Brighton and Hove could become HIV testing pilot after joint action by MPs

 Brighton and Hove’s three MPs have welcomed the news that the city could be a pilot for a new HIV testing regime which would normalise HIV testing in the community with the aim of reaching zero new transmissions by 2030.

Jo Churchill, the health minister, has replied to a letter proposing Brighton and Hove as a pilot city, which was signed by the city’s three MPs, Caroline Lucas, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Peter Kyle, alongside the leader of Brighton Council, Phelim MacCafferty.

Health minister said she had asked Department of Health officials to look at the offer and was keen to work with areas like Brighton and Hove to learn from the city’s pioneering approach to prevention, testing and reducing late diagnosis of HIV.  Next, the MPs plan to invite her to the city to see what is being done locally to combat HIV infections.

Brighton’s three MPs and Cllr MacCafferty believe Brighton and Hove is the perfect place for a pilot because it was the first city in the UK to have ‘HIV Fast Track City’ status, and has some of the best online testing services in the country.  The city also pioneered HIV test vending machines and has supported a number of community testing initiatives, including National HIV Testing Week.

Currently, the plan is to roll out HIV testing even further, to make it available when people attend A&E, register for a new GP and in local pharmacies.

Caroline Lucas MP said: “Our city is a national leader in driving down HIV infections, not least because MPs, the council and local public health teams have worked together on this.  We want to share our experiences with others, and we’re also ready to do more.  I’m glad the minister seems prepared to work with us towards ending new cases of HIV by 2030 in England.”

HIV testing
Caroline Lucas MP

Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council said: “Outstanding progress has already been made in the city to increase testing and fight HIV-related stigma. This is typified by the recent installation of a vending machine with free STI tests in the Jubilee Library.

“Normalising HIV testing across health services is the next step. We are eager to get this pilot underway as we know Brighton & Hove is well placed to be one of the first cities to make it happen.”

“That’s because in addition to strong, continued commitment to support people living with HIV, we are proud to be the host of some of the best HIV support, treatment, and prevention services and community organisations in the country.  They’ve been running for many years and working in strong collaboration with our communities and public health teams.

“An important next step in supporting our communities is to achieve our shared aims for zero HIV infections, zero HIV stigma and zero HIV related deaths.”

Jolomo’s high key colour puts him in a class of his own

Colour bursts forth onto the easel of John Lowrie Morrison , Jolomo, with the painting of ‘Wet Winter Croftscape South Uist.’ The deep, iridescent, blue sky of a wet, Scottish day at dusk, merging into an orange sunset. But there is much more to this story.

As Mr Morrison explained: “In January 2005 a young family drowned in a storm that was the worst in living memory on the Islands of Benbecula & South Uist. The storm had built up a few days before as a shallow depression off America’s Easter seaboard. However it developed into a monster.

“A young family were stuck in their croft house for many hours but decided to flee. They left in two cars but as they crossed a single track road causeway the sea swallowed them up.

“A BBC Director, Neil Campbell, was reporting on the storm, not knowing his father, his wife and three children had drowned on the Benbecula – South Uist Causeway.

“I know this place well, I had to paint this tragedy at Lochdar South Uist that shocked Scotland on that stormy night – a memorial of that lovely family.”

Jolomo: Wet Winter Croftscape South Uist
Wet Winter Croftscape South Uist

Mr Morrison, who uses the pen name ‘Jolomo’, expresses feeling through colour. He doesn’t make photographic paintings of the West Coast of Scotland with her often drab, overcast skies and dark rainclouds. He has a catalogue of photographs and sketches that inspire him and then he paints his interpretation of the scenes – therein lies his magic.

Expressionism for Jolomo

When asked about expressionism, he said: “Impressionism is more realistic, you paint an impression of the snow or the trees. For an expressionist, you can have a red or yellow tree or snow.

“I paint my world, rather than the world the way it is. Picasso creates his own universe. I guess I do the same, really strong colour. I do try to get things looking like the place, it draws people in, not the colours. ‘Archie the Jura’ has gold and purple on the road, purple and gold in the sky, cerise green, colour brings out feelings and a sense of place.

“I hate grey paintings,” he said, “to me paintings should be about colour. First marks by cavemen who mixed red earth, spit water and spray around their horse. They always used strong colour. Their colour is still there, and it’s quite wonderful.”

Jolomo conveys mood and the beauty of Scotland in all its glorious technicolour inspired from a very young age by Soutine, Marc Chagall, Oskar Kokoschka and Andrew Wyeth.

Jolomo’s High Key Colour

As a young man, he was inspired by oil paintings in L’Abri, a theological centre in Switzerland, with high key colour and sharp, clean air. He said: “The keys got higher and brighter. High key colour got better and better. I layer colours. I’m still learning even although I’m in my 70s. Even today I found out new techniques that I will use again.”

Jolomo’s trademark is high key colour which means you paint at the lighter end of a value scale which is a continuum from pure white to pure black. He paints the scene lighter than it is and his dark colours (blue and orange for example in the South Uist storm) become more vibrant because most colours reach a peak saturation around the mid-tone range. The skill is to compress the colour range and ensure the values on the scale still relate the same way to each other.

Impressionists used high key colour to great effect but it’s what Morrison does with the mid-range and darker colours like his blue that sets him apart.

He carries this control over colour into his more recent work and introduces ever higher keys, a taste of heaven perhaps. The deep, dark colours of his early days and the associated heaviness have to some extent receded.  They have been replaced by lighter blues, purples and lavender, suggesting that he has found his peace with the world.

Jolomo and Faith

Asked to explain why he paints, Mr Morrison said: “Painting is breathing, that’s it, it’s there inside me, it’s the gift that God has given to me.”

“For me, as a Christian, I believe we create because God created. God’s spirit is with me. I don’t always find painting easy.

“I invite the Holy Spirit to help me, every time I paint. You have to tune in. The Holy Spirit is always around us but you have to connect with it or it won’t connect with you.

Jolomo was converted while at Glasgow School of Art when he was 21, after seeing the ‘Life of Christ’ enacted. He said: “I gave my life to God. That’s when the bright colour came in: a spiritual expression.”

He painted ‘A meeting with Christ’ which was inspired by a photograph a friend sent him a few years ago. The photo was of very large and gnarled olive trees, the trees were well over 2000 years old and in the Garden of Gethsemane.

He said: “My immediate thought when seeing the photos was that my Lord must have walked under these trees or sat below them or even prayed there. I quickly made sketches and executed a painting later.

“The images I painted are of Christ meeting a woman. She could be anyone – you or I. We could meet Christ anywhere but although He is always looking for us, we need to be looking for Him.”

The result: An array of colour and the landscape resplendent with light, hope and joy.

Jolomo: A meeting with Christ
A meeting with Christ

For 25 years, Mr Morrison taught art regionally in Argyll and became the art adviser to the Scottish Office. Now he dedicates himself almost entirely to his painting from his two studios in Tayvallich and Ardnamurchan.

In the 1980s he became a lay preacher after deputising for the local minister. He enjoys travelling the length and breadth of the Western Isles, speaking of God’s love as a supply minister for the Church of Scotland.

Jolomo said art is very therapeutic, it gives people confidence – kids struggling with maths or French would come to art class and gain confidence to tackle the subjects they found difficult.

He is inspired by Phineas Taylor Barnham who said: “The greatest thing you can do is make people happy.” Jolomo said: “I try to lift people’s spirits. I give loads of prints to hospitals.

“There was a man sitting in a waiting room. Twenty years ago he moved to the Cairngorms from Tayvallich, to work with huskies. I knew him. His Dad was dying.

“He sent me a lovely email saying, ‘I saw you in the Coop: it made me think of your paintings. The prints really lifted my spirits, then I was in hospital with my Dad and I saw one of your prints, I felt an inner peace.’ That’s worth more than money.”

Jolomo Award

His legacy might be the Jolomo Awards and Foundation created to highlight the painting of the Scottish Landscape in the 1990s when he felt conceptual art was taking over. He feels the award has reversed this trend and there is now a “massive” number of landscape painters in Scotland.

Mr Morrison’s earnings are significant because he is prolific and he wants his art to be accessible – you can buy one of his canvases for between £2000 and £2500 and his prints for much less. He paints to bring joy.

His high key colour opens people’s eyes to Scotland at her magnificent best. Few would question the fact that John Lowrie Morrison has become a national treasure.

You can see Jolomo exhibiting throughout July and August in a retrospective exhibition at the MacLaurin Gallery & Museum in Ayr. You can also find him at the Archway Gallery in Lochgilphead on 14 August, the Torrance Gallery in Edinburgh on 25 September and he will exhibit at the Glasgow Gallery on 13 November.

C of E bishop formally rebuked for racial stereotyping

Former Bishop Mike Hill was the first bishop to admit racial stereotyping in the Church of England and to face a disciplinary measure by consent.

The Church’s investigation followed an exclusive article in the Guardian reporting that, Bishop Hill, who ran the diocese in Bristol wrote a letter to a fellow clergyman in July 2016 and said there were “cultural differences” with the way people like Reverend Alwyn Pereira from the Indian subcontinent handle issues of truth and clarity.

Right Reverend Mike Hill wrote to the Archbishop of York who was the investigating officer and said: “I am content to admit, on reflection, that my injudicious and foolish comment in my generally very supportive reference to Dan Tyndall dated 5th July 2016 is conduct that is unbecoming from someone in my position.

“It certainly was a clear and obvious error. I inadvertently, used a form of racial stereotyping which I understand to be unacceptable.”

