Windrush Community Fund

A new fund has launched to raise awareness and support engagement among those eligible for the Government’s Windrush Compensation Schemes.

Charitable, community and grassroots organisations that work with affected communities can bid for an award between £2,500 to £25,000 to help ensure all people affected by Windrush are aware of the support available and are not missing out on the schemes.

The Home Office fund has been designed with the Windrush Cross-Government Working Group and will be administered by Voice4Change England. It has been set up to encourage applications from those organisations that are led by or work with affected communities who faced difficulties demonstrating their lawful status in the UK and suffered losses as a result. This covers people who settled in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1 January 1973 and people of any nationality who were settled before the end of 1988.

To find out more please visit:

https://voice4change-england.com/500k-windrush-community-fund-opens-for-bids/.

Many feel concerned at night

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A majority of people do not feel safe at night in Wanstead, according to a new poll.

Seventy-six (76%) percent of respondents to a survey conducted on Facebook said they did not feel safe walking alone at night in Wanstead.

The findings come after the disappearance of a woman in South London which has prompted many women to share their experiences and concerns about walking alone in the capital at night.

In comments underneath the Wanstead Community Forum Facebook poll, members shared their own experiences. One reported being followed while walking their dogs while another was “catcalled” on the High Street. A resident also reported abuse being directed at members of the LGBT community.

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has acknowledged that women do not feel safe on streets in the capital. He told LBC radio:

“It’s really important that people of my gender understand that if you’re a woman or a girl your experience of our city in any public space, whether it’s in the workplace, on the streets and public transport, is very different to if you are a man or a boy. It’s really important that people like me in positions of influence understand and take steps to address that”.

Redbridge Council plans chocolate monitoring

An eagle-eyed Councillor from Fairlop Ward has spotted an important announcement about a major new committee being set up by Redbridge Council.

The Chocolate Monitoring Committee was included in a list of Current committees alongside the Education Scrutiny Panel and the Health and Wellbeing Board on the Redbridge Council website.

Twitter user RuthAtFairlop tweeted a screengrab and commented: “I’m so intrigued to see what the ‘Chocolate Monitoring Committee’ does, I wonder how much this little escapade costs LBR”.

Redbridge Council responded apologising and explaining it was a test page. The Labour Leader of the Council, Jas Athwal, also contributed to the message thread humorously tweeting: “There is a long queue to be on this committee.”

Sadly, rumours Redbridge residents were to be issued samples as part of the initiative have also proved to be unfounded.

Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

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According to media reports this morning there appears to be some confusion around the current rules. A summary of Government guidance is:

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should follow this guidance immediately. This is the law.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

*shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
*go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
*exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
*meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
*seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
attend education or childcare – for those eligible

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work. Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work.

The full guidance can be found here.

Christmas food binned

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Thousands of tonnes of waste has been thrown away following the Christmas festivities, it has been revealed.

More than 50,000 tonnes of leftover Christmas dinners have been dumped according to an online survey carried out by recycling firm TradeWaste.co.uk.

Respondents were asked about the contents of their Christmas bins to produce an indication of the amount of waste created across the UK.

Nearly 5,000 tonnes of leftover mince pies and 2,000 tonnes of cheese has been disposed of, as well as 17,444 tonnes of Christmas wrapping paper, 12,500 tonnes of Christmas decorations and 68,488 miles of broken Christmas lights.

“Even with a slightly toned-down Christmas this year, we all know how full the bins get after Christmas. It is now clear the huge environmental impact all this waste has,” explains Charlotte Green from TradeWaste.co.uk.

Other figures include 141,525 tonnes of food packaging and 30,000 tonnes of Christmas cards.

New campaign raises funds for LGBT+ charity

Rave brand Little Gay Brother has created a range of Love Is Not Cancelled limited edition prints and t-shirts to help raise funds for the charity Opening Doors London.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we raised £10k in funds to help set up a telephone befriending service for Opening Doors London,” explains Clayton Wright, founder of Little Gay Brother.

