The top two teams in the Premier League are facing off this weekend. Here's everything you need to know.
Labour has jumped to a five-point lead over the Conservatives, according to a poll published on Friday.The Ipsos MORI survey put Labour on 42% with the Conservatives on 37%. The Lib Dems trail in third with 8% while the Green Party was fourth on 5%.It is the first time Labour has been ahead of the Tories in poll conducted by the firm since Boris Johnson became prime minister in July 2019.Johnson also scored the worst rating as PM he has received, with 33% satisfied, 59% dissatisfied, a net satisfaction rating of -26%.Keir Starmer meanwhile has held onto a net positive satisfaction rating of +15, with 45% satisfied and 30% dissatisfied.According to Ipsos MORI, of opposition leaders going back to Michael Foot, who led Labour between 1980 and 1983, only Tony Blair had better net satisfaction ratings at this stage of his leadership (+26).The poll, for the Evening Standard, was conducted between October 22 and October 28 as Boris Johnson faced a huge backlash over his refusal to fund more free school meals for hungry children.It also comes as the death toll from the coronavirus second wave started to mount, with experts warning the UK is now at a “critical stage” with infections doubling every nine days. This week, the daily death figures topped 350, meaning the UK has shot past an earlier warning by chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance that the country could see 200 coronavirus deaths a day by mid-November.Almost a fifth of England’s population will soon be living under the country’s toughest Covid-19 rules.Starmer’s political director, Jenny Chapman, said the poll was “encouraging” for Labour.But the results were gathered before the Labour was plunged into a new civil war following the publication of an Equality and Human Rights Commission report into anti-Semitism in the party.It found Labour has been responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.Jeremy Corbyn was dramatically suspended from Labour on Thursday, after he rejected some of the equality watchdog’s findings and claimed the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by his critics.This put him at odds with Starmer, who had warned that any suggestion allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour while Corbyn had been leader were exaggerated would not be tolerated. And speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Friday, Starmer said it was possible Corbyn’s suspension from the party could be escalated to an expulsion.“I’m deeply disappointed in that response from Jeremy Corbyn yesterday” the Labour leader said. “I don’t want a civil war in the Labour Party, I don’t think there is any need for one.”Allies of Corbyn have rallied to his defence. Unite union boss Len McCluskey called the suspension an “act of grave injustice” which could “create chaos within the party” and put any chance of election success in jeopardy.Ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell described the suspension as “profoundly wrong”.Ipsos MORI conducted 1,007 interviews by telephone October 22 and October 28.Related... How Labour's Day Of Reckoning On Anti-Semitism Unfolded Keir Starmer Says He Does Not Want A Labour 'Civil War' The Key Reactions To The Labour Anti-Semitism Report Jeremy Corbyn Suspended From Labour Party Over Anti-Semitism Comments
Yesterday evening saw the single biggest loss of life in the English Channel in recent years – the death of two children – aged five and eight, along with two adults, after a migrant boat sank off the coast of northern France.Sadly, this story and the subsequent response from our government has become all too routine. Asylum-seekers desperately seeking safety in England are deprived of safe and legal routes to safety, are treated without humanity, and without any other plausible options on offer from the callous British government, are driven in desperation to such drastic measures. Related... Two Young Children And Two Adults Die After Refugee Boat Sinks Off French Coast Following the reports of these deaths, politicians offer up their sympathies. Indeed, both Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have expressed their condolences, making sure that both of their apologies refer to the “ruthless criminals” or “callous criminals” who they attribute to be at the helm of these tragic losses. In both cases, they abdicate culpability from a situation that the British government bears responsibility for. Their apologies have become as rehearsed as the faux compassion that they show. These words ring incredibly hollow given the government’s barbaric stance on asylum seekers and those seeking refugee. Words mean nothing without actions to back them up. Rather than pinning the blame on traffickers or migrants themselves, Patel should accept responsibility for the actions of her government, or rather lack thereof. Speaking to the Conservative Party conference earlier this year Patel said: “Those defending the broken [asylum] system – the traffickers, the do-gooders, the lefty lawyers, the Labour Party – they are defending the indefensible”. Is it indefensible to want a system that doesn’t force children to row in a boat across the Channel and die in the process? Related... Exclusive: Child Refugee Resettlement Plummeted After Boris Johnson Became PM Priti Patel Slams 'Do Gooders And Leftie Lawyers' Amid Criticism Of Asylum Plans Rather than implement punitive deterrents, the government should allow for safe legal access to prevent what are such preventable tragedies, at a time when the world does not need any more needless death. Last week, Lord Dubs, a former child refugee himself,  proposed for the fourth time an amendment to an immigration bill that would ensure that lone child refugees had the legal right to family reunion after the UK leaves the EU on 31 December. But, as the government, with a majority of 80, has thrown out the amendment three times before, it is likely they will do so again, leaving no safe alternates in its place.The one successful bid that Lord Dubs had previously secured – that the Home Office were obliged to accept at least 3,000 child refugees for resettlement – was compromised by ministers who placed a cap on the numbers. Last week, it was reported that those children – some as young as 12 – who have been able to make the journey across the Channel on small boats are being sent to adult detention centres where their safety and conditions are questionable.Time and time again this government has thwarted measures which offer basic humanity to some of the most vulnerable people which has lead to the death and endangerment of children. Rather than proposing draconian measures such as transferring asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea or Ascension Island, the government need to take responsibility for those who are attempting to travel to Britain with substantial measures rather than letting innocent children die. Related... Opinion: Marcus Rashford’s Campaign Isn’t An Inspiration – It’s A Tragedy In 2019, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which Patel was on, warned that “a policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups”.   She was warned this would be the outcome, yet Patel only thinks of the cost of asylum. She told the Conservative Party conference that asylum seekers costs the UK £1bn a year – is that a humane way of thinking about the value of someone seeking safety’s life?Surely it is a waste of more time and money to order Parliamentary inquiries and reports if advice that does not fit the government agenda is so brazenly disregarded.Charities have said these deaths should serve as a “wake-up call” to those in power to realise that rigid borders and the current approach is not working for anyone.  We do not need more of the same – we need secure routes for those seeking asylum. The facts are that in the past decade more than 10,000 unaccompanied children have risked their lives to enter Britain, with more than 4,900 people entering the UK via small boats. We continue to hear of more cruel and tragic unnecessary deaths, and we repeatedly see the government voting against protections for child refugees.  The government needs to wake up and recognise that there is no safety in empty condolences – but there is reassurance in safe legal routes. Maighna Nanu is a freelance journalist. More in Opinion... Opinion: Paying For A Boots Covid Test Is Morally Indefensible Opinion: I'm An NHS Doctor. What I've Seen In The Second Wave Would Shock You Opinion: I’m Sick To Death Of Your Middle Class Stupidity About Food Poverty Opinion: Black History Doesn't Have To Be About Black Trauma
It’s a horrendous reality that millions of children are going hungry in the UK.These children are having to eat less and make food last longer, because their families don’t have enough money to buy more. The issue isn’t just impacting children – parents, or older siblings, will often go without food in order to cushion the youngest members, giving them what little they have to eat.The cracks were already showing before the pandemic, following years of austerity, but Covid-19 has thrown more families into destitution. People are losing their jobs, homes – it’s impacting every aspect of their lives. “This is an important and growing problem,” says Dr Ingrid Wolfe, a children’s doctor and director of the Institute for Women and Children’s Health. “The pandemic has worsened things for families who were already vulnerable. Parents have lost jobs, money is even tighter. Children are increasingly going without food, eating cheap unhealthy food, and skipping meals.”Related... More Than 10,000 Free Meals Given To Hungry Children On First Day Of Half-Term The Food Foundation reported that more than 200,000 children had to skip meals because their families couldn’t access sufficient food during lockdown.Footballer Marcus Rashford, 22, has worked hard campaigning to expand the free school meals programme over the school holidays. A petition he launched to end food poverty has so far garnered over 940,000 signatures (and counting).While the UK government has refused to provide free meals for children in England over the holidays – which has led to a growing backlash from the public, Labour party and even members of the Conservative party – Rashford’s campaign has seen businesses, local authorities and community groups join forces to provide tens of thousands of free meals to kids who need them.Of course, some argue that we shouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers to feed children. Rather, we need support systems put in place by the government that bring people out of