Covid UK: Intensive care doctor says Covid crisis in hospitals has 'stabilised'

Professor Rupert Pearse warned 2021 is going to be 'another hard year' as official figures show there are currently nearly 35,000 people in UK hospitals and 3,832 on ventilators.
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Solskjaer singles out Man Utd star who was "absolutely superb" in derby
Manchester United managed a 2-0 win over their local rivals Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday that saw Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw scored but it was another who caught the eye of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
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Mount Etna eruptions: Ash showers down on parks and roads in nearby villages
MOUNT ETNA in Italy, Europe's most active volcano, has belted out a massive cloud of ash and lava stone over nearby villages.
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‘A great loss’: President Macron pays tribute to billionaire French MP Olivier Dassault who has died in helicopter crash
French President Emmanuel Macron has paid tribute to billionaire conservative MP Olivier Dassault who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
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Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview: Duchess ‘didn’t want to be alive anymore’ at darkest moments
The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that she struggled with suicidal thoughts after joining the Royal Family in an emotional exchange with Oprah Winfrey.
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FTSE 100 set to jump as oil price leaps after attacks on Saudi facilities
Brent crude leaps through $70 a barrel
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Prince Harry says he felt Princess Diana’s presence ‘throughout this whole process’: ‘I think she saw it coming’
Couple lived off Princess Diana’s inheritance when they were ‘cut off’ by royal family
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Mum-of-six who 'swindled £55k benefits for six years jailed for scam'
The 31-year-old who has five children and is step-mum to one, reportedly claimed the extra Child Tax Credits payments while living with her ex Stuart McTaggart
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Serena Williams supports friend Meghan Markle in heartfelt letter ‘decrying vilification of Black women’ after Oprah interview
Celebrities have reacted to the Sussexes' interview with Oprah.
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Books of the month: From Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun to Melissa Broder’s Milk Fed
Martin Chilton reviews six of March’s biggest releases for our monthly column
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What did Meghan say to Oprah? The biggest moments from historic interview
From race to mental health, these are the key talking points from the bombshell CBS programme
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Back to black: How we keep failing Amy Winehouse
As her debut book charting the rise and tragic fall of the singer is released, Kate Solomon looks at why history keeps repeating itself when it comes to women in pop, from Britney Spears to Jesy Nelson
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Barcelona's new president Laporta's masterplan and what it means for Messi
Barcelona have appointed themselves a new president after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned last year and they have turned to former club chief Joan Laporta but what does this mean for Lionel Messi?
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What is a Junior ISA and why should I set one up for my child?
Making savings now can help them when they're older.
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Manchester United expose Man City flaw which could cost Pep Guardiola
Manchester City rarely go behind but when they do, they rarely win. It's a problem they need to solve
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Fury as police dish out £10,000 fine to NHS worker over 1pc pay protest
Karen Reissmann, 61, a mental health worker and Unison rep, was among those who turned up for the demo in St Peter's Square in central Manchester
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Meghan and Harry’s Oprah Interview: ‘There were conversations about Archie’s skin tone’ at palace
Meghan and Harry have discussed racism at the palace - with the Duchess suggesting there were “several conversations” about her son Archie’s skin tone before he was born.
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All the rules that change today in first stage of roadmap out of lockdown
March 8 is a big day for schools in England - but there are also other changes
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Boris roadmap swings into full force as millions of children prepare for school return
BORIS Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown swings into full force today, as children prepare to go back to school in England.
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Boy, 13, 'made to drink urine and shot with BB gun' by vile bullies at sleepover
In a heart-rending post on Facebook his mum Summer Smith said her son had been threatened by the same group of boys and had been left scared to go to school
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‘Hard winter’ warning as levels of flu immunity ‘potentially’ dropped – expert
A CORONAVIRUS expert has warned the UK could be set for a "hard winter" as the rates of immunity to respiratory viruses other than coronavirus could have dropped.
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Monday briefing: Meghan claims royal race hostility
Duchess says palace life was ‘unsurvivable’ as Harry says Charles ‘let him down’ … women’s equality ‘set back years’ by virus … schools shambles fear on reopening Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories this morning. Continue reading...