“It was so successful, ODL were able to help people all over the UK. The support we received was amazing with huge names across music, film and comedy shouting about our efforts. But unfortunately our work is not yet done. We’re still living in a pandemic, the older generation are still isolating, many living with low immune systems unable to go out, some hiding in fear. It’s our duty to help, otherwise the repercussions for the mental health of these individuals will be huge,” he says.

Opening Doors London is the biggest UK charity providing information and support services specifically for LGBT+ people over 50. Supporters of the Love Is Not Cancelled campaign include Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall, activist Munroe Bergdorf and musicians Olly Alexander from Years and Years and Pet Shop Boys.

Each print has a limited run of 100 and the three designs feature a unique finish while the t-shirts are made from 100% Fair Wear Foundation Combed Organic Cotton.

The Love Is Not Cancelled range can be found at the Little Gay Brother website and more about the charity can be found via Opening Doors.

Face masks likely to cause environmental problem

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Millions of disposable face masks are being discarded every day, according new analysis by TradeWaste.co.uk.

The public waste company has estimated that 53 million masks are being sent to UK landfill every day after being thrown away often onto the street.

Disposable face masks are typically made from three plastic layers including a non-woven plastic fabric outer, a melt-blown polymer filter, and a non-woven plastic fabric inner as well as cotton ear loops and a metal nose piece.

The survey found that 58 million face masks are used daily in the UK with 10% being reused but 90% thrown away.

“We as a country need better disposal methods to cope with huge numbers of disposable masks being thrown away – most cannot be recycled”, says Charlotte Green from TradeWaste.co.uk.

“If restrictions and mask use continue then this issue is going to get progressively worse – action needs to be taken.”

The company estimate that 129 billion face masks are in use globally per month.

Standards going unchecked

Regulatory bodies are failing to fulfil their duties due to budget cuts and declining staff numbers, according to a new report.

The analysis investigated losses in regulatory enforcement capacity across food, the environment, health and safety, consumer protection, employee rights and local spaces.

Across the regulatory areas examined, average budgets had fallen 41% in real terms and staff numbers by over a third during the last decade.  This has led to an “enforcement gap which threatens to undermine the very rules which keep our society running properly”, the research claims.

According to the report, between 2009-2019 the Forestry Commission had its funding cut by 53%, while Local Authority spending on environmental and regulatory services fell 31%.  Funding at the Food Standards Agency fell 51%, while there was a 60% drop in manpower amongst Local Authority food standards staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The research claims that there was a 58% cut in funding at the Health and Safety Executive, a 49% cut in spending on Health and Safety by Local Authorities in England, and a 22% fall in fire and rescue staff in England during the same period.

The Enforcement Gap 2020 report has been published by Unchecked.uk, a project of The Ecology Trust, a grant-making charity which tackles the root causes of environmental and societal problems.  It was founded in 2019 and is supported by the JMG Foundation, The Kestrelman Trust and The Funding Network.

In a letter to The Times to coincide with publication of the report, twenty major organisations from across UK civil society warn that “steep reductions in inspections and monitoring of regulated businesses in recent years risks undermining the achievement of public policy objectives”.  The letter has been signed by organisations including Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth, Mums for Lungs, the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the National Consumer Federation.

“The analysis we are publishing is alarming and is cause for serious national concern,” said Emma Rose of Unchecked.uk.

“With important regulators operating with on average 50% less funding than ten years ago, there is a need for a closer look at the state of our public protection infrastructure.

“As a country we believe in fair play, common standards, and everyone playing by the same rules – but the truth is, the people we rely on to enforce those rules are being hamstrung.”

Arnold Pindar, Chairman of the National Consumer Federation, said:

“We live in an increasingly complicated world, and we expect high standards – clean air, safe water, and better goods and safe products.  Strong enforcement is needed to bear down on high-risk suppliers and rogues, and keep us safe from harm.

“However, enforcement capacity has been cut back since the early 2000s, and Unchecked.uk’s research shows how serious this has become.  It confirms the major concerns highlighted by recent National Consumer Federation Congresses.

“This cannot carry on.”