WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 5-11, 2011)

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Christian group ready for bigger chaplaincy role.” By Dan Harrison. Sydney Morning Herald. December 6, 2011. Access Ministries, a Victorian provider of chaplains and religious instructors, which has been accused of proselytising, plans to provide Christian workers to schools across the nation from next year under an enlarged chaplaincy program. The federal School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, ordered an investigation in May after a recording emerged of Access Ministries’ chief executive, Evonne Paddison, telling a 2008 conference: ”We need to go and make disciples.” Proselytising is strictly forbidden under the national program, which provides schools with up to $20,000 a year for chaplaincy services. The federal investigation cleared Access of any wrongdoing. The government has promised to offer funding to 1000 schools on top of the 2700 already in the scheme. Under changes announced in September, they will have the option of having a secular welfare worker. Access has told Mr Garrett’s department it is interested in providing chaplains and welfare workers across the nation. ”Our desire to expand our chaplaincy services is simply a desire to help more people in need,” said Dr Paddison. Her organisation only offered Christian workers, she said. An Access spokesman said while the organisation had expressed interest in supplying welfare workers to keep its options open, it planned to offer chaplains only. A number of other Christian organisations, including Youth for Christ and Christians Helping in Primary Schools, have expressed interest in providing welfare workers.

Private schools provide best academic results.” By Dan Harrison. Sydney Morning Herald. December 6, 2011. Private schools produce better results than government schools, even once differences in student background are taken into account, an analysis of data from the MySchool website shows. But the research, published in the latest edition of The Australian Economic Review, does not consider the influence a school’s resources has on results, because it is based on data from the first version of the website, which was published last year. Information on the funding available to each school was first collected for the second iteration of the site, which was published in March. Paul Miller and Derby Voon, of Curtin University in Western Australia, examined year 3 grammar scores from national literacy tests and found that independent schools produced average scores that were 33 points higher than those of government schools. Average scores in Catholic schools were 25 points higher than those in government schools. Only about half of these differences could be attributed to differences in student background. The average test score is 500 points. The finding is at odds with a analysis of results last year from international tests produced by the Australian Council for Educational Research. That report concluded that, once adjustments were made for variations in socioeconomic background, there was no significant difference in average scores between independent, Catholic and government schools.

Public servants told to seek approval to volunteer.” By Kelly Burke. Sydney Morning Herald. December 10, 2011. Last week, Tanya Plibersek challenged Australian governments and businesses to create a stronger and more sustainable volunteering sector. This week, 37,000 employees in her department were told that if they wished to engage in volunteering activities in the future, they would have to get their manager’s permission first. The change of policy at the Department of Human Services, which operates Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support services, has angered employees and unions. It has also surprised Volunteering Australia, which enjoys a close partnership with the federal government. In an email obtained by the Herald, the department’s national manager of non-compliance, operations, Bill Volkers, outlined the changes to an existing policy on outside employment. For the first time, unpaid weekend volunteer work will come under the scrutiny of departmental supervisors, and public sector employees must get approval before undertaking such work. Employees must apply for a renewal of that approval every 12 months and will also be subject to a ”regular review” of their activities. The new policy also requires public servants to tell the department if the nature of their volunteering duties within a charitable or not-for-profit organisation changes during the 12-month period. The directive says there may be some exemptions, for ”schools and one-off [sic]”, and in a clarifying email, a senior departmental figure assured employees that religious activities would come under that exemption. But many employees are furious, saying their weekend involvement in activities as varied as surf lifesaving, scouts, animal rescue and Meals on Wheels, are none of the department’s business.

Charities stuck in the middle as clubs resist pokies change.” No by-line. Sydney Morning Herald. December 10, 2011. Clubs Australia is putting increasing pressure on charities to oppose compulsory gambling limits, writes Anne Davies. By the end of this week, 2.1 million brochures featuring Youth Off The Streets’ Father Chris Riley speaking against mandatory pre-commitment for pokies will have flooded into the mailboxes of voters in 46 electorates. For Clubs Australia it’s a coup in what is fast becoming a no-holds-barred fight for the hearts and minds of the Labor backbench. Some MPs are unsure about independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s plan, embraced by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to require technology that makes gamblers pre-commit to an amount they are prepared to lose. Father Riley’s emergence on the clubs’ side has also exposed the subterranean campaign that Clubs Australia has been running for months to convince charities to either back them publicly or sit on the sidelines. Now it has turned personal as well. ”They are basically putting the screws on anyone who has had funds from them,” Reverend Tim Costello, anti-gambling crusader and chief executive of World Vision, told the Herald this week. A sample of charities contacted by the Herald said Clubs NSW or representatives of their donor clubs had put their case to executives in recent months.

