Friday, 22 May 2020

COVID-19 and human rights concerns for older people

On Tuesday 19th May, AGE releases the second version of its report on COVID-19 and human rights concerns for older people. The report refers to alarming situations and promising practices for respecting older people’s human rights.

This new version provides updates with regards to:
  • risks to the right to health, including mental health and palliative care,
  • how digital exclusion adversely impacts older people’s opportunities for social contact and access to information, medical and other essential goods and services,
  • the increased risk of violence and abuse during lockdown,
  • the specific challenges faced by older people in residential settings, those who live alone and those who receive care at home.
The report has also been enriched with new insights about the multiple disadvantage faced by older women, older LGBTI and Roma people. Finally, it also includes key recommendations useful for policy makers, service providers, and the media.
"The report sheds light on gaps that existed prior to COVID-19 and which have been exacerbated during the pandemic. Older people are systematically left behind in decisions about service allocation, medical treatment, prioritisation of needs and resources. Our response to COVID-19 must value older persons as rights holders on an equal basis with others – a prerequisite for full participation in our societies. As mentioned by the UN Secretary General, we need stronger legal frameworks at national and international level to protect human rights in old age and to create fairer societies” said Ebbe Johansen, President of AGE Platform Europe.

This report has been prepared with inputs from AGE member organisations and external experts. Additional quotes from AGE member organisations can be found directly in the report.

 END -

Useful links

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Levellers Day 2020

Levellers Day 2020

17 May 2020

Contributors:John Rees – historian & political campaigner, Tracy Walsh – Red Learning Co-operative The Sea green singers,  Cathy Augustine – Co Vice-Chair, LRC,  Marie Walsh – Didcot Against Austerity Ciaran Walsh – Labour historian &; ranter, Jeremy Corbyn – Socialist &; MP for Islington North
Video of march Music from The Black Family and Attila The Stockbroker

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Questions arising from measures announced in government support deal for TfL

Publication from Caroline Russell: Letter to Heidi Alexander on TfL coronavirus financial settlement
Date published: 
15 May 2020
Dear Heidi,

Questions arising from measures announced in government support deal for TfL

I was relieved to see that an agreement was reached with the Government last night to safeguard Transport for London (TfL) services and functions for the next few months. Although the full agreement has not been shared, the details already released raise a few immediate queries that I’d much appreciate an answer to.

The first point of concern is concessionary and discounted travel. The message that older and disabled people may lose their free or discounted access to the transport network at peak times has already spread widely. There is a wide range of cards and methods by which free travel is accessed by different groups.  Please will you provide very clear communication of the way that all categories of discounted and free travel will now work, including any difference between bus and tube access and let me know when this will be available.

Many supermarkets are now offering special hours for older and disabled customers in the early morning, and some people may be using public transport, especially buses, to help carry groceries home or to reach the shops. Will you discuss with supermarkets in London adjusting these special hours to reduce the demand to travel in the morning peak for people making these shopping trips.

The proposal is also to suspend free travel for under 18s with special arrangements for young people eligible for free travel under the national scheme. I appreciate education is not a City Hall responsibility, but we know many children, particularly at secondary level, have lengthy trips to school that may be easily made by bike, if the conditions are right. Will TfL prioritise safe cycle access to schools across all of London, and urge boroughs to do the same?

The other major concern that has come up in correspondence from constituents is about the congestion charge. I called for the reintroduction of the charge last week, and am glad that an exemption for NHS and care workers is proposed. However, there are other workers and volunteers who are supporting Londoners through coronavirus such as The Samaritans, based in Soho, who tell me they have qualified as key workers during the lockdown. Given their work, across 24 hours a day, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Londoners is it possible to include this group of volunteers in the NHS and care worker exemptions?

Private hire drivers tell me they are concerned at the increase in the congestion charge to £15 per day, and the hours that it covers. Is it possible for TfL to investigate applying the congestion charge through operators of private hire vehicles, like Uber, rather than directly on the precariously employed drivers themselves?

The congestion charge is not the ideal, long-term measure for managing traffic in London, and exemptions can only go so far in making it less blunt. This is the time to be developing plans to rapidly deliver smart, fair, privacy-friendly road pricing, so that it can be in operation as our city recovers, controlling congestion, reducing pollution and providing further resilience to TfL finances. I would welcome an update on the current preparedness at TfL to deliver smart, fair, privacy-friendly road pricing.

