreed with trustees at the last funding review. These deficit reduction plans present significant cash obligations for the sponsoring employer." He added, "Some companies may have taken advantage of temporary flexibility introduced earlier this year by the pensions regulator to reduce or suspend pension contributions for a period of three months. This allowed trustees to agree a three-month suspension or reduction in deficit reduction contributions without the need for full information from the employer on the employer covenant. Those employers that agreed suspensions with trustees for periods longer than three months would have been required to provide more information about the company business plan and the effect of COVID-19 on the business." Sunil said "Notwithstanding cash and the availability of distributable profits, which themselves could be significantly reduced by pension deficits, directors may need to be cautious about dividend distributions and other forms of value leaving the business during this period of uncertainty and volatility, notably if contributions had been suspended during the year. He added: "The Pensions Regulator recommended trustees seek precautions such as all dividends and other forms of shareholder distribution to stop throughout the period of suspension and not to start again until the deferred or suspended contributions have been paid. Many funding reviews will have been undertaken pre-pandemic. Significant volatility in asset prices, low interest rates and changes in actuarial assumptions may have impacted on the size of the pension deficit for funding purposes. It's important the pension scheme is treated fairly alongside other stakeholders such as shareholders."


Fri, Nov 27, 2020 07:28 EST

UNCROWD ANNOUNCED AS NOMINEE FOR RTIH INNOVATION AWARDS : STARTUP OF THE YEAR AWARD British retail customer analytics startup hopes to continue award success after winning Microsoft's Global Startup Partner of the Year Award earlier in the year "If we don't win, we're going to claim massive election fraud" says Uncrowd CEO Uncrowd, a formerly unknown startup, developing the next generation of customer intelligence for retailers, is a nominee for this years Retail Technology Innovation Hub Innovation Awards, Startup of the Year. Commenting on the award, Richard Hammond, co-founder and CEO of Uncrowd, said: "We're big fans of RTIH here, it's a brilliant source of retail news and insight and has quickly become one of our most viewed bookmarks. I'm chuffed to bits to be recognised by the team there in this category." Uncrowd defined and built the powerful friction versus reward metric as a response to the shortcomings of Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction and first-generation big-data customer analytics. Uncrowd's Friction/Reward Indexing platform is recognised by Microsoft and many others as having the potential to play a 'secret weapon' role in American and British retailing. London-headquartered Uncrowd, founded by retail experts, offers a customer intelligence platform that enables retailers to understand customer preferences and behaviour, make immediate changes to marketing and operations, and dramatically increase sales and profit. - ENDS - ABOUT UNCROWD Uncrowd answers retail's most fundamental questions: "Why do customers choose retailer x over retailer y - and what we can we do about it?" Uncrowd's innovative analytics platform, with integrated artificial intelligence and machine learning, provides insights into shopper choice, behaviours and likelihood to visit for any given customer mission and mindset. Uncrowd's platform works for both online and physical retailers. Uncrowd's Friction/Reward Indexing™ (FRi™) provides clear answers and actionable insights on where and why a customer on a given shopping trip - will or won't - shop. Uncrowd's CEO Richard Hammond describes the platform: "Imagine a physical High Street or an online shopping environment. Potential customers flood down it, heading towards one store or a website. Imagine being able to play a card that diverts them to you instead. That's what we're offering: up to 82 data-driven 'cards' that show you the winning combination to make you the first choice in any given shopper mission. It has been likened to a Blackjack game in which you hold all the best cards." Uncrowd is an enterprise SaaS/PaaS built in response to the desperate need for better customer analytics in retail. Partnered with Microsoft, Uncrowd's FRi™ Platform is available through the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, as well as direct from Uncrowd. The Uncrowd leadership team are CEO Richard Hammond, author of the best-selling retail manual, Smart Retail, and CTO Rocky Howard, a creative systems specialist.

Nissens to Acquire Part of AVA Cooling

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 06:48 EST

Nissens is pleased to announce the planned acquisition of a selection of subsidiaries in AVA Cooling from Enterex International Limited Group. The acquisition includes AVA companies in Benelux, CEE, UK and Denmark. Additionally, a dialogue on the acquisition of AVA Cooling in France is initiated, whereas AVA Cooling in Italy is not included in the acquisition. The acquisition is an important element in the strategic endeavors to enhance Nissens' position as the leading automotive aftermarket specialist within Engine Cooling (EC), Air-Conditioning (AC) and Efficiency & Emissions (EE) product categories. Executive Vice President of Nissens Automotive, Mr Klavs T. Pedersen, states: "We are very pleased about our announced plans for acquisition, and we look forward to working with the employees and the customers of AVA Cooling. We will actively maintain two separate brand lines in the market and build on both the AVA brand and the Nissens brand. AVA Cooling provides a highly suitable response to a growing demand for a reliable and competitive product range for EC and AC applications, not least for the growing demand for aging car park applications. Nissens offers a versatile and premium product offer within EC, AC & EE categories targeting the needs for attractive time to market performance, full carpark coverage and new technologies. By joining forces with AVA Cooling, we continue to strengthen our service offers to the leading, global players in the independent aftermarket". With regard to the continued co-operation with the customers of AVA Cooling, Mr Klavs T. Pedersen emphasizes: "With immediate effect, AVA and Nissens will engage in a process of carefully implementing a smooth merger of AVA's and Nissens' business platforms. In this process, there is a strong operational focus on securing that the customers of AVA Cooling will experience no disturbance or impact on their ongoing, daily co-operation with the local AVA subsidiaries". The planned transaction currently awaits formalisation of final completion.