Bishop Mike Hill resisted several appointments of Reverend Alwyn Pereira to parishes in the diocese of Bristol over a period of years when he was Bishop of Bristol. He was serving in his retirement as Honorary Bishop of Bath and Wells until the Guardian investigation last summer. In December, Reverend Pereira received a written apology from the former bishop.

Right Reverend Mike Hill stepped back from all public duties in June pending an investigation into racism. He was formally rebuked on Thursday 28 January 2021, and has been ordered to attend unconscious bias training before he will be granted permission to officiate in the Church of England again.

Ms Vivienne Faull who is currently the Bishop of Bristol said: “Racial stereotyping is serious, whether intentional or not. It causes upset, harm and undermines what we are trying to do as a Church.

“The Church of England is determined to address institutional racism and I have set out my commitments for the Diocese of Bristol. This instance underlines how important these commitments are. There is a lot of work to do, we have made a start, and I remain relentless in my dedication to bringing about change.”

Last October the Church of England announced a racial taskforce to prepare for a Racial Justice Commission. Bristol diocese has appointed a Bishop’s Racial Justice Advisor and a Minority Ethnic Vocations champion.

But the commission must have the ability to sanction racist clergy or refer them to the Clergy Discipline Commission and make reparation in order to stamp out racism effectively. Without the ability to impose sanctions or make reparations, Reverend Pereira says the commission will have no teeth.

bishop

Reverend Pereira said: “This is historic, a watershed, it’s the first time that a senior cleric in the Church of England has been rebuked for racism. Earlier in 2020, the Church acknowledged that, as an institution, it had a problem with racism.

“On the one hand I feel vindicated, having pursued this case at great cost to myself and my family but on the other hand I am concerned for my church that the level of systemic racism present in recruitment processes exposed in this case, remain unaddressed.

“My hope is that the Church will show leadership in the area of racial justice. This case has presented the church with an opportunity to learn and to lead, to be forthright and strident in setting an example to society in addressing racial injustice.

“It would be nice to move on in my life with a written apology and it’s reasonable to ask for some form of compensation.”

When asked about solutions, Reverend Pereira said: “We need a root and branch evaluation into the entire process of recruitment or selection of Anglican BAME candidates to find out why the discrimination happened in Bristol and to make sure it does not happen again.”

It is clear the Church needs to work hard to become more ethnically diverse, at every level and particularly among her senior clergy. She needs to create a space for BAME voices to be heard. She may be surprised by the richness they bring – diversity is not a threat, it is a strength to be celebrated.

Since the retirement of Right Reverend John Sentamu, all of the senior bishops in the Church of England are once again, white, as are most clergy, suggesting white supremacy remains pervasive. The church must take intentional collective action to demonstrate she is a more diverse, equitable organisation untarnished by privilege.

In the Employment Tribunal judgement, Judge Cadney made specific reference to emails written by the Right Reverend Mike Hill two years before the letter suggesting people from the Indian Subcontinent have issues with truth and clarity.

In these emails, Right Reverend Mike Hill blames other senior clergy including the Training Bishop Right Reverend Lee Rayfield who is still the Bishop of Swindon. These emails were ruled out of time by the Employment Tribunal and have now been destroyed. Reverend Pereira has copies of them.

The court heard that emails dating back to May 2014 showed that several Bishops had blocked Rev Pereira’s applications due to “cultural eccentricities.”

For example, on 25 May 2014 Rev Hill wrote to colleagues: “I took some serious flack for not shortlisting him to Stoke Bishop. Lee [Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, Training Bishop] mentioned to me that his application was culturally eccentric but this is slightly dangerous as of course Alwyn is a minority ethnic Anglican (whose cause according to the National Church, we should be promoting.)

“…There was strong support for shortlisting him at Hotwells and St.Stephens which Lee resisted… he (Rev Pereira) has much if not more experience than some getting shortlisted.”

They are important because the Employment Tribunal mentioned the emails written two years earlier from 2014, not the letter written in 2016. Judge Cadney said in court: “In my judgement there is some merit in the contention that on the face of it the emails relied on could without explanation from the respondent be sufficient for the tribunal to draw an inference of discrimination.”

In an article published about safeguarding in the Times on 15 August last year, Andrew Carey, son of former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, criticised the church for protecting senior clergy. He said: “The Church of England is in a mess of its own making. To atone for past failures, it has thrown junior and retired clergy under the bus in a system which lacks justice.”

Reverend Pereira, who had to move to serve a parish in Aldershot, Hampshire when he could not get a job in Bristol, is not alone in facing racial discrimination. Augustine Tanner-Ihm, a trainee vicar, contacted the Guardian about a similar problem he faced getting a curacy at the end of his training at Cranmer Hall in Durham.  He was rejected by eight metropolitan dioceses.

Mr Tanner-Ihm received one rejection email stating: “The demographic of the parish is monochrome, white working-class, where you might feel uncomfortable.” Mr Tanner-Ihm felt Cranmer Hall was trying to make him into a white, middle-class priest. Issues of ethnic identity are at the heart of his concerns.

He wrote in his penultimate report: “I refuse to be colonialised by Cranmer Hall. The Church of England will never take my blackness away from me.”

After George Floyd was killed by Police in America, there was a global outcry for racial justice. The challenge is to create a positive environment where BAME people can express themselves in culturally authentic ways and flourish.

Reverend Pereira said: “Sadly, racism is embedded in the structures of the Church. During my ordination selection interview I was advised to adapt and become more ‘English.’ Like many of my BAME colleagues, I just wanted to feel I belonged to God’s Church.

The Church must ensure that, if BAME clergy are invited to train for the ministry, they are then supported to serve in parishes throughout England alongside their Caucasian colleagues without facing barriers because of their race.

While the Church of England is right to rebuke Right Reverend Hill and this is a very important first step, it must seriously investigate all accusations of racism against serving bishops and other clergy as a matter of course.

If it does not, there is a risk that the church is scapegoating a retired bishop rather than addressing a wider culture of racism in the South West, Durham and potentially even in metropolitan boroughs across England.

Future of two hospital trusts to be decided tomorrow at NHS board meeting

Two hospital trusts – Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation trust are due to merge in two weeks’ time on 01 April.

Chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths DBE said: “The biggest global health crisis in a century has taught us many lessons this year but for health services none has been more important than the value of working together to keep patients safe and achieve the very best outcomes we possibly can.

“In Sussex, our collaborative approach had already delivered many benefits by the time Covid-19 engulfed us all, but it was the onset of the pandemic that strengthened our resolve to explore a merger. Our joint-response to the first wave demonstrated the improved benefits and resilience of acting as one, as well as the limitations of maintaining separation.

“In July 2020, when we formally took the decision to explore a merger, we opened the door to a future in which we can continue to deliver consistently excellent care for patients as well as provide fulfilling careers for our staff in a new organisation that would truly be better for everyone.”

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) describe the strategic reasons for the merger of the two hospital trusts as ‘clear’ and ‘strongly supported.’ This is ahead of a key meeting of both boards to decide whether a formal application of the two trusts should proceed to merger.

The two hospital trusts have been working together for four years under a joint management contract that expires on 31 March 2021. During this time, BSUH has become the fastest improving acute hospital trust in England. BSUH came out of special measures and earned a Care Quality Commission rating of ‘good’ overall and ‘outstanding’ for caring although the trust’s responsiveness still ‘requires improvement.’

Western Hospitals maintained its own outstanding status and also became the first non-specialist acute trust to achieve outstanding ratings in all key inspection areas. The boards propose to build upon these achievements and further improve hospital services for patients in Sussex by bringing the best of both trusts together to create a new, larger organisation called University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (UHSussex).

Two hospital trusts

 

A public board meeting that will finalise the merger of the two hospital trusts will be held virtually in public at 2pm tomorrow, Thursday 18 March. You can watch it live using this link.

It has taken the trusts and joint executive board six months to plan the merger and they have followed a rigorous process to assess the case for change. This process was organised by NHS England that oversees the creation of all foundation trusts and NHS Improvement (NHSEI.)

A strategic outline case was approved in September 2020 and it was in response to the submission of a full business case (FBC) that NHSEI wrote to the trusts on 9 March 2021 to provide a formal merger risk rating.

In each of the key areas NHSEI assesses, such as strategy, quality and finance, the proposed merger has received a rating of Green (strategy) and Amber/Green (quality, finance and transaction execution). These risk ratings provide the boards with further assurance that the merger plans are well thought through, safe and effective.

On Thursday the full business case (FBC) will be published that sets out a compelling case for change as well as a broad range of benefits that would advantage patients, staff and communities across Sussex.

For patients, these include greater continuity of care and better access to services, as well as increased support for services under pressure due to national challenges, such as increasing demand, workforce availability and financial pressures.

University Hospitals Sussex would employ nearly 20,000 people across five main hospital sites in Sussex, with an operating budget of more than £1 billion. The FBC cites the proposed new hospital trust’s size and breadth as a key factor that would help address challenges that both BSUH and WSHT have in common with the rest of the NHS following the pandemic.

Royal Sussex Outpatients

 

Chief medical officer, Dr George Findlay, said: “We have made many improvements in recent years but it is getting harder to continue to improve our services in isolation. By working together, we can benefit from both greater scale and more opportunities to learn from each other and to do things differently.

“For example, we are developing an exciting five year clinical strategy to explore where we can make the best improvements for our patients and develop new services that ensure fewer people in Sussex have to travel elsewhere for high quality hospital care.

“It is important to recognise that our clinical strategy work also cements our commitment to continuing to invest in all the services we currently provide, including emergency, specialist, tertiary and trauma care.