I’m glad that you are taking actions to avoid gridlock and I’m especially glad to see the scale of the emerging Streetspace plans. Delivering safe space for walking and cycling has never been more crucial as we live with the ongoing threat of coronavirus.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Russell
Green Party Member of the London Assembly

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Mapping a Just Transformation: The Plan

green tulondon · Post Mapping a Just Transformation: The Plan Posting as DON'T dis US

Mapping a Just Transformation: The Plan

Hosted by Campaign against Climate Change trade union group, a series of film screenings will explore the need for radical transformation in society, as exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate and ecological crisis which has not gone away. The film showings and discussion will be an opportunity to map what this Just Transformation could look like. We start with The Plan, taking inspiration for today's Just Transformation from visionary manufacturing workers and trade unionists from the 1970s.

‘THE PLAN that came from the bottom up’ is a thought-provoking film on the extraordinary story of Lucas Aerospace engineers. Forty years ago they responded to the threat of redundancy with their own plan of action, developing alternatives to the military products their company made, including wind turbines and hybrid cars.

There will be a Q&A with speakers Steve Sprung, the film’s director, and Danielle Paffard from Green New Deal UK, talking about the forthcoming national Build Back Better campaign.

Discussion will start at 6.30pm, and we'll provide links for you to view the film (either the half hour version or the longer version) before. Register here
and we'll email you details for how to join.

Please join us for this discussion when the need for a Just Transformation has never been so urgent.

All welcome!
Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 18:30 to 19:30
Post settings Labels Published on 09/05/2020 04:01 Pacific Daylight Time Permalink Location Options

Friday, 8 May 2020

Mugsborough Then & Now

Mugsborough Then & Now

📷The story of Robert Tressell and his book has been told and re-told by various authors, each account framed in accordance with their own perspective. His novel has also been the subject of academic scrutiny and literary criticism, but the approach adopted here is different. This new book focuses on the striking, not to say shocking parallels with modern day Britain, comparing Tressell’s descriptions of early 20th century Britain and with their 21st century counterparts.
Each subject is split into two parts, with the first section quoting examples from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and in the second part evidence based modern-day equivalents are introduced.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Tell Boris Johnson: we need to work with Europe

From the start, the UK government's response to the coronavirus crisis has been clouded by the ideology of Brexit and isolationism. They've refused to take part in EU ventilator scheme, and they've ignored international advice on testing and lockdown.

At the moment, Boris Johnson's plan is not to extend the Brexit transition period beyond 31st December this year. This would be a disaster - walking away from Europe, with barely any time to negotiate a deal, just when we need to be working together. It would also mean losing access to vital European medical schemes. 
Tell Boris Johnson: we need to work with Europe
That's why we're launching a campaign to demand 3 things of the government:
  1. Pause the Brexit transition period until a vaccine is available to everyone
  2. Keep Britain in the European Medicines Agency
  3. Ensure that Britain remains a member of the European Health Insurance Card scheme
You can write to Boris Johnson with just a couple of clicks by using this tool.

If you agree with us, and want to spread the word, give it a share on social media.


Another Europe

Monday, 4 May 2020

Greens call for a new course on social care

Greens call for new course on social care
Image credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Creative Commons
The UK government this week included deaths from coronavirus taking place outside hospitals in its national figures for the first time. These figures therefore now include deaths that have taken place in care homes. This came as it was announced that there were 2,000 coronavirus deaths in UK care homes in a single week in April.
Prominent Greens were among the critics of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis in care. Jenny Jones – one of the two Green peers in the House of Lords – said that care homes had been neglected in the government’s coronavirus strategy. Writing in Left Foot Forward, Jones called for a “National Care Service” to tackle the crisis in the care sector. She wrote:
We need a national care service that recognises the vital role that carers are playing by paying them better.
We need a massive injection of cash into the private care home sector in order to keep it going for the coming year. We need to send out a clear message that the hospitals are open for everyone who needs them.
Finally, we need to recognise exceptional carers as the heroes they are. I think that the carers and managers who are taking turns self-isolating at care homes are amazing and such people need all the support we can give them.
The call for a National Care Service was also shared by Jamie Osborn – a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich. Also writing in Left Foot Forward, he criticised privatisation of the care service:
we have a National Health Service, funded by taxpayers as a universal right, but social care is privatised or, for those who have assets of less than £23,000, it is the responsibility of local councils.
He continued:
It’s time we had a properly-funded, universal, free-at-the-point of delivery, National Care Service.
The criticism of the status quo in social care, and the response to the coronavirus crisis within it wasn’t just confined to England though. Alison Johnstone – co-convener of the Scottish Green Party’s parliamentary group – hit out at the Scottish Government’s failure to increase testing in care homes.
Johnstone said:
The evidence shows clearly that the regular testing of care workers and hospital staff will help detect cases early, reduce the spread of the virus and give those workers the protection they deserve.
The Scottish Government’s continued refusal to commit to test these dedicated frontline health and care workers when there is significant additional testing capacity available is baffling and will severely hamper our ability to get a grip on this situation.