Original post from Disabled Go News



Disabled activists have asked why the government is refusing to answer key questions about severe cuts to the support packages of former users of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).

Both the Department of Health (DH) – which is responsible for social care policy – and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have refused to say whether they are monitoring the impact of the fund’s closure on disabled people.

Disability News Service (DNS) has already reported on two local authorities where former ILF-users have seen their support packages slashed since the fund closed.

ILF was funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and when it closed on 30 June was helping nearly 17,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently.

But the coalition government decided that it should be scrapped, promising instead that nine months’ worth of non-ring-fenced funding would be transferred through DCLG to councils in England, and to devolved governments in Wales and Scotland.

This transition process has been hit by reports of cuts to the care packages of former ILF-users, but both DH and DCLG are refusing to answer key questions about the measures they have taken to ensure their support.

Among the questions they refuse to answer are: whether they are concerned about reports of former ILF-users facing significant cuts to their support; how they see the overall picture across England since the fund closed; and whether they are making any attempts to monitor the impact of closure on former ILF-users.


They have also refused to confirm – as alleged by at least one local authority – that DCLG did not pass on the full equivalent of the annual support that would previously have been paid to each ILF-user, but instead cut it by three per cent.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “The refusal of DCLG and DH to answer even a few simple questions about the transfer process surrounding the closure of the ILF implies that they have something that they want to hide; otherwise there would be no need for this complete lack of transparency.”

And Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said: “Central government seems to have tried to wash its hands of all responsibility for meeting the social care support needs for former ILF recipients, but we will continue to hold them to account.”

The closure of ILF came at a time when councils were already facing huge funding pressures, with the latest (provisional) official figures showing a three per cent decrease in real terms in adult social care spending in 2014-15, compared with 2013-14, and an eight per cent fall since 2009-10.

Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow minister for older people, social care and carers, said: “This government’s failure to face-up to the care crisis in England has left many vulnerable people without the help and support they need.

“Ministers must now come clean about whether funding passed to councils has been top-sliced, and if so how many people have had their support cut as a consequence.

“It is vital that the needs of former ILF recipients are met so they can live independently and with dignity.”

A DCLG spokeswoman refused to answer specific questions from DNS, but said in a statement: “We have ensured that there is sufficient funding to maintain support packages for all existing Independent Living Fund users.

“We have also encouraged local authorities to use any surplus funds to provide further social care.”

A DH spokeswoman also refused to answer key questions, but said in a statement: “We are committed to ensuring adults with care and support needs are properly supported by local authorities – our Care Act puts a duty on local authorities to assess and meet the eligible needs of people.”

She said that 94 per cent of all former ILF-users had already been receiving some services from their local authority prior to the fund’s closure, and that “authorities will now be responsible for meeting all eligible needs for these people”.

She said that DH had issued guidance to councils to help them prepare for the transfer, while the new care and support reform programme board was monitoring the impact of the Care Act.

She added: “If anyone with care and support needs, including former ILF-users, are unhappy with how their needs are being met, they can use the complaints procedure or take their concern to the Local Government Ombudsman.”

But one local authority, Waltham Forest, in London, has confirmed to Disability News Service that its ILF transition funding was cut by three per cent by DCLG before it was handed over.

A Waltham Forest council spokeswoman said: “When the government transferred ILF funding to the council, the overall funding amount was reduced by three per cent… this was intended to allow for overall expected changes in client circumstances.

“The DCLG will need to comment on why they decided to reduce the funding by three per cent – this was their decision.”

Waltham Forest is one of the councils where there have been severe cuts to support, with 53 of 60 former ILF-users seeing their packages cut after being reassessed.

The council spokeswoman said: “We have reviewed everyone receiving a service and depending on a person’s current individual circumstances, some people will receive less support and others will receive more.

“Everyone goes through the same assessment process to ensure that packages are allocated fairly and by current need.

“Our intention is to ensure the funding is being used by everyone who needs it, in a way that can meet those needs, not simply to pass the funding on to individuals based on an old assessment of their needs which may no longer reflect their current situation.”

She added: “We also advise individuals of their right to appeal if they have concerns about their care and support and will carefully review each decision on a case-by-case basis.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com


Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

More posts from author   ………………’


Original post from NHS Alliance


NHSA Catalyst

NHS Alliance launches delivery arm

NHS Alliance provides a unique service for members, NHSA Catalyst. Building on its considerable experience and expertise in delivering project work for policy makers, and developing cutting edge thinking and analysis on the national stage, as well as for local health and social care, it is now taking this a stage further. NHS Alliance has always been about thinking, but its priority now is to help its members translate ideas into best practice on the ground. Recognising the lack of time and space to work ideas through coupled with a reluctance to bring in external consultants who may lack the practical experience of working on the front line, NHSA Catalyst will provide thinking and doing teams at an affordable price.