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Nomadland references censored in China over critical comments by Chloé Zhao from 2013
Release of pioneering director’s work could be hampered by interview in which she called China ‘a place where there are lies everywhere’The Chinese release of Golden Globe-winning film Nomadland could be in doubt after accusations its Beijing-born director criticised China in a 2013 interview.Promotional material and references to the film by Chloé Zhao, who is based in the US, were wiped from the internet in China, days after Zhao was widely praised by Chinese media for becoming the first Asian woman in history to win a Golden Globes award for best director. State media headlines lauded her as “the pride of China”, and advertised the film’s scheduled release on 23 April. Continue reading...
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As US mulls Afghan exit, activist sees long fight for women
Prominent activist Sima Samar has been fighting for women’s rights in Afghanistan for the past 40 years
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Bombshell after bombshell: The best quotes from Harry and Meghan's shocking Oprah interview
It was bombshell after bombshell when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spoke to Oprah Winfrey in their world exclusive interview. Here are some of the quotes from the two hour special.
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Claimed value of sleepy New York estate could come to haunt Trump
A century-old estate that Donald Trump owns in suburban New York is subdued by the former president's standards, but it could end up being one of his bigger legal nightmares
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Royal expert ROBERT JOBSON on Harry and Meghan's interview
Meghan Markle, whose acting skills have been over-blown, gives a stilted and over-staged performance. The dramatic pauses are so obvious, writes ROBERT JOBSON.
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Meghan says Kate made her cry ahead of wedding
Reports circulated ahead of the Sussexes’ wedding that Meghan left Kate in tears – but Meghan said “the reverse” happened.
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Merkel branded 'architect' of European vaccine fiasco in withering attack by journalist
ANGELA Merkel was accused of being the "architect" behind Europe's vaccine fiasco because she was obsessed with being a good European, according to a top German journalist.
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After whirlwind historic visit, Pope leaving Iraq for Rome
Pope Francis is wrapping up a historic whirlwind tour of Iraq that sought to bring hope to the country’s marginalized Christian minority with a message of coexistence, forgiveness and peace
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Person shot and killed at same intersection where George Floyd died
It’s almost been a year since George Floyd was killed on the same location
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Monarchy in crisis after series of revelations by Meghan
Life behind palace doors has not been exposed to this degree since the days of the “War of the Waleses”.
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Meghan And Harry : 12 Biggest Bombshells From The Couple's Explosive Oprah Winfrey Interview
After several weeks of headlines, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey finally aired in the US on Sunday night - and it was more explosive than anyone could have imagined.A little more than a year after they decided they would step back from the royal family, the couple sat down with Oprah to put their side of the story forward and reveal what was really going on behind closed palace doors.Here are the 12 most shocking revelations from the interview.Meghan says member of royal family aired racist concerns over colour of son’s skin“You’re not going to tell me who had that conversation?" Oprah asks after Meghan says there were concerns about her child's skin color “I think that would be very damaging to them.” #OprahMeghanHarrypic.twitter.com/TGulbooO8P— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 8, 2021Meghan revealed a member of the royal family had “concerns and conversations” about how dark the colour of Archie’s skin might be when he was born.Meghan refused to name the member of the royal family but said that conversations were relayed to Prince Harry.“I think that would be very damaging to them,” Meghan said.Meghan contemplated suicide“Those that shine the brightest lights and the biggest smiles” you have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors. Heartbreaking and true. #MeghanMarklepic.twitter.com/dwNjugbIup— Kelly Dobeck (@KellyDWeather) March 8, 2021Meghan told Oprah that she contemplated suicide at the height of her crisis in the monarchy.“You were having suicidal thoughts?” Oprah asked during the two-hour interview.“Yes. It was very clear and very scary,” Meghan said. “I just didn’t see a solution.”  Prince Charles stopped taking Prince Harry’s phone callsHarry revealed his father “stopped taking his calls” following discussions about his exit from the royal family.Harry told Oprah that his father had asked him to put his and Meghan Markle’s plans to leave “in writing,” which he did, but the future king was still unhappy with Harry’s decision.Harry admitted he felt “let down” by his father, who went through a similar situation with his mother, Princess Diana of Wales.“He knows what pain feels like, and Archie’s his grandson,” Harry said. “But at the same time, of course I will always love him. But there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”Meghan says royal family lied for others, but wouldn’t protect herMeghan said that the royal family tried to silence her, refused to protect her and Prince Harry, and lied to protect other members of the family.“They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband,” she said.Asked “were you silent or were you silenced,” Meghan said it was “the latter.”She described the royals’ structure as being divided into two parts: the family and the “people running the institution.”Archie wasn’t given a royal title or offered securityWhile Meghan was pregnant, she was told the Royal Family didn’t want the baby to have a prince/princess title. That meant he wouldn’t receive any of the security that’s usually afforded to royal children.The logic given to her was that because he wasn’t being made a prince, he wouldn’t need security — something that struck her as nonsensical.