poverty.Finding a solution to an issue that affects so many – and will affect future generations too – has never been more important.Related... How Marcus Rashford Exposed The Fault Lines In Boris Johnson’s Government The impact of hunger on children‘Food insecurity’ is where someone doesn’t have adequate physical, social or economic access to food for an active and healthy life. Tiredness and lethargy are some of the immediate effects of this. A paper published in the journal Sustainability suggests food insecure children also have a higher prevalence of dental decay, anaemia and asthma. They’re prone to more frequent headaches and stomach aches; and are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses.Some studies suggest hungry children are more susceptible to weight gain due to having limited access to healthy foods. Being overweight or obese then comes with its own list of health problems later on in life – issues like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. “Food poverty affects children in complex ways,” says Dr Wolfe, who is also co-chair of the British Association for Child and Adolescent Health. “There can be co-existence of nutritional deficiencies and obesity. This is known as the double burden of malnutrition. In the UK, a high-income country, food insecurity caused by poverty means families with low incomes tend to eat inexpensive food that is high in energy – fat, sugar, and salt. “Excessive intake leads to overweight and obesity and to diet-related diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, joint problems and more.”There can be co-existence of nutritional deficiencies and obesity.Dr WolfeSuch diets tend to be low in essential micronutrients, she adds, such as iron, calcium, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C and D – all of which are crucial for growth and good health.With physical and mental health being intrinsically linked, it’s no surprise, then, there is also a huge mental burden. Food insecurity has been associated with increased anxiety, depression, and other forms of psychiatric distress.Lack of food, calories and inadequate nutrients can affect brain development of young children and impede older children’s ability to concentrate and learn – studies have found hungry children can end up falling behind academically.There are social implications, too. Food insecurity in childhood has been linked to problems such as a decline in social skills, irritability, aggression, and oppositional behaviours.Related... Opinion: I’m Sick To Death Of Your Middle Class Stupidity About Food Poverty A cycle of povertyFor young girls who grow up to have families of their own, studies have also found long-lasting impacts of food insecurity on their children’s health, too. If the issue isn’t tackled, it becomes a vicious cycle.Research from the University of Southampton shows that environmental factors can affect the development of the next generation even before conception, and can continue throughout pregnancy and into early childhood.“What is really serious is when young women from puberty onwards are poorly nourished, this sets up the way they then become pregnant and how their foetus grows,” says Professor Barrie Margetts, emeritus professor in public health nutrition at the University of Southampton. ″[It] makes that foetus far more susceptible to adverse health outcomes in their own life – almost irrespective of what they do.”The effects can be seen in ultrasound scans, he says. The foetuses have shorter bone length and smaller head circumference – “they’re not just smaller, they’re actually functionally not growing to their optimal.”“The studies clearly show if a mother was poorly nourished, or a young woman was poorly nourished before she became pregnant, this carries on through to lead to poor outcomes for her infant, which then leads to higher risk of things like diabetes and heart disease in later life. The consequences are profound.”Related... This Is What It's Like Taking A Pregnancy Test When You're Blind “There is a golden window for child development where the most rapid growth in skills and abilities happens, up to around a year,” adds Dr Wolfe. After that, the window gradually closes. Learning becomes harder and skills are acquired more slowly. “So, to ensure good brain development it’s vital that pregnant women and young children have good nutrition and adequate food,” she says. Professor Valerie Tarasuk, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, points out that studies have shown food insecure mothers are more likely to stop breastfeeding earlier, and are more likely to experience postpartum mental disorders than those deemed ‘food secure’.What’s the solution? Rashford’s call for free meals has been met with government push-back. Boris Johnson said the “best way of tackling holiday hunger” is to increase the funds available for Universal Credit and give local councils extra money.But experts believe more can – and should – be done. The Food Foundation is part of a Child Food Poverty Task Force and, along with 20 charities and key names in the food industry, is calling on the government to urgently allocate sufficient budget for three National Food Strategy recommendations.In addition to calling for free school meals to be extended to vulnerable kids in the school holidays, it’s asking that eligibility for free school meals is expanded to include every child (up to 16 years old) from a household where the parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits.The third recommendation is for an increase to the value of Healthy Start vouchers and also an expansion of the scheme to every pregnant woman and to all households with children under four, where a parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit or equivalent benefits.Prof Margetts, who is also a Labour councillor for Southampton City Council, would like to see the UK adopt a more “Swedish or French model where every child gets a really good nutritious lunch”. Under this plan, he’d want to see the school day modified so there’s enough time to ensure every child has a hearty lunch. “That means if they don’t eat so well at home, we know they’re getting pretty much everything they need to be healthy and well,” he explains.It’s not the responsibility of schools to do this – rather, the responsibility of society to ensure it happens, he adds. When children aren’t at school, there “needs to be government-led initiatives to ensure children on school meals or who are vulnerable are catered for in a systematic, organised way and that it’s not dependent on charity and handouts and restaurants having to step up”.Dr Wolfe wants to see social safety nets including cash and food transfers, subsidies and vouchers (linked to healthy food retailers); an improved food environment to promote healthy food choices; and a focus on making the right food choices affordable and easy. School food programmes should also comprise healthy food, freely available, year round, she adds.Perhaps the most important factor is tackling the issue of poverty directly by boosting family income. “This is effective at improving children’s outcomes including cognitive development and school achievement. It’s an impressively effective thing to do. If it were a pill, it would be called a miracle cure,” she says.It’s something Professor Tarasuk wants to see change. In her view, the only solution to tackling food insecurity is income.“In Canada we’ve got several studies that show if we improve benefits for families with children, we can see decreases in the severity of food insecurity amongst those families – it’s unbelievable how quickly the change happens,” she says. The increase in food insecurity during Covid is further evidence this is an income problem, she adds. “This problem has spikes because of job loss, cuts to people’s hours and the inability to compensate for that because the people who are most vulnerable have no savings, they were barely managing before and they have no family support,” she says.“In some ways the Covid story, for me, is just more evidence of the fact that this thing is rooted in household economics.”Help and supportIf you cannot afford food, please contact your local food bank – you can find your nearest here.If you are in financial crisis and live in England or Wales, call 0808 2082138 for free (open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) to talk confidentially to a trained Citizens Advice adviser.Use the benefits calculator on the Turn2Us website to calculate what support you can get.Council Tax Help has a postcode search function to help families identify the support available to help them pay Council Tax in their local area.If you’re experiencing housing issues, Shelter operates a free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444 (open 365 days of the year from 8am-8pm on weekdays and 8am-5pm on weekends).Turn2Us has a directory that lets you search for monetary grants you might be entitled to.Get free debt advice and support via the National Debtline: 0808 808 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm and Saturday, 9.30am-1pm). Or the Money Advice Service: call free on 0800 138 7777 (or typetalk: 18001 0800 915 4622) open Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm.Related... How Marcus Rashford Exposed The Fault Lines In Boris Johnson’s Government Exclusive: School Laptop Cuts 'Will Hit Northern Children Hardest' Government's Own Social Mobility Office Tells Boris Johnson To Extend Free School Meals
