Section: Community

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Living through austerity with a learning disability

Neil Carpenter

Since 2010, successive Conservative governments have made it a priority to ‘clear up the financial mess left by Labour’ through a wide-ranging programme of austerity measures intended to reduce the deficit. As those cuts were biting, I began working as a volunteer advocate for adults with a learning disability, going into day centres, running a […]

Fund Police. Fund Courts. Fund CPS. Fund Legal Aid. Now.

CrimeGirl

As you may know, we sometimes reproduce Twitter threads for the benefit of those not on the platform. This thread caught our eye and, though it makes rather grim reading, thought our readers might appreciate it. Imagine this You wake up in bed with your partner, your little ones are asleep in their bedrooms. It’s […]

Hunger games

Oliver Patrick

Not content with fiercely resisting calls to provide our poorest children with free school meals twice this year, the conservative government is charging headlong into a Brexit that risks all our school children going hungry in Brexit Britain. On Tuesday 17 November 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) released guidance on how schools should prepare […]

What’s next for Somerset Film?

Mick Fletcher

“It was fresh air that kept us sane” said Kathy, reflecting on growing up in the 1940s. Kathy was part of ‘Making Waves’, three days of FM community radio shows created by Bridgwater Senior Citizens’ Forum in 2012. Broadcasting from an empty High Street shop, the Forum’s sometimes provocative but always warm-hearted shows were well […]

People, Poverty, Power

Catrina Davies

Cornwall-based author Catrina Davies offers some tips for leading a better life on this beautiful planet – and for changing the broken system that is driving poverty and environmental destruction. Last Saturday I was on the BBC, talking to Simon Reeve about Cornwall and housing. Many of you have written to me about it, via email […]

Remembrance

Eric Gates

On Wednesday 11 November at 11am, I shall be standing by the village war memorial, leading the act of Remembrance. The memorial is beside quite a busy road, so the 2 minute silence will be subject to interruption, and in most years there are no more than 10 or so of us in attendance; this […]

Weird and wonderful words – week 1

Sadie Parker

Hello lockdown, my old friend; I’ve come to walk with you again. How are we all feeling? You may have awoken early in a state of uhtceare (pronounced uht-kay-ara; the ‘h’ is as in ‘loch’), an Anglo-Saxon expression for the ‘sorrow before dawn’ when you lie awake in the darkness and worry about the day […]

“Don’t sell our farmers out to the mighty dollar.” North Devon relief milker and team vicar urges MPs to support Amendment 16b

Anthea Simmons

We ran this article last week on Torridge Council’s decision to express its anger at the government’s decision to vote against protecting food and animal welfare standards in the Agriculture Bill. One of the passionate supporters of the motion proposed by sheep farmer and councillor, Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin, was the local Rural Dean and team vicar, […]

Time for the wisdom of the people

Laurie Taylor

I’ve been reading quite a bit by Fintan O’Toole, lately… talks on YouTube and most recently his book Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain. For me, he really helps my understanding of all things Brexit, the history of Ireland/Northern Ireland, and much more. I find he makes the ‘warp and weft’ of it […]

Protected characteristics or political playthings?

Florence MacDonald

I am a teacher and over the past month I have become increasingly aware of shifts in what is deemed acceptable for people to say and do in certain rôles, through interference from the government and, now, from the BBC. Phase 1 It began in early October with news of new educational guidance ‘Legal threat […]

Jenrick’s planning reforms have nothing to say about tax dodges

Miles King

It’s the last day for responses to the Government’s latest proposals to reform the planning system, to “level up” and solve the housing crisis, if you believe the spin. The proposals include zoning land (at a large scale) for development and could create a cash bonanza for landowners, as illustrated by this local story. A couple […]

The worst and the best of Cornwall

Tom Scott

The news that every one of Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs had voted against extending help to hungry children came as little surprise to anyone who had studied the parliamentary voting history of Scott Mann (North Cornwall), Derek Thomas (St Ives), Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay), Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall), Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and […]

Culture wars, censorship and the ghost of William Blake

Virginia Button

Earlier this month, the first round of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund was announced by Arts Council England, with a welcome £257m allocated to 1,385 theatres, museums, orchestras, dance companies, music venues and other arts organisations impacted by Covid-19. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, […]

Art Matters : Ashburton Arts

Anthea Simmons

Whatever Rishi Sunak did or didn’t say or did or didn’t mean  in his interview with ITV, the debate over the value of the arts and of artists in our society and economy has been front and centre recently. And rightly so. The UK’s creative industries are estimated to contribute around £13 million to the […]

Travelling outside comfort zones: two fingers up to the predictable

Dawn M Sanders

Why should additional needs limit your craving for adventure? Journalist Dawn Sanders, who has a visual impairment, argues impaired sight should not get in the way of free- spiritedness. Two years ago I met a kindred spirit where I would never have expected to: at the Royal National College for the Blind. Before going to the […]

Do-gooders are in the majority, Patel. Get used to it.