NHSA Catalyst will build on the Alliance’s strong local and national networks to build teams that can work with its members to develop and implement solutions that transform care for patients.  It will source bespoke clinical and managerial leaders, working both within the NHS and independently, who can deliver expertise and offer a fresh perspective on the problems they face in their own day-to-day work.

NHSA Catalyst has teamed up with a number of delivery partners to broaden its offering and enable it to scale up if necessary. Specialist health communications consultancy, Salix & Co, will provide strategic and tactical communications delivery, while an emerging strategic partnership between NHS Alliance and Capita, means Catalyst can draw upon the resources of the largest and best outsourcing and consultancy when necessary.


The NHSA Catalyst offering:

  • Supporting practices to work together and exploring the benefits of working at scale, from simply managing office functions in a more efficient way, through to new ways of delivering services, rising to the challenge of extended hours care, and building new relationships across an extended primary care team and the wider community.
  • Building relationships between primary care practitioners and the CCG – with a particular focus on general practice and community pharmacy. Supporting CCGs to manage their local market for care by enabling local primary care to rise to the new challenges of delivering care in better ways.
  • Building collaborations between local NHS and community-based providers of wellbeing services to reduce the demand on the NHS. In every locality there are community-based organisations such as housing providers that have an ambition to keep people healthy, promote recovery, support those with LTCs to live well in the community and reduce demand on GPs and A&E. NHS Alliance has knowledge of the types of work they’re doing and can support your efforts to collaborate with local partners to build healthy communities.
  • Ensuring that the patient’s voice is central to the way we change and develop health and social care. Our Patient Powered Improvement (PPI) Network connects a wide range of practitioners who are at the forefront of creating care where decisions between the patient and the clinician are shared, and patients are supported to identify what they need to improve their lives rather that moves way beyond a medical intervention.
  • Sourcing the best clinical experts to support local changes.  NHS Alliance is a network of clinical leaders, both experienced and emerging, who are interested in taking time out to understand key challenges and share their expertise.
  • Thinking through problems with you and highlighting the best of local practice. NHS Alliance is regularly asked to work with others to explore how primary care can change and develop as part of an evolving health and social care system – transforming care at a time of increasing demands and standstill budgets.
  • Development of strategic and tactical communications strategies. Whether to facilitate internal engagement or develop behavioural change campaigns, insight, intelligence and sound thinking will support programmes of work to help its members reach the right people with the right message at the right time through the right channel.


Examples of recent project work includes:

  • Creating a team of facilitators to support practices to work together across London: Eg, a team of NHS Alliance leaders with different expertise and experience are working with groups of practices and their CCGs to develop their capacity to work together as providers of extended primary care.  It is working with the Office of London CCGs to support pilot demonstration projects in a number of areas across London.
  • Supporting innovation in primary care – PM Challenge Fund bids: Eg, it worked with and supported a number of members in developing their bids for the PM’s Challenge Fund and is now a direct partner in two of the selected projects.
  • Running workshops across healthcare systems to develop primary care: Eg, it is supporting a CCG and its practices to develop a collective view about how to work together, agreeing the shape and scope for new practices to work together across local natural communities.
  • Sourcing clinical leaders to act as independent experts on tendering or procurement exercises: Eg, we identified a medical director of an out of hours organisation to support a tender exercise in another part of the Country, reviewing applications remotely over the internet as well as joining others in the local team to review tenders face to face.
  • Understanding the impact of digital exclusion: Eg, supporting NHS England to help them understand what the impact might be for the losers in the new digital world and identify areas of best practice.

 The Report  ……………………’


Original post from Medical News Today


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes acquire a new behavior or skill only in a specific context, but they have difficulty transferring that learned skill or information to a new context.

For example, children with autism can be taught what a dog is by showing them a picture of a dog and repeating the word “dog” over and over. But, when they are then taught what a cat is or even shown another type of dog, the previous knowledge does not transfer, and they have to learn this information from scratch.

A new study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that training individuals with ASD to acquire new information by repeating the information actually harms their ability to apply that learned knowledge to other situations. This finding, by an international research team, challenges the popular educational approaches designed for ASD individuals that focus on repetition and drills.

“There have been few systematic investigations into the fundamental mechanisms by which information is acquired by ASD individuals – and into the potential reasons for their restricted, atypical learning,” said Marlene Behrmann, the Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University and a faculty member in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). “This study begins to scratch the surface of the phenomenon.”


Using a computer screen, high-functioning ASD adults and control participants were trained to find the location of three diagonal bars surrounded by horizontal lines. Both groups were asked to identify the diagonal bars during eight daily practice sessions and their speed and accuracy were measured. The bars stayed in the same location for the first four days and were moved to a second location in the display for days five through eight.

