Some of the news that has caught our eye, including the uneven levelling up agenda, Help for Heroes support for Afghans, a campaign to reduce road deaths, a National Trust plan to plant trees and Sharpham Trust receiving a quality mark
UK / Less well off pay for the Conservatives mistakes
With the UK losing £800M a week rather than gaining £350M through an unnecessarily harsh Brexit bill (nobody voted to leave the single market), and profligate spending during Covid (£38bn on track and trace, which people turned off), it’s hardly surprising that Boris Johnson led the Conservative MPs into breaking another manifesto pledge to raise money for their poor handling of the UK’s cash.
MPs voted to increase National Insurance by over 10 per cent, unevenly raising the tax burden on those least able to afford it. The claim was the money raised would go to the NHS and social care… with no guarantee it would go to social care.
Torbay MP Kevin Foster was quick to fawn behind the proposals.
This isn’t the time to talk about how austerity has continued to back-fire for communities and the country since 2010, but it is the right time to mention Johnson’s uneven approach to his Levelling Up agenda.
The increase to National Insurance comes at a time with there’s a cut to Universal Credit. This is going to also hit those least able to afford it, nearly 50% of whom are in work. According to the FT a well-placed source said internal modelling called the ending of the UC uplift as catastrophic with homelessness and poverty like to rise and food banks usage set to soar.
But we already know Conservative policy disregards its impact on the most vulnerable in society.
There are ongoing accusations that Conservative party donors have won lucrative contracts from the government.
UK / Help for Heroes steps up Afghan support
The UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan seems, at least from the political side, nothing less than disastrous. The Foreign Secretary didn’t even take a break of his beach-side holiday. And still hundreds (is that thousands) of emails have gone unanswered.
But as with Covid, the intelligent compassion of the British people steps in. Charity Help For Heroes is scaling up its activities to help support the recent influx of Afghan interpreters and locally embedded civilians.
It not only offers much-needed support but is a signpost on how to approach the UK’s guests who have fled Afghanistan.
Larry Holmes, Help For Heroes case manager for Devon, Somerset and Cornwall, spent almost 34 years in the Royal Marines, serving worldwide. While in Afghanistan he had 80 Afghan interpreters in his charge.
He said: “They were a real asset. Without them, many more lives would have been lost, without a doubt. They worked for, and stood with, us and we should stand up for them, now. Many of them were classed as friends by some of the personnel they assisted, and we should always look out for our friends.”
Proactively and visibly supporting embedded civilians is of significant interest to many veterans who have expressed anguish about their likely vulnerabilities, said the charity. Help For Heroes also cite its September survey carried out among veterans supported by the Charity showed 60 per cent admit to feelings of anger, while 47 per cent have experienced guilt and/or shame because of recent events in Afghanistan.
Every Day Without A Road Death
Project EDWARD – Every Day Without A Road Death – will see a week-long series of events to promote road safety between 13 and 17 September
Three Kia Soul EVs are taking part in a green challenge to cover the country using the smallest charge. They will set off from Dundee, Plymouth and Cambridgeshire to The Midlands.
Drivers will showcase the best examples of safe road planning, post-crash response, design and engineering.
In Exeter, a convoy of emergency service vehicles will accompany the Project EDWARD vehicle and results from the Air Ambulance’s recent life-saving missions will be shared.
You can keep up-to-date with the road trips and the safety advice. Ours would be to reduce speed and cut the use of private cars.
Project blossom – National Trust plants trees
The National Trust’s reputation has taken a blow with the notion it has been taken over by the historically illiterate right-wing – if you don’t acknowledge the past it didn’t happen, right? – something the charity denies.
That notion was only underlined by reports the PR contract for the charity was awarded to the Vote Leave campaigners.
Planting trees avoids all that pesky history and addresses the need for green social places (maybe raising the issues of pesky bad planning). The plans, unveiled on September 10, include 45 blossom projects on National Trust land, including Plymouth.
“The ambition of ‘Project Blossom’ is to create inspirational green spaces in and near urban areas to connect more people to nature and to create more spaces for hope and reflection,” says the National Trust.
“The Plymouth site will be located on the coast at Devil’s Point, overlooking Plymouth Sound, the country’s first National Marine Park, and adjacent to Barn Pool bay, where Charles Darwin set sail from in 1831. ”
Toby Fox, assistant director for Devon at the National Trust, said: “Our vision is nature, beauty and history for everyone.
“Our simple ambition is to bring all these elements together in the creation of a green, nature-rich haven which is an inspiring space that the people of Plymouth can use for a variety of different purposes.”
Sharpham Trust gains Quality Assurance Mark
The Sharpham Trust has received its Quality Assurance Mark plaque. Jane Bray, of South Hams Community & Voluntary Services (CVS) visited Sharpham House and grounds to present the plaque to our Volunteer Officer Lucy Bell.
In handing over the plaque Jane said: “Sharpham Trust has been contributing to the community in many ways since its inception in 1982.
The QA Mark has been developed by Teignbridge CVS, South Hams CVS and Torbay Community Development Trust with funding support from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
Jane said: “An educational charity set in a stunning location, you connect people with nature and foster mindfulness and well-being through an impressive programme of retreats, mindfulness courses, events and the arts.
“You offer many volunteering opportunities as well as an impressive and broad range of courses supporting mental health, wellbeing and more.”