Inflammation and stories on United Kingdom

Recycling Efforts in ScotlandAs of March 2021, Scotland has provided £70 million, or $97,466,250 USD, to the new Recycling Improvement Fund. This will improve recycling efforts in Scotland and the world. Recycling can shield off climate change, help the environment and alleviate poverty, so funding will make a notable difference.

How Scotland Will Use the Funds

Across the country, local authorities are receiving encouragement to create ways to make recycling possible for their communities. Examples include advocating for waste prevention and reuse, fixing damaged reusables, establishing a routine for collecting, accessing the proper recycling means for items like electronics and using low-carbon equipment.

Roseanna Cunningham is Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. She is fighting for each household’s right to make their own choices in the environment. Cunningham claims the fund will ensure that communities will have equal access to recycling if they choose to do so. Local authorities have recently voiced their opinions on ways to improve recycling infrastructure and ways to involve the communities. This is where the NGO Zero Waste Scotland comes in. This organization manages their applications, assesses their ideas and makes contracts. If an idea undergoes improvement, the fund will go towards supplying local authorities’ plans.

Motivation for Recycling Efforts in Scotland

Cunningham has stated that it is in Scotland’s best interests for society to focus on a circular economy founded on green-based job opportunities. In other words, the country will reuse waste as long as possible to preserve resources, but there should also be more local jobs with missions to preserve the environment. The country hopes to become a leading example to the world in time for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021. Many other leaders from Zero Waste Scotland have also voiced their excitement about the positive impact the funds will have on the economy. Even private sectors are becoming involved.

Scotland has the goal of increasing the recycling rate to 70% by 2025. In 2018, carbon emissions related to waste dropped by around 11%. In 2019, 1.1 million tonnes did not enter the landfill when 45% of households recycled. Also that year, local figures did something to improve recycling, resulting in a 17% to 68% rate increase. Scotland is ensuring the Recycling Improvement Fund will up these percentages.

How Recycling Efforts in Scotland Alleviate Poverty

Quality of life would improve for those without equal access to recycling because of green-based employment and education. Further, communities achieve social development when they learned about preserving their resources for as long as possible. One day, the earth’s resources will run out depending on the consumption rate. The prolonging of the use of the things that people use daily, like plastic, metal and paper, can keep poverty at bay.

As of March 2021, Scotland’s unemployment rate was 4.4%, slightly less than last year’s 4.7%. More recycling efforts could lead to more employment as well, through green-based jobsMore than windmills and turbines, types of green-based jobs consist of teachers, caretakers, bike couriers, solar energy installers, transportation services and overall services that benefit communities. Further, preventing contamination of rivers and land from trash recyclables solves a number of problems when it comes to drinking water, soil for crops, carbon emission and water pollution. This also addresses environmental hazards.

To involve the public in recycling, there are door-to-door recycling pickups, which offer money in exchange for recyclables. In conclusion, Scotland’s new program will prove to rely on the citizens to make the ultimate difference. As protecting the environment becomes a priority, so does poverty.

Selena Soto
Photo: Flickr

period poverty in the U.K.
Period poverty happens when people are unable to afford or access proper period products due to low income. The average period lasts around five days, costing Scottish people around $10 a month for period products. Period poverty is a global issue that is not receiving enough attention. The U.K. is the first country to take significant steps to reduce period poverty. Here is some information about period poverty in the United Kingdom.

Period Poverty in the United Kingdom

In 2020, more than 2,000 people took a survey in schools, colleges and universities around Scotland. The results showed that one in four respondents was unable to access period products.

According to a Plan International report from 2017, a British children’s charity, period poverty affects one in 10 British girls aged 14 to 21. Furthermore, 49% of girls across the U.K. admitted to having missed a day of school because of their inability to access period products.

The Effects of COVID-19 on Period Poverty

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, period poverty in the U.K. has increased. Before the pandemic, low-income British residents often accessed period products through schools or community centers. However, after the lockdown, they no longer had such access.