“It was crucial to set up the experiment this way so that we could initially observe the learning in the ASD individuals in a simple, well-established task but then also document the difficulty in transferring the knowledge as the experiment progressed,” said Dov Sagi of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The results showed that for the first four days – with the diagonal bars in the first location – learning was equivalent for the ASD and control groups. However, once the location of the diagonal bars changed, there was a substantial difference. The control group smoothly transitioned to learning the new location and their performance continued to improve.

In contrast, the individuals with autism performed poorly when the target location was changed and they were not able to improve their performance, indicating that they received no benefit from initially learning the first location. Even more interesting, they were never able to learn the second location as well as the first, demonstrating an interference in learning that may reflect the consequences of extensive repetition.

“It’s like they showed ‘hyperspecificity’ of learning – their learning became fixed and inflexible – since learning the first location adversely influenced their ability to learn the second instance,” said Hila Harris, the study’s lead author from the Weizmann Institute.

Next, the researchers looked for ways to circumvent the hyperspecificity. With a new group of ASD adults and controls, they ran the exact same experiment, but this time they occasionally inserted “dummy” screens that did not contain any diagonal bars.

This time, when the location of the bars changed on the fifth day, the ASD group efficiently learned the new location.

“Our conclusion is that breaks in repetition allow the visual system some time to rest and allow autistic individuals to learn efficiently and to then generalize,” said New York University’s David Heeger. “Repeated stimulation leads to sensory adaptation which interferes with learning and makes learning specific to the adapted conditions. Without adaptation, learning is more efficient and can be generalized.”

The research team believes that the findings have important implications for educating individuals with autism.

“Individuals with autism need to be taught in ways that support or promote generalization rather than in ways that reinforce over specificity,” said Nancy Minshew, professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Pittsburgh and in the joint CMU-Pitt CNBC. “For example, in the context of learning what a dog is, using a full range of examples of dogs – and even of animals, more generally – incorporates variability from the beginning and promotes learning a broad concept rather than a specific example.”

Adapted by MNT from original media release

Read more breaking health news on our homepage


The U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative funded this research.

The University of Haifa’s Yoram Bonneh also participated in the research.

Carnegie Mellon University   …………….’

Original post from Daily Mail

‘…………….By Martha Cliff and Jo Tweedy For Mailonline

  • Scope is highlighting the assumptions often made about disability and sex
  • A new campaign, End the Awkward, takes lighthearted look at the issue 
  • Emily Yates, 24, has cerebral palsy and has been dating Rob for three years
  • Sam Cleasby, 34, from Sheffield, says inflammatory bowel disease initially ‘rid me of my sexuality’ and ‘it’s really easy to become isolated’

Three disabled women have spoken openly and honestly about their love lives in the hope of tackling some of the prejudices that exist in society.

It’s part of charity Scope’s new campaign End the Awkward which aims to challenge the assumptions often made by able-bodied people about sex and disability.

Scope believes that there is still a long way to go with research showing that only five per cent of Brits have ever asked a disabled person out on a romantic date.

Scroll down for video 

Just five per cent of able-bodied people will ask out a disabled person, research by disabled charity Scope found. Emily Yates, 24, from Cheshire, has spoken about her own sex life in a bid to persuade others to communicate more

Just five per cent of able-bodied people will ask out a disabled person, research by disabled charity Scope found. Emily Yates, 24, from Cheshire, has spoken about her own sex life in a bid to persuade others to communicate more

Richard Lane, head of campaigns at Scope, said: ‘End the Awkward is all about challenging attitudes to disability in an open and lighthearted way.

‘We want people to relax and not let their assumptions about disability and sex get in the way of what could be an amazing connection with another person. The important thing is to focus on the person and the connection, not the impairment.’

Here FEMAIL speaks to three disabled women about their love lives:


Emily Yates, 24, was born with cerebral palsy and has been a wheelchair user since she was nine. She’s been dating her boyfriend Rob Hughes, also 24, for nearly three years.

Rob is able-bodied and works in IT. The couple live together on the border between Chester and North Wales.

Emily, who is an accessibility consultant for disability charity Enhance The UK, says she enjoys a healthy intimate relationship with Rob, who she met while on a charity trip with Journey of a Lifetime Trust (JOLT) to Southern Africa when they were both 16 years old.

Emily, who was born with cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair since she was nine, is in a long-term relationship with partner Rob, who's able-bodied. The couple have a 'great sex life', she says

Emily, who was born with cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair since she was nine, is in a long-term relationship with partner Rob, who’s able-bodied. The couple have a ‘great sex life’, she says

The 24-year-old says men have approached her in bars before asking, 'how do you have sex?'

The 24-year-old says men have approached her in bars before asking, ‘how do you have sex?’

She told FEMAIL: ‘We’ve got a really good sex life.

‘I’m quite happy to say that he’s the only person that I’ve slept with. We’re best friends and really comfortable with each other. There’s nothing sexually that we can’t do.’

She adds that while her condition doesn’t cause her any pain, it can mean her muscles are tighter than an able-bodied person so different positions can be tricky.