Catholic Church accused of duping Tax Office in multibillion-dollar jobs scheme.” By Linton Besser. Sydney Morning Herald. December 12, 2011. The Catholic Church’s employment arm has been systematically rorting the taxpayer-funded welfare-to-work program, defrauding large sums from the multibillion-dollar scheme. It is one of a number of employment agencies that are exploiting loopholes in the $4.7 billion Job Services Australia program, a federal initiative to assist the long-term unemployed find work. As the scheme rewards agencies that ”broker”, or find, a high volume of jobs for Centrelink recipients, some organisations are falsely claiming they have found jobs that individuals secured for themselves. The greater the number of jobs the agencies find, the higher the fees they receive and the more likely they are to win future government contracts. But in the case of CatholicCare, as many as 70 per cent of the jobs it has claimed it ”brokered” were found by the job seekers. The Herald interviewed 63 job seekers serviced by Local Employment Training Solutions (LETS), the church’s agency, between October 2009 and December 2010 whose job placements were lodged with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations as brokered. But 44 of them said they had found the job in question, contradicting CatholicCare’s official claims for fees. Many had a long history with the employer that predated their relationship with the agency. The federal government spent more than $1.5 billion on JSA programs last year.

CANADA

Head of Canada’s Boy Scouts apologizes to victims of sexual abuse; Steve P. Kent, chairman of the governing board of Scouts Canada, also announces an independent review of confidential files it has long kept on leaders accused of molestation.” By Jason Felch and Kim Christensen. Los Angeles Times. December 8, 2011. The head of Canada’s Boy Scouts has apologized to victims of sexual abuse in the organization and announced an independent review of confidential files it has long kept on leaders accused of molestation. “Our sincere efforts to prevent such crimes have not always succeeded, and we are sorry for that and saddened at any resulting harm,” said Steve P. Kent, chairman of the governing board of Scouts Canada. Kent said he has asked an outside auditing firm to review confidential records that Scouts Canada, like the Boy Scouts of America, has maintained for decades to keep known molesters out of its ranks. The two organizations are independent of each other. Kent said the moves were sparked by recent media attention. In October, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the Los Angeles Times published a joint investigation that found Scouts Canada and the Boy Scouts of America had failed to prevent a convicted child molester from abusing Scouts over two decades on both sides of the border, and at times had helped him cover his tracks. Scouts Canada Chief Executive Janet Yale denied that her organization kept confidential records. She resigned abruptly in November after the CBC published proof of their existence. The Boy Scouts of America has fought in court to keep its files from public view, arguing they contain no information of value. On Thursday evening, a spokesman said the BSA has in the past apologized to victims both publicly and privately. “We believe perpetrators of abuse should be punished to the fullest extent of the law; even suspicion of abuse must be reported by members and volunteers to law enforcement and result in immediate removal from Scouting,” the organization said in a statement.