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.It’s been another day and another 24 hours of damage for Boris Johnson over free school meals as he considers how to get away with a climbdown without it being branded as another U-turn.The prime minister’s strategy is understandable given the situation he has got himself in, having made a whopping 13 policy U-turns since the coronavirus pandemic.Johnson is said to be considering giving extra cash to councils to set up holiday clubs, which could feed hungry children in England, in a bid to defuse the row.But with the Marcus Rashford-inspired petition set to hit 1m signatures, the damage has already been done.The PM will also have to ensure the plan actually works, with Kirsty McHugh of the Mayor’s Fund for London, which is involved in holiday club trials, telling PA that many of the voluntary groups and public sector organisations that run the clubs are likely to be closed at Christmas.Of course many Tory MPs are bemoaning how Johnson got himself into this mess, as my colleague Paul highlighted with this essential piece yesterday.And it may just be down to a seemingly misguided belief among some Tories that universal credit (UC) should be enough to solve the problem.I have been passed a voter’s Facebook post which was doing the rounds among Tory MPs on Tuesday.In it, a voter insists that there is “absolutely no reason that any child out there being paid this amount should be going hungry”. Attached is a UC statement showing the person in question is eligible for £281 monthly support for their one child for October.But even George Osborne – yes the Tory deficit hawk former chancellor who slashed welfare budgets and was the architect of austerity – acknowledges that explaining away the free school meals problem with UC is “tin eared”.Osborne explains in his Evening Standard newspaper of his time as an MP: “When I visited the food bank in my Cheshire constituency it confirmed two contradictory realities.“First, the people I met there were receiving the same welfare payments as lots of others who were managing without the food bank. In other words, Whitehall would argue that they didn’t need handouts. “Second, however, the people I met were in real need of help. Life had dealt them very hard blows. Many struggled (as so many of us would) to manage very tight budgets.“A few had chaotic lives and simply couldn’t cope. It was no good telling them to manage their money better. If the food bank wasn’t there, their children would go hungry.”Osborne now believes a government U-turn is “inevitable”.And it is hard to argue when Rishi Sunak made a similar case that UC would cover the hit to incomes caused by replacing furlough (80% state wage subsidy) with his job support scheme (67% of wages covered), before U-turning and making the latter scheme more generous.Rashford’s bigger goal is believed to be increased eligibility for school meals for all on UC, and Johnson may be wise not to pick another fight.Related... UK Coronavirus Daily Death Toll Tops 350 For First Time Since May Why Boris Johnson’s Excuses About Free School Meals Don’t Add Up Covid Infection Rates Should Be Reported On TV Like The Weather, MPs Say
It is hard for me to start writing this piece because I have started writing it in my head a hundred times. I have tried to format it into a tweet, then a series of tweets; a long Instagram caption, a Facebook status.This now happens with nearly every thought I have. It pops into my head and, as it does, I try to come up with a way of expressing it on a social media platform. It is frustrating because that didn’t used to be the case. Well, it was the case for a long time, then it wasn’t, and now it is again.Like a lot of millennials hovering around 30, I grew up online and spent my early and mid twenties glued to my laptop and phone screen. a new app or website would launch and within months I would be hooked. I never really questioned it, and the constant technological innovations were too exciting to care anyway.With every bit of myself I throw into the online ether, I dissociate a little bit more from what is happening to us.First we tweeted by text, then Twitter got on our phones; suddenly there was Instagram, and filters, and Snapchat, and stories you could post, and gifs were everywhere, and Vine compilations were brilliant – and so on. Then something changed, around a year ago; maybe it was that we had hit a tech plateau, where new apps stopped being novel and bold.Maybe I just aged; I had spent years live-tweeting my every thought, accidentally becoming semi-prominent in the process, and the constant exposure had started to feel draining. I also noticed that a lot of my friends were slowly separating themselves from their online personas. One by one, they started to tweet only sporadically, set their Instagrams to private, and generally became more guarded online.I can’t pretend I’d gone off grid by the time the pandemic hit; I was still posting frequently, but had been making efforts to scroll less, read more books, and generally not look at my phone when I didn’t need to. It was a process I was working on. I knew letting go of such a deeply ingrained habit would take time, but I felt I was on the right path.That all came crashing down the moment lockdown started, of course. Suddenly, there was nothing to do but scroll, and no-one to share my thoughts with unless I tweeted them. I even kept up an Instagram presence.Looking back, it is impressive I managed to post so many pictures given how starved my life had become of things worth picturing. I soldiered on regardless; selfies, sunsets, buildings encountered on walks, close-ups of the plants I kept compulsively ordering online.Related... Your Self-Care Toolkit For Dealing With The Tough Months Ahead Instagram Was Affecting My Mental Health, So I Quit. Here's What I Didn't See Coming What saddens me is not that I became so hooked to social media again in lockdown – there was nothing else for me to do – but that I am yet to reverse the habit. Even at the height of the summer, when us Londoners were lucky enough to have most of our lives back, I remained glued to my screen.I used to find it rude when friends scrolled through Twitter while we had drinks, but suddenly I started doing it. On several occasions, I stopped walking in the street to take selfies because the light looked nice on my face, aware and mortified that passersby were clearly judging me.Some nights, I would go to bed, think of a quip and make myself leave my bed to tweet it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep otherwise.I post pictures knowing that I will look at them again in a few months, and suddenly I am no longer stuck in the tedium of our current lives.Once again, social media is taking up a huge amount of space in my brain. I check my notifications on each app constantly and always in the same order, like a ritual, and I am frustrated if I have done something interesting on a Sunday afternoon but forgotten to post anything about it. I’d long wondered what it must be like to be a needy, angsty 13-year-old in the era of constant connectivity and now I know; at 28, I have become one.Still, I wonder if there is some deeper coping mechanism at work here. As middle-aged columnists used to claim, documenting our every move meant that we were not living our lives to the fullest. By obsessing over, say, the pictures we took on a night out, we forgot to actually enjoy said night out. I am not sure their worries were entirely founded – I’m fairly certain I did manage to have fun when I meant to – but perhaps they had a point.Every time I tweet a fleeting thought and post a picture from my daily walk, I break the fourth wall. I invite an audience into my head and welcome them into my life, and suddenly I am not alone anymore, nor am I living in the present.I post pictures knowing that I will look at them again in a few months, and suddenly I am no longer stuck in the tedium of our current lives. I’ve established a link to my future self, who will presumably want to remember what happened in the year of the plague, and scroll down her own Instagram for memories.With every bit of myself I throw into the online ether, I dissociate a little bit more from what is happening to us. Suddenly, my life becomes a performance; a show about a woman trying to keep going through life when everything is uncertain and she feels quite sad and small.Perhaps voluntary alienation isn’t the best way to go about all this and perhaps I should be feeling everything I need to be feeling so I emerge in one piece.But perhaps that prospect is too daunting to consider, and instead I will keep my face close to my screen, where everything is a little bit less real, until it is safe to go out and live fully again.Marie Le Conte is a freelance journalist.More in Opinion... 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McDonald's is joining fish-and-chip shops, churches, and farms that are also donating food during the school vacations.
There is no doubt that Marcus Rashford is a hero. A 22-year-old playing professional football for his country, after growing up in child poverty is an incredible story.And, despite the ad hominem attacks by Tory MPs in Parliament – accusing Rashford of being a celebrity merely “virtue-signalling” – he has kept his head held high, expertly highlighting the humanity deficit in British politics by rising above their attempts to politicise poor children.Indeed, I myself grew up in child poverty on a council estate in Birmingham, and relied on free school meals at various points during my childhood to get by, so I know, first-hand, how vital they are. Related... Marcus Rashford Is Tweeting Out Every Place Offering Kids Free Meals No.10 Keeps Refusing To Praise Businesses For Offering Free Meals To Children That’s why the necessity of Rashford’s campaign horrifies me. That a footballer has to lead a campaign to feed hungry children because his government refuses to, that struggling businesses are stepping in to give what little they have to help our nation’s kids, is not and must not be seen as a victory for humanity – it’s a tragedy. We are currently facing the biggest global recession in history. Businesses up and down the country are struggling to weather the storm, and millions find themselves completely left out by the government’s economic support.And it is now these businesses that are having to step in to provide food for starving children with what little they have left. We’re also seeing underfunded local councils and authorities stepping forward such as Manchester and Birmingham – Rashford and I’s cities respectively – to try and help.These are areas that have publicly, and, at times, explosively, stated that they need more financial support than the government is offering to prevent a spike in poverty during the pandemic. Because, like Covid-19, child poverty in the UK is a national crisis.Related... Five Baffling Reasons Tories Have Given For Voting Against Free School Meals At present, 4.2 million children live in relative poverty in the UK – with 2.4 million in absolute poverty. It is becoming such an issue that the UN described it as “systemic and tragic” in 2019 – and that was before the economic crisis we’re in now.The government was failing our nation’s children even before the pandemic hit. But now they have compounded their moral bankruptcy by choosing to continue to ignore them.These children cannot vote, do not have a platform, and cannot speak for themselves. Indeed, it is this that led Rashford to say: “For as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine.”So, when I see Rashford tweeting constantly over the course of the last 24 hours with various places across the country that are offering to feed children, I can’t help but feel despair that this is happening in the sixth wealthiest nation in the world.So, while I support Rashford’s campaign, and all those sacrificing what