“We are committed to developing our vibrant local hospitals and maintaining the services we know local people treasure, such as A&E and maternity care. By coming together as one trust, we will have the experience, expertise, funds and influence to safeguard and improve hospitals services in Sussex.

“We wish to reassure our patients that we are taking a careful and considered approach and there will be no immediate changes to any of our clinical services as a result of the merger. The driving force behind our plans is our ambition to continually improve the care we provide and we look forward to involving our patients and the communities we serve in future developments.”

University Hospitals Sussex would run seven hospitals in Chichester, Worthing, Shoreham, Haywards Health and Brighton and Hove, as well as numerous community and satellite services. The two hospital trusts would be responsible for all district general acute services for Brighton and Hove, West and Mid Sussex and parts of East Sussex.

It would also provide specialised and tertiary services across Sussex and parts of the South East, including neuroscience, arterial vascular surgery, neonatology, specialised paediatric, cardiac, cancer, renal, infectious diseases and HIV medicine services.

On Thursday (18 March) the board of directors meeting is followed by a meeting of the WSHT Council of Governors who must also give their support, along with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, before a statutory application to merge the two trusts can be made to NHSEI.

Vicar takes on the Anglican Church over racial discrimination

When Reverend Alwyn Pereira was not shortlisted for parishes for several years after completing his curacy, he became concerned. His investigations uncovered covert racism at the heart of the Diocese in the Anglican Church in Bristol that no one had challenged.

Reverend Pereira has now taken a discrimination case to Employment Tribunal and the Clergy Discipline Commission Tribunal against senior members of Bristol’s Anglican clergy.

Rev Pereira is an ordained Anglican priest who works as Vicar of St Michael’s and the Church of the Ascension in Aldershot.

Right Reverend Mike Hill, retired Bishop of Bristol wrote in a letter to an Anglican colleague 05 July 2016: “I think the other thing I need to say, having worked closely with people from the Indian Subcontinent in my past, is that I think there are cultural differences in the way people like Alwyn (Rev Pereira) communicate, and actually handle issues of truth and clarity.

Reverend Pereira is not from the Sub-continent. His heritage is Indo-Portuguese, he was born in Kenya, and educated almost entirely in England.

Judge Cadney’s judgement from a preliminary hearing of the Employment Tribunal was published on 01 May. It said: “In my judgement there is some merit in the contention that on the face of it the emails relied on could without explanation from the respondent be sufficient for the tribunal to draw an inference of discrimination.”

The court heard that emails dating back to May 2014 showed that several Bishops had blocked Rev Pereira’s applications due to “cultural eccentricities.”

For example, on 25 May 2014 Rev Hill wrote to colleagues: “I took some serious flack for not shortlisting him to Stoke Bishop. Lee [Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, Training Bishop] mentioned to me that his application was culturally eccentric but this is slightly dangerous as of course Alwyn is a minority ethnic Anglican (whose cause according to the National Church, we should be promoting.)

“…There was strong support for shortlisting him at Hotwells and St.Stephens which Lee resisted… he (Rev Pereira) has much if not more experience than some getting shortlisted.”

 

Anglican Church
Reverend Alwyn Pereira preaching in his church in Aldershot

In spite of the evidence, the Employment Tribunal dismissed the claim because it was out of time. It was also dismissed by the Clergy Discipline Commission Tribunal (CDC) for the same reason. However, Rev Pereira is currently seeking permission to extend the time at the CDC so the claim can be heard upon appeal.

Rev Pereira first pursued his complaint directly with the Anglican Church, a process he describes as “attrition” – it was kicked into the long grass with constant delays, presumably in the hope that Rev Pereira would drop the claim.

He explained how the discrimination felt: “The Bishop’s letter brought up a sense of real betrayal. It’s not just me who has been let down and offended but my children and every BAME person too. I trusted and respected Rev Mike Hill who was telling me one thing up front, held these views and perceptions and felt emboldened to write this to another clergyman and no-one challenged him. I’m horrified.

“We, the Church, uphold it as the place of hope and reconciliation for all ethnicities, where everyone finds their identity.” He has taken legal action because he believes there is a systemic problem with covert racism in the Anglican Church in Bristol.

Rev Pereira describes Bishop Hill’s actions as a “misuse of power… he withheld jobs from me on the basis of a racial stereotype. No one challenged him. His letter quoted above was in my personal file that everyone sees.”

He said: “I don’t feel hate towards these guys. I offered and exhausted various routes for reconciliation including mediation and these were declined.

“The Anglican Church has to be the bastion of good practice, it’s the established church. There needs to be reconciliation and recompense, there’s a culture that needs correction. The Church has paid barristers but they won’t reimburse me for loss of stipend and the reputational damage done.

“Instead they defend their immorality, they don’t think they’ve done wrong. They’ve not apologised. They genuinely think that letter is acceptable.”

Rev Hill was asked what evidence he had to substantiate his statement in the letter about cultural differences with the way people like Rev Pereira from the Indian Subcontinent handle issues of truth and clarity.

Bristol’s retired Bishop said: “l’m not saying this is a situation where there is nothing to be learnt. The Tribunal is over. The complainant I regarded and regard as a friend. I had no idea he was feeling this way and I’m surprised by it.

“We all need to be a little more honest about what we’re thinking when we’re thinking it.

“There are lessons to be learned about how we express ourselves. When I reread the letter I don’t feel good about it and it’s inappropriate to explain why.

“Out of context, the statement in the letter does not look great…

“I don’t think there’s a problem, with racism in the diocese of Bristol. At some level in all of us, prejudice does occur.

“We looked at hidden biases including gender and race in the diocese all the time. I don’t even know if some of my colleagues who were involved in the selection procedure were aware of Alwyn’s ethnic minority background.

Seven hospitals across Sussex to merge without public consultation or publication of the business case

Western Sussex Hospital’s trust (WSHNFT) is proposing a merger with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) Trust to go ahead next month on 01 April, less than three weeks away. It will take place without public consultation and the trusts have still not released the business case, post transaction implementation plan and impact assessments explaining exactly what the merger will entail.

Sussex Defend the NHS are very concerned that there has been no formal, public consultation with any of the many communities seriously impacted by this reorganisation which will see BSUH, currently a place-based NHS trust aligned with unitary authority boundaries, become part of a larger foundation trust.

Campaigners expected all relevant bodies to be consulted i.e. the local authority health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC), local Health watch organisations, NHS trade unions and the public who are the patients of both trusts. HOSC was given an outline presentation last December, focusing mainly on a staff survey, not the detailed proposals.

Concerns are mounting that patients will have to travel further to access hospital services and that NHS contracts will continue to be outsourced to the private sector. Campaigners are also concerned that hospital land will be sold to private developers.

Steve Guy from Sussex Defend the NHS said: “Even local authority leaders have been unable to ascertain what the changes are going to mean for their constituents. The only authority that is aware of the trust’s plans is NHS England, as WSHNFT has had to submit a full business case to national health bosses in London before the merger was given the go-ahead.”

public consultation

 

Unparalleled pressures on the NHS caused by the pandemic have understandably diverted all attention and resources to the frontline. However, this may have resulted in a refusal to engage in public consultation and a lack of transparency about the detailed plans arising from the merger which is now only weeks away.

To date only the shared executive team of Western hospitals and Brighton and Sussex hopsitals, their boards including governors of both trusts and a small number of unnamed ‘partners’ are the only people who have been fully briefed on the merger. No-one else has seen the business case, impact assessments or the post-transaction implementation plan for the first eighteen months.

Joint CEO of both NHS Trusts Dame Marianne Griffiths has done a lot of excellent work in turning around BSUH which was a trust in special measures and is now rated good overall by the CQC. However, several key players in the city including the unions and Sussex Defend the NHS feel they need to see the merger delayed while public consultation is undertaken. They would like to see more democratic accountability from the CEO.

Dame Marianne (Griffiths) who runs both trusts said to the Worthing Herald last July when the merger was announced: “We want everyone in our communities to play a part in shaping the future of health care in Sussex and their views will play a valuable role in building a new trust.”

She said to Brighton and Hove news: “I will update you on progress but please be assured there will be opportunities for you to ask any questions you have and feed into the future plans.”

A full business case was sent to NHS England and NHS Improvement last December but will only be shared with staff ‘in due course’ due to operational reasons.

A Brighton and Hove News reporter asked NHS England for a copy of the business case on Thursday 10 December six days after they got if from the two Sussex hospital trusts. On 07 January, he was advised to approach NHS Improvement by NHS England and he did this on the same day. On 28 January the request was refused on the ground of ‘imminent publication.’

The journalist asked for the decision to be reviewed on Tuesday 02 February and he has still not seen the business case, more than two months later. The business case, post-transaction implementation plan and impact assessments are still not in the public domain.

business case

Mr Guy said: “Since WSHNFT CEO Marianne Griffiths has formally notified the health trade unions at both trusts, inviting them to talks aimed at arranging for staff at the Brighton hospitals to transfer to her trust, (known as TUPE, Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment), the health unions of both trusts have a right to demand that they are able to scrutinise the trust’s future plans as well.”

A spokesperson for Brighton and Sussex hospitals trust said: “The benefits of working together became even more apparent during the first wave of Coronavirus last year and, as the shared leadership arrangements were due for review, these benefits, and the potential gains from even greater integration, informed the boards’ decision, on 1 July 2020, to pursue a merger…

“A public consultation, however, is not required because we are not proposing a substantial change to services. In fact, we have committed to continuing to invest in the services delivered by WSHT and BSUH. The continuous improvement of all our patient services is the driving force behind our proposed merger and we are confident that by coming together we will continue to improve hospital care in Sussex.”