Alternative School Sparks Fears of Division and Isolation.” By Fawzia Sheikh. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). December 8, 2011. The Toronto public school board has approved the second ‘Africentric’ Alternative School despite persistent criticism that the format attracts mainly black students and is equivalent to segregation in a country that prides itself on national unity regardless of ethnic differences. The impetus behind the school, which incorporates the perspectives and history of people of African descent into provincial curriculum, was research indicating that feelings of disengagement among black students has led to an alarming 40 percent drop-out rate. After the first such elementary school opened in 2009, Toronto educators approved in mid-November a plan to open a similar learning institution for high school students within the next two years. Academic Carl James, who began this month to conduct research with the Toronto District School Board on the feasibility of the Africa-focused curriculum, told IPS that experimenting with new forms of education to determine what works for students is always worthwhile. However, there is no solid data about how this particular effort is faring, said James, the director of the Centre for Education and Community in the faculty of education at York University in Toronto. He anticipates completing his work, which will also help the school board address feelings of detachment and marginalisation among other student groups, in three years. Anecdotal evidence indicates that Africentric school students are more connected to their educational system, parents are more engaged in their children’s studies and teachers and the school board feel more positive about the experience, noted James, who has had discussions with black parents for years about the “possibilities of such schools”. The school board did not respond to IPS queries about the success of the Africa-focused initiative, but the elementary Africentric school has reported above-average scores on standardised tests and a long student waiting list.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Irish Archbishop Who Died in ’73 Is Linked to Abuse.” By Douglas Dalby. New York Times. December 8, 2011. The former archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, widely regarded as the most powerful Catholic prelate in modern Irish history, stands accused of serial child sexual abuse, The Irish Times newspaper said Thursday. Two specific complaints and a separate unspecified “concern” against an unidentified cleric were reported to the Murphy Commission, a state-sponsored investigation into the handling of clerical sexual abuse of children in the Dublin archdiocese. The newspaper reported that Archbishop McQuaid, who retired in 1972 and died a year later, was the unidentified cleric. The commission published its main report in 2009, but it said that “due to human error” the latest allegations emerged only in a supplementary report published in July. This does not name Archbishop McQuaid, but the newspaper is adamant that the allegations of abuse contained within it refer to the archbishop. One allegation is regarding abuse of a 12-year-old boy in 1961. “The supplementary report records that in June/July 2009, as the commission was completing its main report, it received information which would have ‘brought another cleric’ within its remit,” Patsy McGarry, the newspaper’s religious affairs correspondent, said in an interview. The archdiocese “found a letter ‘which showed that there was an awareness among a number of people in the archdiocese that there had been a concern expressed about this cleric in 1999,’ the report states. The ‘cleric’ is Archbishop McQuaid.” The main body of the Murphy report was highly critical of Archbishop McQuaid’s attitude toward abuse, accusing him of showing “no concern for the welfare of children.” However, this is the first suggestion that the official body had received specific complaints against Archbishop McQuaid, who was at the very apex of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland for three decades.

DEVELOPMENT

Q&A: South-South Cooperation Complements North-South Cooperation; Sabina Zaccaro interviews NASSIR Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the U.N. General Assembly.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). South-South cooperation can play a key role in boosting the economies of developing countries, but it is not going to replace North-South cooperation, says Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the 66th session of the U.N. General Assembly. The Qatari diplomat was interviewed by IPS as the fourth annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) opened Monday in Rome. This year’s GSSD Expo, a U.N. system-wide forum developed by the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, is hosted by the FAO from Dec. 5 to 9, and is meant to showcase concrete innovative solutions that demonstrate how hunger has been successfully tackled through South-South cooperation. “South-South and triangular cooperation, backed by adequate funding, are key tools for tackling the development challenges of our time,” Al-Nasser said. “All such partnerships are particularly pertinent given the current and recent challenges facing our global economy and sustainable development. Among such challenges, guaranteeing food security for all is paramount.” He said the Expo offers an opportunity to examine holistic approaches to the search for innovative and sustainable solutions to food insecurity: “It will enable us to exchange lessons learned and showcase successful Southern strategies and technologies for, among other things: improving agricultural productivity; increasing social protection and building the resilience of the most vulnerable; managing fragile ecosystems; improving nutrition; and combating diseases.”

INDIA

US continues to be the biggest donor for Indian NGOs.” By Vishwa Mohan. Times of India. December 7, 2011. The US continues to be the biggest donor for Indian NGOs, contributing a little less than one-third of the total Rs 10,337 crore received by various non-profit voluntary organizations in 2009-10. The latest statistics for the year 2009-10, disclosed by the home ministry in Parliament last week, showed that Germany took second spot, replacing UK which has traditionally been just behind the US in the list of donors in the past several years. The ministry’s data showed that the US donated over Rs 3,105 crore to NGOs during the period compared to Rs 1,046 crore by Germany, Rs 1,038 crore by UK, Rs 583 crore by Italy and Rs 509 crore by Netherlands. Analysis of previous home ministry reports shows that these countries have been the top five donors to NGOs for the past several years, consistently giving over 50% of the total foreign contribution. During 2009-10, the highest Rs 944 crore out of the total Rs 10,337 crore of foreign contribution went to organizations working in the field of rural development followed by Rs 742 crore for welfare of children and Rs 630 crore for construction and maintenance of schools and colleges. The year 2008-09 had shown a similar trend. Contribution for AIDS awareness also figured prominently in the past five years. Indian NGOs collectively received foreign contribution to the tune of over Rs 49,968 crore during five years from 2005-06 to 2009-10. A total of 21,508 organizations received such funds for various activities in 2009-10 compared to 21,542 organizations in 2008-09. “The report of the year 2010-11 is not yet compiled. All non-profit voluntary organizations, which are registered with the home ministry for receiving foreign funds, have been asked to submit their annual return for receipt of such contribution by December 31,” an official said.