little they have to help children, I also despair at its necessity.How is it that a 22-year-old footballer has more humanity than the House of Commons? And my despair is deepened by the rhetoric coming out of the government during this bleak and desperate time. Conservatives presented arguments against feeding children in the run up to the vote on free school meals, saying they can’t “nationalise children”, “create dependencies”, “wreck” the economy, or “take responsibility from parents”.Not only are these statements disingenuous, barefaced lies, they completely overlook the fact that 72% of children living in poverty are in working households. And have they forgotten that the state has a responsibility to ensure there is food for children, as outlined under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. But things don’t have to be this way – despite what the government says.Scotland this year announced its intention to enshrine the convention in Scots law, which would make it illegal for the government to stand idly by in the face of child food poverty.Nicola Sturgeon has announced that children will continue to be fed over the holidays, as well as the policy of parents being provided with £10 food vouchers per child. Let’s be clear: Rashford’s campaign is an emergency measure to prevent a catastrophe of the government’s making.Unlike the Conservative government, the Scottish Parliament show how the rights of children should not be an ideological game or political football; these are children’s lives, and futures.Statistics show that children in food poverty have worse outcomes; from malnutrition, to the ability to concentrate in the classroom, food insecurity has serious long-term social, economic, and health consequences. And, as Rashford says, child food poverty “is never the child’s fault”. So, while I support Rashford’s campaign, and all those sacrificing what little they have to help children, I also despair at its necessity.We must make sure the government do not see the kindness of the British public as an opportunity to continue their shameless and wanton negligence of their responsibilities to the nation’s children.Because, let’s be clear: Rashford’s campaign is an emergency measure to prevent a catastrophe of the government’s making. The enduring, structural change we need can only come from the top – from a government that puts the lives of children before their ideologically toxic and morally bankrupt approach to child food poverty.  Nadine Batchelor Hunt is a freelance journalist.Got a unique opinion on a news story that will help cut through the noise? We want to hear from you. Find out what we’re looking for here and pitch us on [email protected] in Opinion... Opinion: Angela Rayner Was Right To Give Scummy Behaviour The Name It Deserves Opinion: The Tier System Is Doomed To Fail – But There Is A Way Out Opinion: Boris Johnson Knew Test And Trace Wasn't World Beating – And Ignored it Opinion: Andy Burnham Was Right To Demand Better. And He Speaks For The Rest Of The Country Too
Downing Street has refused to praise dozens of businesses that have offered to feed the country’s poorest children in response to Marcus Rashford’s anti-hunger campaign.Starting on Thursday night, the England footballer – who has spent months campaigning to stop child hunger through school holidays – shared posts from businesses and groups nationwide that are volunteering free food for children who may otherwise go hungry.From free sandwiches, sausages and curries to the offer of taxis to the nearest available foodbank, dozens of posts have now been shared online as millions of families face a half term of potential hardship. Some 322 Tory MPs on Wednesday voted down a motion to extend free school meals to the holidays.Asked whether Boris Johnson would praise those firms offering food, a No.10 spokesperson dodged the question and instead told reporters: “We’ve set out our position a number of times.“There’s no change.“As we have set out before we’re in a different position now with schools back open to all and the vast majority of pupils back in school.“And I believe the PM said during PMQs free school meals will continue during term time and he wants to continue to support families throughout the crisis and there is cash available to feed kids if they need to.”Asked whether the prime minister would applaud councils that have got involved of their own volition, he appeared to criticise them, saying: “Whilst schools continue to play an integral role in the community it’s not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during school holidays.” And he added, again: “As we’ve said before, we’re in a different position now with schools back open.“But we have done a lot to make sure the most vulnerable in our society are protected and that has included extending free school meals to support those eligible when schools were partially closed during lockdown, increasing universal credit by £20 a week, and £63m funding for councils to provide emergency assistance to families with food, essentials and meals.”Pressed a third time on whether the PM would praise or applaud those offering meals, the spokesperson responded: “The PM’s answered this question himself on Wednesday. You’ve got his words from Wednesday.”The prime minister did not answer anything of the sort on Wednesday. Downing Street was referring to Johnson’s comments during prime minister’s questions, when he refused three times to agree to extending free meal support – as he did through a voucher scheme in the summer – over the coming holiday periods.“We support kids on low incomes in school and we will continue to do so,” he told MPs on Wednesday.“What I want to do is to make sure we continue to support families through the crisis.”When asked directly by Labour MP George Howarth whether he would support the plan to extend meals to next Easter, Johnson replied: “What we want to do is continue to support people on low incomes throughout the crisis and that’s what we are going to do.”Related... Five Baffling Reasons Tories Have Given For Voting Against Free School Meals Tories Voted Against Free School Meals In Revenge For 'Scum' Comment, Nicky Morgan Suggests Opinion: Angela Rayner Was Right To Give Scummy Behaviour The Name It Deserves
Not content with keeping the nation moving during lockdown and raising thousands for the NHS, Joe Wicks is now taking on his most gruelling challenge yet. The Body Coach has announced he will be attempting to work out for 24 hours as part of this year’s Children In Need. Joe, 35, is hoping to raise millions after signing up for next month’s “savage” ordeal, and admitted he could “burst into tears”. “It’s going to be tough, I’m not going to sleep, there’s no end to it. I’ve just got to keep going,” the virtual PE teacher told the PA news agency.“It will be draining and I know that when you get true fatigue and you’re really exhausted, you get really emotional.“I’ll probably end up, at some point, bursting into tears.”He added: “But hopefully people will be there to pick me up and say, ‘Come on, keep going’.”He continued: “My biggest concern is just the tiredness, I think when it gets to 3, 4, 5am, I’m going to really want to cry myself to bed….“It’s going to be savage. It’s going to be really intense, really draining.“But at the same time, I think every single hour that goes by, if I can see the money climbing up a little bit, I’ll be like, ‘Come on, one more push, let’s get another million’.“This could raise one million, it could raise five million, we just don’t know.“I’m hoping we can raise big numbers and get loads of money in that Children In Need pot this year.”The challenge will see Joe do everything from his signature HIIT workouts to rowing, using the treadmill and yoga.He will work out live on BBC Radio 2 from the BBC Studios in London and viewers can watch his efforts on the Red Button and BBC iPlayer across the 24 hours.Joe, who was recently made an MBE, has been advised he should try to consume 10,000 calories during the fundraiser – the same number he will burn through.READ MORE: Lorraine Kelly, Marcus Rashford And Joe Wicks Among Stars On Queen's Birthday Honours List Joe Wicks Opens Up About Mental Health Struggles Amid Latest Coronavirus Restrictions Joe Wicks Gets Emotional As He Hosts Final YouTube PE Class: 'It’s A Sad Day But I’m So Proud' “Hopefully, I’ll have predominantly healthy food but with the odd chocolate bar or packet of fruit gums,” he said. “I want to keep my blood sugar levels stable rather than just smashing the sweets and the chocolate.”Last year, Rylan Clark-Neal took part in a 24-hour karaoke challenge for the charity, with surprise guests joining him.In previous years, the likes of Dermot O’Leary, Sara Cox, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman have taken on the 24-hour danceathon. The Joe Wicks 24-Hour PE Challenge will begin at 9.25am on November 12, with Wicks hoping to keep going until 9.25am the following day. 
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Just say no. From Nancy Reagan’s famous war-on-drugs slogan (I’m old enough to remember the Grange Hill single) to Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to bail out manufacturing industry, saying ‘no’ was all the rage in the 1980s.By contrast, Boris Johnson has often seemed like the man who likes to say ‘Yes’. His love of being loved (politically and personally) is well documented, and his modus operandi is to give the impression that he hates disappointing anyone. Allies say his reluctance to sack people stems in part from him being uncomfortable with difficult conversations (though that doesn’t seem to be the explanation for Dominic Cummings and Gavin Williamson being retained).And early in the Covid pandemic, Johnson said ‘yes’ to plenty of demands that came his way. On the TUC’s furlough plan to pay 80% of the wages of workers, Sage’s advice on swift lockdowns, campaigners’ calls to ditch an NHS staff visa charge, parents’ demands to ditch A-level algorithms, the PM was acquiescent. He let borrowing rip to fund the billions needed to keep the country going.When Marcus Rashford caught the public’s imagination in the summer to demand the extension of free school meals to cover the summer holidays, Johnson again (after some pushing) said ‘Yes’. The financial cost was relatively tiny, the political cost relatively big and the PM made a calculation that taking action was worth it.Today, he said ‘No’. Despite all the arguments used by him and ministers today about alternative means of support for poor children, the fact is that the decision to extend meals through the summer holidays is not materially different from the decision to extend them through the winter holidays. He