Photo: Cllr Jaymey McIvor in action
As I commented yesterday, on the Chreda Foundation Facebook page, UK teenagers frequently demonstrate how community-conscious they can be. So it was a delight to hear that at last night’s Epping Forest District Council Civic Awards, at Gilwell Park, fourteen-year-old Epping Forest Youth Councillor Jaymey McIvor was named Young Citizen of the Year, in recognition of the inspiration he provides to the district’s young people. Jaymey, who received no less than fourteen nominations for the award, has been doing charity work since he was just seven years old, initially volunteering with an Enfield-based charity for blind people, and spending much of his spare time representing the young people of the district, both locally and nationally. He is a Member of the Epping Forest Youth Council, and of the Youth Parliament (for Brentwood & Ongar). He was also recently presented with a Princess Diana Award, for making a difference in his community. Jaymey – who attends St John’s School, Epping – says he hopes to inspire other young people to volunteer, rather than simply playing video games after school. What an amazing young man… well-deserving of this latest award!
Today is World Toilet Day. And before you start sniggering, let’s just consider the facts:
- 2.5 billion people don’t have access to decent toilet facilities;
- 1.1 billion people have no toilet whatsoever;
- Almost 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die every year from diarrhoea.
Proper sanitation is a critical issue, and World Toilet Day has been drawing attention to it for the last 11 years, demanding action from governments, and spreading the word that this shouldn’t be a taboo subject.
As Michael Lindenmayer of Eirene and its spin-off Toilet Hackers says, most people are conscious of the water issue, but not so many people realise just how big a problem there is with the lack of proper toilet facilities. So he and his associates have even staged a musical on the subject today, entitled “The Inconvenient Poop”!
The World Toilet Day website points out that proper sanitation is a basic human right, and seeks to make it a reality for the countless people whose lives are currently blighted by the lack of facilities that we in the West take for granted. Why not visit their site, now, and sign up to their campaign – I Give A Shit: Do You? And while you’re there, perhaps you can sign their petition, too.
Last month’s launch of the Awards
Less than 3 weeks to get your nominations in!
Another Local Authority area has launched a Youth Awards scheme. Last month, in Scotland, councillors and young people launched the South Ayrshire Youth Forum Awards, which seek to “recognise, celebrate and reward” youngsters who are making a difference in the community through volunteering, caring, overcoming adversity or displaying artistic talent.
As Young People’s Champion for South Ayrshire Council (Councillor John Hampton) says, this is an opportunity to show your appreciation for some of the many “talented, generous and selfless young people” in the community who are often such an inspiration. We at Generosity News and the Chreda Foundation couldn’t agree more.
To be eligible, young people need to be between 14 and 25 years of age, and living in South Ayrshire. There are eight categories of award:
- Sport – sponsored by South Ayrshire Sports Council;
- The Arts and Entertainment – sponsored by West FM;
- Democracy and Citizenship – sponsored by the Scottish Youth Parliament;
- Health – sponsored by the NHS Ayrshire and Arran;
- Environment – sponsored by the 2020 Climate Public Engagement Group;
- Volunteering – sponsored by Voluntary Action South Ayrshire;
- Community Involvement – sponsored by Young Scot;
- Unsung Hero – sponsored by the South Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership.
An overall winner will also be selected from among the category winners.
Nominations close on Friday the 9th of November and the Awards will be presented at a ceremony to be held on the 6th of December, at Troon Concert Hall, to which the three finalists from each category will be invited, and at which the final winners will be announced. You can log on to www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/youthforum to nominate someone, and further information can be obtained by emailing SAYFawards@south-ayrshire.gov.uk.
Generosity News tends to concentrate more on the positive side of life, but back in August I felt obliged to criticise present UK Government policy regarding disabled workers, as Remploy closures hit the headlines, and although there was some good news, overall the situation appeared rather bleak.
But I was delighted to read today that here in Wales former Remploy employees from the closed Treforest plant are now turning the tables and showing that disabled people aren’t willing to accept defeat. Steven Watts, Rocky Worsfold and three colleagues are successfully running a furniture refurbishment and re-upholstering business, GreenCap, at Caerphilly’s Western Industrial Estate, breathing new life into old office furniture and then selling it on. Local Council Leader Harry Andrews describes it as “a success story…[which]…has the support of the Welsh Government, local authorities and other businesses” and which, as he points out, is remarkably like “the original concept of Remploy back in the 1940s.”
It’s great to see these enterprising people, who understandably “felt cheated” at being dumped by their employer of many years, now regaining their confidence and sense of self-worth, as their new company – which has already rescued and sold-on 100 desks and 130 chairs that would have been destined for landfill – attracts admiration and support from many people, including Education Minister Leighton Andrews, who recently visited the social enterprise. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the flagship enterprise that once employed 10,000 people and generated sales totalling £175million, GreenCap is going from strength to strength, and already has a customer list that includes 118 118, HSBC, Swalec and Cardiff City Council. With the assistance of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum and the Local Authority it seems to have a great future ahead of it. Our congratulations to the workers who said “No!” to being thrown on the scrapheap, and had the foresight and courage to go it alone, despite their disabilities. All power to them and their new enterprise!
Save the Children has focused its attention on UK kids, this week. For the first time since it was set up nearly 100 years ago the charity has commenced a fundraising campaign specifically targeted at the poorest children in this country. It follows publication today of their new report, It Shouldn’t Happen Here, which claims that our children are bearing the brunt of the current recession, and are often underfed and inadequately clothed. The report was compiled after interviewing more than 1500 youngsters and 5000 parents. The campaign will seek to raise £½million, to help tackle the problem of the 3.5 million children who are now said to be living in poverty in the UK… 1.6 million of them in “severe poverty”.
Save the Children says that some parents are cutting back on their own food, in order to feed their kids, and that families are often at breaking-point because of money worries. Many children do not have the basic requirement of at least one hot meal a day, are going to school without warm clothing in the wintertime, and can’t afford new footwear. School trips are frequently missed by the poorer kids, whose parents can’t afford to send them along. And many parents admit that they even have to borrow money for essentials like food and clothing.
Interestingly, most of the kids identified as being among the neediest in the country had at least one parent working, so it’s not just a simple case of unemployment. With the Government committed to eradicating child poverty, there have already been suggestions that the charity’s claims are a little too political for comfort. But chief executive of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth, says it’s “appalling” that working parents aren’t “able to earn enough to meet the basic needs of their children”, and is urging the Government to “make work pay by encouraging more employers to introduce a living wage, provide extra child care support to help parents trying to get into work and protect the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts.”
The new campaign joins many others already underway in the UK to tackle the problem of child poverty. These include End Child Poverty, the Child Poverty Action Group, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s child poverty programme.