SPAIN

Curtain Could Fall On A Dazzling Arts Center In Spain.” By Lauren Frayer. Weekend Edition Sunday/National Public Radio. December 4, 2011. The Niemeyer Center for the arts will shut its doors on Dec. 15 after being open for only nine months in Aviles, Spain. It’s a victim of political squabbling during difficult economic times. In the boom years, Spain spent billions on big infrastructure projects — high-speed railways, roads and gleaming structures like the Niemeyer Center for the arts in Aviles, in the country’s north. Opened in March this year, the dazzling museum has hosted sold-out performances by Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen. But it’s slated to close on Dec. 15, after barely nine months of operation, because of regional budget cuts. And the fate of the Niemeyer could be an omen of what could happen across Spain, as conservative politicians cut funding for the arts and other big public projects become white elephants littering the landscape.

UK

Charities challenge PM over ‘anti-green agenda’.” By Dominic Kennedy. Times of London. December 5, 2011. The leaders of the country’s best-known environmental groups have combined to challenge David Cameron to slap down what they see as George Osborne’s anti-green agenda. The heads of Friends of the Earth, the RSPB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Greenpeace and the Wildlife Trusts wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday demanding he show leadership. The organisations will meet next week to co-ordinate a campaign to challenge what they see as the Treasury’s new hardline view that green initiatives prevent growth. Their biggest shock came when Mr Osborne, in his Autumn Statement, seemed to deride ecological safeguards when announcing a review of how Habitats Regulations are interpreted and implemented. “We will make sure that gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats aren’t placing ridiculous costs on British businesses,” the Chancellor told the Commons. The green movement has been suspicious of Mr Osborne since his Tory conference speech declaring: “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.” After the Autumn Statement, the chief executives of the five major environmental organisations were quickly on their mobiles, plotting the counter-attack. Their letter to Downing Street pulls no punches and places responsibility firmly on the Prime Minister. “How can the Government tolerate this gaping intellectual and political inconsistency, and walk with open eyes down a policy path that condemns future generations to a lower quality of life and to a massive and costly struggle to rebuild the country’s natural riches?

A foundation for the future of journalism; With the Leveson Inquiry in full swing, the reputation of the press has never been lower. Yet the importance of holding to account those who wield power has never been greater. Enter The Journalism Foundation – a new organisation dedicated to promoting free and fair reporting around the world.” Independent. December 5, 2011. It’s safe to say that journalism, and the people who practise it, and the men (yes, it’s almost all men) who control newspapers, have never been held in such low esteem by the public they are meant to serve. It is easy for we journalists to be defensive: this skulduggery was practised only by a small minority, and one of the prices to be paid for having the vibrant and diverse press we have in Britain is occasional unruliness born of competition. But that’s not quite the point, and in any case it shouldn’t be left to journalists to defend journalism. Better Thomas Jefferson, who said that, given a choice between government without newspapers and newspapers without government, he would unhesitatingly choose the latter. That’s because journalism, one of whose purposes is perfectly described by the Palestinian-based writer Amira Hass as “to monitor the centres of power”, belongs to us all. Free speech, which we take for granted in the mature democracies of the West, is not the exclusive property of journalists, but is in public ownership, and beyond valuation. It may be deeply unfashionable to say so, but journalism in all its forms can be, and usually is, an overwhelming force for good. The Journalism Foundation has been established to add fuel to the engine of change in media. It is the brainchild of Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, financial backer and owner of this newspaper respectively, for whom freedom of speech is a touchstone issue. Evgeny Lebedev leads a board of trustees which includes Baroness Kennedy, the renowned human rights lawyer, Lord Fowler, former chair of the House of Commons Media Select Committee, and Sir John Tusa, the former head of the BBC World Service. The Lebedevs are paying for the initial running costs of the organisation so that every penny or cent raised goes directly to projects which fulfil the Foundation’s criteria of ethical journalism for the public good. Journalism itself has had a bad press recently: here is a positive initiative that seeks to redress the balance and, whatever you may think when following the latest developments from the Leveson Inquiry, it’s in all our interests that, if nothing else, we keep monitoring those centres of power. I hope people will support it with donations small and large.
Related story:
Simon Kelner launches Journalism Foundation; Former Independent editor Simon Kelner launches charity aimed at promoting journalism around the world.” Guardian. December 4, 2011.