felt emergency help for deprived families was needed then, but he clearly thinks it’s not needed now.Part of this may be what hard-nosed charity staff used to call “compassion fatigue”. But it feels more like it’s spending fatigue, egged on by a Treasury which is rediscovering its own historic reputation of being the one part of government that likes to say ‘No’. The decision to end furlough arbitrarily at the end of this month was the early evidence of that change of heart.More broadly, No.10 appears of late to be simply trying to reassert its authority to call the shots whenever demands are sent its way. That sense of wanting to draw a line in the sand is part of the reason for Johnson’s patience snapping with Andy Burnham this week. “There comes a point when enough is enough,” said one ally of the PM.On both free school meals and on Greater Manchester’s business support, the sums involved are tiny compared to the billions already spent in tackling the virus. Yet it seems as if on both issues the PM just wanted to, to coin a phrase, take back control of the narrative.And most Tory MPs welcome the switch from ad hoc bailouts to what they see as a more sustainable approach. Saying no is seen by many of them as the same thing as their core political belief in personal reliance and responsibility. The real difficulty is the resurgent spread of the virus. A new emphasis on fiscal efficiency may well be appropriate once the pandemic is past its worst, but as we head into a worrying second wave this winter (today’s huge jump in Covid cases was dramatic) it seems too soon to shift away from emergency measures.On Thursday, Rishi Sunak is set to make yet another amendment to his Winter Economic Plan, with some expecting him to finally give more support to firms forced into Tier 2 restrictions. At present they are in the limbo of not being ordered to close but not being able to make much money either. With the furlough scheme’s end now looking premature, any new help will be desperately needed.The problem, as ever with this prime minister, is one of consistency. On Brexit, having sounded a Thatcherite ‘no, no, no’ to Brussels last week, today the talks are back on and we could see a ‘yes, yes, yes’ trade deal that smuggles UK concessions under the bravado of brinkmanship.On spending on the pandemic, the PM may yet prove similarly unpredictable. While the PM says ‘No’ to cash for more free school meals, he simultaneously says ‘Yes’ to cash for continued private sector roles in test-and-trace.“Winging it” has served Johnson well throughout his political career and he may not yet be ready to give it up. The fact is that he may now be more ready to say ‘No’ than ever before - but he’s still capable of saying ‘Yes’.The PM joked yesterday to businesses about spinning the roulette wheel and taking bets. Whether you’re a child on free school meals or a pub worker in Manchester or a lorry firm worried about a no-deal Brexit, it’s not clear from day to day whether you’ll end up in the red or the black.Related... Tory MPs Vote Down Marcus Rashford's Free School Meals Plan Angela Rayner Apologises For Calling Tory MP 'Scum' In Commons Government Suffers Fourth Defeat On Post-Brexit Child Refugees' Rights – But Still Won't Budge
The celebrities being honoured in the Queen’s birthday honours list have been revealed, with TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, fitness expert Joe Wicks and footballer Marcus Rashford among those recognised.In 2020, the list is heavily populated by “unsung heroes” who contributed during the coronavirus pandemic, which includes a number of famous faces.The Body Coach Joe Wicks is to receive an MBE for the “accessible, live workouts” he delivered during lockdown, which helped raise money for NHS charities, as is fellow fitness guru Derrick Evans (who you might know better as TV’s Mr Motivator). Marcus Rashford has also been recognised on the honours list, again receiving an MBE, “for services to vulnerable children in the UK during Covid-19”.The 22-year-old Manchester United player campaigned for families in England to receive food vouchers during the summer holidays earlier this year.Receiving CBEs this year are professor Brian Cox, screenwriter Sally Wainwright, actor Adrian Lester and the aforementioned Lorraine Kelly.Former rugby player Gareth Thomas is also to receive a CBE, while former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry and actor Maureen Lipman will both receive damehoods.Meanwhile musicians Dizzee Rascal and Lady Leshurr will receive and an MBE and BEM, respectively.It has been noted that the majority of the list was compiled before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but was “deferred in order to consider nominations for people playing crucial roles during the first months of the Covid-19 effort”.As well as celebrities and other public figures, the list has “prioritised frontline and community heroes who went above and beyond their duties to help others”, with more than a quarter of those being recognised having made “exceptional contributions… in response to the Covid-19 pandemic”.READ MORE: Joe Wicks Opens Up About Mental Health Struggles Amid Latest Coronavirus Restrictions Joe Wicks Gets Emotional As He Hosts Final YouTube PE Class: 'It’s A Sad Day But I’m So Proud' Marcus Rashford Leads New Campaign To Tackle 'Devastating' Child Food Poverty
Medical staff, supermarket workers and centenarians have all been awarded honours for their efforts during the Covid-19 crisis – and stepping up when the government didn’t. This year’s list was postponed from June so people who took to the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic could be recognised, amplifying the extent to which people across the UK were forced to fill the gaps in the government’s pandemic response. From a nurse who fought to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) employees to the Asda delivery driver who made sure vulnerable people could access essentials, here are just six of of the people honoured on the Queen’s birthday list: The nurse who fought for BAME colleagues Felicia Margaret Kwaku, 52, from Islington, is the associate director of nursing at Kings College NHS Foundation Trust, and has been awarded an OBE for services to her profession after months of speaking out about the devastating impact of the virus on her colleagues. From the early days of the pandemic it was evident to many medics that people from BAME backgrounds were being hit disproportionately hard by Covid, and doctors urged the government to investigate the startling disparity in deaths.But the GMB union criticised the government’s review, saying BAME workers had been “massively let down” by the lack of an independent investigation. Following news of her recognition on the queen’s birthday honours list, Kwaku said: “You can’t ignore the significant number of nurses and midwives who have died, and a significant number of them are from BAME backgrounds.“You can’t ignore the fact people have laid down their lives during this pandemic, it is only right, proper and fitting to honour them and honour those who continue to serve.”Kwaku also championed the cause of Filipino nurses, with analysis by the PA news agency showing at least five of 196 frontline health and care workers who have died after contracting Covid-19 since March were from the Philippines.She said she raised issues surrounding personal protective equipment (PPE) for BAME staff, particularly certain types of surgical masks built for white Caucasian males that do not fit properly for some Asian and Filipino nurses and doctors.On being appointed OBE, she said: “It’s my responsibility to represent my profession really well, and for BAME people who don’t get to these levels a lot it’s a real privilege for me.”The footballer who secured free school meals Before Marcus Rashford stepped in, low-income families across the country – and the organisations that work to support them – were worried that children would go hungry without free school meal vouchers through the summer. Until mid-June ministers had been adamant that the scheme would end when schools broke up in July, but the 22-year-old Manchester United forward eventually forced a government U-turn after his campaign piled significant pressure on leaders. Rashford has since announced he is launching a bid to extend the voucher scheme into the October, after forming a child food poverty task force. The team has linked up with some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets and food brands in a bid to prevent children from missing meals –  especially as more families start to feel the economic impact of Covid-19 with the furlough scheme coming to an end. The footballer has described his MBE as ‘humbling’ and vowed to continue fighting to protect the most vulnerable children.“I’m incredibly honoured and humbled. As a young black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22,” Rashford said in a statement via Manchester United.“The fight to protect our most vulnerable children is far from over.“I would be doing my community, and the families I have met and spoken with, an injustice if I didn’t use this opportunity to respectfully urge the PM to support our children during the October half-term with an extension of the voucher scheme, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and we face increased unemployment.“Another sticking plaster, but one that will give the parents of millions of children in the UK just one less thing to worry about.“Let’s stand together in saying that no children in the UK should be going to bed hungry. As I have said many times before, no matter your feeling or opinion, not having access to food is never the child’s fault.”The Asda worker who delivered to vulnerable peopleWhen Covid struck Geoff Norris, 53, who has worked for five years at Asda in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, quickly realised that some of the most vulnerable people in society – especially the elderly – would struggle to access food and supplies during lockdown. In the absence of a government plan to reach isolated people, many of whom were forced to self isolate, Norris set up his own delivery service in his time off alongside thousands of other volunteers across the country. He explained: “As Covid hit and just before it started to lock down, you noticed all the delivery slots were being booked, everything was taken, so we were delivering to regular customers and on the last week or so before they were saying ‘we can’t get any slots’.