Brighton’s Green MP fights for businesses in response to the Budget

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his annual budget today, Wednesday 03 March. He has been in post for just over a year and has made fifteen statements in the House of Commons since the pandemic began. His budget sets out his forecasts for growth, including an extension of the furlough scheme until September and some help for businesses and limited aid for the self-employed.

No additional funding was announced for the NHS apart from for vaccination roll out and victims of domestic violence.

According to the OBR which is the Office of Budget Responsibility the economy shrank by 10% last year, the sharpest fall since 1709. OBR forecast growth of 7.3% next year. National debt which is the sum total of every budget deficit is high – 88.8% of GDP and is forecast to rise to 97% in 2023-24. It should then stabilise.

Brighton’s Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “After campaigning hard for business rates relief to be extended, I am glad the Chancellor listened and provided a partial lifeline for hundreds of businesses in Brighton and Hove who have held on during this pandemic, but faced a cliff-edge at the end of March.

“I welcome too, the VAT reduction which I have also called for, and the announcement of restart grants for businesses.  But we need to see the detail on this.  If they are restricted based on rateable value, important parts of our economy like business to business suppliers and the live events sector will continue to lose out.”

businesses
Caroline Lucas, Brighton’s Green MP

Talking about the self-employed she said: “The extension of support for the self-employed is critical to our local economy and it’s good to see some of those excluded from previous schemes are now able to access income support. But the continued exclusion of directors of limited companies, PAYE freelancers, those who combine self-employment with PAYE and others is unforgivable.

“And help for local businesses, and an extension to the furlough scheme, cannot compensate for the gaping hole at the heart of this budget – its failure to acknowledge, let alone address, the climate and ecological crises.”

The Chancellor has announced a new national infrastructure bank which will open in Leeds with £12 billion capital invested by the government. In addition, government will invest £15bn in green bonds, including for retail investors, to help finance the transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Net zero emissions will become the responsibility of the Bank of England. According to Peter Walker from the Guardian, these announcements are “obligatory now” due to Mrs Lucas’ Green New Deal and are “fairly modest.”

When speaking about climate change and ecological issues, Mrs Lucas said: “These two issues weren’t even mentioned – a massive oversight which makes me wonder what planet Rishi Sunak is living on.  We desperately needed an ambitious budget for a greener, fairer future that would create new local jobs.

“Instead we got a few announcements dressed up as “green growth” when, in reality, one of the few ‘green’ initiatives this Government has launched – the Green Homes Grants scheme – is being starved of funds leaving householders and businesses in the lurch.

“With nothing to replace it, there is now no substantial government-supported programme to cut emissions from buildings – which is essential if we are to meet climate targets.

“We need transformational change to address the climate and nature crises, and the deep inequalities in our society.  We need a redesigned economy that puts people and nature first, not one that is stuck in the past.

“A better, fairer, greener future is within our reach and I and many others will keep campaigning for it.”

Meet the couple who set up Windward Grove during the pandemic

Mr Bubloz has always wanted to run a business since leaving university. During the coronavirus outbreak in July 2020, Mr and Mrs Bubloz got married, had a baby and set up the estate agency, Windward Grove.

For many people, 2020 did not go quite to plan but Mr and Mrs Bubloz are grateful. He said: “Four years ago, completion of our house purchase fell on Leah’s birthday in December 2016 and four years later to the day, we got engaged. We were never going to have a big, massive wedding. It was never going to be extravagant. We booked Malmaison for 11th April. But the coronavirus was growing and growing. My stag do was my last social activity before the first lockdown. It was the day before.”

Like almost everything else, the couple’s wedding was cancelled. Mrs Bubloz said: “We planned to have 90 people at the hotel and 15 at the Registry Office. Then a honeymoon in Rome which was at the epicentre of the coronavirus. Everything was cancelled. However nobody but us knew at this time we were expecting a baby, so we did have something else to be excited about.

“We saw a lot of upset posts and messages on social media written directly to us: ‘It’s terrible that your wedding has been cancelled.’ But we thought, people are dying and we’re basically just not having a party, the sympathy is more worthwhile elsewhere.

Mr Bubloz said: “Instead, we were excited and planning how to launch our business.”

In the end, the couple got married at a registry office on 3rd October, with their parents as witnesses. They rearranged Malmaison for December 2020 and have postponed it again.

Mr Bubloz said: “We’re appreciative of Malmaison, if you need to postpone for more than a year, you should lose your deposit. It’s been well over a year: our wedding celebration is planned for August, not April.”

Mr and Mrs Bubloz said: “It’s a whirlwind, everything is going on at once.”

Windward Grove
Simon and Leah Bubloz of Windward Grove

For Mr Bubloz self-employment is an opportunity. He said: “I view my job like a mortgage. After fifty years as an employee in an estate agency, you retire and that’s it. If we create a customer base, we have an asset that we’re building up every day. Rent from lettings comes in. Most people work their whole career, get a pension but nothing overall in return.”

Explaining his approach, Mr Bubloz said: “I try to be the closest thing to a family friend who knows about lettings. It’s just nice to be liked and to be totally transparent. In many estate agencies, staff don’t want customers to hear 50% of conversations because they are about how the company could benefit (not the customer.)

“Some agencies trick customers into paying for a higher service. There’s a lot of pressure to upsell i.e. encourage customers to pay more than they should. We give them the option for more expensive service but there’s no pressure.”

Flexibility is key to the success of Windward Grove. Most viewings take place in the evenings and on Sunday when other agencies are closed. Mr Bubloz said there are no hidden fees like mark ups on tradesmen which gives the traders an expensive reputation. Fees are agreed upfront.

Mrs Bubloz said: “If we’re selling, we don’t commit anyone to using a sole agency. We absolutely don’t want to make you sell with us and end up with a toxic relationship: if you want to bring in a new estate agent, you can but we will do our best to make sure you don’t need to.

“Where we worked before in the biggest online, hybrid estate agency, we feel they weren’t harnessing the technology. It was during the first lockdown we set up Windward Grove in July. We offer a 360° virtual property tour that boosts our adverts. They’re brilliant.

“We saw a 360° virtual tour at Malmaison, specifically we looked at the function room for the wedding. Lockdown underlined even more that agents should use these – even for viewing a single room.”

Mr Bubloz said “Often estate agents outsource imagery and charge £200+ for the virtual tour he explained. Windward Gove charge £45. Mr Bubloz takes all of the photographs and videos himself. He offers professional level photography. However, he said: “If a customer wants to instruct a professional photographer, they absolutely can.”

Communication is a key strength of the husband and wife team and it is how they look after their customers. Mr Bubloz said he looks forward to writing the job description for the Associate role which will be on a self-employed basis where each associate finds and manages their own customers.

Mr Bubloz said: “We don’t have crazy bosses obsessed with figures and viewings. If viewing numbers are low, the property is probably too expensive.”

Environmental concerns are important to Mr and Mrs Bubloz. They drive low emission vehicles, the office space where most of the work on customers’ properties is done is powered by solar and Windward Grove is paperless. All contracts are handled electronically using ‘Signable’ technology, but they can be printed and posted if required.

Windward Grove operates across Sussex including Brighton and Hove but their Head Quarters are in Littlehampton where they hope to sell most of their properties, initially.

To find out the value of your home, you can enter your details into their instant valuation tool that uses Land Registry data.

You can meet Mr Bubloz at the Brighton Property Investor Network where he provides the monthly lettings briefing.

Mr and Mrs Bubloz from Windward Grove, are the property professionals, who do more for less.

Prize draw raises £80,000 for charity and gives away over £365,000

Painter’s Keep was originally a water tower built in 1925 in the Kingston Gorse Estate, known as ‘millionaire’s row’ in East Preston, near Angmering, West Sussex. Currently the property is valued at £1.25 million. It has been fully refurbished and has stunning, panoramic views from the tower. Due to Brexit, stamp duty changes and the pandemic, Mr Pearce decided to run a prize draw to sell his house.

Mr Pearce, a management consultant, said: “The prize draw was a chance to try something different, I genuinely believed in my triple objectives: to move house, change someone’s life, and raise money for charity. It seemed like a perfect solution. £2 tickets makes it accessible.”

He was determined to keep tickets affordable: “I wanted everybody to have the opportunity to win this house and I believe, that at £2, just about everyone can afford to win this house.”

prize draw
Peter Pearce with Simon Bubloz outside Painter’s Keep

Mr Pearce needed to sell 750,000 tickets and raise £1.5 million to guarantee the reserve price of the house sale, cover stamp duty, fees and donations to his two chosen charities. He sold 433,943 tickets including free tickets for referrals and postal entries.

Unfortunately these ticket sales were not enough to sell the house. Instead, a very sizeable cash prize of £365, 305 was awarded on Wednesday 09 December at a live award ceremony.

The winners

Simon Bubloz from Windward Grove was the master of ceremony during the prize draw. Mr Bubloz said: “It’s all possible because of Peter. Congratulations to the winners.”

The cash prize instead of the house was £365,305 raised from the ticket sales. The draw included purchased tickets, free tickets and postal entries. The winning number was: 2009B6. James won it, he bought 22 tickets and currently lives abroad. He has links to Sussex and Hampshire.

Gary won £10,000. This prize was awarded to the person who got the most other people involved in the prize draw. Gary made over 500 referrals to friends and family.