Cameron accused of putting NHS on sale over plans for life sciences; Private companies could get access to NHS patient records under Cameron’s plans to increase collaboration with industry.” By Andrew Sparrow and Hélène Mulholland. Guardian. December 5, 2011. Labour has accused David Cameron of being willing to put “large chunks of the NHS up for sale” before a speech on Monday in which the prime minister will outline plans to increase collaboration between the health service and the life sciences industry. Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said he was worried about the commercialisation of the NHS after it was revealed that Cameron’s plans could involve private companies getting access to patient records and other NHS data. Cameron will say he wants the NHS to be “working hand-in-glove with industry as the fastest adopter of new ideas in the world”. He will argue that this could benefit patients as well as the £50bn life sciences industry, described by Number 10 as the third largest contributor to economic growth in the UK. Britain already has a good record in medical innovation, but Cameron will signal that he wants to make it easier for drug companies to run clinical trials in hospitals and to benefit from the NHS’s vast collection of patient data. He will announce a £180m “catalyst fund” to help develop projects until they attract outside investment. Universities and small- and medium-sized firms will be able to bid for money from the fund. And he will announce a scheme that would give seriously ill patients access to drugs around a year before they were licenced for general use. His speech will coincide with the publication of a life sciences strategy from the Department for Business and a review of innovation in the NHS from David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive.
Related story:
David Cameron ready to put chunks of NHS up for sale, says Labour; Prime minister will outline plans to encourage NHS ties with industry and fuel innovation, including £180m catalyst fund.” Guardian. December 4, 2011.

Charities for Christmas #3: Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation.” By Anna Timms. Guardian. December 5, 2011. We are profiling a number of charities for readers who have time or money they would like to donate, or are seeking help in those areas. Today it’s the turn of post-natal depression group the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation. The greatest cause of maternal deaths in the UK is mental illness, yet NHS provisions for women suffering from PND are largely inadequate. In response to Joe’s death, the Patients Association surveyed the perinatal mental health care provided by 150 primary care trusts and found that 55% fail to offer appropriate information and support to mothers who may be suffering from PND. More than three-quarters had no idea of the incidence of PND in their region. The memorial foundation, launched in April 2011 on what would have been Joe’s 40th birthday, aims to publicise the condition, support sufferers and campaign for improvements to healthcare provision. It is also working with 30 other charities to set up an umbrella organisation to research the causes and treatment of an illness which devastates lives and costs the UK economy an estimated £60m a year.

Charities for Christmas #4: FareShare.” By Rebecca Smithers. Guardian. December 6, 2011. We are profiling a number of charities for readers who have time or money they would like to donate, or are seeking help in those areas. Today we look at FareShare, which helps redistribute surplus food from the food industry. Originally set up in 1994 as part of the homeless charity Crisis, but independent since 2004, FareShare provides training and education around the essential life skills of safe food preparation and nutrition, and warehouse employability training through its Eat Well Live Well programme.

Tax break for art donors.” By Ben Hoyle. Times of London. December 7, 2011. British taxpayers who donate important works of art to the nation will be able to claim back almost a third of their value against income tax as a reward, the Treasury announced yesterday. At present tax breaks are only available for donations made after death and museums and galleries have long argued that the current lack of incentives to encourage lifetime giving, as opposed to posthumous donations, is one of the principal barriers to Britain developing a booming cultural philanthropy scene comparable with the United States. However, the Government is determined to boost philanthropy as a prop against what they see as the cultural sector’s overreliance on public subsidy. In the 2011 budget the Chancellor unveiled a number of plans to foster greater philanthropy. This scheme was consulted on during the summer and details were confirmed yesterday. Individuals will be able to claim tax breaks against income tax or capital gains tax of 30 per cent of the agreed value of the donated “pre-eminent” works of art or objects of national, scientific, historic or artistic interest while businesses will be able to claim back 20 per cent against corporation tax. A panel of experts will assess whether an object counts as preeminent, agree on its value with the owner and decide whether to accept it. Museum directors have welcomed the initiative, with Sir Nicholas Serota describing the approach as “a major step forward, both in encouraging philanthropy and in helping to strengthen public collections across the country”. However there are also concerns that a 30 per cent tax break may prove insufficiently attractive for the global rich, who can choose to offer their largesse elsewhere on more favourable terms, and that the panel of experts will be constrained by an annual limit of £30 million in total tax breaks.