“He needs to be safe,” she told Oprah. “If you’re saying the title is what’s going to affect their protection — we haven’t created this monster machine around us, in terms of clickbait and tabloid fodder. You’ve [The Firm] allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe.”Meghan didn’t elaborate on who in the Royal Family was making these decisions.It hurts that none of the royal family have spoken up to support the couple“There have been many opportunities for my family to show some kind of support,” Harry said. “Female members of parliament, Conservative and Labour, called out the colonial undertones of article and headlines written about Meghan. And yet no one from my family ever said anything over those two years.”He thinks the reason they haven’t stepped in, he said, is because “they’re scared of the tabloids turning on them.”The couple are expecting a girlHarry and Meghan announced they are expecting a girl.The royals had previously announced that they were having their second child in a sweet announcement on Valentine’s Day. Prince Harry says he was ‘trapped’ in the royal familyHarry told Oprah he felt “trapped” in his life as a senior member of the royal family, and likely would have never left his position had he not married Meghan.Prince Harry described the process as a years-long negotiation that was only possible with his wife’s support and came after the royal family regularly failed to offer aid during times of pain and hardship.“I was trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are,” he said. “My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave, and I have huge compassion for that.”Oprah pressed the royal about his statements, and asked if he would have left the family eventually.“The answer to your question is no. I wouldn’t have been able to, because I myself was trapped as well,” he replied. “I didn’t see a way out. I was trapped but I didn’t know I was trapped.”Harry heartbreakingly compares Meghan to Princess DianaHarry said that the media’s treatment of his wife painfully reminded him of how the press treated his late mother, Princess Diana of Wales.“My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” he said. “And I’ve said that before, on numerous occasions, very publicly.“What I was seeing was history repeating itself. More perhaps, or far more dangerously, because then you add race in, and social media in. And when I’m talking about history repeating itself, I’m talking about my mother.”They secretly got married before the royal weddingThe couple actually tied the knot three days before their royal wedding.“We called the archbishop and we just said, ‘Look ― this thing, this spectacle is for the world.’ But we want our union between us ― so the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Meghan said. “Just the three of us.” Harry echoed her and sang, “Just the three of us.Meghan says Kate Middleton made her cry, despite reports saying the oppositeThe Duchess of Sussex explained that, despite reports stating otherwise, it was the Duchess of Cambridge who made her cry in the weeks leading up to her wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018.“The reverse [of what was reported] happened,” Meghan said. “And I don’t say that to be disparaging toward anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding. And she was upset about something, but she owned it and she apologised and she brought me flowers and a note apologising and she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right? To just take accountability for it.”“What was shocking was, six or seven months after our wedding, that the reverse of that would be out in the world,” she added.The couple are relying on the money left to harry by Princess DianaHarry said he’s relying on the money that’s been left to him by his mother after they lost access to any royal cash when they made their decision to leave the royal family, “I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that we wouldn’t be able to do this.”CBS Presents Oprah with Meghan and Harry airs on ITV at 9pm tonight and on ITV HubMEGHAN AND HARRYMeghan Markle Reveals Royal Family Member Expressed Racist Concerns Over Son’s Skin ColourMeghan Markle Says She Contemplated Suicide: ‘I Just Didn’t See A Solution’Prince Harry Says Prince Charles ‘Stopped Taking His Calls’ Following Discussions About Royal Family Exit
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Serena Williams slams ‘pain and cruelty’ suffered by friend Meghan Markle while in the royal family
‘I know firsthand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimise us, to break us down and demonise us,’ the tennis star wrote on social media
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Harvard professor ignites uproar over 'comfort women' claims
A Harvard University professor has ignited international uproar after he alleged that Korean women who were kept as sex slaves in wartime Japan had actually chosen to work as prostitutes
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'Double-barrelled' storm on the way bringing severe gale-force winds
The recent 'spring-like' weather will come to an abrupt end this week with stormy conditions and gale force winds set to sweep across the country as the week unfolds
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TUC and Heathrow call on Sunak for 'survival support' for UK aviation
Move follows accusations chancellor is failing to understand sector’s role and provide promised helpCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe Trades Union Congress and Heathrow have called on the government to cover UK airports’ operating costs while travel bans are in place, and to extend the furlough scheme for as long as public health measures affect aviation, in a joint call for “survival support”.They said the demand for financial help and other measures were a matter of survival for businesses in the sector, after a budget in which Heathrow accused the chancellor of ignoring aviation and failing to understand the sector’s role. Continue reading...