Katrina won a £3000 referral prize which was open to everyone who referred two other people to the prize draw. She spoke to Mr Pearce during a live telephone call. She said she was at the Duke of Wellington in Shoreham when she bought tickets. Her father worked on the roof of Painter’s Keep. She said: “I’ll save the money for a nice holiday. I helped the hospice, I’m so pleased to help.”

Painter's Keep

Eighty percent of the proceeds are awarded in prize money to the winners less the costs of running the prize draw and 10% of the gross ticket sales which amount to £78,051 will go to St Barnabas House and their sister hospice, Chestnut Tree House for children.

St Barnabas House charity

In this interview with Mr Bubloz, Mr Pearce explained the importance of the charities: “My father died at St Barnabas and we wanted the hospice to benefit. The care that they provide, the work they do, is one of those things that we keep out of our consciousness until we need it and if ever you’ve experienced it, you’ll know it’s incredible.

“They’re going through an incredibly tough time. Their income has been devastated because a vast amount of fundraising involves people getting together and they’ve not been able to do that (because of the pandemic.)

“So Dad passing there was a tough experience but it was made a lot less tough by the care that they provided.”

Becki Jupp, Fundraising and Communications director at St Barnabas House said thank you to Peter and everybody who has bought tickets, almost £80,000 will make such a difference to both hospices. “It has been a really tricky year for fundraising… It costs around £13.5m to run both hospices every year.”

The Owner

Asked about the future, Mr Pearce said: “I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I get quite upset about social distancing, when a toddler smiles at me, I can’t smile back because I have a mask on. Since the pandemic started, I want to be travelling, wake me up when it’s all over. I’d like to go to South America.”

“We’ve looked at potential opportunities, I want to live a life that’s a lot more eclectic. Travelling, back for three months then off again. The house is not a negative tie. It’s near the beach. But seventeen years is a long time, I’m ready to do new things.”

Harry Tuke, from Elite Law Solicitors, Hove, witnessed the draw. He said: “This is an eye opener, I’ve never been involved in a competition before but they’re becoming increasingly popular. I’m a big supporter of it. People have been forced to think outside the box, spend a small amount of money for a potentially very large reward.”

This article was published in the Worthing Herald.

Have your say on Policing in Sussex

Residents of Brighton and Hove are being invited to have your say on policing priorities by Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne. She wants to ensure your concerns are reflected in her revised Police and Crime Plan.

Mrs Bourne has launched two surveys that will supplement her #TalkSussex programme of virtual public consultations and meetings so that even more residents can have their say in the setting of next year’s policing budget.

PCC Bourne has been working closely with Sussex Police to plan for a range of potential post-Covid funding scenarios and how they might impact on existing plans and policing.

policing

For many people in Sussex, the pandemic has meant hardship and heartache and put public services under increased pressure, including our police. Mrs Bourne wants to hear what is important to residents to help inform her Police and Crime Plan and spending plans for the next four years. Have your say today by completing the short survey or a game in the form of a pie chart for youngsters.

The PCC is also reaching out to younger residents with her ‘policing challenge game,’ giving them the opportunity to tell her what policing priorities matter most to them by challenging them, in a fun game, to assign ‘priority tokens’ to the eight major strands of Sussex Police’s work in the community.

Mrs Bourne said: “I want to ensure that all local communities are represented in my next Police & Crime Plan. In the past, we know that the majority of responses to our online polls are from residents aged 55 and over so I really want to hear from younger people as well. All views will be reflected in my decision-making and will help shape the future of Sussex Police. Make sure to have your say today.”

All data will be collated on 10th January and will also be used to inform PCC Bourne’s Police & Crime Plan for 2021/22.

An edited version of this article was published by Brighton and Hove News.

Let’s go alfresco to beat Covid-19

Letter to the Times about alfresco living

Dear Sir/Madam

I wonder why it has escaped our politicians notice, that it’s essential for them to do all in their power to incentivize the country to embrace going alfresco to combat Covid-19 even though the season has now changed and become more inclement.

alfresco walking

It was an aspiration back in the Spring and Summer which was mostly enjoyed, however not enough in my opinion. I would have more than encouraged all the schools or shops and every cafe, pub and restaurant to embrace alfresco dining in the streets, parks and playing fields. Asking local councils to relax any restrictions. This is a unique emergency.

Unused marquees or gazebos and circus big top tents would have been a blessing and hiring them could have helped those businesses who couldn’t utilise them because of social distancing requirements.

But the political imagination wasn’t there.

I now believe that since autumn has come, going alfresco with suitable outdoor heating, covers , windbreaks has now become absolutely essential. On days where it’s just too inclement to open, then perhaps the establishments should temporarily close if they can’t open several windows etc. indoors to guarantee adequate ventilation.

Alfresco coffee and cake
Filter coffee and cake alfresco

I’m afraid the additional carbon released into the atmosphere is a temporary necessity to keep the country healthy and businesses or schools and colleges etc. functioning. I would also suggest those businesses above that can’t open outside entirely should consider creating as much ventilation as possible inside too.

I think we could all happily for one autumn/winter get used to wearing sweaters and coats most of the time and supporting all of the above establishments with enthusiasm when they are able to open. The wonderful  NHS could then be spared the height of the second wave of Covid which is now gaining increased momentum and an exit plan for those areas and in some sort of lockdown would be available.

Yours faithfully

Clive Holt

Clive Holt alfresco
Clive Holt

GMB and NHS nurses rally again in Brighton tomorrow

Nurses and GMB, the union for NHS workers, are supporting a second national day of protest marches and rallies across the country.  The union, which has been at the forefront of the fight for fair pay for all workers in the NHS, is supporting hard working NHS staff as they try to convince the Government that they deserve a 15% pay rise.

Protests tomorrow, Saturday 12th September, will be peaceful and socially distanced at Hove Lawns opposite Grand Avenue at 11am as well as at the BBC in London and Bournemouth.

Kelly Robbins, who is the rally organiser and a nurse said: “We were feeling overworked and exhausted as many of us were forced to work longer hours, tougher hours, staying away from our families for weeks at a time, fighting an ever-evolving situation with inadequate PPE, but fought on we did.

“Whilst seeing one of the highest healthcare worker death rates in the world from Covid-19, we accepted the risk, determined to do what’s best for our patients and the country.

“Ministers have been happy to ‘clap for the NHS’ but have failed to deliver real signs of appreciation for NHS workers – excluding many from a well-deserved pay rise and resulting in yet another real-terms cut.

“The Government has easily forgotten and abandoned the very same people that have saved their lives.”

Kelly Robbins

Ms Robbins and other GMB NHS members are angry that they were left out of the recent public sector pay deal and are at least 20% worse off in real terms than they were 10 years ago.

There are currently around 100,000 vacancies in the NHS because of under resourcing and funding cuts and morale is very low among NHS nurses and other staff.

According to GMB, platitudes and clapping are being offered by the government instead of decent pay or improvements to terms and conditions. The NHS workforce has proven itself to be consistently reliable and caring, even before the heroism of fighting the Covid crisis which is ongoing.

NHS workers have paid a huge cost in treating people with COVID.  Many of their colleagues have lost their lives, yet they remain ignored when it comes time for the care bill to be settled. GMB is concerned that the hard work by nurses will be used as evidence for further austerity and cuts by the government.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “GMB were clear that the 15% only begins to address the last decade of pay freezes and enforced pay caps, ending in the recent disastrous three year deal which ends in April. It saw long serving NHS staff pay increases below the cost of living.

“Frankly our members have told us enough is enough, and that although the support was welcomed the ‘Praise, Clapping, and Kind Words’ aren’t exchangeable in the shops for food or bills and rent or mortgage payments.

“Risking your life and that of your family members to care for all those unfortunate enough to get sick throughout this the pandemic wasn’t enough for this government.

“They don’t appear to be considering bringing any pay rise forward as a thank you, before even taking into account just how much NHS staff have lost in real terms over the last 10 years.

“This is clearly now a straight battle between a worthless government and a priceless workforce, with the GMB backing the NHS workers all the way.

“They remain there for you! How about being there for them?  Join GMB and NHS workers on Saturday 12th September at a NHS rally near you!”

GMB

Brighton Health Chief refuses to recognise BME network

Chief Executive of the Brighton and Sussex University Healthcare Trust (BSUH), Marianne Griffiths, has refused to restore recognition to an active NHS Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff network that has more than 300 members. The work of the network has never been more important than during the pandemic which affects BME staff and patients more than others.

Councillors, campaigning groups and trade unionists from across Brighton and Hove and beyond have signed an open letter urging Ms Griffiths to restore recognition to the staff BME Network and to address long-standing issues of structural discrimination and institutional racism in the hospital trust.

Between 2004 and 2017 the network had been operating effectively in the Trust with more than 500 members until Ms Griffiths took over. After losing an Employment Tribunal claim for racial discrimination in 2007 the then CEO of the Trust agreed to work in partnership with the BME Network to improve race relations.

Together, the Trust and the network developed a Race Equality Engagement Strategy which was being implemented at the time of Ms Griffiths’ appointment. She made it clear that if it were to continue, the BME Network would have to be subject to her requirements which threatened the independence of the network.

Since Ms Griffiths took up her appointment in April 2017, three senior BME colleagues who were instrumental in providing leadership to the network have been dismissed and several employment tribunal cases are pending with one claim subject to an appeal.

The Network informed Ms Griffiths they found the dismissals unacceptable and the Trust severed all links and joint working, withdrawing formal recognition of the network.

In response to the BME network’s letter, Ms Griffiths wrote earlier this week: “When the new Board took responsibility for the Trust in 2017, it began to address multiple longstanding cultural issues, including race equality. The Trust had been failing and a new approach was required to many issues.

