After health “hubs” come rough sleeper “hubs”

Definition “hub”: a pseudo-service that is put in place when a full service is withdrawn, often with privatised funding and/or staff, usually resulting in an inferior service.

“Ministers have announced that 11 new “rough sleeping hubs” will be established next year through a £4.8m project aimed at tackling rising levels of people in England sleeping on the streets.

Unveiling plans for the centres, the government said thousands of vulnerable people will be able to receive specialist support to address mental health problems and provide immediate shelter and rapid assessment for rough sleepers.

It will form part of the already announced £100m rough sleeping strategy and will be launched in 11 areas in the spring across England, including Derby, Liverpool, Preston, Bristol, Lincoln and Nottingham City.

The measures coincide with an announcement from Labour, who have also pledged £100m to give every rough sleeper a place to stay in the winter months – funded through a levy on second homes announced at the party conference in September. …”

“Dickensian’ poverty increasingly prevalent in schools”

“Increasing levels of child poverty are affecting children and young people’s education, with schools dealing with ‘Dickensian’ levels of squalor, a major teaching union has warned.

A survey of members by the National Education Union found more than half (53%) believe children in their school will go hungry over Christmas, putting the blame on welfare cuts as well as those to schools and children’s services.

The poll of 1,026 NEU teachers in England revealed that 46% believe holiday hunger – a lack of access to food in the absence of free school meals – has got worse in the last three years.

The NEU’s report, published today, highlighted the “stark” impact of poverty on children’s education. Poverty-related problems include: absence from school (83%); behavioural issues (85%); concentration (81%); health (59%); and lateness (79%).

The survey heard from teachers who were buying or washing clothes for students who could not afford them. Some teachers said their students had been sleeping in their school uniforms because they don’t have pyjamas, and other children had food delivered to their home by the school.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “This is a Dickensian picture of the poverty that far too many children and their families are having to endure.

“The government has failed to recognise the human cost of its cuts to schools and other children’s services and to the social security system, and its failure to address the in-work poverty faced by one in five workers.

“The government must stop hiding from the facts. Children can’t escape the poverty trap without an urgent change to national policies.”

The poll also found 46% of teachers believe that poor quality and overcrowded housing conditions are affecting the education of children and young people more than they were.

Many schools are now offering free breakfast clubs for children and also running foodbanks, giving hampers to families and providing meals during the holidays, the survey found.

But union members said that school funding cuts were restricting the help that can be given.

A government spokesperson said: “Teachers shouldn’t have to step in to tackle the issues highlighted by this survey, and we’re already taking action to make sure that they don’t have to.”

“Food bank opens AT SCHOOL after famished children start stealing from lunchboxes”

“A primary school has set up a food bank for hungry kids whose parents are struggling under austerity.

Head Debbie Whiting launched it after seeing pupils so famished they were stealing from other children’s packed lunches.

“You can’t learn if you’re hungry,” she said. “Children need to be fed, clothed and warm.”

The food bank at North Denes juniors in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, is thought to be the first at a British school.

Staff and some parents donate extra items from their shopping and a charity has given £1,500.

Mum Sadie Carter, who has two children at the school, said she fell to “rock bottom” after running out of money and was “crying for days”.

She said: “I didn’t know what to do. Then the school came to help.” ….

Positive ageing

“At the Centre for Ageing Better, we often say that the UK is experiencing a social revolution. People now live much longer than their parents and grandparents did. A child born today has a one in three chance of living to the age of 100 – the advances we’ve seen in longevity are truly incredible.

The problem is, when we talk about the ‘challenges’ of an ageing population, we make it easy to fall in to the trap of focusing on just the problems – such as rising pension and health care costs – and forgetting about the immense opportunity of living longer lives.

For me, it’s important to remember that people in later life contribute massively to the economy – in the UK, there are over 10m over-50s in the workplace. The gross income of households with an individual aged 50+ amounted to 47% of total UK household income in 2014/15. Older people also contribute hugely to society; one in five people aged 50–64 in the UK are carers and around two-thirds of this age cohort make some form of contribution to their communities.

However, too many people are missing out on a good later life. Around 1.8 million households headed by someone aged 50 to State Pension Age are struggling to maintain their living standards and save for retirement. Many people would like to move to a more age-friendly home, but find there isn’t anything suitable near to where they live and are connected to their communities. And while we are living longer, the number of years we can expect to have good health as we age varies greatly depending on where in the country we live.

We need action to respond to and plan for this demographic change across public and private sectors.

Housing – We need more affordable and attractive ways of adapting and improving our homes. Every new home built should be ‘age-proof’ – adaptable and accessible, whatever people’s ages or abilities.