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Footballers, fossil hunters and warrior queens: the women history forgot
Kate Mosse, founder of the Women’s prize and #WomanInHistory campaign, explains how a new generation of writers is putting female contributions on record The last words of “Diving into the Wreck”, the title poem in the 1973 collection by the great American feminist thinker, poet and essayist Adrienne Rich, are these: “a book of myths / in which / our names do not appear.” I can’t remember when I first read the poem – certainly not when it was written, I’d have been only 10 or 11. More likely in the early 80s, when living away from home for the first time, in those heady days of “discovering” feminism, of Reclaim the Night marches, of consciousness-raising groups. That’s when I learned – rather late in the day – to look at the world through a wider lens, to read more widely and to seek out books not on the syllabus. To listen to different voices, learn from other times. To attempt to stand in other people’s shoes.At the heart of Rich’s poem – and, indeed, the whole fierce, beautiful, collection about women’s liberation and the silencing of women’s voices – is a question. What is history? Who decides which stories are told and which are peripheral? Who judges what matters, whose views should be heard? Who is it that chooses the names to be written in the “book of myths”? When Diving into the Wreck won the National Book Award for poetry in 1974, Rich shared it with her fellow nominees Audre Lorde and Alice Walker (they had made the decision to do this, whoever won) and accepted it on behalf of “all the women whose voices have gone and still go unheard …” Continue reading...
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Hopes, dreams and fears: the world of teenage girls through their diaries
To mark International Women’s Day, explore beyond the stereotypes with Masuma Ahuja’s book Girlhood, a collection of diary entries from girls around the worldMasuma Ahuja was tired of seeing the same stories told about teenage girls. They were either victimised or sexualised, even if an “exceptional girl” such as Greta Thunberg or Malala Yousafzai was occasionally held up as a role model for fighting back.“We have very little understanding of the day-to-day life of girls and what life looks like for them,” says Ahuja. “I wanted to create a small portrait of what girlhood looks like in different places, and something that girls can pick up and feel seen by … and seen by girls elsewhere who share their own experiences.” Continue reading...
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Slade guitarist Dave Hill: ‘I’d come out of work, put on my costume and suddenly I’d be Superman!’
Half a century after his first hit single, Hill has survived a stroke, depression and the departure of all three of his former bandmates. The glam rock ‘yob’ relives the days of glittering faces, mighty stacks and timeless anthemsIt’s half a century since glam rock first dazzled Britain, and Slade had their first hit, Get Down and Get With It. All four members of the original lineup are alive and kicking, but Dave Hill is now the only one who trades under the name Slade. As is the way of rock bands, there have been sulks, tiffs and the odd tempestuous row. But today Hill is the very picture of Zen calm.While singer Noddy Holder is remembered as the one with the rasping voice, bassist Jimmy Lee as the creative one (he was classically trained and wrote the songs with Holder), drummer Don Powell as the one who had the terrible car crash that killed his girlfriend and left him in a coma, lead guitarist Hill was always the crazy one. He was famous for his pudding-basin fringe, glittering face, gold capes, mighty stacks (disguising his diddy, 5ft 4in stature) and ray-gun-shaped guitar called Super Yob. In his heyday, he drove a silver Jensen Interceptor and a gold Rolls-Royce with the number plate Yob 1. Hill was marketed as the yob’s yob. Continue reading...