“The BME Network had an opportunity to engage with shaping the approach to race alongside the Trust’s leadership and the national WRES team. The Network’s stance was to offer engagement only on its terms, being an insistence that the Board accept the Network’s pre-existing approach. The Network publicly derided the Board and refused to accept its responsibility to set the approach. Therefore, the chance for the Network’s leadership to engage was lost although its members were invited to engage through the channels offered to all staff…

“It is unrealistic to expect the Board to undermine the hard work of others over the last two years, reinstate an obsolete agreement and embark on agreeing a new strategy with you… the Board will not agree to step back two years and adopt the points made in your letter.”

The BME network said that the WRES is open to all staff but the BME network is a bespoke network for BME staff only, giving them a unique voice. In their response to Ms Griffiths letter above, they wrote: “You will be well aware that the Chief People Officer of the NHS, Prerana Issar, has set a challenge for every NHS organisation to have a BME staff Network in place and for every Network to be ‘driving, thriving and influencing with the help of real support from their organisation.’

Ms Griffiths is seeking to revive the network in Western Sussex Hospitals (WSH) but is denying recognition to the BME network at the BSUH Trust in Brighton and Hove.

Madeleine Dickens, of Sussex Defend NHS, said: “Sussex Defend the NHS condemns the treatment to which the BME Network of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust and black and minority ethnic members of staff have been subjected by the Chief Executive Marianne Griffiths and senior Trust management. We stand together with the BME Network in all its demands, including for the Network to be reinstated with immediate effect. The treatment of the network is symptomatic of racial discrimination and institutionalised racism across the NHS, which has to be urgently acknowledged and addressed by Ms Griffiths and her management team.”

An edited version of this article was published by Brighton and Hove News.

Zippos Circus moves to Hove Park this week

Zippos Circus returns to Hove tonight (Tuesday 11 August) but in a different location to usual to make it easier for people to keep to the coronavirus social distancing rules.

The circus is due to throw open its doors at 7pm in Hove Park rather than on the Hove Lawns where the circus has traditionally come to town.

In previous years seating capacity was 1,000 people per show but this has been reduced to 400 this year because of the coronavirus.

The show complies with all the familiar covid-19 health and safety measures, according to Zippos, including seating in household or party “bubbles” in the big top, enhanced ventilation and random non-invasive temperature checks for selected visitors.

Staff have personal protective equipment (PPE) and deep cleaning is routine. The wearing of face coverings is voluntary as the audience will all be facing in the same direction.

Martin Burton, the founder and director of Zippos Circus, said: “I cannot tell you how pleased we are to be back on the road again. We have worked tirelessly with the government and public health authorities to get the show back on tour in line with official regulations and guidance and are now confident that we can do so in a covid-secure manner.

“The outdoor nature of the circus and well-ventilated big top plus socially distanced seating and a range of new hygiene and safety measures will all help ensure that Zippos Circus will be a safe place for both our performers and families to enjoy and we look forward to welcoming everybody to our new show.”

Zippos has someone new holding the ring, with veteran ringmaster Norman Barrett, 84, taking a break for this season “due to covid-19.”

Zippos circus
“Ringmistress” Tracy Jones

In his place, Zippos has its first “ringmistress”, Tracy Jones, who promises to present a fast-moving spectacle like no other as astonishing acrobats and aerialists, comics and daredevil motorcyclists come together for this year’s colourful production.

Among those appearing alongside her are the Brazilian showman Paulo Dos Santos – a multi-talented comic, acrobat and martial artist who stands at just over a metre tall and the Globe of Death, with its team of motorcyclists performing high-velocity stunts.

The line up includes “amazingly elastic” tumblers from Kenya, French funnyman Emilion, knife-throwers from the Czech Republic, foot jugglers from France, a “wheel of death” and an upside-down “skywalk” act.

Hove is the second stop for Zippos Circus which started its tour in Southsea and will be in Blackheath, London, for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

All tickets will be £8.50 tonight, which is the first night, with an upgrade available to the ringside for an extra £3. Doors open at 7pm and tickets must be bought in pairs to help meet social distancing rules.

From tomorrow there is a matinée and a 7pm show. Tickets cost £13 for children aged two to 14 years and £17 for adults. Children under two can attend for free providing they sit on a parent or guardian’s lap.

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News today.

Hundreds of Brighton nurses rally for a pay rise

Nurse Kelly Robbins organised a march for nurses from the Royal Sussex County Hospital through Brighton to the Level today, Saturday 08 August, alongside a wave of protests across the UK including London. Ms Robbins wants change, that is, a pay rise and recognition for nurses and other NHS workers who served the country so heroically during the coronavirus crisis.

Almost 900,000 public sector workers, including senior doctors, will be given an above inflation pay rise backdated to April. However, more than one million NHS staff such as nurses, cleaners and care assistants are excluded because they are on a different contract. Nurses want a pay rise planned for next April to be brought forward in recognition of their service fighting coronavirus.

Ms Robbins thanked in particular intensive care unit and high dependency unit staff and paramedics who were redeployed to Covid-19 wards. She also thanked students who stepped up to help fight the coronavirus.

Kelly Robbins

Ms Robbins said: “In responding to this pandemic, NHS workers have demonstrated their grit, tenacity and courage. They have demonstrated exactly why they deserve change. Many staff were redeployed to areas they’ve never worked in before, including some who hadn’t worked clinically for some time or were newly qualified. They were faced with looking after multiple critically ill patients many of whom required complex levels of care…

“Many NHS workers didn’t make it home at all, forgoing seeing their own families and living elsewhere in order to keep the people they cared about at home safe. Patients too were kept from their families and those who died, often did so without their own families by their side.

“NHS workers instead became their family, holding their hand as they took their last breath, making sure they didn’t die alone. While I am proud to work for an organisation that cares so much for those who need us most and has gone above and beyond during this pandemic, I am also angry that NHS workers sacrifice so much of their own physical and mental health but are recognised so little by our government.

“I know the public recognise us. I know they see us and I know they are proud of us. And we are grateful for the support the public has shown us. But we need that support, that pride, that recognition to be converted into policy. We need that belief in our NHS to lead to change that recognises our value and recognises us fairly.

“NHS staff have had their wages frozen, capped and cut for the last ten years and are being told they don’t deserve fair pay because this is a ‘vocation.’ NHS workers are leaving due to huge workloads, unsafe staffing ratios, low pay and lack of support.”

Gary Palmer who is a GMB Union regional organiser urged nurses to vote for and take industrial action which he said was the only way to force the government to listen.

Phelim MacCafferty, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council read a statement from Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP.

Mrs Lucas said: “Over the last few months NHS workers have shown us the very best of this country. Your perseverance, commitment and dedication in the face of this global crisis has been an inspiration to millions, including me.

“I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, the incredible nurses, doctors, NHS support staff, carers and domestic services staff who are still working flat out to continue to provide care and support to those most in need.

“But this context makes the pay rise snub for nurses and other NHS staff from this Government even more gut-wrenching.

“We know from recent polling that an overwhelming majority of the public think all NHS staff should get an early pay rise before the end of this year. The same research showed that two thirds of the public believe a wage increase for employees – including healthcare assistants, nurses, hospital porters, midwives, paramedics and cleaners – should be significant in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have long lobbied and campaigned for proper funding for the NHS, and last month I co-signed an early day motion calling for an early pay raise for health workers before 2021. This Government must urgently recognise the extraordinary commitment and sacrifice of all NHS staff throughout the Covid-19 outbreak and the depth of public gratitude for this work must now be reflected in concrete policies.

“It is time the Government showed its support for the NHS and workers by turning warm words and applause into a firm commitment to bring forward NHS pay talks and to fund an early and meaningful pay rise.

“Whilst I can never say thank you enough for everything that you have done and continue to do, especially in the current circumstances, I will continue to fight your corner in Parliament during this crisis and beyond.”

Nurses

Green Councillor and Leader Phelim MacCafferty said: “A decade of cuts, deregulation and the dismantling of the social fabric has left the vulnerable, public services and public sector workers exposed to the worst of this pandemic.

“Health workers have paid a heavy price for continuing to put us first. Over 540 health workers have died in the pandemic while far too many have been left exposed with no access to WHO-standard PPE.

“The past decade of Tory austerity, has seen NHS staff pay cut by 20% in real terms – just like that of local government workers. Both NHS and local government staff have kept our city with a low R and surviving the pandemic. And yet when push comes to shove, we have the nauseating sight of Tory MPs clapping for key workers on a Thursday night while they stick a knife in the back of public sector workers the very next day.

“This public health crisis has seen millionaires like Richard Branson bailed out while things many of us campaigned for years- the renationalised railways, rough sleepers accommodated- both of which have happened during this crisis- because none of these are impossible. They are about political priorities. So is fair pay for NHS workers.

“The pandemic is sadly very far from effectively suppressed. But having seen how poorly wave one has been handled by the Brexiteer buffoons, we can’t afford wave two. Figures published from the World Health Organisation only weeks ago affirm that the UK not only has highest number of deaths but the highest number of excess deaths per 100,000 people.

“We just don’t know what is going to happen next, and we have seen what incompetence we are up against in central government, but in spite of Tory Ministers, we owe it to the memory of the 161 people in our city who have died from Covid-19 to do everything we can to keep our communities safe.