Work – We need to explore how new technologies can support people to manage health conditions in the workplace. Employers need to offer flexible working, training and development or older workers, and change recruitment processes to be inclusive.

Communities – We need good transport links, opportunities to get involved in civic life and places and outdoor spaces to meet people’s needs. We need more places to become Age-friendly Communities and commit to supporting residents to age well.

Health – We need to focus on preventing people from developing the health conditions and disabilities which reduce their quality of life. If we can help people to remain physically active for longer and support them to adopt healthier lifestyles, we can make great strides.

I think that the real challenge is to seize the opportunity of a good later life – and stop thinking about ageing as challenge to overcome.”

East Devon Alliance councillors spur council to decry poverty in East Devon

“The number of people using food banks in the Sid Valley has more than doubled in the last six months.

The Sid Valley Food Bank’s co-ordinator Andie Milne told East Devon councillors on Wednesday night of the alarming numbers of people and the stark rise in numbers of people they are seeing.

She said that six months ago, they were dealing with 15 families a week, but last week, more than 30 families came through their doors, with 36 children being helped.

And she added that last week they helped a family from Axminster as there was no help available in the East of the county for them, and raised concern over what would happen to the emergency food bags located at the council’s Knowle HQ, that sometimes are refilled four times a week, when the council offices move to Honiton early in 2019.

Her comments came prior to the full council unanimously supporting a motion brought forward by Cllr Cathy Gardner, of East Devon Alliance, calling for a report on the potential impacts of benefits changes and spending cuts on people in East Devon and whether there was a need for further support from the council in supporting the roll-out of Universal Credit, homelessness prevention or for local food banks.

Proposing her motion, Cllr Gardner said: “Most of us are doing okay and are comfortable, some are doing extremely well, but some are struggling, and we have a civic duty to see if we can do more. I would be horrified to learn if a child suffered as we failed to something in some way to help.

“I am not criticising the council or the hard work that our officers do to help people but simply to ask if there is anything more that we could do, as we know that people are struggling with Universal Credit.

“If the report says it is all perfect, then we can rest easy, but I want the report to come forward so we can be seen as outstanding, caring and vigilant.”

Cllr Marianne Rixson, supporting the motion, added that some people are being forced to use food banks just to make ends meet, even though they are in employment.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance said that the national picture showed there were 2.5m people living just 10 per cent above the poverty line. She added: “A small reversal of the economy could put 2.5m people below the poverty line in weeks. We all know of people who are struggling and other who could very soon be struggling.”

The motion received unanimous support from across the council chamber, with Conservative councillor Mike Allen said that he really liked the motion and thanked Cllr Gardner for bringing it forward.

He said: “If you work in a food bank, you get to understand how little accidents or small things can trip someone into a poverty – be it a divorce or splitting up with a partner, or a jobs loss, which leads to a massive hole in your income and you cannot afford what you used to take for granted.”

Cllr Jill Elson, portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, said that the council worked very closely with food banks across the district and that council staff were currently co-located in the job centres in Exmouth and Honiton to get the 1,013 people in East Devon claiming Universal Credit and were going the extra mile to help them, be it by helping them fill in the forms or giving them food bank credits.”

“Grammar schools given £50m diversity bursary have 2 per cent of pupils from poorer backgrounds”

Colyton Grammar School will receive £490,000.
2.3% of its pupils have free school meals.
15.0% of Axe Valley Academy pupils have free school meals.
11.3% of Exmouth Community college pupils have free school meals.
The national average is 29.1%.

“The grammar schools awarded £50m of funding by the government classify just 2 per cent of their admissions as disadvantaged, according to research.

The sixteen schools, which have been given a share of a £50m investment awarded by the government to expand their institutions are said to have some of the worst diversity records in the country, according to the House of Commons library.

Altogether, the funding will create 4,000 more grammar school places from poorer backgrounds.

The pot, which the government said it would provide in May, was criticised for providing a “covert” way to annexe the schools, which were accused of limiting social mobility, reported The Independent.

In order to qualify for the fund, the institutions had to submit plans on how they would try to increase the proportion of poorer pupils, reported The Times.

0.4 per cent of pupils receiving free school meals

The schools applying for the cash had to submit plans on how they would try to increase the proportion of poorer pupils.

One of the schools receiving funds from the government has 0.4 per cent of its pupils receive free school meals.

At Kendrick School, a girls’ grammar in Reading, the figure was in comparison to 9.8 per cent of secondary school pupils receiving school meals across the local authority.

Just 1 per cent of pupils qualified for free school meals at Chelmsford County High School for Girls, in comparison to an Essex-wide figure of 9 per cent, reported The Times. …”