“I turned round and said ‘look, I’ll see what I can do, just keep your eye open’.”He rallied “four or five” driver colleagues to volunteer their own time to pick shopping, go through the tills and deliver it in their own vehicles on a Sunday.He took orders by email and phone with the help of his wife Vanessa and 22-year-old daughter Anna, or if customers contacted the store directly colleagues passed on the order to him.They posted about what they were doing on a local Facebook group and were contacted by some people who lived many miles away but were calling, panicked about how to get food for vulnerable parents who had no internet.“I think we managed to do it for about 15 weeks,” said Norris. “Don’t get me wrong, it was hard but it was very rewarding seeing the gratitude you got from people that didn’t think they could get anything.”Norris also organised a surprise 90th birthday party for a regular customer of his, decorating the outside of her bungalow with balloons, buying her cake and flowers and reading out birthday messages from her family – who live in New Zealand – before singing Happy Birthday with his colleagues. Reflecting on the period of lockdown, the key worker added: “There were a lot of people that were in need and they were scared, the same as the whole country, and we just thought let’s just do something. We just did all we could.”The 100-year-old who raised £420k for the NHS Dabirul Islam Choudhury, 100, raised more than £420,000 by walking 970 laps of his garden in Bow, east London, while fasting during Ramadan – and has now been rewarded an OBE for his efforts. NHS Charities Together raised millions during lockdown as the public became even more acutely aware of the pressures on the NHS. The money hasn’t been spent on frontline equipment – instead going to enhance staff and patient wellbeing. Choudhury said: “I feel proud they have honoured me for the efforts I have done.“I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart.”His son Atique Choudhury, 57, said: “He [Dabirul] said his work hasn’t finished and he’s going to carry on working and raising money for people affected by Covid.“We are very proud of my father for walking his garden and raising money for a great number of people, and getting recognised for the work he’s done is an honour.”Of the total raised, nearly £116,000 was donated to the NHS while the remaining amount was divided between 30 charities in 52 countries as part of the Ramadan Family Commitment Covid-19 crisis initiative, run by British-Bangladeshi television broadcaster Channel S.Choudhury had initially set himself a challenge to walk 100 laps after being inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, the Second World War veteran who had set out to raise £1,000 by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in April, but ended up raising almost £33 million.The train driver who volunteered as a paramedic A trained paramedic turned train driver who spent lockdown rotating between her two jobs in an effort to help her former colleagues in the NHS has also been recognised on the Queen’s birthday honours list. Jolene Miller, 42, divided her time between Northern Rail and triage at Darlington Memorial Hospital, assessing patients as they came in for treatment.She had previously worked as a paramedic for about 13 years before becoming a train driver, and had kept her registration by working at events. When the coronavirus crisis started in March she was ready to volunteer, after being given permission by the train company.Miller, from Ingleby Barwick, Teesside, said: “Back in March services were being scaled down and I thought I cannot sit here and do nothing when I have skills that I could use elsewhere.”Miller, who works out of Darlington station and drives trains around the north east of England from Whitby to Newcastle, was swiftly sent to work in triage, assessing patients as they were taken to hospital.Her role freed up paramedics to go out on their next job, and allowed nurses to carry on with their vital work in the hospital.“On my first shift I was a bit nervous, nobody really knew what Covid-19 was like,” she said.“Once that was over I was fine, everyone pulls together and there was enough PPE where I was.”Miller said she was prepared to do it again, if the train company allowed it and if the need arose.She said: “They have things in place if we have a second wave so whether or not I would be needed again, I don’t know. Let’s hope not.”The fitness guru who kept kids in PE lessons Former personal trainer and fitness guru Joe Wicks is being made an MBE for helping children keep active with online PE lessons as schools closed around the world. With teachers left scrambling to pull together video lessons for children, some of whom spent close to six months at home, Wicks stepped in with YouTube workouts – raising £580,000 for the NHS in the process. He said: “My childhood and how I grew up, if you met me as a little boy you’d have thought, he’s not going to go anywhere, he’s not going to do anything great.“But I’ve turned it around and I really am proud I’ve become this person who’s helping people.”Wicks has previously told how he got into exercise and fitness because of his father’s addiction to heroin, a man who was “in and out of my life”.Now he has told PA: “I’m so determined to keep the conversation going around mental health and exercise and bringing your children into that environment where you exercise together.”Wicks, who struggled at first to get his business off the ground before uploading motivational clips on social media, said that PE With Joe is his “proudest achievement”.But “the MBE is the icing on the cake”, said the father-of-two, whose young children and wife Rosie also appeared in his workouts.“The impact I made on families and children’s mental health is what I’ll remember forever and I’m sure I’ll be talking about it in years to come.”He said of his workouts: “I would have been there if there was one person or a million people. I loved it, when it finished I really did miss it.“If you want me back, let me know! And if we go into another [national] lockdown I promise you I’ll be there every morning at 9am!” Related... More Than 7,000 University Students Across The UK Have Coronavirus Opinion: Covid Has Reignited The North-South Divide With A Vengeance Chris Evans Blasts Donald Trump Over Bewildering Statement About Coronavirus
Ministers are under pressure to use “sugar tax” cash to pay for food schemes for poorer families as the Covid-19 economic fallout takes hold. A letter signed by 108 health and children’s experts, seen by HuffPost UK, calls on chancellor Rishi Sunak to target the soft drinks industry and spend the money on healthy food for youngsters. It warns the Covid-19 pandemic will hit deprived areas harder, with 2.3 million UK children now thought to be at risk of food insecurity. Four in five children are not getting their five-a-day, the letter adds. Signed by 29 councils’ public health directors, many of which cover “red wall” constituency areas in the north and Midlands, as well as charities and mayors, the plea to the government follows high-profile free school meals campaigning by Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.It calls on Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock and education secretary Gavin Williamson to back five key policy changes.  As well as the sugar tax investment, it calls for an expansion of free school meals and holiday hunger programmes to all youngsters whose families receive Universal Credit (UC) and the extension of fruit and veg schemes to all primary school age children. The group also want the government to raise the value of the “healthy start” vouchers in line with inflation to £4.25, and for ministers to guarantee that pregnant women and families with a baby who claim UC are eligible. Vera Zakharov, coordinator for Sustain, the charity which has been the driving force behind the appeal, said: “Local leaders have spoken, and children’s food access needs to be a front and centre priority for policymakers.“Government has a unique opportunity this year to show leadership on safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the next generation by championing fiscal policies that provide a nutritional safety net to some of the most vulnerable children and families.“We are urging ministers to spend public money wisely by investing in children’s health.” The call is backed by community leaders in cities and regions experiencing some of the worst rates of child poverty, including Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Manchester. Elected mayors from Bristol and Middlesbrough are also backing the calls, alongside food poverty groups across the country.The Covid-19 crisis has put food insecurity and health inequalities in the spotlight.Research by the Food Foundation earlier this year found 14% of adults living with children reported experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in the last six months. It is estimated some 2.3 million children live in these households.Sustain adds that studies have shown that four in five children are not reaching their five-a-day requirement for fruit and vegetables. Andrea Fallon, director of public health for Rochdale Council, said: “Covid has shone a light on the impact of long-term inequalities in health particularly in the north of England and Greater Manchester and these inequalities are highly likely to get worse. “We urge government to take action now to ensure that children and families have access to good food as this is a key foundation for good health and wellbeing and as such an essential part of getting a good start in life.”Mark Adams, public health director for South Tees, who signed the letter, said: “These policies will add much needed national support to our local priorities of tackling obesity, particularly amongst children. They are also essential in narrowing the health inequalities that we face between South Tees and the England average, and also between communities within our area.”Sunak has temporarily boosted Universal Credit by £20 as the lockdown sparked a huge rise in claims and unemployment. The sugar tax was forecast to raise £520m in its first year but that figure was revised down to £275m as companies adjusted products to avoid the levy. The government was also forced to extend free school meals over the summer holidays amid fears many children could go hungry.The chancellor is set to hold a comprehensive spending review this year, but a date has yet to be confirmed. Related... 13 U-Turns Boris Johnson's Government Has Been Forced To Make During The Pandemic Marcus Rashford Hits Back At Tory MP Over Child Hunger Tweet What It's Like To Have To U-Turn In Government
Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has formed the Child Food Poverty Task Force with major UK grocers, including Tesco, Aldi, and Waitrose.