Age charity profited from HSBC scandal; Age UK passed on details of its customers that helped shamed agency to boost its commissions.” By Simon Read. Independent. December 7, 2011. A government-backed advice service earned money by pushing unwary people into the arms of the Nursing Homes Fees Agency, the HSBC-owned care fees adviser fined £10.5m on Monday for selling inappropriate investments to thousands to pensioners. The news comes after leading charity Age UK yesterday admitted it had made money by passing its customers on to the shamed financial advice firm. On Monday, the Financial Services Authority said that 2,485 people were mis-sold investments by NHFA, with the average age of those who purchased the bonds being 83. It reported that “a sample of [NHFA] customer files found unsuitable sales had been made to 87 per cent of customers”. It has emerged that HSBC-owned NHFA paid a wide range of charities and websites for leads so that its advisers could boost their commission by selling investments. Crucial among these was the government-funded Firststop Advice service, which was set up after the Office of Fair Trading called for a one-stop-shop for information on care home provision in 2005. The establishment of the website and telephone advice line was led by the Elderly Accommodation Counsel, but fellow charities Age Concern – now part of Age UK – and Counsel and Care were also involved, as was NHFA itself, as the then biggest care fees advice company. The Firststop Advice service is now mainly funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, receiving an estimated £200,000 a year from the government. Its website offers a lot of useful information about housing and care options for older people. But it also includes profitable links to other organisations, including one to NHFA, which remained live as of last night even though the company closed for business in July. The service is quite open about its money-making ventures. Its website says: “FirstStop will receive a portion of any revenue generated as a result of business conducted through the [NHFA] service.”

Private schools fuel division in society, politics and pay, says study; Annual survey of attitudes reveals perceived social apartheid with powerful ‘elite’ dislocating government from populace.” By Randeep Ramesh. Guardian. December 6, 2011. Private education perpetuates a form of “social apartheid” and has given rise to a political class drawn from a “segregated elite” that does not understand or share the views of most people, the annual British social attitudes survey warns on Wednesday. The study, by the National Centre for Social Research (NCSR), which surveys a representative sample of more than 3,300 people annually, also found that televised debates during the elections failed to enthuse voters, that the NHS is recording its highest-ever satisfaction ratings, and, just before the riots erupted, six out of 10 respondents said most young people were “responsible and well-behaved”. But the survey’s most controversial analysis centres on why class matters more than ever in British life by looking at the educational background of respondents for the first time. From this, researchers could identify a “sense of superiority bonus” that comes from attending a private school. This “superiority” manifests itself in a belief that private education confers a higher position on the ladder of life. After accounting for family background, the study found that the privately educated are still roughly twice as likely as state school pupils to see themselves as being middle or upper-middle class. The privately schooled also have an in-built bias to value the work of “top people” more highly than others, because captains of industry and cabinet ministers were “people like us”. This tendency is especially pronounced when considering how much people should be paid. When asked how much a company chairman should earn on average, privately educated people suggested an average figure of £237,000 a year, £88,000 higher than the average level proposed by those who went to state schools. State-educated respondents were also more concerned with social inequality. Private schools, the NCSR said, “produced Conservative partisans”.

