WAG: Living longer AND better in Wales - Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas launched phase two of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategy for Older People at the Living Longer/Living Better conference at the Marriott Hotel, Cardiff last week.
The second phase will build on the achievements of the first phase, which has seen the introduction of popular schemes such as free bus travel and free swimming for older people, as well as the appointment of a Commissioner for Older People.
The new phase of the strategy, from April 2008-2013, will focus on a range of key strategic areas including continuing to improve the health & well-being of older people and ways of enabling them to stay independent and active for longer.
MPA: Hidden tragedy - Responding to the report ‘Forced marriage, family cohesion and community engagement: national learning through a case study of Luton’ by Dr Nazia Khanum OBE, Aneeta Prem, Metropolitan Police Authority lead member on dishonour based violence, said:
"Being forced into a marriage against one's will is an abuse of basic human rights. The police, partners in the criminal justice system, local government and health agencies are determined to tackle the problem, but there still needs to be a national strategy to ensure consistency of service provision across the country.
Existing legislation only deals with the results of coercion into marriage - beatings, kidnap and, in the worst cases, murder. Police are unable to quantify the full extent of the problem because of the way these crimes are recorded, which leads to difficulties in allocating appropriate resources”.
LGCR: It appears ‘We’ were not consulted - In his report Citizenship: Our Common Bond, former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith sets out reforms that ‘will make it clearer what it means to be a citizen and practical measures that may help to enhance a sense of shared belonging’.
The report contains key findings from a five month investigation into the current condition of citizenship in the UK. To make it clearer who is a citizen and what it means to be a citizen it recommends:
* Abolishing residual types of citizenship
* Providing that only citizens should have the fullest rights to political participation
* Reforming the category of permanent resident as it blurs the distinction between citizens and non-citizens
* Reform of the law of treason to make the duty of allegiance relevant to modern conditions
To enhance our sense of shared belonging along all stages of a citizen's journey through life, the report’s recommendations include:
* Creating a clear statement of the rights & responsibilities of citizenship
* Developing a new national day which becomes a focus for expressing our sense of shared belonging
* That citizenship education has to be active throughout, consisting in learning through doing
* Young people should have a citizenship ceremony at the end of school
* Reduction in university fees for those who take part in civic activities
* A new standard to give employers an incentive to promote civic engagement among their
* Creating more mentoring opportunities for people at different stages of their lives
The report also looks at how to engage newcomers to the UK in UK society.
* Taking new steps to promote the learning of English - including language loans
* A mentoring scheme for people aspiring to become citizens
* Encouraging more people to take a citizenship course
* Using citizenship ceremonies to connect new citizens with the local community
DfT: Make them pay for ‘mocking’ those with real disabilities - New Blue Badge passes are to be issued in a tamper-proof laminated casing as part of the drive to combat abuse of the parking concession for people with disabilities. The laminated cover means that any attempt to manipulate the details contained on the badge will leave permanent damage making it immediately obvious that the badge has been tampered with.
This change builds on other anti-fraud measures announced in October 2007, such as a new hologram on the badge and a gender-specific serial number to aid parking enforcement.
Transport Minister Rosie Winterton announced the new measure during a speech to the British Parking Association, where she called upon local authority parking services to step-up efforts to reduce theft, forgery and misuse of the scheme. She also urged delegates to take part in the current consultation of the Blue Badge scheme (closes on 17 April 2008).
LDA: Designing a sustainable business economy - Design in the capital received a boost last week with the announcement that the London Development Agency (LDA) will be launching the £3.5m Designing Demand programme in the summer for London’s aspiring small businesses.
Designing Demand is a national design support programme developed by the Design Council and delivered by regional development agencies. It shows business leaders how design can turn ideas & technologies into profitable products, services and brands. The LDA supports design as driver of business growth & productivity and as an effective way of promoting & improving business performance.
The London consortium combines Grant Thornton’s business expertise, knowledge of the Small and Medium Size Enterprise market and strong investor networks with Design London’s excellence in design, business and research.
The consortium will hopefully extend the Design Demand offer to provide design support that will help London’s businesses excel. This will include tailoring their services for business based on their executive development courses and associated facilities such as rapid prototyping and technology labs.
Industry News: Volunteering to help overseas can create benefits for all involved - After many years in local government, Dave Sternberg decided to take a career break and volunteer with VSO for two years. As Head of Community & Economic Development at Coventry City Council, Dave was responsible for delivering a range of anti-poverty, unemployment and economic development programmes: “Once VSO offered me the job in Bangladesh, I went to my boss to resign. But he told me there was no need – I could take a career break instead”.
Dave joined Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNLWA) as a management & strategy adviser: “My job was to help BNWLA re-organise itself from the small pressure group it once was to the large, many- branched organisation it had become,” says Dave. “They needed to make a good practical plan for the next five years, bringing all their work together and pinpointing what actions they needed to take”.
Back in the UK, Dave had managed over 30 staff, but in Bangladesh he wasn’t a manager, he was an adviser, and that meant he had to approach working with others in a totally different way: “At BNLWA I couldn’t ask people to do things as I would have done as a manager – but that meant I developed my persuading and influencing skills”.
For those readers who are thinking of doing something similar, there is good news in that the government has just announced public sector workers who take a career development break to volunteer overseas will, under a three year pilot government scheme, have these gaps funded without cost to the individual employer or employee.
As for convincing your boss on the benefits of such breaks, there is solid evidence available (See: Valuing Volunteering link).
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