Footballer Marcus Rashford has urged MPs to back his new campaign to tackle child poverty in the UK, as he warned a lack of access to food will have “devastating effects on the stability of our country”.The England and Manchester United star was credited as playing a key part in forcing the government to U-turn in June on its decision not to extend the children’s food voucher scheme into the summer holidays.Rashford, 22, has now teamed up with the food industry to shed light on the issue of child food poverty in the UK.Along with Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Deliveroo, FareShare, Food Foundation, Iceland, Kellogg’s, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, he has formed the Child Food Poverty Task Force.In a letter to all MPs, the sportsman explains how extending the food voucher scheme impacted millions of children’s lives, and how parents “cried with sheer relief that putting food on their children’s plates was one less thing to worry about this summer”. But he warned this was only a short-term fix and school closures, redundancies and furloughs have added to the crisis.Rashford said the task force is endorsing three national food strategy policy recommendations and said the objective is to “see sufficient funds from the Chancellor’s Budget and Spending Review allocated to implementing these without delay”.The first one is the expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5million seven-16-year-olds.The second one is the expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1million children.And the third one is increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10) and expanding into all those on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of four.“I spoke to a mother recently who, along with her two young sons, is currently living off three slices of bread a day – soaking them in hot water and adding sugar, hoping that the porridge consistency might better sustainthe hunger of her one-year old child,” Rashford writes.He also recounts meeting a nine-year-old boy who felt as if he “has to step up to protect his family” as his mother sobbed alongside him.“I know that feeling,” Rashford said. “I remember the sound of my mum crying herself to sleep to this day, having worked a 14-hour shift, unsure how she was going to make ends meet.“That was my reality and thankfully I had the talent to kick a ball around to pull us all out of that situation.“Many can’t find that way out and aren’t being offered a helping hand to do so.”In his letter, Rashford also writes: “When we pause, listen and reflect on what the future of our next generation could potentially look like, it’s easy to see that if we don’t take action quickly, the issue of child food poverty will have devastating effects on the stability of our country.“These children are the future – our next generation of NHS workers, police officers, footballers and politicians.”Over the next six weeks, the task force members will dedicate their platforms to sharing stories of those most affected by child food insecurity in the UK.Related... 10 U-Turns Boris Johnson's Government Has Been Forced To Make During The Pandemic First Week Of Eat Out To Help Out Cost Almost As Much As Summer Free School Meals Programme Marcus Rashford: The Footballer Using His Platform For Change
Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to make face masks mandatory for schoolchildren in England as the country becomes an increasing outlier both nationally and internationally over the policy.There are even signs that children across England may find themselves subject to different rules.On Tuesday, the PM said the guidance that masks are not required in England’s schools could be altered if the medical advice changed, but for the time being was sticking to a no-mask policy.He told reporters: “On the issue of whether or not to wear masks in some contexts – you know, we’ll look at the the changing medical evidence as we go on.“If we need to change the advice then of course we will.”The position puts him at odds with an increasing number of groups, including:The World Health Organisation The World Health Organisation advises children over 12 should wear masks, and when asked why he was not following the advice, Johnson said: “The overwhelming priority is to get all pupils into school.“And I think that the schools, the teachers, they’ve all done a fantastic job of getting ready and the risk to children’s health, the risk to children’s wellbeing from not being in school is far greater than the risk from Covid.“If there are things we have to do to vary the advice on medical grounds, we will, of course, do that. But as the chief medical officer, all our scientific advisers, have said, schools are safe.”ScotlandPupils in Scotland will be required to wear a face covering when moving around schools, Holyrood’s education secretary has confirmed.Secondary schools will be given “obligatory guidance” that pupils should wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas in schools in Scotland from August 31, John Swinney said on Tuesday.WalesAlso on Tuesday, Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething announced a review into the country’s stance.He said: “In light of the update to World Health Organisation advice on the use of face coverings for children over 12 – and the decision by the Scottish government to introduce wider face covering wearing in schools – I’ve asked the children and schools advisory group... to consider the current guidance here in Wales.”LondonIn a sign of an internal rebellion in England over the issue, mayor of LondonSadiq Khan is “moving towards” a position that teenagers should wear masks in schools where they cannot socially distance, the PA news agency reported.A source told PA that Khan is continuing to consult with health experts to ensure that London is following the most up-to-date advice and will do so ahead of children returning to schools.The wearing of masks could apply to corridors and communal areas, but may not be as necessary in classrooms where it is easier to socially distance.It is understood Khan has also asked his team to consult with colleagues in Scotland where schools have been back for two weeks.TeachersWhile any guidance is only likely to affect secondary schools, Ellie Boyd, a teacher at the Hartest Primary School in Suffolk, told HuffPost UK it’s a “tricky” issue.“I don’t think the little ones would cope with it, but for the older ones I think it makes sense,” she said.“It seems a bit crazy that it would be the only job where you’re expected to work without any kind of PPE, but then you’re also stood at the front of a classroom with all the pupils facing you.”Academies Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis Community Learning, which has 52 academies across England, said giving pupils visors and masks for moving in between lessons made schools “as Covid-safe as possible”.“Oasis is responsible for 32,000 children, and around about 4,500 staff, not just teachers but all staff in schools,” he told PA.“And we are responsible to make those schools as Covid-safe as possible.”He added: “This isn’t about our primary schools, and it’s not about our secondary schools in lessons, and it’s not about the bubbles, it is about transition in schools.“And we all have a responsibility to one another, as the prime minister said, ‘hands, face and space’. So this isn’t in rebellion against the prime minister, this is trying to enact what Boris has asked us to do. We’re trying to work out the details of the big picture.”Deaf childrenThe National Deaf Children’s Society said that schools and colleges must be ready to meet the needs of deaf pupils – such as investing in clear masks.Ian Noon, chief policy adviser, said: “Face masks in education would have serious consequences for the UK’s 50,000 deaf children.“For many, there may be little benefit in even attending school or college because they won’t understand their teachers and classmates, with loneliness and isolation a tragic result.“Public health must always be the priority, so if face masks are introduced, schools and colleges must be ready to meet deaf pupils’ needs by investing in clear face masks, making every reasonable adjustment possible and urgently discussing the best way forward with specialist teachers, parents and deaf pupils themselves.“Education is a right, not a privilege, and this does not change because you’re deaf.” The bigger pictureIf the government U-turns on the issue of masks in schools, it will be yet another instance of Boris Johnson’s government abruptly changing its mind on a major policy during the coronavirus pandemic.Evictions, A-levels, the immigration health surcharge and free school meals are just four of at least 10 made so far this year.Related... 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It’s been another week where Boris Johnson’s government abruptly changed its mind on a major policy during the coronavirus pandemic.Here’s a breakdown of all the about turns, back tracks and missed targets that have left the public frustrated. Housing evictionsOn Friday, the eviction ban was extended for four weeks. Ministers also decided landlords will have to give the majority of tenants six months’ notice to protect vulnerable renters hit by the coronavirus crisis from a winter eviction.The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the move after charities warned there could be mass evictions around Christmas and said tens of thousands of outgoing tenants could be unable to access affordable homes, prompting a “devastating homelessness crisis”.A-levelsAfter five days, education secretary Gavin Williamson on Monday finally admitted defeat and ditched the controversial A-level algorithm that had seen 100,000 students marked down.Ministers announced they will allow for results to be based on teachers’ predicted grades for their students, rather than a “standardisation model” that saw the A-level grades of almost 40% of students downgraded from what they had originally been awarded.It followed criticism from students and headteachers and complaints from dozens of Tory MPs, and came more than a week after the Scottish government was forced into its own U-turn after a backlash about the moderation system used there.Immigration health surchargeThe government eventually decided to waive heavily-criticised NHS fees being charged to migrant health and care workers on the coronavirus front line. The government was due to hike the immigration health surcharge from £400 to £624 this October, but in May said it will be scrapped as the Covid-19 crisis gripped the NHS.The sum had been payable to all overseas workers to use the NHS and from this autumn would have seen a family-of-four hit with a bill as high as £2,500 a year. Free school meals  England footballer Marcus Rashford was credited as playing a key part in forcing the Government to U-turn on its decision not to extend the children’s food voucher scheme into the summer holidays.On June 16, Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said that free school meals are not normally extended to cover the summer period.Yet a few hours later, No 10 backtracked on its stance, confirming that it would in fact extend the programme.Speaking on Sky News the next day, health secretary Matt Hancock mistakenly praised “Daniel Rashford” for his campaigning efforts.Early return of schools In early May, Williamson set out the government’s ambition that all primary-age children in England would have at least four weeks in school before the summer.But on June 9, he said there was “no choice” but to scrap those plans amid concerns that the two-metre social distancing rule would make a full return impossible.In August, the government said that its plans would be for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.Schools will be required to have measures including enhanced cleaning procedures, more frequent hand-washing, and keeping pupils and family members with Covid-19 symptoms away, in place as they return.NHS contact tracing appA new NHSX app for contact tracing was announced by health secratary Matt Hancock on April 12, pledging that it would be “crucial” for preventing the transmission of coronavirus.The app was trialled on the Isle of Wight with a view to it being rolled out more widely across the country in May.However, on June 18, the government abandoned plans for its own app, instead allowing Apple and Google to take over the project.On August 13, a trial of the new app was announced, again involving the Isle of Wight as well as NHS volunteer respondents in the UK.However, as yet no date has been confirmed for a national rollout.Coronavirus testing targetOn April 2, Hancock set a goal of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of the month.At the government’s daily briefing on May 1, Hancock said testing figures had hit 122,347 on April 30.However, the figures included the number of home tests (27,497) that had been sent out as well as the number of tests sent out to satellite sites (12,872).It suggested that the number of tests actually processed was closer to around 81,978 – short of the government’s target.Bereavement scheme to NHS support staffAfter criticism that care workers, cleaners and porters were being excluded from a Home Office scheme granting families of health workers indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they die of Covid-19, the government announced an extension of the scheme on May 20.The scheme had been introduced in April to help support families affected by the pandemic.Home secretary Priti Patel said the extension would be “effective immediately and retrospectively”.Face coveringsFace masks become compulsory in shops and supermarkets in July, marking a U-turn on previous policy.The move follows a weekend of confusion over whether ministers intended to make face coverings compulsory after Boris Johnson said they were looking at “stricter” rules.From tomorrow, wearing a face covering will be mandatory in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres & transport hubs.It is vital that everyone plays their part by following this new guidance so we can #EnjoySummerSafely & defeat #coronavirus.— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) July 23, 2020In the early days of the pandemic, ministers and the government’s scientific advisers repeatedly played down the value of face coverings, saying the evidence on the benefits was thin.There were also thought to be concerns stocks could be diverted from the NHS at a time of intense pressure on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) if the public were encouraged to wear them.Remote votingThe government was forced to row back on plans MPs to make them vote in person in the House of Commons in the early days of the pandemic.Labour criticised the “shambolic” long queues MPs had to form to vote which were dubbed the “coronavirus conga”.A hybrid system enabling parliamentarians to either attend the Commons in person or contribute to proceedings from afar via Zoom was put in place from the end of April before being halted in early June.Related... 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Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now. The government may have spent up to £105.4m covering the cost of meals in the first week of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.More than 10m meals were eaten in restaurants using the programme which gives diners 50% off their food, up to £10 per person, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday throughout August.If someone ate in a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, the government could have to pay out £90 a week for them.By contrast, the government’s free school meals programme for children gives parents £90 to cover the entire six-week summer holiday.Nearly 1.3m children are eligible for the Covid Summer Food Fund, which was introduced following a campaign by Manchester United and England football star Marcus Rashford. Extending the free school meals scheme into the summer holidays, which the government initially opposed, cost an extra £120m in additional funding.The Treasury has put aside £500m to pay for Eat Out to Help Out.The Treasury said on Tuesday it had received claims for 10,540,394 individual meals from restaurants up and down the country. More than 83,000 restaurants have signed up.If two people eat out together, that counts as two individual meals in the statistics.It means that a maximum £105,403,940 may have been claimed in the first week.Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said the programme meant not only were customers getting a “great deal” they were “supporting the almost two million people employed in this sector”.“These amazing figures show that our plan for jobs is delivering,” he added.The government hopes Eat Out to Help Out will help prevent the hospitality industry, and the jobs that come with it, from being devastated by the impact of the pandemic.But when it was announced it was revealed the most senior civil servant at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had raised concerns.Jim Harra, HMRC’s permanent secretary, wrote to Sunak requesting a ministerial direction – a formal order to go ahead with a scheme.He warned there were “particular value for money risks” with the programme.The Treasury said ministerial directions were “a normal part of business” when “managing public money rules for one reason or another can’t be met”.Related... Government Blunder Sees Migrant Children Wrongly Denied Free School Meals No.10 Slammed For 'Obesity Crackdown' That Ignores Poverty Opinion: Why Won't Boris Johnson Admit It's Too Dangerous To Keep Pubs Open?