Protect Your 'Elf This Season With 'the facelet'

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 06:39 EST

Get into the Christmas spirit with the facelet's festive face coverings , available for the whole family. UK first* unique design fastens on the wrist when not in use 3 premium layers and anti-bac fabric Reusable and environmentally friendly Wash at 60 ºC for up to 30 uses £7.95 Want to know more? Give us a shout maisie.bamford@digitalethos.net #thefacelet @thefacelet *the facelet design is patented in the UK, US and an EU registered design.

TRUMPF present new TruPunch 3000 punching machine

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 06:36 EST

TRUMPF presents new TruPunch 3000 punching machine New TruPunch 3000 scores high on productivity, process reliability and part quality // showcased with TruMatic 3000 fiber machine with combined punch-laser operation for even greater flexibility // Numerous intelligent assistance systems make life easier for machine operators From the outside, the new TruPunch 3000 looks almost identical to its smaller sibling, the TruPunch 1000. That's because TRUMPF has now incorporated its tried-and-tested Delta Drive into the Series 3000 to boost throughput and shrink the machine's footprint. What's more, the TRUMPF developers have added a number of other features to this new machine to increase part quality and productivity. Alongside the TruPunch 3000, TRUMPF present its new TruMatic 3000 fiber punch-laser machine, which includes the addition of a TruDisk 3001 with three kilowatts of laser power. The result is a great choice for users who wish to benefit from the flexibility of laser processing combined with highly productive punching. More compact, higher throughput The TruPunch/TruMatic 3000 machines are highly productive and cost-effective even when used at medium capacity. With a working area of 2,500 x 1,250 millimeters in the medium-format version and 3,000 x 1,500 in the large-format version, they can handle metal sheets up to 6.4 millimeters thick. Thanks to the innovative Delta Drive concept, they offer a nine-percent increase in throughput compared to previous models. With a footprint of just 30 square meters, the new model is some 25 percent more compact than other comparable machines. A new approach to punching The patented Delta Drive eliminates the need for the sheet and work table to move in the Y-axis because it enables the punching head to "fly", or move back and forth, across the sheet. The drive system of the Delta Drive is powered by three servomotors. The key to the Delta Drive is how it couples the punching action with the travel along the Y-axis. The sheet and work table do not move. This makes the punching process more reliable and boosts productivity. Automatic loading and unloading The secret to this machine's superior efficiency is the smooth flow of materials. Small parts automatically fall into a part chute that sorts them into up to four boxes. The TruPunch/TruMatic 3000 also features an additional, larger part flap that can eject parts measuring up to 400 x 600 millimeters and deposit them in two containers. The machine can be equipped with the SheetMaster Compact and SortMaster Compact to ensure smooth and efficient loading and unloading. These provide an automated system for loading sheets into the machine and unloading blanks, microjoint sheets and scrap skeletons. The TruPunch/TruMatic 3000 part chute provides a gentle, reliable and automated means of ejecting and sorting finished parts. High part quality The machine also features a descending die to ensure high-quality, scratch-free parts. This moves down after the punching stroke, preventing contact between the sheet and the die when the sheet is moving and avoiding collisions that could cause scratches during punching and forming. The TruPunch/TruMatic 3000 is also the first combined punch-laser machine from TRUMPF to feature a control panel with a Touchpoint interface. Easier and more intuitive to use, this makes tool management simpler. Laser machine with additional functions The Delta Drive and the TruDisk disk laser make the TruMatic 3000 fiber particularly energy-efficient. Compared to other beam sources, the TruDisk is particularly productive in the six-millimeter sheet thickness range. This laser makes the machine quick and easy to program, providing a level of flexibility that can even cater to small batch sizes. Other benefits include low initial investment costs and the machine's high level of efficiency.