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The Great British Art Tour: Manchester celebrates 'Our Emmeline', who changed history
With public art collections closed we are bringing the art to you, exploring highlights from across the country in partnership with Art UK. Today’s pick: Manchester’s Rise Up, WomenThis powerful and evocative work was created by the sculptor Hazel Reeves. Titled Rise Up, Women, it is colloquially referred to as “Our Emmeline”, and was unveiled in St Peter’s Square, Manchester, on 14 December 2018, marking 100 years since some women were granted the right to vote.Its unusual design depicts Emmeline Pankhurst surmounting a chair, addressing a mass demonstration. Oriented towards the former Free Trade Hall, where the first women’s suffrage meetings took place, it is set at the centre of a “meeting circle”, also designed by Reeves. Continue reading...
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Her Dior: fashion photography celebrates female gaze – in pictures
Fashion photography more often celebrates the female body than the female gaze. To celebrate International Women’s Day, a new book challenges this tradition with a collection of work by 33 female fashion photographers including Sarah Moon, Bettina Rheims and Nan Goldin. Her Dior is published by Rizzoli on the day Christian Dior’s autumn/winter 2021 collection designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri will be shown at an all-digital Paris fashion week. Chiuri has said that when she accepted the Dior role in 2016 her view of the house was that ‘this is a stereotyped vision of femininity; femininity today has many more facets to it’ Continue reading...
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We can stop to take pride on International Women's Day – but only for a moment | Polly Toynbee
The fight for equality has come a long way since I started work in 1968. But the pandemic has shown how far there is to goOn the long climb, stop and catch your breath on International Women’s Day. Look back in anger – but with pride, too. Dear granddaughters, let me recount women’s lives when I started work in 1968. To you, it’s the same ancient history the suffragettes were to me.With my first paycheck from the Observer, I tried to buy a washing machine on hire purchase, but was refused without a signature from a husband or a father. That felt symbolic, since washing machines were such liberators. The 1975 Sex Discrimination Act gave women the right to goods, credit, loans and services, but they were still often refused, just as the law is ignored now, with women still sacked for pregnancy. Continue reading...
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San Francisco Ballet review – vintage glamour and Cheever's Swimmer reimagined
Available onlineDanielle Rowe’s new work amps up the fizz, while archive pieces by Alexei Ratmansky and Yuri Possokhov offer dreamlike diversions and sleek stylingsQuick steps: dynamic dance shorts to watch onlineAustralian choreographer Danielle Rowe has a clutch of stage works under her belt, but in lockdown she has turned to film-making. First it was funny ballet skits, and now she’s made her first major work for San Francisco Ballet, in their latest online triple bill. Wooden Dimes is the tale of a talented but naive 1920s showgirl named Betty (Sarah Van Patten), corrupted by success that splinters her marriage to solid but stressed-out accountant type Robert (Luke Ingham). It is not a wildly original conceit, but it has fizz, drama and vintage glamour – who doesn’t love drop waists, bobs and minimally styled deco designs? (There’s a story in the colour schemes of Emma Kingsbury’s costumes, which are nicely done.) Continue reading...
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Half of women in UK fear equality is going back to 1970s – survey
Exclusive: impact of pandemic has fallen unequally on women, leading to calls for strategy to restore balanceWomen across the UK have issued a “desperate cry for help”, with more than half believing that women’s equality is in danger of going back to the 1970s at work, at home and in society, according to an exclusive survey.After a year that has seen women more likely to be furloughed, lose their jobs, carry the burden of home schooling and domestic drudgery, women are increasingly fearful about their futures, with almost half of those surveyed in a Mumsnet poll for International Women’s Day expecting gender equality to go into reverse over the next few years. Continue reading...
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It’s the final lockdown. But is it really?
The Channel 4 News Factcheck team ask: how safe are schools? Does the latest data show that the vaccines are working?