Listen to our weekly podcast Am I Making You Uncomfortable? about women’s health, bodies and private lives. Available on Spotify, Apple, Audioboom and wherever you listen to your podcasts.From Black Lives Matter to campaigns raising awareness of mental illness, 2020 has been a year of activism – and it’s celebrated in British Vogue’s September issue.Marcus Rashford graces the cover for his work campaigning to end child poverty in the UK. The footballer used his platform to force a government U-turn during the pandemic, after officials cut the food voucher scheme over the summer holidays – at a time when families were already struggling. “If I didn’t put myself out there and say: ‘This is not okay and it needs to change,’ I would have failed my 10-year-old self,” Rashford says in the edition.  He’s joined on the cover by model and mental health campaigner Adwoa Aboah, who’s founder of the online community Gurls Talk. Related... 7 Times Marcus Rashford Has Championed Kindness Off The Pitch “For some time, it’s felt to me to have been quite a box-ticking approach to racial justice, mental health, sustainability,” Aboah says. “Now I have hope it’s changing. I don’t think you’re going to get away with just spraying perfume on the situation anymore.”The pair were photographed by Misan Harriman – the first black male photographer to shoot any cover of British Vogue in its 104-year history and the first black photographer for any September Issue of British Vogue.In total, the September Issue includes 40 activists, dubbed ‘The Faces of Hope’, who are doing big things to challenge the status quo and improve lives.Here’s just a snippet of their achievements. Patrisse Cullors – Artist and political strategist who is the co-founder of Black Lives Matter and also the founder of Reform LA Jails. Claudia Walder – As editor and founder of disability platform Able Zine, Walder aims to increase representation for disabled and chronically ill creatives, young people and communities, both online and IRL. Phyll Opoku-Gyimah – Also known as Lady Phyll, she’s the co-founder of UK Black Pride and an LGBTQ human rights activist. Tamika Mallory – As one of the organisers behind the Women’s March, the social justice activist is a prominent voice for women’s rights. She also uses her platform to support Black Lives Matter and call for better gun control in the US. Janet Mock – The writer, director and activist has published two bestselling memoirs about her journey as a trans woman. She’s also written and directed shows, including Pose and The Politician. Lavinya Stennett – As founder and director of the education social enterprise The Black Curriculum, Stennett seeks to ensure Black history is not erased in schools. Patrick Vernon – The social campaigner and cultural historian is a vocal supporter for the rights of the Windrush generation. Jane Elliott – As a teacher and diversity trainer, she’s known for her work as an anti-racism educator for decades. Dr Bernice King – The youngest child of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr is now the CEO of Martin Luther King Jr Centre for Nonviolent Social Change. Professor Angela Davis – An academic, philosopher and political activist, known for dedicating her life to human rights activism. Dr Meenal Viz – The NHS doctor protested about the lack of PPE available for healthcare workers during the pandemic. She stood outside the prime minister’s residence on Downing Street, carrying a banner, while pregnant. Fiona Dwyer – CEO of anti-violence against women charity Solace, which has been helping women and girls in London and beyond for more than 40 years. Patrick Hutchinson – Personal trainer who was widely praised for rescuing an injured man during a far-right protest. Hutchinson was supporting Black Lives Matter in London, but carried the man (reported to be from the opposing group) to safety over his shoulder.  Alice Wong – The disability activist, writer and podcaster is also the founder of The Disability Visibility Project, dedicated to amplifying disabled voices in the media. Anna Taylor – 19-year-old climate justice activist who has been leading the youth climate strike in the UK, all while studying. Janaya Future Khan – An international ambassador of Black Lives Matter who has helped the movement grow globally. Yvette Williams– As co-founder of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign, Williams works to seek safe housing and support for victims of the tower fire and their families.  Mireille Cassandra Harper and her mother, Elaine Harper – Mireille’s ‘10 Steps to Non-Optical Allyship’ guide went viral after the death of George Floyd. She’s photographed in the issue alongside her mother, who campaigned against the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela during the 1980s.Clara Amfo – A radio and TV broadcaster who was praised for talking about racism and her own mental health struggles following the death of George Floyd.  Quinn Wilson – We have creative director and activist Quinn Wilson to thank for creating Lizzo’s videos.  Jari Jones – The actor, trans model and activist was the first Black trans woman producer of a film at the Cannes Film Festival.Brittany Packnett Cunningham – As a social justice activist, educator and writer, she was once cited by Barack Obama as a leader whose “voice is going to be making a difference for years to come”.Doreen Lawrence – The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, who tirelessly works as an anti-racism campaigner as founder of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Imarn Ayton – An anti-racism activist and actor who was among the organisers of the Black Lives Matter protests in London this summer. Brianna Agyemang & Jamila Thomas – These are the music executives and creators of #theshowmustbepaused movement. Alaa Salah – The Sudanese student is famous for demanding the end of President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year dictatorship.  Munroe Bergdorf – A model and activist who uses her platform and own experience to campaign for trans rights. Kendrick Sampson – Actor and activist who has spoken out about structural racism, telling of how he was shot by seven rubber bullets while joining a protest over the death of George Floyd. iO Tillett Wright – The writer, producer and social justice activist helps educate the masses about gender through their work.  Joan Smalls – Smalls has become an anti-racism activist, calling out the fashion industry for its lack of diversity. Temi Mwale –  Racial justice campaigner and founder of youth and community empowerment organisation The 4Front Project. Reni Eddo-Lodge – Bestselling author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which has re-entered the bestseller charts in recent weeks. Layla F Saad– Bestselling author of Me and White Supremacy, which aims to help readers see the impact of white privilege and white supremacy in their lives. Bethann Hardison – The former model advocates for greater diversity in the fashion industry.  Jesse Williams– Actor, director, producer and educator, who has used his platform at awards ceremonies to condemn police brutality. Vanessa Nakate – Founder of the climate justice organisation, The Rise Up Movement. Riz Ahmed – British actor and activist, who has spoken about negative stereotyping of Muslims, both in the UK and abroad. Vogue September issue is available via digital download and on newsstands Friday August 7. READ MORE: While We're Confronting Racism, Let's Talk About Colourism Too These Are All The Books Brits Have Been Reading During Lockdown Opinion: Black British TV Shows Are Still Missing From Our Screens