Emily explained: ‘Getting into certain positions at the start was really, really tough but obviously now I’m used to having sex and we know what works.’

‘I’ve got no complaints, it’s great! There’s nothing we can’t do although obviously some things take a bit more getting used to.’

Emily believes that communication is the key to a fulfilling sex life.

Emily has disrobed for a series of portraits to hang in the Gherkin in London as part of a new campaign, Undressing Disability, which aims to break down taboos

Emily has disrobed for a series of portraits to hang in the Gherkin in London as part of a new campaign, Undressing Disability, which aims to break down taboos

‘We met when we were 16 but didn’t get together until we were 20, so we were already very comfortable with each other before anything happened,’  she explained.

‘The way able-bodied people can view the disabled can be a double-sided coin.

‘In one respect, people think disability is undesirable; society has taught us that disability is a negative thing, which, of course, in some ways it is.

‘But there’s this myth that disabled people can’t, won’t or don’t have sex.’

‘For us though, it’s given us more intimacy because we have to communicate so much more.’

‘Men have come up to me in bars and instead of introducing themselves, the first thing they’ll ask is “how can you have sex?”

‘They’ll think: “she’s attractive but I want to know if she can have sex.”‘

Emily’s favourite response? ‘Yes I can but I won’t be having it with you.’

Questions aren’t a bad thing, though. She says she encourages them because: ‘it’s the only way to strip away ignorance.’

Her work for Enhance The UK sees her deliver body image workshops to schools, organisations and workplaces all over the UK.

The charity’s latest campaign, Undressing Disability, shows Emily and a host of other disabled people stripping off for photographs that will form part of an exhibition at the Gherkin in London later this month.

Emily says disrobing for the cause was a no-brainer: ‘It aims to remove this taboo and get the conversation going because dating and having sex are different when you’re disabled.

‘People are often really, really embarrassed [to talk about the issue] and there isn’t always a forum to discuss it.’ 


Kelly Perks-Bevington, 26, from the West Midlands, has genetic disorder spinal muscular dystrophy type three and has been in an electric wheelchair since the age of 11.

Kelly, who works for a lifestyle management company for professional footballers, married graphic designer and artist Jarath – or Jaz – also 26, six months ago. They were friends in college but went their separate ways before reuniting in their early twenties.

Kelly told FEMAIL how strangers have come up to them to ask if and how they have sex, and even assumed her brother is her husband because he also uses a wheelchair.

 ‘I really don’t know why people assume that,’ she said. ‘When we were younger we’d be shopping together and people would just say “Is that your boyfriend?”‘

Kelly Perks-Bevington, 26, has genetic disorder spinal muscular dystrophy type three and has been in an electric wheelchair since the age of 11

Kelly Perks-Bevington, 26, has genetic disorder spinal muscular dystrophy type three and has been in an electric wheelchair since the age of 11

‘Even on our wedding day we had it two or three times.

‘One of the hotel staff went up to my brother and said “What’s your room number because your wife’s just bought a cocktail and you’ve got to pay for it”, and my brother said, “That’s my sister and she can pay for her own drink!”

‘Jaz will get a lot of remarks in the pub like, “Oh your girlfriend’s the one in the wheelchair, oh fair play” – as if to say “well done you, you’re doing her a favour”.

‘He’s also had more sexual questions like how we do stuff, can we have sex like a normal couple – and I just think “what’s crossing your mind to make you ask that?”

‘We respond differently depending on the situation and what we feel like at the time.

‘Sometimes if we’re on a night out we’ll make up a story and laugh it off and then other times we’ll just answer their questions and keep it vague – but it depends on how many drinks we’ve had!

‘When I was younger I was a bit overly confident. I used to put on a bit of a front and make out like nothing was a problem even though inside I probably felt a little bit differently.

‘I think that probably put people at ease though, because I seemed so normal about it.

‘There were certain times when I met someone at a club and they’d act a little bit awkward but I treat every situation as it comes and speak to people how I like to be spoken to.

‘I just get it out there because I’d prefer that to someone holding back a question and making their own assumptions about you.

Kelly told FEMAIL how strangers have come up to her and her husband in pubs to ask if and how they have sex

Kelly told FEMAIL how strangers have come up to her and her husband in pubs to ask if and how they have sex

‘I do have to take the lead a bit and talk people through things. It used to be a bit of a pain because with every new relationship you have to go through that again.

‘But I think you should discuss things as you would with any other person really – disabled people are just the same as anybody else, so any questions you’ve got just ask and the person hopefully shouldn’t have a problem with it.

‘It helps that me and Jez were best friends to start with and so we just talk about everything really openly.

‘When we were first together, though, I used to make him stand outside of the bedroom so I could get undressed and get into the bed myself – just to be independent, which was quite funny really as he’d be waiting there for ages.

‘One day Jez just turned around and said “Wouldn’t it just be easier if I helped you” – and I think I needed to know that he was willing to do that.

‘Now it’s part of our routine that he does everything like that for me.

‘I’ve learnt how to embrace how I am now and just do things how I need to do them.’



Sam Cleasby, 34, from Sheffield, suffers with inflammatory bowel disease. She’s married to photographer Timm, 43. They’ve been together for 17

Sam Cleasby, 34, from Sheffield, suffers with inflammatory bowel disease. She had to wear an ostomy bag for a year and admitted that, for a time, it ‘rid me of my sexuality’.

But a sexy pin-up girl shoot with her photographer husband 43-year-old Timm and writing her blog So Bad Ass helped Sam to feel like herself again, despite her chronic condition.

And now the self-employed writer is on a mission to stop ‘poo from being taboo’.

‘I was diagnosed in 2003 – when Timm and I had been together for about five years.

‘It causes diarrhea and bleeding and a lot of pain. But I controlled that with medication for about ten years and then in 2013 I got very poorly.

‘The doctors couldn’t control it with medication anymore and I had to have an operation to remove my colon.

‘I had an ostomy – a lot of people know about a colostomy, which is a different thing – but it looks the same from the outside.

Sam had to have an ostomy bag for a year. This sexy 50s pin-up shoot helped her realise it was only a tiny party of her and she was still the same person she was before

Sam had to have an ostomy bag for a year. This sexy 50s pin-up shoot helped her realise it was only a tiny party of her and she was still the same person she was before

‘I had my ostomy for about a year, so I wore a bag on the outside of my body and that collected my waste. The biggest problem was it really effected my self-esteem and confidence. 

‘I think there’s an idea that it’s something that old people have but I was 32 when I had my ostomy bag.

‘Timm and I had been together a long time and in some ways I think I was lucky about that because I didn’t have to figure out how to approach a new partner and how to talk to them about all this, but on the other hand it completely changed our roles in the relationship for a while.

‘He had to be my carer, and I think when you’re in the role of a sick person or a patient, it’s hard to feel like a sexual person.

‘For a time I did feel like the condition and the ostomy bag had rid me of my sexuality, which is a really difficult thing to live with as a woman.

‘In the early days it was very difficult. I told Timm if he wanted to leave me he could. I wanted to give him an out – he didn’t sign up for this.

‘We had to have some quite tough discussions about how I felt.

Sam admits that having an ostomy bag initially affected her self-esteem and confidence

Sam admits that having an ostomy bag initially affected her self-esteem and confidence

‘I think I was projecting a lot of my negative thoughts about myself onto Timm – I was assuming that he was not going to find me attractive anymore… I was assuming he would be disgusted by my ostomy bag. 

‘When actually he was just concerned about seeing his wife in pain and he didn’t really know how to deal with this completely knew thing.

‘Timm’s a photographer and he suggested we do some photoshoots and that really boosted my confidence.

‘Beforehand I thought I was this huge ostomy bag with a tiny person behind it, and then I saw those pictures and realised it’s such a tiny part of you.

‘It made me realise I’m still the person I was before – I’ve just got a disability that changes things slightly.

‘I’ve had another surgery to reconnect things back inside so I now have what’s called a J pouch, so everything’s internal now – there’s nothing visible anymore.

Sam's blog, So Bad Ass, has had more than two million viewers and also helps her find meaning in her illness

Sam’s blog, So Bad Ass, has had more than two million viewers and also helps her find meaning in her illness

‘Also I started writing my blog to document my journey but also to be there as a support for other people – I really wanted to stop ‘poo being taboo’ because it’s not something we like to talk about in public. 

‘So I wrote things to get it out there because there’s a lot of younger people who live with ostomy bags.

‘I really thought just my friends and family would read it but very quickly I realised there was a huge audience of people looking for answehttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/embed/video/1219370.htmlrs and support and now by blog’s had more than two million viewers.

‘I’m quite honest on the blog and I do allude to the physical side of things but we’ve got three kids and our son’s 15, so I think if he read the ins and outs of our sex life he might kill us!

‘But I do talk about it a bit and I welcome other people to talk about it.

‘The biggest thing I always push with relationships is that when you’ve got something that’s such an embarrassing illness it’s really easy to close yourself off and become isolated, but the only way through that is to speak out and be honest.

‘So I really think people have the bravery to speak out because the more we do that, the more we can end the awkward.’





Original post from Wales Online


A group of charities says the Welsh Government and councils need to take action to end the potentially dangerous practice

A coalition of homeless charities has called for an end to the practice of housing vulnerable teenagers in B&Bs alongside recently-released offenders like Sirhowy Arms killer Matthew Williams (right)

A coalition of homeless charities has called for an end to the practice of housing vulnerable teenagers in B&Bs alongside recently-released offenders like Sirhowy Arms killer Matthew Williams (right)

A coalition of charities has called for an end to the practice of housing homeless young people in bed and breakfast accommodation.