Film on homelessness aims for runaway success; A short film raising funds for homelessness charities aims to tell the real story of people living on the streets.” By Rachel Williams. Guardian. December 6, 2011. The Truth About Stanley, a short film being made to raise funds for the Big Issue and Anchor House, a hostel and life skills centre for homeless adults in east London, charts the friendship between two characters living rough on the capital’s streets. Stanley, played by Kenyan star Oliver Litondo (recently seen in The First Grader), takes 10-year-old runaway Sam, played by Raif Clarke, under his wing, captivating and confusing him in turn with fantastical tall tales about his former life. Director and co-writer Lucy Tcherniak’s aim is to make a piece that gets through to viewers more profoundly than a usual charity appeal – crucial, she thinks, at a time when need in society is on the increase and there’s a risk that people will become immune to calls for donations. Talking to homeless people while researching the script, one thing that came through strongly was the increasing difficulty of finding somewhere to sleep where you won’t be moved on, in central London at least, says Tcherniak’s writing partner, Neil Westley. Law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which supports homeless people through its corporate social responsibility programme, is financing the film, due to be premiered in February. The cast and crew are working for free; Pret A Manger is keeping them fed and watered.

Charities for Christmas #5: St Mungo’s.” By Anna Timms. Guardian. December 7, 2011. We are profiling a number of charities for readers who have time or money they would like to donate, or are seeking help in those areas. Today we look at homeless charity St Mungo’s. St Mungo’s, which began as a single volunteer-staffed hostel in London, now operates more than 100 accommodation and support centres around the capital and the south of England. It has pioneered specialist hostels for the elderly, the mentally ill, rough sleepers with alcohol dependency, and asylum seekers, and it aims to resettle them back into society through job training and life skills programmes. Its job training programme is the largest of its kind for homeless people in the country. Guests are assigned a volunteer mentor who steers them through the bureaucratic and mental challenges of resuming independent living, and helps them find training, jobs and settled accommodation.

Charities for Christmas #6: Chance UK; We are profiling a range of charities whose work continues all year round and who are seeking volunteers and support. Today’s focus is on child-mentoring charity Chance UK.” By Anna Timms. Guardian. December 8, 2011. Chance UK is the only organisation in the UK to offer a year of weekly one-to-one mentoring with children between aged five and 15. Volunteer mentors boost a child’s self-esteem with day trips, sports activities and a committed interest in what they have to say. Then they help them work out their own solutions to their problems and stick with them while they try to put them in place.

Guardian Christmas charity appeal: how the St Giles Trust supports families in turmoil; Juliet Kay is off to university, helped by a charity’s efforts on behalf of families who have experienced domestic abuse.” By Amelia Gentleman. Guardian. December 2, 2011. When it was time to take up her university place to study English, Juliet Kay, 18, felt she could not leave her mother, recently separated from an abusive husband, to care for the three younger children alone. The trauma of the prolonged abuse and a series of house moves prompted by the separation had left the whole family unhappy and living in severe poverty. Juliet was on the point of returning to a job at McDonald’s to support the family financially and stay in the southern English town where they live to help care for the children. She felt guilty about going off to pursue her own life when things were so difficult at home. She was only persuaded to leave when a support worker from the St Giles Trust children and families project (Cafe) stepped in, offering intensive practical support to her mother, and reassuring Juliet that the family would be able to cope without her. The St Giles Trust is one of the charities that the Guardian and Observer are supporting in this year’s Christmas appeal. It provides a wide range of services, focusing on breaking cycles of offending, crime and disadvantage. It supports prisoners when they leave jail, helping with things such as housing and employment, trying to prevent reoffending. The Cafe project works with the families of offenders and with people who have experienced domestic abuse, recognising they need extra support to prevent the consequences of the abuse or offending from damaging the rest of the family.

Charities for Christmas #7: Crisis; We are profiling a range of charities whose work continues all year round and who are seeking volunteers and support. Today’s focus is on homeless people’s charity Crisis.” By Walter Hemmens. Guardian. December 9, 2011. Crisis is looking for donations of time as much as money. With two weeks until it opens its Christmas centre, it still urgently needs volunteers for specialist roles. Perhaps one of the more unexpected needs is for hairdressers. For someone on the streets or living vulnerably, getting their hair and nails done might not sound like a priority, but Karen Scarborough, says the “pop-up” hair salons and nail bars she organises in all the centres are one of the most popular services they provide. Scarborough said she is looking for qualified hairdressers but that anyone who has ever “given their boyfriend or partner a trim” would be welcome. She said that no qualifications are required for working in the nail bar. Crisis at Christmas runs almost solely on volunteer labour. Last year, 8,000 volunteers provided services for 3,000 guests.

Leave a Reply