The Guardian today has a great article about the release of Chelsea Manning and her survival in gaol as a transgender woman. Chelsea, like so many of the transgender community, faced prejudice and abuse whilst in prison and one can only imagine the daily challenge it must have been to simply survive. This drew my attention to our Epsilon project. Epsilon is a project which is focused on identifying the challenges faced by LGBTIQA refugees when trying to integrate in their adopted country or when seeking asylum.
I was thrilled to see the takeover of the IARS blogs last week by the IARS interns, so apt for European Youth Week. I was also impressed to read about Jemma Skelding a 12 year old, profoundly deaf Falkirk school girl who addressed the Scottish Parliament using sign language [BBC]. The elections have come to the interest of my 12 year old daughter too, she has an opinion that the voting age should be lowered as she feels had she and her classmates had the chance to vote in the referendum the outcome would be different.
My spirits were lifted this week by the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report which told us that on average teenagers are happy with life and give life 7.3/10 in a happiness score [BBC]. In the UK the average 15 year old scores happiness at 7/10, which is a positive affirmation in a world which throws so many challenges in their direction. Far from being grumpy the young people we bump in to around the offices here in Canada Water (Southwark) are mostly happy if occasionally bashful!
Today marks the 49th anniversary of Enoch Powell's infamous Rivers of Blood speech where he expressed his concerns about the level of migration and the impact that this could cause. His predictions of 7 million migrants in the UK by the year 2000 didn't come true, with actual figures of around 4.6m reported in the 2001 census [BBC, ONS]. At the time his words sparked uprisings of workers worried about their jobs and led to his sacking from the shadow cabinet.
Getting ready for work this morning I was watching BBC Breakfast; mainly to see what weather Carol had in store for us here at Canada Water, and my interest was peaked by an article about the high suicide rates within care professionals. The pressures and expectations that go along with this line of work are pushing people, who start with the best of motives, to the brink of despair.
I have been at a meeting of our MoveOn partners in Florence this week. Everyone at Progetto Acrobaleno was buzzing following a visit from the Duchess of Cornwall the previous day. They were keen to show me where Camilla spoke to their clients, where Camilla had signed their visitors book, where Camilla had chatted about our MoveOn project etc... One group of migrants had only arrived in Italy 3 days beforehand and they were being introduced to Camilla, their view of European Royalty must be somewhat coloured by the fact that a Duchess came to meet them on day 3!
Today, Mrs May sent a letter to the EU marking the start of the process to withdraw the UK from the EU and triggering "Article 50". As I listened to the seemingly endless news about the impact that coming out of Europe could have on our economy I was struck by the irony that it was not necessarily for economic reasons that the leave campaign won in the referendum.
As Westminster went into lockdown due to the latest terror attack in Europe, Theo and I were in Brussels standing shoulder to shoulder with our Belgian friends remembering the people who were killed in the attack in Zaventum exactly 1 year beforehand. The almost party like atmosphere in the glorious spring sun of the Grand Plas was in stark contrast to the horror unfolding back home in London and I was glad to hear the news from our offices that everyone was safe.