End Youth Homelessness Cymru, led by the Welsh homeless charity Llamau, says the practice is putting 16 and 17-year-olds in danger.

The accommodation can often be shared with adults who have recently left prison and puts young people at an unacceptable risk of exploitation, abuse or worse, the group says.

Recent notorious cases involving bed & breakfasts used to house both recently-released offenders and homeless people have included the killing of a woman at the Sirhowy Arms B&B in Argoed, and the death of Darran Almond at the Morning Star B&B in Pontypridd, following which two people have been charged with murder.

Teenagers weren’t involved in either incident but the owner of the Sirhowy Arms, where 22-year-old Cerys Yemm was murdered, said she had been asked to house vulnerable teenagers, including care leavers, alongside sex offenders and people with alcohol and drug problems.


The Sirhowy Arms Hotel and, inset, Cerys Yemm and killer Matthew Williams

The Sirhowy Arms Hotel and, inset, Cerys Yemm and killer Matthew Williams

End Youth Homelessness Cymru demanded the Welsh Government creates clear, unambiguous guidance prohibiting the use of B&B accommodation in cases of emergency homelessness for those aged 16 and 17.

It also says that a safety network needs to be established so vulnerable homeless children can access accommodation, rather than be put in B&Bs.

Despite the UK Government having advised in England in 2010 that B&B accommodation was not suitable for the age bracket “even on an emergency accommodation basis,” Welsh Government advice only says such accommodation should be avoided “wherever possible”.


The Morning Star Inn, Graig, which has been used as a B&B to house homeless people and recently-released offenders

The Morning Star Inn, Graig, which has been used as a B&B to house homeless people and recently-released offenders

Frances Beecher, chief executive of Llamau, said: “Being homeless is scary. It would be frightening at any age, but at 16 or 17 it is terrifying.

“Imagine then being put in a B&B where you don’t know anyone, where you don’t have a lock on your door, where you can’t even have a shower, where you can’t even heat up a tin of soup, or where there are adults making comments at you, shouting and swearing at you.

“There’s no one to call, you don’t have a phone or any credit on you if you do.

“This is what’s happening to children right now in Wales. We are saying this is simply wrong. We are putting children in danger.”

‘No justification’

Its estimated that between 96 and 106 16 to 17-year-olds were accommodated in B&Bs in 2013/14, but there are no concrete figures, the group says, calling for more research to gauge the extent of B&B use.

Erin, not her real name, was put up by a council in a bed and breakfast at the age of 16 after her mother decided to move to a different country.

Erin was exposed to extreme levels of danger and abuse, End Youth Homelessness Cymru says, and one night was violently attacked and raped. She became addicted to drugs and started self-harming to cope.

She later moved into accommodation run by Llamau, where she received support to settle down and stop drinking.

Llamau said it costs £977 a year to provide mental health services to someone like Erin – compared to £3,727 the NHS may have spent if she had continued to use drugs as a coping mechanism.

The campaign has been supported by Labour Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle, who said: “There can be no justification for placing care leavers at risk of physical, emotional or sexual harm through unsuitable or unsafe accommodation.”

‘B&Bs only ever used as a last resort’

A spokesman for the Welsh Local Government Association, which represents Welsh councils, said: “The most effective long-term solution for tackling homelessness is to offer early help to those at risk of losing their home and tackling the causes of homelessness at their source.

“This is the focus for new housing legislation in Wales and local authorities and their partners are working hard to reduce homelessness wherever possible.

“Bed and breakfast accommodation is only ever used as a last resort where more appropriate, emergency temporary accommodation is not available, and local councils are committed to establishing appropriate alternatives so that the use of bed and breakfast accommodation can be avoided for homeless young people in Wales.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We have been clear local authorities should avoid using B&B accommodation and must make every effort to find alternative safe and secure accommodation for 16 and 17-year-olds facing homelessness.

“B&Bs may only be considered as a last resort during a short-term, emergency situation. When they are used, local authorities must adhere to strict time limits and stringent quality standards.”

End Youth Homelessness Cymru is made up of the Llamau, Adref, Dewis, GISDA and Swansea YoungSingle Homeless Project (SYSHP) youth homelessness charities.

Related: Politicians urge reform of rules governing half-way houses after deaths in private premises

More: Wales homeless legislation ‘sets example for rest of UK’ in tackling problems, says report




Original post from The Independent

‘………………..By Lizzie Dearden

MaKayla Dyer, eight, was killed while playing outside her home in Tennessee

The shooting happened in White Pine, Tennessee Google Streetview

The shooting happened in White Pine, Tennessee Google Streetview

An 11-year-old boy has been charged with murder in the US after allegedly shooting another child dead because she would not let him play with her puppies.

MaKayla Dyer, eight, was killed while playing outside her home in White Pine, Tennessee, on Saturday evening.