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We Don’t Know How Many Black Women Face Domestic Abuse. That’s About To Change
In 2014, Valerie Forde approached the police for help after her ex-partner threatened to burn her down her house – with Valerie and their 23-month-old daughter, RJ, inside. Police recorded the call as a “threat to property”, and no safeguarding procedures were put in place.Weeks later, Valerie and RJ were murdered.A review that followed outlined a number of flaws in the reporting. Changes were recommended but on International Women’s Day – and as we approach the seventh anniversary of Valerie and RJ’s death this month –  we must wonder what changes have actually been made.The number of African heritage women, like Valerie and RJ, who have complained of inadequate support by police and the violence against women and girls sector has always been worryingly high. Ever since we were founded a year after Valerie and RJ’s deaths, Sistah Space has been instrumental in revealing and bringing to public attention the core issues faced by Black women seeking domestic abuse support from mainstream services: institutional racism, classism, ageism, sexism and much more.We have witnessed first hand how the lack of knowledge around African heritage women’s needs can lead to further trauma for victims of abuse. In our experience, culturally specific training for mainstream providers is essential to ensure that Black women are supported adequately. Our specialist programmes offer that bespoke culturally significant training to individual organisations, charities, police, housing – all institutions in need of understanding that they don’t understand. There is no data on domestic abuse perpetrated against Britain’s women of African heritage specifically. Currently, all data is grouped under "BAME" Crucially, there is no data on domestic abuse perpetrated against Britain’s women of African heritage specifically. Currently, all data is grouped under “BAME” – but to talk about “BAME” women is talk about a multitude of different people, each with a distinct and relevant history. It is a discriminatory title that serves no purpose but to degrade and erase mostnon-white experiences, history and cultures. But that might be about to change. We have recently been granted £10,000 funding by Black Lives Matter UK, and with that money we will begin to collect the data ourselves. The data will be gathered both by Black women – who know the right questions to ask and how to ask them – and from Black women, will be more comfortable telling their truth without apology and without fear of reprisal, contempt or ridicule when relaying their truth.We plan to use that information that will come in the form of questionnaires, personal stories, video and audio recordings to effect changes  at policy level as well as inform our specialist training programmes. This grant will help us achieve two additional vital goals. First, In Valerie Ford’s memory we will be relaunching our campaign for Valerie’s Law, which would compel police, housing, NHS and local authority services to give specialised care to Black women and  ensure that never again will Black women be failed to the point it costs them their lives. We aim to ensure that every organisation dealing with violence against women and girls must have minimum training around the specific needs of African heritage women and girls.  Those women will have endured domestic violence and much more, and suffered in silence through fear of deportation if they speak out. Second, we’ll be purchasing a canal boat from where we plan to invite survivors of domestic violence to learn about abuse and staying safe. Why a boat? Well, this is in memory of those of us denied, by our economic status, access to the water which we African women enjoyed in our African and Caribbean homelands.Marcus Garvey vision of the Black Starliner, bringing independence and self-reliancefor Black people, will be given life once again in the shape of what we will call our Black-SisStah-liner. Priority will be given to those who have, for too long, been denied what others have taken for granted, such as those who came over from Africa and the Caribbean in the 50s and 60s but have never again had access to the sea. Those women will have endured domestic violence and much more, and suffered in silence through fear of deportation if they speak out. The Windrush scandal has shown that this has happened time and time again to those who have worked their whole lives in Britain, only to be threatened with, and even face, deportation.   Our campaigns, and most vitally the data we gather, will finally give a voice to the Black womenwho have gone through domestic violence, but whose stories have never been heard.Ngozi Fulani is CEO of Sistah Space If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you are not in immediate danger, you can contact:The Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Refuge: 0808 2000 247In Scotland, contact Scotland’s 24 hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234In Northern Ireland, contact the 24 hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline: 0808 802 1414In Wales, contact the 24 hour Life Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800.National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327Respect helpline (for anyone worried about their own behaviour): 0808 802 0321
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I Came Here As An Unaccompanied Child Refugee. Now Britain Has Abandoned Others Like Me