“Nurses, Care workers, hospital cleaners and porters:

“You have been there for us through the terrifying dark days of the pandemic, when we are unwell, and when our loved ones enter and leave this world so now we are here for you. We stand with you as you continue your battle for fair pay. Solidarity.”

coronavirus

Brighton Kemptown’s MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle also sent a statement of support. He said: “This Government has treated NHS workers with disrespect for ten long years. They have degraded professions and undervalued staff.

“Ten years of pay being frozen or below inflation increases. Ten years of undermining, under resourcing and outsourcing.

“Then after all this time, it is the brave NHS workers who have saved so many lives in the midst of a global pandemic. We have all relied on you over the last five months more than ever.

“You even saved the Prime Ministers life, something he should recognise now with a decent pay increase.

“Clapping for carers and key workers showed the overwhelming support the community has for the NHS but you can’t pay your bills or your rent with claps.

“It is time the government steps up and shows true appreciation with a pay increase.

And I will continue to fight in Westminster to achieve this aim. Thank you all and keep up the struggle.”

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News on Saturday.

Labour loses control of Brighton Council to Greens because of antisemitism

Antisemitism is Labour’s Achilles heel and the Party needs to stop fighting itself and unite. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Leader, settled a legal claim on Thursday, paying six figure sums in compensation to Labour Party staff tasked with investigating complaints of antisemitism. The High Court upheld the claim that staff efforts to deal with specifically antisemitic complaints were blocked by senior party members within the Labour Party.

This case is an important step towards eradicating antisemitism which has blighted the party for at least twenty years, if not more. But the counter-allegations are coming in thick and fast from Mr Corbyn and his supporters on the left, many of whom support the Palestinian cause. Tragically, Labour continues to fight itself, not the Conservatives and it’s the Labour Party who is paying the price.

A Labour government set up the independent Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) back in 2007. It’s currently investigating the Party’s handling of antisemitism complaints but the leaked internal Labour dossier into antisemitism has not been shared with EHRC – a grave mistake.

On Thursday 23 July, Labour lost control of Brighton and Hove City Council to the Green Party following the resignation of two Labour Councillors because of antisemitism. In the last week, Councillors Kate Knight and Nichole Brennan have both left the Labour Party and are now standing as Independent Councillors and Councillor Pissaridou has been suspended.

It means the Green Party currently form the largest group on the council with 19 seats, Labour hold 18 seats, the conservatives have 13 seats and there are four Independent Councillors. No party has a majority on Brighton Council and, as is often the case, there is no overall control. It was the Conservative Group that called on Councillor Nancy Platts, to resign as Leader.

antisemitism
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown

Cllr Kate Knight resigned from the Labour Party last Monday 20 July after sharing posts on social media that accused Israel of campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn. She will continue to sit as an Independent Councillor representing constituents of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean.

Secondly, Labour Councillor, Nichole Brennan, was under investigation since April for demonstrating in 2018 against the party’s adoption of a wider ranging definition of antisemitism and then describing criticism of her actions as “white supremacy.” She too resigned from the Labour Party earlier this week and is standing as an Independent Councillor.

Eleven days ago, Councillor Anne Pissaridou was suspended on Tuesday 14 July but she has not yet resigned the Labour Party whip. She has resigned as Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

Ms Pissaridou posted antisemitic content on social media from conspiracy theory websites. The cartoon implies that banker Sir Jacob Rothschild is behind the impending collapse of the world’s bank while Germans are told to stockpile food.

She also shared another conspiracy theory post in August 2018 with the headline: ‘Jewish Israeli journalist claims pro-Israel propagandists have ‘taken out a contract’ to stop Jeremy Corbyn being elected.’

Councillor Pissaridou has apologised to the Jewish community for her posts and said the posts, which she did not read properly before sharing, do not reflect her views.

All three of these councillors were Momentum supporters although they were all selected by Brighton and Hove Constituency Labour Parties.

Even Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour’s MP for Brighton Kemptown stood down from the Shadow frontbench ten days ago following a comment in a letter written in 2009, before he became an MP, that Zionism was, ‘a dangerous nationalist idea.’

He said when this comment came to light, it led to a torrent of right-wing online abuse and harassment by telephone against him and his staff which made his position as a shadow minister untenable.

Support Sussex Police on Super Saturday

As lockdown tentatively eases, this Saturday is ‘super Saturday.’ It means the pubs are open to residents of Brighton and Hove. It’s a significant step towards normality, almost four months after Mr Johnson, our Prime Minister, belatedly closed the UK for business.

Thanks to Mr Johnson, Britain has the second highest number of deaths from coronavirus after America, although we may tragically be taken over by countries from the ‘developing world’, like Brazil.

Brighton and Hove isolated the person who brought the coronavirus to our city and successfully contact traced and shielded everyone, primarily the children he played football with. We closed our doors to tourists. Brighton is a town that makes her money through tourism but the Police, the NHS and politicians have successfully contained the virus.

Gay pride is just around the corner but Brighton and Hove saved lives by closing her doors. As a city, Brighton makes more money over Pride weekend than any other weekend in a year and it has rightly been cancelled because it will result in over-crowding, it will bring millions of people into Brighton from across the UK and beyond and social distancing will not be maintained.

However, we are turning a corner and Super Saturday is upon us. Brighton’s Fringe and Festival will go ahead in September or October and people will be able to socialise and party again as long as they socially distance. Churches and choirs may be the last groups to reopen their doors but, in time, they will.

Super Saturday
PCC Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne with suicide volunteers

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has released a statement ahead of Super Saturday which will see lockdown restrictions loosened with pubs, bars, restaurants and some leisure facilities reopening for the first time since the end of March.

Mrs Bourne said: “We are now benefiting from the sacrifices we have made to curb the spread of the virus and are slowly able to return to some normality.

“I understand that people will want to take advantage of the opportunity this weekend brings to meet up with friends and family at their favourite restaurants or pubs that they have not visited in months.

“However, it is still important that we do so safely with social distancing in mind at all times.

“We have come so far already and, in order to keep progressing in the right direction, we must all be sensible in our decision-making. If you arrive somewhere and notice that social distancing isn’t achievable, then please reassess your plans.

“Police officers will be out and about across Sussex this weekend helping to keep us safe. Please ensure you show them respect and know that any assault on an emergency service worker is unacceptable and will be treated extremely seriously.”

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team (BHCT), an Eastbourne-based charity providing dedicated support for people in crisis, has received new uniforms today jointly funded by Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Brighton’s Chief Constable, Jo Shiner.

Some of their team met with PCC Bourne and CC Shiner today at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes to accept their new police standard uniforms costing just under £1,000 each.

Often this team, made up of 26 volunteers, are one of the first respondents to emergency calls located at Beachy Head.

BHCT volunteers selflessly give up their time to patrol a 5-mile search area on foot and by car and, in doing so, they brave all weather conditions in isolation. These new cargo trousers will ensure they have the right protection to do their vital work.

Police uniforms cost £1000. I am sure they can be sourced locally at cost. BHCT’s suicide volunteers should be publicly funded by the Council Tax precept. Uniforms are not enough.

Suicide volunteers at BHCT work alongside police officers and other emergency services to safeguard those in distress or who are suicidal. Using their skills in crisis intervention they offer supportive listening and start a dialogue to alter the outcome of the situation.

Since 2004, BHCT’s volunteers have responded to over 11,500 incidents. They are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, working in isolated conditions, saving lives and their service is valued highly by Sussex Police.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “We work very closely with the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team and so can see first-hand the amazing work they do.

“The chaplains are there for people when they are at their lowest point. Their compassion and support have helped guide many people away from crisis and it has saved many lives.

“We are incredibly grateful for the volunteers who give up their time, day and night and in all weathers, to ensure there is always someone available to listen to and help those in need.”

PCC Commissioner Bourne said: “Each year, we see many hundreds of people come to Beachy Head in crisis, needing help.

“The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team is always on hand to reach out to these people, supporting them to see clarity in their situation and get the vital help they need at a time of greatest distress. In short, they save lives.

“I have, and will continue to, support this truly amazing team and help them carry out their vital work in whatever way I can.”

Chief Executive Officer of BHCT, Gerry Howitt: We value and appreciate the support and generosity we have and continue to receive from our colleagues at Sussex Police. It is an honour and a privilege to work alongside such a dedicated and skilled team.”

The charity also actively promotes suicide prevention and works with partners, including The Samaritans and should receive Police funding through our Council Tax.

Anyone can contact Samaritans at any time including day or night on Super Saturday for free from any phone on 116 123. This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill. Grassroots trains organisations, groups and individuals in how to keep people at risk of suicide safe and how to alert the Police in an emergency.

 

C of E accused of racism in spite of backing black lives matter

BAME vicar and trainee priest claim racism has blocked their church careers.

Church of England bishops have been accused of “utter hypocrisy” for publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement while failing to address racism in their dioceses.

Two men from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, a vicar and a trainee priest, claim discrimination has blocked their efforts to advance within the C of E hierarchy.

The Rev Alwyn Pereira was rejected for seven posts as a vicar in the diocese of Bristol before he discovered a letter on his personal file saying there were “cultural differences in the way people like Alwyn communicate, and actually handle issues of truth and clarity.”

 

racism
Reverend Alwyn Pereira

Augustine Tanner-Ihm, a trainee priest who applied to become a curate, received a rejection email that stated “the demographic of the parish is monochrome white working-class, where you might feel uncomfortable.”

Both men said they were angry that C of E leaders had voiced support for the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while failing to act on systemic discrimination against BAME people within the church.

Pereira said: “This is utter hypocrisy. Our church offers hope, and it is right that our bishops speak out against injustices, but it is a concern that endemic racism persists within. Over 30 years have elapsed, and our church is still ‘discussing’, still ‘listening’.”