USA: ‘This has become routine’, says Obama on Oregon shooting

The Jefferson County Sheriff, GW “Bud” McCoig, said the girl was playing with three other girls when the boy, her neighbour, called out of the window of his mobile home to ask if he could see her two new puppies.


<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Heart melting moment of the day-McKayla's puppy waiting for her on the front porch of her home <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WATE?src=hash”>#WATE</a&gt; <a href=”http://t.co/6Oc3F5cuMl”>pic.twitter.com/6Oc3F5cuMl</a></p>&mdash; Mona Nair (@monanair) <a href=”https://twitter.com/monanair/status/651158373572849664″>October 5, 2015</a></blockquote>

When MaKayla refused, the unidentified boy allegedly retrieved his father’s 12-gauge shotgun, shot the girl in the chest from the window, and then threw the weapon outside by her body.

“It is a sad, sad situation,” said Sheriff McCoig. “We hope this don’t ever happen again.”

MaKayla was unconscious when emergency services arrived at the scene and was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital, he added.

“She was a precious little girl, she was a mommy’s girl, no matter how bad of a mood you were in she could always make you smile,” MaKayla’s mother, Latasha Dyer, told WATE 6 television.

“I want her back in my arms, this is not fair, hold and kiss you’re babies every night because you’re never promised the next day with them.

“I hope the little boy learned his lesson because he took my baby’s life and I can’t get her back.”

Both children went to the same school, where MaKayla was in the third grade and the boy was in the fifth. Counsellors attended on Monday to help other pupils.

The boy was taken into custody and has been charged with first-degree murder as a juvenile.

A judge at a detention hearing on Monday ruled that he will remain in a juvenile facility in Knoxville until a court appearance scheduled for 28 October, when a judge could rule that he be tried as an adult.


The age of criminal responsibility is set by each state in the US but Tennessee has not set a specific minimum.

Remembrance services will be held for MaKayla at her family home before her funeral on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by Reuters



A very real worry, lets hope every leader understands the consequences of their actions or nonactions.

Originally posted on Leon Clifford:

Russia-MIG29 A Russian MiG-29. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

News that Russian fighters have violated Turkish airspace increases tensions in the Middle East.

More worryingly, it raises the possibility of a dogfight in the skies over Turkey.

Now, this matters because Turkey – like Britain, the US and 25 other nations – is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which is a collective defence pact that regards an attack on one ally as an attack on all.

It is not inconceivable that Turkish fighters could shoot down an intruding aircraft prompting retaliation from a Russia led by Vladimir Putin; not a man to allow the downing of a Russian jet to pass without response.

This scenario would pitch NATO into crisis. For a member state would have been attacked and NATO leaders would be confronting the danger of a confrontation that could potentially escalate out of control into war with…

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Original post from The Telegraph



The author of a new book argues the need to recognise the vital role that autism has played in shaping human history



When Daniel Tammet was three years old, he fell down the stairs of the terraced family home he shared with his parents in Dagenham. It is his earliest memory, not just for the pain of the bumps and bruises, but because as he tumbled he could see golden sparks falling all around him. In later years, he started to experience occasional seizures; and whenever somebody shouted he would see the colour blue.

“At school I just always thought in a different way,” he says. “The other children didn’t understand me but luckily I had good teachers and a library I could go to.”

To date, Tammet (who was diagnosed with high-functioning autism in 2004, at the age of 25) has written four books (including his memoirs, neuroscience, and a collection of essays on maths) and sold more than a million copies. His writing is translated into 23 languages, 10 of which he himself can speak. Yet what most of us perceive to be simple social skills like displaying empathy and talking to strangers, Tammet admits, have been far more difficult to learn.

Daniel Tammet Photo: Jerome Tabet

Daniel Tammet Photo: Jerome Tabet

There is no one in the world like Daniel Tammet. He once, after all, publicly recited Pi from memory to 22,514 decimal places without error over five hours and nine minutes – setting a European record in the process. But some now believe that one in 100 of us now experience some form of his condition. And a new book argues it is time society started viewing those with autism differently. Not as a disability, but as something which is natural and necessary for societies to thrive.

Neurotribes, by the US author and journalist Steve Silberman, has taken five years to write. It started as an investigation into the prevalence of autism within the tech bubble of Silicon Valley, but has evolved into a sprawling and fascinating dissection of the role autism has played in shaping human history. While acknowledging the very real challenges of the condition, Silberman, 57, argues strongly against the notion of autism as some “modern plague”. Instead, he questions who are we to decide which type of minds should be considered as normal?

As Silberman writes, “The kids formerly ridiculed as nerds and brainiacs have grown up to become the architects of our future.”

Autism as a condition was only formally identified in the Forties by two medical practitioners working independently on different sides of the world. In 1943, the US child psychiatrist Leo Kanner noticed that a group of eleven of his young patients could amuse themselves for hours with small rituals like spinning pot lids on the floor, but were panicked by any change of routine. Kanner, as Silberman points out, named the condition autism—from the Greek word for self, autos – because they seemed happiest in isolation.