Bloody Good Period and Freedom4Girls, founded in 2016 and 2017, respectively, are two national charities that focus on improving the accessibility of period products and reducing the stigma around periods. Bloody Good Period distributes products to 40 drop-in services and groups in the U.K. and to more than 2,000 people each month. In 2020, both charities saw drastic increases in their products’ distributions. Before the pandemic, Bloody Good Period typically distributed around 5,000-period packs a month, but the number grew to 23,000 in the three months after March 2020. Similarly, Freedom4Girls’ production increased fivefold.

Scotland’s Efforts to Alleviate Period Poverty

In 2020, Scotland made history as the first country to make period products free for all. Monica Lennon, a member of the Scottish Parliament, introduced the Period Products Bill, which passed in November 2020. Lennon has been fighting for an end to period poverty since 2016 and was finally able to gain significant attention for the cause in 2020, when more girls began to suffer from period poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish government funded the period poverty campaign with 5.2 million euros. Of this money, the government set half a million euros aside to deliver free period products to residents of low-income neighborhoods.

Additionally, the U.K. government has created its own period poverty task force. The task force’s main goals are to destigmatize periods, educate people on periods and ensure that period products are widely accessible.

The Red Box Project

Similarly, in Portsmouth, England, three women decided to start a movement to end period poverty. They sympathized with low-income teenage girls who could not afford period products and recognized that period poverty impacts both current and future mental health and well-being. It started its campaign, the Red Box Project, in March 2017. The Red Box Project fills red boxes with pads and tampons and gives them to schools. The Red Box Project has placed boxes in more than 2,200 schools, colleges and youth clubs. As word of the project spread, its founders started to push for governmental action against period poverty. As a result of national efforts, in January 2020, Britain’s Department for Education made period products freely available to all state schools and colleges in England.

The actions that some are taking to reduce period poverty in the United Kingdom should provide other countries hope as they fight similar battles. With passionate, driven residents and new legislation, women around the world can begin to live in peace.

Shamolie Panjwani
Photo: Flickr

Soccer Programs Addressing Global PovertySoccer is one of the most popular sports on the international stage, with more than four billion fans. Additionally, roughly 30 billion people watch the FIFA World Cup. This proves that soccer can bring many people together despite different linguistic or cultural backgrounds. With this in mind, soccer programs across the world are harnessing people’s love for the game to help the impoverished. Three particular soccer programs are addressing global poverty and are making the world a better place.

3 Soccer Programs Addressing Global Poverty

  1. Football for Change: Founded by British national team player Trent Alexander-Arnold, Football for Change is a nonprofit organization working to alleviate youth poverty in the United Kingdom. Alexander-Arnold wanted to use his platform to raise awareness for youth poverty, so he launched Football for Change to fund educational programs in low-income neighborhoods. Other professional soccer players, including Conor Coady and Andrè Gomez, have joined the nonprofit to show young people that success is possible despite economic hardship.
  2. Girls Soccer Worldwide: This nonprofit organization was founded by a husband and wife duo to address female poverty around the world. The organization’s mission includes securing equal opportunities for women on and off the field. These opportunities include equal access to soccer leagues, education and politics. To accomplish this goal, Girls Soccer Worldwide establishes all-female recreational soccer teams across the world, and most notably in Paraguay, to uplift women’s voices. Girls Soccer Worldwide also encourages others to contribute by participating in fundraising events such as walkathons and 5k runs. Its most recent 5k run for a cause occurred on July 11, 2021.
  3. Grassroots Soccer: This organization combats global poverty by supporting athletic and academic programs around the world. To date, Grassroots Soccer has helped implement soccer, health and educational programs in 45 countries in Latin America, South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. The organization raises awareness of both global poverty and health risks associated with HIV/AIDS and malaria. Currently, it is introducing an HIV treatment delivery service program in Zambia to provide people living with HIV medicine and support. Notable supporters of the Grassroots Soccer organization include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.N. and the CDC. However, anyone can support the Grassroots Soccer Foundation by launching personal fundraising campaigns and playing soccer for a cause. Educational institutions including Brown University, Vassar College, Georgetown University and Yale University have launched campaigns to raise money for the organization in the past.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that sports are “increasingly recognized as an important tool” to help “create a better world.” People’s shared admiration for soccer can provide the basis for a common goal of helping the world’s most impoverished people. Soccer programs addressing global poverty, like Football for Change, Girls Soccer Worldwide and Grassroots Soccer, lead the way in using sports to help combat poverty.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

