Category: Society

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Poetry, nature and covid-19

Miles King

This year, of all years, people have become much more aware of their local surroundings; in particular, places they can visit to experience nature in their everyday lives – or at least those who were physically able to get out of their houses and weren’t stuck inside shielding. The Covid lockdown threw into sharp contrast […]

Travelling outside comfort zones: two fingers up to the predictable

Dawn M Sanders

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

Tears of a ghost

Chris Baker

The dead hedgehog was clearly the previous night’s roadkill. The body was fresh, judging from the staining on the asphalt. It had been hit ten or so feet away from where it had died, its last short, slow journey made, I imagine, in agony. The place where it died is now marked by a ghost. […]

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

Anthea Simmons

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

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

Mick Fletcher

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

Questioning capitalism is not extreme

Mick Fletcher

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

The abominable hulks

Tom Scott

Priti Patel’s plan to use decommissioned ships as “processing centres” for asylum-seekers recalls one of the darkest chapters of British history. On Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that home secretary Priti Patel had asked officials to explore the construction of a “processing centre” for asylum seekers on Ascension Island, a volcanic outcrop in the South […]

Museums and galleries respond to the climate crisis

Virginia Button

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

Levelling up to new heights of corruption

Tom Scott

Few towns in the South West will receive funding from the government’s Towns Fund – and now we know why. In September 2019, local government secretary Robert Jenrick published a list of 101 places that would receive help to develop bids for funding from the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund. There was suspicion at the […]

Community project focus: Nature Connects

Alice Wall

Editor: We asked charities and community interest companies who share our values to tell us about their work. We do not edit their words. Nature Connects is a Community Interest Company (CIC) offering Nature connection and adult forest school for health and well-being in Cornwall. Alice Wall and Sarah Witts, its founders, made the decision […]

Erosion of the rights of the less-abled: incompetence or social Darwinism?

Sadie Parker

“As a father of a disabled child, and the patron of the Disability Law Service, I’ve seen legal advice that suggests his [Johnson’s] government broke international law in how the Coronavirus Act reduced the rights of disabled people,” Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey told Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson in the House of Commons […]

Charity focus: What About The Children?

Jane Reddish

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

Grenfell – gesture politics conceal dangers which remain unresolved

Sadie Parker

There are tragedies that transcend the normal accidents of life, searing themselves into the public consciousness. The fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2014, in which 72 people lost their lives, 74 more people were injured, and 151 homes were destroyed, is one such event. Many children were among the dead and, in some […]

Cornwall faces cold homes pandemic

James Miller

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

Reflections of an anti-racist rambler

Tsara Smith

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

Is it really time for T levels?

Mick Fletcher

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

Land of bronchoscope and lorry

Sadie Parker

Imagine the surprise in Devon, Dorset and Somerset when people awoke to discover that Robert Jenrick — he of regeneration-funds-for-votes and cash-for-planning-favour infamy — has initiated a massive land-grab of their counties. Wielding a Henry VIII clause, the millennial Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (HC&LG) has drawn up Statutory Instrument 2020 […]

School reopening: mixed messages and mixed feelings

Virginia Stephen

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

Back to school: Johnson concerned with kids’ welfare? Take a guess…

Oliver Patrick

This week, all students across the United Kingdom should be safe at school. Or will they? When the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) modelled the wider opening of schools, it concluded that a full opening would lead to a rise in the R number. Consequently, SAGE advised against full opening of schools. The […]

Know your place!

Eric Gates

No, not a Conservative MP addressing his family retainers, but a very useful internet resource. If you live in the west country, or are planning to visit, Know Your Place is a brilliant website that provides details of all sorts of local historical information. If you are interested in history, or like walking, or simply […]

An ounce of prevention…

Sarah Cowley

When I was in practice in the 1980s, I didn’t give much thought to the number of health visitors nationally – just my own caseload. We visited all ages, in theory, but mostly under-fives. There would be around 40 to 50 new births per year, per health visitor – so up to 250 children per […]

Cut off by Covid – the impact of the pandemic on young minds

Kathryn Fox

It’s summer, normally a time for holidaying, socialising, enjoying the long sunny days and building resilience for the darker days ahead. Most of us remember summer holidays from school as one of the best times of our lives; meeting friends, going on trips, learning to flex our wings. This year is, of course, not like […]

The non-examination grade fiasco explained

Roger Porkess

The examinations results season is always an anxious time. However, when they open their envelopes, students can usually be confident that their grades reflect how much they have learnt on their courses. But not so this year. With the closure of schools in March and the consequent cancellation of examinations, the evidence on which grades […]

Make, borrow, mend…and copy? A community project in Paignton

Anthea Simmons

For many people in the West Country, real life is a long way from the rural or coastal idyll portrayed by the tourism industry or the media.  The percentage of children living in poverty has been climbing across the region and high unemployment, low-paid work and a cycle of deprivation are often hallmarks of many […]

Testimonies from Refugee Support Devon: Waala’s story

Anthea Simmons

Refugee Support Devon (RSD) asked members of the refugee community if they would be willing to tell their stories. In 2018, Walaa wrote her story below in English and RSD have not changed any of it, except to remove the names of her husband and family, which Walaa asked RSD to do. We would like […]

Where does this Vote Leave Government get its policies from?

Miles King

As I watched the A-level results fiasco unfold over the last week  – the latest in a long line of shambolic Government u-turns  – it got me thinking about how this Government actually decides on what policies it is going to apply. After all, what is a Government without policies? Policies – and specifically policy […]

Mining the motherlode

Matt Valler

The lines of influence emanating from a Cornish garden can show us much about the impact of globalisation and the physical threads that connect our world, writes Matt Valler. Back in March, in the final days before social distancing rules were enforced, I was sitting in a café in the heart of Cornwall’s historic mining […]