When I was 12 years old, I had to flee my home country in East Africa because of civil war and the threat of ISIS. To escape danger, I had to go on a difficult journey to safety. I travelled through the desert in Libya. I didn’t have enough food and was very thin. I still carry the scars from being shot and beaten. I just kept going, trying to get somewhere safe. Everywhere I went, there were threats from terrorist groups. I had to get far away from danger and make sure I wasn’t caught and sent back or killed.After crossing many countries, I ended up in France, but wanted to get to the UK, where my aunt was. In France, I didn’t know the language, had no friends or family. It was a hard life, almost like being in jail. Every day, I saw people sleeping on the street, with no life and no support. I had spent two years crossing North Africa and I did not want to spend another two years in France in limbo, sleeping rough. But that’s what I did.While in Calais, I was among many children trying to get to the UK. I tried getting on lorries to the UK, which was nearly impossible. Imagine it: police, security, dogs that always find you. The dogs smell you, they bark, the police find you, beat you up and use tear gas. And then they send you back.After many months, thanks to a Calais volunteer, I heard about a process to reunite with my aunt through the EU’s Dublin Regulation. When one woman found out I was 15 and my aunt was in the UK, she said she could take me to a shelter and start the process of reuniting us. I was interviewed, age assessed, had my DNA taken and interviewed again. But many months after this process began, my aunt had to unexpectedly travel to Turkey temporarily. When the Home Office found out she had left London, they said I was not allowed to come to the UK.  I was extremely fortunate to access the Dubs scheme to travel safely to the UK – the very same scheme the government has said they will not continue. I spent the whole next week in my room feeling hopeless. I had waited seven months and after all that time I couldn’t go. Resigned to staying in France, I stopped eating, stopped washing. I remember crying at the photos my friends who had reached Glasgow, Manchester and other places would send me.I heard about another route: the Dubs scheme, which was set up in 2016 for unaccompanied children seeking asylum to travel to the UK. I knew people who had taken this route, but I thought it was for younger children. I thought that because I was nearly 16, I wouldn’t stand a chance, but after two weeks it was confirmed that I could. It was such a relief, like a big weight off my shoulders. The process still took ages, with interviews and travel arrangements, but I was on my way.Finally, I got a plane to Heathrow. My new foster parents met me and took me home to Dorset. I remember how green the countryside was, and falling asleep in the car, exhausted. When we pulled into the driveway, I saw two girls – as I wondered who they were, my foster parents told me they were their daughters. Now they are my sisters and always will be. I don’t live with my foster family now, but they will always be my family. I still talk to them most days, and I am also able to see my aunt regularly, as we live in the same city. Since I arrived in the UK, I have studied hard. Now I am at college doing sports and I want to become a fitness trainer, a lifeguard or a referee. I also campaign for refugees’ rights with the charity Safe Passage International. A lot of children that I met on my journey are in that situation, still on the streets, still waiting. I was extremely fortunate to access the Dubs scheme to travel safely to the UK – the very same scheme the government has said they will not continue. With Brexit, the UK has left the EU’s Dublin Regulation, which also makes it much harder for children like me to reunite with their families. This makes me feel sad, to think of all those children, homeless with no other option. I think of a friend who I met in Calais; we were there together for seven month and both started the process under the Dubs scheme, but he wasn’t successful. His life is very different to mine. He lives on the street and sometimes doesn’t have food to eat. Now he, and so many like him, may never be able to come here. If I hadn’t been successful in reaching the UK, I would have ended up going camp to camp, with no documents and no hope. I could have ended up on the streets without support. A lot of children that I met on my journey are in that situation, still on the streets, still waiting. With the challenges I went through and all the things I experienced, sometimes I can’t believe I’m alive. When I remember the people I saw who died, remember being shot in Libya, it all feels so surreal. I have friends who haven’t been as lucky as me. So when I look at people here and reflect on my life – leaving my country, my journey through Libya, my time in Calais – I think it is important that people know what others have been through just to be here. I want people to hear my story and realise how lucky they are. I am proud of how far I have come, and of where I am today. I didn’t choose these experiences, they happened to me, but everything I have been through has made me stronger. I had no choice, no option but now here I am. I want to get on with my life. Every child fleeing war or persecution should have the same opportunities that I have, and the same right to safety.Muste is a former unaccompanied child refugee, and a campaigner with Safe Passage InternationalHave a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on ukpersonal@huffpost.comMore from HuffPost UK PersonalI Tracked Down The Girls Who Bullied Me As A Kid. Here's What They Had To SayPeople Like Me Rely On The Universal Credit Uplift. Don’t Take It Away From UsI’m A Paramedic. I’ve Seen The Mental Health Toll This Pandemic Is Taking On Us All
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