United Kingdom's Gender Wage Gap
The gender pay gap, or the difference in pay between men and women, has been under scrutiny across the globe for decades with the rise of feminist movements. The United Kingdom has received a lot of backlash since a report concerning unequal pay underwent publication in 2016. The Economic Policy Institute cited that women earned only 79 cents for every dollar that a man earned. However, the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap is slowly closing under the newly introduced gender pay gap transparency regulations.

Gender Pay Gap Transparency Regulations

In early 2017, the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission introduced a new practice in the United Kingdom, which required that all companies with more than 250 employees be honest and open about gender pay inequalities. Within this regulation, businesses must post the difference in payment between their male and female employees and have the data publicly available for at least three years. Companies that do not comply may undergo investigation and be subject to heavy fines.

The Society for Human Resource Management stated that these reports are “calling for more attention” to the U.K.’s gender wage gap and encourage “tracking the metric over time” to assure that progress is occurring. In turn, this makes companies aware of income inequality. The businesses also work to protect their reputation in a growing field of competitors.

Concerns arise because COVID-19 could very well increase the gender wage gap. According to Ogletree Deakins, companies did not have to submit these reports by the April 2020 deadline. Before the pandemic, corporations had to submit their wage gap numbers by April. However, in 2021, businesses must post their inequality findings by a later deadline in October. Ogletree Deakins found that “By 24 March 2020, the day the government announced the suspension” of the April 2020 deadline for reporting, just  26% “of companies compelled to report had done so.”

While this resolve for the union seems fresh, U.K. efforts to reduce wage inequality began decades ago. In November 1970, the Equal Pay Act made wage differences based on gender in the U.K. illegal.

The Result of the Regulations

According to Statista, the gender wage gap has decreased by almost 3% since the regulations’ implementation. The reported inequality has also declined substantially from the U.K.’s highest point of wage imbalance at 27.5% in 1997. Now, with the current rate at 15.5% on average, citizens hope this rate will continue to drop.

However, in the part-time sector where wage gap statistics fall below 0%, the rate of inequality is on the rise from its all-time low in 2015. The U.K. parliament finds that women are more likely to take on these part-time occupations and experience wage inequality when they pass the age of 40. This wage inequality continues even in high-paying jobs.

Some countries within the U.K. have different pay gap rates than their sister nations. Northern Ireland has the lowest gender wage gap at -3%, while London has a pay difference of 13%. Despite any discrepancies, all nations within the U.K. have seen a significant decrease in the wage gap since the implementation of the transparency regulations.

The Reaction of Businesses

Many businesses have aligned with the legislation by creating new strategies to decrease the wage gap. The Society for Human Resources Management states that more than 65% of companies have started conducting research on pay inequality and 32% have started actively working to close the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap.

A popular law firm in the United Kingdom, McKinsey and Company, discussed its strategy in a 2019 announcement. The business declared that it would recruit more women into its firm, develop the talents of those recruited women and “shape the debate through rigorous research.” Other companies seem to be following suit.

Bloomberg stated that a U.K. hygiene and health production company, Reckitt Benckiser Group, has started paying women 6.1% more than men. The corporation condemned the pay gap via a report in 2021 and assured that it would continue to “address the issue.”

The Future

While it is uncertain whether the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap will ever truly disappear, many believe that the payment inequality statistics will continue to fall over time. The U.K. currently ranks fifth on the European Institute for Gender Equality Index, but expectations have determined that the region will improve its score as it did between 2005 and 2017, possibly surpassing other nations with its actions for fairness.

– Laken G. Kincaid
Photo: Flickr

Tajikistan’s Response to COVID-19In February 2020, many countries arranged a summit to discuss how they would assist countries with weaker health care systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19 was one of the topics at the summit.

Tajikistan, a small country in Central Asia, is regarded by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most impoverished countries. Primarily private out-of-pocket deals run the country’s health care system. According to the WHO, this process undermines the system’s ability to grow in equity, efficiency and quality.

Combating COVID-19

Tajikistan was one of the first countries to receive COVID-19 support. In April 2020,  the World Bank provided emergency relief to Tajikistan, along with aid from various other countries. The World Bank said that it is a continuous goal to strengthen Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19 by improving its health care system.

On June 7, 2020, Tajikistan received emergency medical teams (EMTs) and mobile laboratories from Poland, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. After this support, the country began to see an increase in COVID-19 contact tracing, testing and optimization of patient care. The EMTs gave Tajikistani health care workers advice on how to handle severe COVID-19 cases.

Tajikistan enacted a national COVID-19 laboratory upscale plan, and with help from international aid, the Tajikistan government established a Public Emergency Operations Center. On July 22, 2020, Russian lab experts arrived in the Central Asian country to help strengthen its data management system. Now, Tajikistan is seeing an increase in testing and staff capacity.

In addition, USAID donated $7.17 million to the Tajikistan government. Tajikistan used the funding to support migrants that traveled into the country. The country is also buying new, life-saving equipment and medical supplies. In April 2020, the USAID and other American organizations sent 58,620 kilograms of food to more than 100 health and social welfare institutions. These donations totaled approximately $171,000.

Further, the World Bank allocated $11.3 million to a grant for the Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project. The project works to improve healthcare for Tajikistan’s citizens, sending funds to impoverished households and informing the public on COVID-19 safety measures.

Hope for Tajikistan

The Intensive Care Unit in Varzob, Tajikistan, was one of 10 hospitals chosen for refurbishment with funding from the World Bank. The hospital received upgraded medical equipment and supplies to strengthen Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19The Tajikistan hospital can now serve all district citizens instead of only private out-of-pocket citizens.

Several hospitals throughout Tajikistan received batches of medical equipment. Donations included 68 ICU ventilators, 68 ICU beds with patient monitors and 400,000 pieces of personal protective equipment.

According to the World Bank, 41% of Tajikistani households reported that they had to reduce food consumption, while 20% of families could not afford health care. With international funds, the Tajikistan government sent out one-time cash payments of 500 somonis to approximately 65,000 low-income families with children less than three years old.

In February 2021, Tajikistan received a grant for COVID-19 vaccines and to increase the oxygen supply in 15 of the country’s hospitals. Most of the funding went to Tajikistani patients suffering from COVID-19 to receive top-of-the-line care. Subsequently, the remaining grant money provided one-time cash assistance to an additional 70,000 poor households.

Future of Tajikistan

On June 16, 2021, the Asian Development Bank approved a grant of $25 million to strengthening Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19. This grant helped the country procure COVID-19 vaccines and improve its vaccination system. On the same date, Tajikistan created a goal to vaccinate about 62% of its population. This grant is one of many that allowed the country to strengthen its supply of medical equipment and care for the maximum number of high-risk COVID-19 patients.

As of July 9, 2021, Tajikistan has vaccinated 1.2% of the population, administering 223,648 doses. With help from international aid, the country is giving out approximately 9,273 doses each day. It will take more than 200 days to vaccinate 10% of the population, but Tajikistan is steadily recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Rachel Schilke
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccination in the U.K.The World Health Organization (WHO) officially labeled the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in March 2020. This declaration pushed scientists and pharmaceutical companies around the world to develop vaccines. By December 2020, the United Kingdom, which includes Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, became the first country to approve COVID-19 vaccines for the public. To date, the U.K. is on track to achieve herd immunity, with close to 67% of its total population vaccinated with one dose and nearly 50% vaccinated with two doses. Although definitions of herd immunity vary, it generally involves vaccinating a majority of the population to reduce the spread of disease. Considering the success of COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom, below are six facts about the current situation.