At around the same time, the Viennese paediatrician Hans Asperger was making similar observations among the children in his care. Asperger emphasised the potential benefits to society from their unique intelligence, calling them his “Little Professors”.

A scene from the Broadway production of The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time

A scene from the Broadway production of The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time

Yet for decades afterwards, autism was perceived as extremely rare, with the recommended course of treatment to be institutionalised and cut off from society. It was only in the Eighties, largely through the work of the English psychiatrist Lorna Wing, who was mother to a profoundly autistic daughter, that greater awareness unfolded.

As a result, the number of cases snowballed. In Britain alone there has been a ten-fold increase over the past three decades of those diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum (which includes Asperger’s syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism). Even if the number has tailed off slightly in recent years, various scare stories continue to blame the rise on everything from MMR vaccines to exposure to Wifi signals to not being shown enough love as a child. For Silberman it is far simpler. “Autism has been part of the human condition since millennia,” he says. “It’s just that we haven’t recognised it.”

Nowhere in the modern world is the prevalence of the condition more apparent that in Silicon Valley. Facebook’s former head of engineering has stated that the website’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has “a touch of the Asperger’s.” Time Magazine once suggested that the famously socially awkward Bill Gates may be autistic. Silberman says that after he wrote an article about autism in Silicon Valley he received a call from a supervisor at Microsoft who told him: “All of my top debuggers have Asperger’s syndrome. They can hold hundreds of lines of code in their head as a visual image. They look for the flaws in the pattern, and that’s where the bugs are.”

Despite his celebration of those with what is called “high-functioning” autism, as forever immortalised by Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man, Silberman is keen to stress that for many the condition remains a real disability. Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, sounds a similar note of caution. “We do need to still recognise that many autistic people and their families do experience real challenges,” she says.

Dustin Hoffman, left, in the 1988 film Rain Man

Dustin Hoffman, left, in the 1988 film Rain Man

A lack of acceptance is high up on this list. Research conducted by the National Autistic Society suggests one in three children with autism say the worst thing about school is being picked on for being different. Adults, Povey says, receive similar discrimination in the workplace.

“Sadly, there is still bullying that goes on. Some people may be good in their jobs sometimes they are so task orientated that colleagues may struggle with them. In a way they are too good.”

Anna Kennedy, 55, whose two sons Patrick, 25, and Angelo, 22, are both autistic, has experienced these challenges at first hand. After the boys were turned away from mainstream education she re-mortgaged her house to set up Hillingdon Manor School for children on the autistic spectrum which opened in 1999 and is now the largest of its kind in Europe. One young man went on to study engineering at a top university and another has since been recruited by Goldman and Sachs.

It can be difficult living with autism,” she says. “Angelo only sleeps for three hours a night. It is like being in a country where everybody else speaks a different language. But those who do have a diagnosis can thrive.’

Silberman’s book, she describes, as a “breath of fresh air” and she conducts similar campaigns for the unique skills associated with the condition to be recognised. Five years ago she launched  “Autism Got Talent” which has now turned into a national roadshow.

One performer is 14-year-old Ryan Wiggins, from Watford, who has since become a young patron of the scheme. Wiggins, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s aged 10 and moved between several schools after being bullied, has taught himself to play the guitar and also writes his own songs.

“Sometimes I’m quite socially awkward,” he says. “I do like to keep to myself. I can keep entertained usually just by sitting and making up little stories in my head. I do believe in the theory that there are a lot of positive effects (of Asperger’s). It definitely helps with my creative side. It helps me with my metaphors and in drama it really helps my memory in learning lines as well. I guess I am proud of it really.”

The US journalism professor and music critic Tim Page put it similarly in a letter to the New York Times back in 2012. “I have no doubt that Asperger’s syndrome explains a great deal about my triumphs,” he wrote, “as well as my tragedies”.          …………’


Original post from The King’s Fund

‘……………….Ruth Robertson  Fellow, Health Policy


Not good for the populations of any country, only for major business, it is power to the businesses and not the people or their governments.

Originally posted on Phil Ebersole's Blog:

TPP_map-31Negotiators for 12 Pacific Rim nations—the USA, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Peru and Chile—have finalized a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

Now it remains to be seen if the legislative bodies of these nations will ratify the agreement.  President Obama has persuaded Congress to adopt a fast-track procedure for the decision-making process, which means that it will have three months from the time the lengthy and  complicated text is submitted to vote it up or down.

My understanding is that if only two nations ratify the agreement—say, the USA and Vietnam—it will be binding on those two.  Even if legislative bodies of major nations such as Japan, Canada or Australia reject the TPP, it won’t matter if the U.S. Congress.

I don’t know the specifics of what’s been agreed to, but the leaked preliminary versions of the agreement show that it is a corporate wish…

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