On Monday, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, tweeted that “the racism that people in this country experience is horrifying. The church has failed here, and still does, and it’s clear what Jesus commands us to do: repent and take action.”

Following the tearing down of the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol on Sunday, Vivienne Faull, the bishop of Bristol, said Floyd’s death had “brought the issues of racism, oppression, inequality and injustice once again into the spotlight, where they should be. These are issues that the diocese of Bristol, like many organisations, has been aware of, discussed and attempted to address. However, while we have taken some positive steps, it is clear that we have not done enough.”

Pereira launched a discrimination case against the diocese of Bristol after discovering the letter on his file. Michael Hill, the bishop of Bristol at the time, wrote in July 2016: “I think the other thing I need to say, having worked closely with people from the Indian subcontinent in my past, is that I think there are cultural differences in the way people like Alwyn communicate, and actually handle issues of truth and clarity.”

Church of England

Pereira, who is now a vicar in Aldershot, Hampshire, is not from the Indian subcontinent. He is of Indo-Portuguese heritage, was born in Kenya and educated almost entirely in England.

In a preliminary hearing, an employment tribunal heard that emails dating back to 2014 showed several bishops had blocked Pereira’s job applications, one citing “cultural eccentricities”.

The employment tribunal dismissed the claim last month on the grounds it was out of time. Pereira made an internal complaint that was also ruled out of time by the C of E’s clergy discipline commission tribunal, a decision he is appealing.

He said: “I suspect my journey [in the church] has been impeded by systemic racism, because of my skin tone.”

The support by bishops for Black Lives Matter felt like “PR spin”, he added.

In a statement, Hill said he had used “racial stereotypes which were unacceptable and offensive” in his letter. “I deeply regret the incident and I wholeheartedly apologise.”

Faull said Hill’s comments had been “unacceptable”. She added: “I have made the commitment to address institutional racism and to recruit and support more BAME clergy. I stand behind these and my other commitments. This work won’t be easy but I will be relentless in my dedication to bringing about change.”

Tanner-Ihm, a black American who is training to become a priest at Cranmer Hall in Durham, said he was shocked and angry to receive a rejection email earlier this year saying he “might feel uncomfortable” in a white working-class parish.

When he challenged the view, pointing out that he was adopted by a white working-class family and had previously worked in predominantly white inner-city areas, “I got a response along the lines of ‘sorry you took it that way’.”

He added: “I felt broken down. The church has said they are investigating but I don’t know how. No one has formally reached out to me.”

The C of E said the letter was “plainly unacceptable” and it was seeking clarity from the diocese.

The church’s director of ministry, the Rt Rev Chris Goldsmith, said: “We fully recognise that the C of E has a lot more work to do to become a place where our leadership is representative of the rich heritages of all the people of England.

“We reject racism of all kinds so we must not only root out discrimination but recognise and correct the unconscious biases which each of us carry and which can undermine our intention to recognise the gifting and calling of everyone equally.”

He added: “We need to be both humble and determined as we strive for the goal for full equality in our shared life.”

You can read the same Guardian article here.

Police Crime Commissioner creates new Safe Space for victims in ‘lockdown’

In 2016, Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne launched ‘Safe Space Sussex’, the first online directory of local victim services, so that people could easily reach out for support. In response to the ‘lockdown’ and concerns raised around crimes like Domestic Abuse, Mrs Bourne has upgraded this site and started an online campaign today (11th May.) The campaign will help victims covertly reach out to the Police for help while they are stuck in isolation – #SafeSpaceSussex.

With the entire country still in lockdown, many services have expressed concerns about victims of crime not feeling able to safely reach out for help.  Some services have seen a decrease in engagement from victims and reports of crimes (like domestic abuse) made to Sussex Police, have reduced by approximately 4% at a time when they may be expected to be on the rise.

Detective Superintendent Steve Rayland of the force’s Public Protection Command said: “We know it can be more difficult than ever for people to report abuse that’s taking place at home at the moment. With no escape from their abuser, a victim’s opportunity to reach out to people who may previously have been able to help them is greatly reduced.

“But there are options available to make contact discreetly, with Police and their partners. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the police, we would urge you to contact one of the support services listed on the Safe Space Sussex site.

“It’s really important people know that we will continue to respond to domestic abuse as normal, arresting perpetrators and protecting vulnerable people.”

Safe Space Sussex

The Safe Space Sussex website has been equipped with a new search tool so that within an average of 10 seconds, victims of any crime can find the service they need. It also has a ‘leave site now’ button that users can press to quickly exit the site.

As part of the relaunch campaign, tailored guidance will also be shared across social media on how victims can access the new website covertly, using incognito tabs, as they may be living with their perpetrators during ‘lockdown’ and their search history may be monitored as a result.

Sussex Police have also issued advice, which will be shared this week, on how a victim of crime can covertly let a call handler know they are in danger. The ’55’ technology is in place for those too scared to speak to the Police. Instead victims can alert a call handler to the fact they need help by pressing 55 on their mobile phone once they’ve dialled 999.

Mrs Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner said: “While we are all deeply affected by this ongoing pandemic, those who have, or are still experiencing crime may well be in a heightened state of anxiety and distress.  We may be in lockdown, but they must not feel locked out.

“Just because we are seeing a decrease in reports does not mean that these crimes are reducing. So, it’s now more important than ever, that people who feel threatened and vulnerable have someone who will listen and help them. 

“We have relaunched Safe Space Sussex so that we can continue to do everything we can to ensure that critical and confidential help remains available to those who need it.

“I understand that it may be difficult for many victims at this time to reach out but I’m hoping that, by sharing ways they can do this more covertly, we will see more people coming forward and getting the help they need.”

Local independent domestic abuse service, RISE, has observed a worrying decrease in referrals from Police in the first few weeks of lockdown but noticed an increase in calls to their helpline, showing that many are still suffering at home but may feel unable to reach out safely to the police.

“Our message to survivors has always been to call 999 if you are in immediate danger,” says Jo Gough, CEO of Sussex domestic abuse charity RISE.

“However, we know that when women are isolating in close proximity with their perpetrator, it isn’t always possible to speak. Using the ‘silent solution’ after calling 999 by pressing 55 on a mobile phone can literally save lives, and the new #SafeSpaceSussex website contains vital safety resources for survivors.”

You are not aloneFollowing extra investment this year, Sussex Police has introduced new ways that victims can reach out to them covertly. A new specialist unit will now be able to deal, by appointment, with non-emergency cases through new video conferencing technology.

Officers obtain a safe contact number and send a onetime text message to the caller’s smartphone. Activating this link puts the caller into a virtual waiting room where an officer will be able to see and talk to them so that an investigation can take place.

The caller is then told to delete the text, which is disguised in the first place to hide any links with the Police.

As part of this interaction they will also be putting victims in touch with local support services like RISE to increase referrals and ensure people get the support they need.

Everyone is going the extra mile to ensure that nobody suffers in silence during the coronavirus crisis and lockdown that has followed. If you find yourself in an emergency where you think you or others may be in immediate danger dial 999. Sussex Police are always there for you when you need them. Don’t suffer in silence.

If you would prefer not to contact the police you can report a crime anonymously via Crimestoppers online or by calling: 0800 555 111.

www.safespacesussex.org.uk has all the information on support services who can help any victim of crime across Sussex.

Food distribution at charity FareShare Sussex doubles

Since Boris Johnson announced lockdown in the third week of March, Fareshare Sussex has been swamped with new people and projects requesting food.

The number of vulnerable people thrown in to food poverty because they have lost their jobs is greater than anyone at the charity foresaw. Residents of Brighton and Hove have watched helplessly as their regular income dries up. They have no money for food, rent or other essential items and there’s often a delay receiving benefits.

Many of the community groups and charities that FareShare Sussex supplies with food have stepped up to deal with the situation. Multiple new organisations have been set up by concerned local residents in direct response to the needs of their local communities. One thing they all have in common is that they need more food. They have asked FareShare Sussex to supply them with extra food and the charity is determined to rise to the challenge.

Rob Orme, Chief Executive said: “In response to this crisis we have streamlined everything we do in order to get the maximum amount of food out to the most vulnerable in our communities.

“We have been inundated with surplus food – as the hospitality industry was closed down and some shops had to dispose of their food, we stepped in to bring that food to our warehouses and avoid it being sent to landfill. We knew we had the resources to get this surplus food to the people who needed it most.”

“Our dedicated team of volunteers and staff have never been so busy. We are all determined to respond to the need that this crisis has identified.

“Five weeks into the lockdown, we have developed sustainable, safe systems that mean we can continue to provide those who need it with good quality food.

“We don’t expect this crisis to end anytime soon so we are planning to keep on doing what we do best – ensuring vulnerable people are fed.”

Fareshare Sussex

Food donations from the food industry and from the general public have kept coming ever since. The demand for this food by vulnerable people is ongoing. FareShare Sussex are sending out an additional 9 tonnes of food to vulnerable people every week, on top of the 12 tonnes a week they were distributing before the coronavirus hit the South East, 21 tonnes of food to feed 12,000 people every week.

FareShare Sussex operate in three warehouses in Moulsecoomb, Brighton. They are now looking for a fourth warehouse in which they can store their food. If you would like to help them raise funds to do this, you can make a donation here.

FareShare Sussex redistributes surplus food to charities and community groups who provide frontline services to vulnerable people. We do this with an army of 150 volunteers who sort and deliver the food using refrigerated vans. The charity operates across Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey.

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