6 Facts About COVID-19 Vaccination in the United Kingdom

  1. The U.K. developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. University of Oxford scientists worked in collaboration with the English pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to develop this vaccine. In January 2021, an 82-year-old man named Brian Pincker was the first to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in England. The U.K. government currently has access to 100 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca and 50 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
  2. Vaccination programs vary across the U.K. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own healthcare systems and chief medical officers. As a result, vaccination programs and policies vary between nations. For example, Scotland first vaccinated residents in care home facilities, whereas England vaccinated community members above the age of 80. Despite these differences, all four nations generally agree on the priority list of people eligible to receive vaccines. They all follow the advice that the U.K.’s independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization gave them.
  3. The U.K. offers vaccines to certain age groups. The National Healthcare Services (NHS) in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently offer vaccines to people over the age of 18. However, NHS England currently offers vaccines to people over the age of 23. As the rollout of vaccines continues in the coming months, this age limit will lower. In all four nations, people under the required age limit can receive the vaccine if they have pre-existing medical conditions, including lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, etc., that make them clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.
  4. The U.K. offers vaccines to frontline workers. Across the U.K., frontline workers can receive COVID-19 vaccines regardless of whether they meet age requirements. Frontline workers include healthcare workers, social workers, hospital receptionists, mail carriers, funeral home directors and childcare providers.
  5. The U.K. will donate vaccines to other countries. In a recent G7 meeting in Cornwall, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged over 100 million vaccines to countries in need. As a group, leaders of the G7 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, committed to donating 1 billion vaccines to countries around the world.
  6. COVID-19 vaccination in the U.K. can reduce poverty. At the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment in the U.K. reached 5% for the first time since 2016. This is a direct result of in-person venues and institutions closing for public health concerns. COVID-19 vaccination efforts can help reopen in-person institutions, reinstate jobs and lift people out of poverty.

Looking Ahead

Overall, COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom has been successful, as over 79.3 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. People receive these vaccines in community pharmacies, hospitals, local general practices and other vaccination sites around the country. As a result, the U.K. government is currently on track to vaccinate all adults soon.

In the words of British Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi, this constitutes a “fantastic milestone and cause for celebration.” As more people get vaccinated, the U.K. government will be able to ease lockdown restrictions and reintroduce a sense of normalcy in society.

Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

International Telehealth CollaborationsDuring and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians used telehealth technologies to share knowledge, experience and provide technical assistance. International telehealth collaborations have proved particularly beneficial to low-income countries where healthcare workers often lack the resources of their peers in higher-income nations. One recent example of a telehealth collaboration took place when British physicians offered up virtual services to assist India’s overworked healthcare staff. Elsewhere, international telehealth collaborations have increased the quality of care in low-income countries.

Collaboration During COVID-19

Presently, international telehealth collaboration is underway between British and Indian physicians. On May 6, 2021, India reported the highest daily average of COVID-19 cases in the world. As the country’s doctors work tirelessly to care for patients, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) has sought to lend a helping hand. Yet, instead of traveling to the afflicted country, the BAPIO has reached out to Indian peers via the internet.

More than 250 physicians partnered with BAPIO are providing assistance to junior doctors in India by way of video calls. BAPIO’s physicians tackled a surge of cases earlier on in the pandemic and are using the experience to advise Indian doctors during this time of increased strain. Virtual conferencing tools provide a quick way to share information in the chaotic environment of India’s ongoing health crisis. Indian physicians have also been taking advantage of BAPIO’s resources by sending digital medical documents for medical professionals in Britain to review. In this case, telehealth is used to facilitate on-the-spot medical assistance during immediate health crises, but examples of international telehealth collaboration between high- and low-income nations can be found well before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Collaboration Before the Pandemic

By creating links between medical professionals in high- and low-income nations, telehealth has proven an invaluable tool for strengthening healthcare institutions lacking access to adequate resources. One of the early successes in fully digitized cooperation between high- and low-income healthcare institutions is that of the Swinfen Charitable Trust. In 1998, the United Kingdom-based trust was established in order to fund a communications network that would link healthcare professionals across the globe.

The network, which is still in operation, allows medical professionals in resource-scarce healthcare systems to email questions to affiliated physicians in better-equipped healthcare systems. The physician best qualified to respond will then do so within 48 hours. Though not particularly high-tech, this rudimentary telehealth network has nevertheless been a valuable resource for medical professionals in low-income parts of the world. Since the establishment of the Swinfen Charitable Trust, the scope and quality of such international collaboration programs have only increased.

The University of Virginia (UVA) maintains numerous collaborative telehealth programs with healthcare systems in low-income countries across the globe. One program connects medical experts at UVA with teams at both the National University of Rwanda and Ethiopia’s Jimma University Hospital. As part of the program, participants discuss surgical and anesthesiological cases over the internet. The programs do far more than answer a few questions though. For underdeveloped healthcare systems, connections with resource-rich nations can improve the overall quality of care.

The Value of Collaboration

Healthcare quality suffers in low-income countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, where per-person spending on healthcare is only a fraction of that in higher-income nations. Polling in the region shows that sub-Saharan Africa’s population has the lowest rate of satisfaction with healthcare out of any global region. Only 43% of those surveyed were satisfied with the healthcare in their area. Furthermore, the region suffers from numerous health crises including maternal mortality and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In areas where financial limitations clearly impact healthcare resources, international telehealth collaborations can provide a low-cost solution to some of the deficiencies of underfunded healthcare systems. In many cases, international telehealth collaborations have facilitated technical training for healthcare professionals, provided logistical support for the expansion of healthcare infrastructure and created research opportunities.

University Collaboration

International telehealth collaboration programs such as that undertaken by the UVA in Tanzania have successfully changed the way that healthcare is administered to low-income communities. The UVA connected a gyne-oncological expert with teams at Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in an effort that educated local medical personnel on women’s health and led to the development of breast cancer testing infrastructure. The UVA is not the only university working on collaborative telehealth projects. A survey of four African universities identified a total of 129 inter-institutional healthcare programs in the universities alone. The sheer number of these programs suggests the value to both the participating medical professionals and the supported communities.

With the increased availability of advanced communication technologies, the ability to establish and maintain international telehealth collaboration is more possible now than ever before. Virtual spaces have provided medical professionals with platforms that can be used for immediate consultation or long-term development. No matter how the technology is used, it is undoubtedly creating connections that are beneficial to communities around the globe.

Joseph Cavanagh
Photo: Flickr

disability and poverty in the united kingdomIn August of 2019, Philippa Day, a young mother, was found in a coma in her Nottingham home. She had collapsed next to a letter rejecting her request for an at-home benefits assessment after a reduction in her payments from £228 a week to £60. After being in a coma for two months, Ms. Day died. An inquest into her case found that authorities made 28 errors in managing her case. This included losing a form she had sent them and refusing to reinstate her payments for months. The UK is decidedly a developed nation. However, disability and poverty in the United Kingdom stand in contrast to the nation’s economic well-being, steady poverty rate and reputation for providing sufficient social welfare.

Errol Graham, another under the care of the U.K. Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), starved to death in 2018 while seriously mentally ill. He had not responded to DWP inquiries and they had ended his benefits. When found, he weighed 30 kg and had pulled his teeth out with pliers.

Disability and Factors for Poverty

A Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) report found that of those in poverty in the United Kingdom, nearly half are disabled or live with someone who is. The JRF found that factors for this poverty were that disabled people were less likely to be employed. They are also less likely to have the qualifications for high-paid employment if employed. Many were unable to find employment that accommodated their disabilities and health needs. They also had higher costs of living due to their health needs. These factors continue to aggravate the situation for disability and poverty in the United Kingdom.

The Desperate Situation

Disability and poverty in the United Kingdom has grown dire. BBC discovered there have been over 150 government inquiries into cases where a person claiming benefits has died or come to serious harm. Further, 82 people claiming benefits have died after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) made changes to their cases. Thirty-five of those deaths involved mental illness, leading to claims that DWP refuses to make accommodations and adjustments for mentally ill clients, thus endangering them. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, stated that the DWP “did not have a duty of care or statutory safeguarding duty.” However, the DWP is solely responsible for the income of these disabled and vulnerable citizens.

Best Next Steps

Quite simply, the disabled need the same things as the able-bodied. That is, access to food, shelter, safety, community and opportunity. As it stands, a society built to benefit typical bodies and minds has built-in barriers for disabled people. For disabled people to achieve equality, these barriers must come down. In 2019, the UK government began a new mission toward improving life for disabled UK citizens. This is an attempt to remedy the worsening problem of poverty and disability in the United Kingdom. These goals include expanding accessible housing (300,000 homes per year), helping employers support disabled employees, reforming Statutory Sick Pay and exploring improvements to support for those on disability benefits.

These long-overdue steps, if effectively and sincerely followed, should provide relief for the problem of disability and poverty in the United Kingdom. This will help prevent further tragedies, such as the death of Philippa Day and the 82 benefits claimants who died after changes had been made to their cases.

Hilary Brown
Photo: Flickr

hunger crisis in the United KingdomThe United Kingdom has the fifth-largest economy in the world. However, the country continues to struggle with national hunger. Since the implementation of budget cuts and tax increases to combat the financial crisis of 2010, struggling families trying to feed their children have suffered. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the food shortage in the U.K. has gotten exponentially worse. Food insecurity stands at 47% among people without jobs. People who fall in the lowest income quartile also report high levels of food insecurity at 34%. Women are also more vulnerable to food insecurity and some ethnic groups are more affected than others. The efforts of food banks attempt to address the growing hunger crisis in the United Kingdom.

COVID-19 and the Hunger Crisis

COVID-19 has exposed the true extent of the hunger crisis in the United Kingdom. Many people have experienced wage cuts and unemployment since the onset of the pandemic. In addition, many rushed out to supermarkets to stock up on food, which only caused more damage. Families who were impoverished before COVID-19 struggled the hardest to compete with panic buyers. Lower-income families can only afford store brand products and discounted goods, but stockpilers left only the more expensive products on the shelves. School closures have also made feeding families more difficult. Many families relied on schools and childcare services to provide daily meals for their children. Despite this, the government refused to extend free meal packages for students into the holiday season.

Food Banks

Food banks have helped curb some of the hunger issues in the U.K. The largest food bank network in the U.K., the Trussell Trust, continues to make a huge impact. The Trussell Trust food banks make up two-thirds of all the food banks in the U.K. Between April 2018 and March 2019, the network delivered more than 1.6 million food parcels to families in need. This amounts to a need increase of 26 times more since 2010. Due to COVID-19, however, the Trussell Trust reported handing out 2.5 million food packages from January 2021 until the end of March 2021. These numbers reflect the dire hunger crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated hunger in the United Kingdom, but the efforts of food banks have promptly addressed the issue.

The Road Ahead

Although food banks have helped reduce the food shortage in the United Kingdom, food banks are not a permanent solution. Many have criticized the U.K. for not doing enough to address hunger. Some even think that the British Government itself has exacerbated hunger in the country. Considering that the U.K. is not a low-income country, it has the means to do more. The Department for Education and Minister for Children and Families has funded programs to address hunger in schools and the hunger children experience in the holidays when they are out of school.

Human Rights Watch has made suggestions about how the government should proceed. Most importantly, it has emphasized that the U.K. needs to first acknowledge the right to food as a fundamental human right and compensate people for violations of this right. The government also needs to monitor and survey food insecurity in the country to get an accurate reflection of the true extent of hunger in the U.K. Human Rights Watch also suggests that the U.K. devise a national anti-hunger strategy and reassess the impacts of its previous welfare cuts. Welfare benefits for low-income households should be lifted to ensure food security for impoverished households.

With commitment and dedication to addressing hunger in the United Kingdom, the government can turn the situation around and ensure the well-being of people in the country.

Samantha Fazio
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDs in the United Kingdom
HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom frequently affects those in poverty or with limited socioeconomic status. The National AIDS Trust and the Terrence Higgins Trust on Poverty and HIV performed research to determine why HIV-positive people in the U.K. are frequently poor. According to the findings of the inquiry in October 2009, the U.K. government cut single asylum seekers’ weekly assistance from £64.30 to £35.13 or £5 a day. Another 17% of applications cited issues with the compensation system as the root of their dissatisfaction. The concerns included waiting for a benefit decision, changes to the benefit plan and delays in receiving benefits for those who had entitlement to them.

The Relationship Between HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom and Poverty

The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) is the most comprehensive scientific study of sexual wellbeing and lifestyles in the U.K. Researchers examined the effect of poverty in significant depth in the Natsal-3 review. It found that women who live in low-income areas have a greater prevalence of chlamydia than other women. Poverty affects some people more than others; for example, one out of every three people living with HIV is poor. Entry to healthcare for HIV-positive people is still a big challenge.

The connection between HIV and poverty is complex, but the subject requires more attention. According to the Natsal-3 survey, almost half of U.K.-based black British people (47%) live in the poorest areas, while only 4% live in the richest. More research is necessary to better understand how socioeconomic status and ethnicity interact. Researchers have also found that socioeconomic status and ethnicity are key factors in the rise of STIs rates among black British people in the U.K.

HIV/AIDS and COVID-19

According to a U.K.-based study, over 17 million HIV-positive people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than HIV-negative individuals. The Lancet HIV report also confirmed that COVID-19 death is more than twice as likely in HIV-positive individuals. The researchers compared patients with and without HIV infection who had a primary care record. To estimate the link between HIV infection and COVID-19 death, the researchers used Cox regression models. The study included a total of 17,282,905 adults, with 27,480 of them having HIV. During the study period, 14,882 COVID-19 deaths occurred, with 25 of those being HIV-positive people. After adjusting for age and sex, the researchers found that people with HIV had a greater risk of COVID-19 death. After accounting for deprivation, ethnicity, smoking and obesity, they discovered that the link was weaker, but the risk remained high. Sharing HIV/AIDS information has a positive influence on people’s lives.

The Consortium for Street Children

Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS also presents a challenge to U.K. children who live on the street. However, the Consortium for Street Children is attempting to make a difference.

The Consortium for Street Children is a coalition of 37 organizations dedicated to the rights of street children based in the U.K. According to the Consortium for Street Children, up to 9,500 children spent Christmas 2018 in makeshift shelters or hostels. The Consortium for Street Children’s mission is to protect children from sex trafficking on the streets. It ensures legal protection and access to justice for children on the streets. The Consortium for Street Children is undertaking research to develop a common approach that the sector can use to increase data quality on how many children there are living on the streets. Children may migrate to the streets for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Engaging in criminal activity
  • Experiencing rejection from their family due to perceptions of morality
  • Contracting HIV/AIDS
  • Mental health challenges
  • Engagement in substance abuse
  • Gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Abuse of a Sexual, physical or emotional nature
  • Urbanization

Looking Ahead

Despite the challenges of HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom, studies are encouraging an understanding of it in relation to poverty. Moreover, the efforts of the Consortium for Street Children should continue providing aid to U.K. street children and reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among them.

– Monwabisi Mpepe
Photo: Flickr