Anthea Simmons

Here’s the thing, Priti Patel. You bang on about the activist lawyers and the do-gooders all you like, but you’re forgetting something. Most people are actually decent. Most people prefer being kind to being cruel. Most people do not want to live on a diet of hatred and fear. And most people, when faced with […]

A ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’ is fine – but what will students live on?

Mick Fletcher

Let’s give a little credit where it’s due. The ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’,set out by the prime minister on 29 September, is aimed at the right target. It seeks to tackle two linked issues that threaten future prosperity: rising unemployment fuelled by the Covid crisis and the long running UK problem of low productivity. But let’s […]

Questioning capitalism is not extreme

Mick Fletcher

There is something especially hypocritical about this, of all governments, telling schools that they should not use material that could ‘undermine the fundamental British values of democracy [and] the rule of law’ It was, after all, this government that firstly broke the law by seeking to prorogue parliament and then, having been judged guilty, announced […]

The dark side of the prom: Cold War Steve beached

Sadie Parker
Cold War Steve's artwork on Bournemouth beach depicting the positive side of the UK and its valuese

When asked whether he would be producing any new episodes of his famous satirical show, ‘The Thick Of It’, Armando Iannucci replied that British politics was now so silly, it was beyond parody. One artist who has, nonetheless, successfully satirised not just British politics, but populist politics around the world over the past four years […]

Museums and galleries respond to the climate crisis

Virginia Button

The US west coast is on fire, the hurricane season is off to an early start and in the UK a year of unseasonal weather has resulted in the worst wheat harvest in decades – yet more reminders that climate change is a pressing and immediate global crisis. And, as leaves fall and mists rise […]

The future of planning in rural areas

Mike Chapman

Rural communities in the recently created unitary Dorset Council area are working hard and democratically to make Neighbourhood Plans. The bases of these plans lie in the traditions and desire for continuity of small rural towns and villages. This cultural heritage is under attack now and is further threatened by proposed changes to the planning […]

Charity focus: What About The Children?

Jane Reddish

When I read the article by Dr Pam Jarvis in Yorkshire Bylines, I wrote to the Editor of my local Bylines to say how impressed I was by Dr Jarvis’s insight into the needs of young children, particularly because of my trusteeship of the charity What About The Children? The Editor-in-Chief asked me to let […]

Cornwall faces cold homes pandemic

James Miller

Despite its mild winters, Cornwall has among the highest levels of cold homes and fuel poverty in the UK, forcing many people to choose between heating their homes, and eating. The Government’s £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme, which aims to insulate up to 650,000 homes and create 140,000 jobs across the UK, launches this month. […]

Reflections of an anti-racist rambler

Tsara Smith

When I set out on a 140-mile anti-racist ramble across rural mid-Devon, it was really driven by two words: do something. The murder of George Floyd (and the reflection of countless stories like his) made me sit up and pay some real attention to the experience of black people, not just in America, but in […]

Is it really time for T levels?

Mick Fletcher

After the high-profile shambles that has accompanied the A level and BTEC grading this year, the Department for Education (DfE) must be relieved that the next debacle likely to affect the same age group will at least be low profile. Few people seem to have heard that the new T levels (T stands for technical) […]

School reopening: mixed messages and mixed feelings

Virginia Stephen

The last day I spent in school, in March, was unnerving. I had been watching the distressing scenes from Italy and Spain and everyone already knew that we should have closed the week before. I felt too anxious to stay in the staffroom at break and lunchtime. A child with symptoms who had been sent […]

Anyone for tea and class war?

Sadie Parker

Examgate finally laid bare the hollowness of the Tory “levelling up” mantra, which helped them win over voters in the so-called “Red Wall” seats in the 2019 election. Was this utter catastro-shambles merely an unfortunate accident, or was it a deliberate act —the Government’s boldest move yet in a covert class war? Looking back over […]

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