Exceptional Challenges of Bereavement During the Pandemic Highlighted in Interim Findings from First UK-Wide Survey of Bereavement Experiences and Support Needs

Fri, Nov 27, 2020 04:00 EST

Urgent call for more bereaved men and people from ethnic minority backgrounds to share their experiences More than half of respondents not given information on bereavement support after the loss Two thirds unable to say goodbye to their loved one as they would have liked Two thirds experienced social isolation and loneliness following their loved one's death Interim findings of a survey of people bereaved in the UK since March show the difficulties and distress experienced by those who have lost a loved one, both prior to the death and in their grief. In the first UK-wide survey exploring bereavement experiences and support needs, bereaved people described a lack of support following a loved one's death: 45 per cent said they weren't contacted by the hospital or care provider following the bereavement, while 51 per cent were not provided with any information about bereavement support. One in four participants reported feeling uncomfortable accessing support from bereavement services, while 56 per cent of people who tried to access bereavement services had experienced difficulties. To me, when I couldn't even see my family because of isolation, and having just lost the person I most loved, the last thing I needed was to talk to an unknown faceless person at the end of a phone... [I] really need contact... face to face. (Bereaved wife) I have self-referred to the bereavement counselling service at the hospice. They have acknowledged the referral, but I've heard nothing since. Their standard practice is to start counselling at least 6 weeks after death, which part of me understands, but part of me objects to. What is one supposed to do during those 6 weeks? (Bereaved husband) Researchers at Cardiff University and the University of Bristol, including a team from the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre, are conducting the research to give voice to the experiences of people bereaved in the UK of any cause since 16 March. The team has released findings from the first 532 respondents to the survey, which remains open until December 31. The study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Of those surveyed so far:Almost half (46 per cent) had lost a loved one who had a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection. Compared with other causes of death, COVID-19 deaths were significantly associated with higher levels of problems related to end of life and bereavement experiences, except for restricted funeral arrangements, which affected almost all respondents (94 per cent) [for question asked, see note*] 70 per cent of bereaved people whose loved one died of a confirmed COVID-19 infection had limited contact with them in the last days of life; 85 per cent were unable to say goodbye as they would have liked; 75 per cent experienced social isolation and loneliness. A bereaved daughter commented in the survey: "We basically listened to him die on the phone over 5 days which was the most horrific experience for us and of course, Dad. We can only hope that he knew we loved him and hadn't abandoned him in these last days." Dr Emily Harrop, from the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre based at Cardiff University, said: " The survey results so far show the exceptional challenges of pandemic bereavement in terms of difficult experiences at the end of life, restricted funerals and social isolation. Alongside these difficulties and relatively high levels of needs, bereaved people also report problems accessing support from friends and family and bereavement services. It is crucial that policy makers and those providing care and support to patients make changes to better support family members and close friends before and after a death." Participants also described communication problems with healthcare providers during their loved one's care and death, with one in four reporting they were not involved in decisions about the care of their loved one. "When the hospital wouldn't let me in with my dad from the ambulance, that is the last time I saw him. It was a Friday and we couldn't get to speak to anyone until the Tuesday. It was hard to get through and when I did the person just dropped into the conversation that dad had COVID-19 - it was a shock. There was very little information and no support and no contact." (Bereaved daughter) On the basis of these interim findings, which will be circulated to policy makers and bereavement services and are available to download from the study website , the researchers recommend:Steps are taken to reduce the trauma of bad death experiences, by improving communication by healthcare professionals at the end of life, including the family in decision-making and enabling family contact where at all possible Health and social care providers better support families after a death, including providing information about different types of bereavement support and services Flexible support bubble arrangements for the recently bereaved to tackle social isolation and vulnerability in early bereavement and during funerals Increased provision of bereavement services in areas which currently have long waiting lists More than 90 per cent of those who have taken part in the survey so far are female, and the team is now encouraging more men and more people from minority ethnic backgrounds, who currently account for less than 5 per cent of participants, to take part in the survey to ensure it is representative of the population affected. Dr Lucy Selman, from the Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group and the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, said: "There have now been over 70,000 excess deaths in the UK during the pandemic, in addition to an estimated 450,000 deaths every 9 months. With each death leaving around 5 people bereaved, 2.6 million people have been bereaved in the UK at a time of profound disruption to our social support networks as well as intense pressure on health and social care. We now have the opportunity to prevent a further mental health crisis by implementing our recommendations to improve end of life care and bereavement support. "Our preliminary findings also suggest that men and people from ethnic minority groups might have different experiences of bereavement and support. But to test this we need more participants in these categories. If you have been bereaved since 16 March in the UK and feel able to share your experiences, please consider taking part." As part of their support for the bereaved, Marie Curie is spearheading a campaign to hold a National Day of reflection on 23rd March 2021, the first anniversary of the UK going into lockdown. The National Day of Reflection will be for the UK to come together to remember all the people who have died during lockdown, and to show support and solidarity for those who have been bereaved. To take part in the survey before December 31, visit https://www.covidbereavement.com/ Full study findings will be analysed and published in a peer-review journal in the first quarter of 2021. The survey has been funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Economic and Social Research Council. *Question asked: