The profit oriented bus routes of London

London’s local bus network is one of the world’s largest transport networks, with over 8000 scheduled buses operating on over 700 routes, constantly. 

With a daily average of 6 million passengers, before Covid-19, the London bus network is an essential part of the city’s infrastructure. But none of this would be possible, without the drivers who maintain the industry. 

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/images/search/bus%20driver/

In 1989, the bus network was divided into 9 main operators. Although some operators remained owned by UK companies, most were sold overseas to countries such as Netherlands, France and Germany. 

Those 9 main operators went on to become 16 operators, as companies sold parts their stakes to maximise profits

Since the privatisation of London buses, the network operators have been a complete “Disaster”, according to current London bus drivers. The reason for this disaster being: “We’ve got 16 different people doing 16 different things in a pandemic.”  

According to the Annual Survey of hours and Earnings, bus drivers in London work an average of 41.9 hours and earn £523 weekly. The national average stands at 37.5 hours a week, earning £585. Even though bus drivers are working more hours a week on average, they still seem to be getting less

When the first lockdown was announced, from July to September 2020, the amount of bus journeys decreased by 38%, compared to last year. A steep drop which is not as well represented in overall profits, which fell by a mere £18 million in the year 2020/21, according to the transport for London budget 2020/21

The decrease in profits wasn’t as large as expected, such as 2016/17’s profit drop of £200 million. To make sure companies made the maximum amount of profit they could, harsh cost cutting actions were taken, meaning funding into buses was as minimum as possible.  

“It is increasingly clear that it is unsustainable to ask councils to continue to prop up local bus operators for a national scheme that is already underfunded.” 

LGA Transport spokesman, David Renard

Current bus drivers have identified some of the cost cutting methods used, such as not purchasing enough equipment to keep drivers safe from Covid-19. A TfL bus driver said: “They’ve still got a flimsy plastic cover on with a bit of sticky tape over it. No hand sanitiser, no wipes, nothing.” 

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/bus-driver-travel-transport-6054444/

Furthermore, when half of the industry was put on furlough, TfL saved £32 million in wages. TfL bus driver said: “50% of the health and safety reps were furloughed, so they weren’t even in the garages. Some of the other 50% that were there, had no safety training at all.” 

The privatisation of public transport has led to profit becoming the number one concern of the company operators. This could be one of the many factors that led to 55 bus driver deaths from Covid-19, in the last year. 

As, current TfL bus driver said: “The more you dig, the bigger the scandal.” 

Greek student protests spark amidst increasing police brutality

Chaos rains over the sunny streets of Athens, as students protesters continue their fight against police brutality and government control.

Tension between students and the Greek government have been rapidly increasing, after the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced the introduction of a new police force. This new task force will be focused on university campuses in an attempt to keep them ‘safer’ from Covid-19.

Additionally, recent footage sparked outrage, as a student was beaten by Greek police officers wielding iron batons, for allegedly breaking lockdown restrictions . According to the woman filming the video, the student was “peacefully in the park” when the attack occurred, during which he yells: “It hurts, I’m in pain”.

When others saw the incident taking place, they attempted asking the police to stop, which was answered with a swift “move along”. Two men began confronting the police men regarding the amount of force they were using, resulting in two more men being hit and pushed by the same police force.

“The country has a government that has totally lost control of the pandemic, and the only thing it knows how to do … is use a heavy hand”.

Greece’s previous prime minister, Alexis Tsipras

With the public already frustrated over the extension of the lockdown, the video and introduction of the new task force sent many over the limit. Since the video went viral on the 7th of March, protests have been taking place throughout the country, with most either in Athens or Thessaloniki.

Although most have been peaceful protests, the first one on the night of March 7th, after the incident, led to 10 arrests and 1 police officer being taken away in critical condition. The officer was knocked off his bike and then beaten by many protesters, one of which is facing an attempted murder sentence from the event.

Greece has a history of protesting, especially students, as the country still celebrates the 17th of November annually. An important date for any Greek, better known as the Athens Polytechnic Uprising. With the government at the time, imposing strict lockdown rules, the students rose up and tore down the corrupt leadership in 1975.

With history showing us successful results of standing up against tyranny , students in today’s Greece may be severely influenced by those events and therefore keep up the protesting until change is made. The issue with this, is that the lockdown held in the years of 1975 was for the wrong reasons, but the one being held now is for the safety of Greek people, a factor a lot of Greeks may be forgetful of.

“I am addressing young people, who are destined to create and not to destroy. Blind rage does not lead anywhere. It should serve as a wake-up call that the life of a young policeman was endangered. At this point everyone must display restraint and calm. “

Greece’s current Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis

The effect of the pandemic on young men’s malleable minds

With a global virus, a collapsing economy and a national lockdown it is easy to forget about other issues, such as mental health problems. Especially within young people and particularly in young men, regarding the effect of the lockdown on those group’s mental states.

Dr Eoin McElroy is a psychology professor at Leicester University. He also takes part in research projects such as, ‘Loneliness mediates the relationship between childhood trauma and adult psychopathology’, where he began his research into youth’s current mental health states.  

“Broadly people are experiencing more mental health problems nowadays than previously. Individuals born in the turn of the millennium, they are reporting higher levels of common mental health issues”.

Dr Eoin McElroy

Currently, 75% of mental health illness starts before the age of 18, showing one of many roots behind the issue. These statistics help make sense of the fact that mental health is overall the second largest cause of burden of disease in England and the issue is growing from there (both statistics are according to Mental Health First Aid.org). Of course, these statistics are looking at the younger demographic instead of 18-29 year old males, considered as ‘young men’ by ONS population reports

A sub-demographic of the 18-29 age group is students, 34% of which reported having psychological difficulties for which they needed a professional’s help, according to MHFA.org

That 34% accumulated to 1.4M psychological referrals in the year of 2017/18. This figure then increased to 1.69M referrals in 2019/20, a space of just 2 yearsaccording to the NHS annual reports of psychological therapies

Looking deeper into those referrals shows a clear gap between male and female statistics. In all age demographics, females seem to report larger numbers than males. Dr Eoin McElroy stated: “There is still a gender gap, females do tend to report more”.

For example, the NHS reports show that, of the 1.69M referrals in 2019/20, 527,569 were females aged 18-29, whilst there were only 279,923 male referrals from 18-29 year olds. Showing either a reduced amount of mental health cases in men or men are not reaching out for help.

Referrals may show the amount of people requesting psychological help, but of those not everyone starts and finishes the treatment. For example, of the 279,923 young male referrals, 178,280 began the treatment and 88,148 actually finished their treatment

These results show both positive and negative correlations over the years. Although the overall number of referrals increased by 0.29M over the 2 years (negative), the number of people who finished their treatment also increased by 12,265 (positive). As shown by the graphs:

The number of young men helped by their therapies, is a completely different number to that of how many people simply finished their therapies

In 2019-20, of those 88,148 that finished their treatment, only 57,463 reported an improvement to their mental health. Contrastingly, deterioration was seen in 5,256 young men, showing that not everyone finishing the treatment will improve, as shown by the graphs: 

But treatments are not the only way we are fighting back against mental health in young men. Destroying the social stigma behind talking about mental health is currently another popular approach, with posts such as: 

Credit: Instagram/sravya_attaluri.com

Fabio Thomas, is the project manager at ‘Beat Freeks’, a youth engagement and insight agency. They carry out researches and reports regarding young people’s mental states, the most recent one showed: 

When asked if lockdown has increased their worries, 85% of all women who answered said yes, whilst only 50% of men said yes.” 

Fabio Thomas, Beat Freeks

These numbers could potentially show how young men are still not feeling confident enough to talk about their mental health, as 35% more girls reported the lockdown has added to their worries. 

Beat Freeks’ doesn’t only carry out researches. The agency also gets young people in touch with corporations and industries for future jobs, something that in today’s collapsing economy has a larger effect on young men’s mental health, than some may realise. 

“We found that younger people, particularly adolescents, were less concerned of catching the disease and more concerned about what does this mean in the long term with job prospects and university”.  

Dr Eoin McElroy

A questionnaire, answered exclusively by young men, showed that their future was their number one concern daily. This was then followed closely by the 2nd biggest concern, mental health, as shown by the graph:

This increase in concern about the future, could be due to the fact that Covid-19 has caused global economic uncertainty within the job sector.

“The uncertainty is a huge thing, we are seeing less permanent jobs, a kind of economy where employment is considerably less stable than it was in generations gone by”. 

Dr Eoin McElroy

Another possible root leading to young men’s mental health problems, could be social media. Research shows that “16-29 year olds spend the most time (3 hours daily) on social networking platforms”, according to digitalmarketing.org. It is clear that social media plays a huge role in today’s younger generation, for both positive and negative reasons. 

“It’s not simple enough to say because of social media young people have worse mental health. They are more aware of how using and over using social media affects the mind”. 

Fabio Thomas

For example, a survey conducted by The Crest’s academy on their peers, showed that ‘75% didn’t like the idea of phones being kept close by whilst they slept’. Reinforcing Mr. Thomas’ comments on how aware young people are of the effects of social media. 

At the same time, Beat Freeks’ most recent research showed that: “When asked what is making you happy the most right now, people said talking with their peers, which because of lockdown, was over the internet and through the facetiming apps”, showing a positive use of social media. 

On the other hand, a research conducted in 2017 by Brian A. Primack and his associates, showed that anyone spending over 60 minutes on social media per day, has a higher chance to perceive their life as lonely. The research shows a clear correlation between time spent on social media and perceived social isolation (PSI) within 18-32 year olds

Data table Credit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5722463/

With young men possibly feeling lonely as of social media, it is important to remember the effect of the lockdown on top of that.  

“Loneliness has increased and has been a considerable problem over lockdown”

Dr Eoin McElroy

University students, in particular those who were trapped in their student accommodations because of the travel ban enforced by the lockdown, have been hit the worst. Cameron Wilson was one of these students. Studying at Birmingham City University, he was stuck in his 5-bedroom apartment, after all 4 of his roommates managed to move out. 

“I had to sit in a flat by myself after my flat mates moved out and there was nothing to do. Literally nothing. It was horrible”.

Cameron Wilson

With students being alone for the duration of the first lockdown, on top of the effect of spending too much time on social media, loneliness has been steadily increasing. As CNBC reporter Bertha Coombs found: ‘Among workers aged 18-22, 73% report sometimes or always feeling alone, up from 69% a year ago’.

Although mental health problems may never be completely solved, a good start could be to teach younger generations how to deal with mental health issues within themselves and their peers. Either teaching them through the educational system or learning it from their carer, it is a step forward to solving this mental health ‘epidemic’

“In the lockdown, the general population reported 19-20% increase in mental health strain, whilst young people reported a 60% increase. We need to be equipping young people to be able to give advice to their peers who need it.”

Fabio Thomas

Goals and targets for 2-year journalism

Since I began university my knowledge on the subject of journalism has increased massively. From articles to podcasts and from podcasts to radio packages, the amount of media we have created in one year, has been amazing and has shown me the various ways in which journalism can be used.

Now, I am in second year of university and I cannot wait for what is yet to come in my future within the subject of journalism. By the end of my second year, I wish to have completed more media products, either same as the ones I am doing now or different.

For example, by the end of my second year I wish to have completed a total of 3 radio packages, all based around different subjects. This will allow me to have more practise editing and putting together audio for the packages, as well as helping me expand my choices of SFX, as I will collect unique ones for each story. With more SFX available to me, I can make the radio packages more realistic, as well as keeping some sound effects aside for future packages.

I also wish to have completed at least a total of 10 articles. By constantly writing articles for my own blog, on top of writing others for my university, I will be able to show in the future a larger portfolio, with articles ranging subjects massively. With a larger range of subjects covered, it means employers will hopefully see me as the person for any jobs they need covering.

When it comes to podcasts, I was never truly into the idea of making one, even though I love listening and following them. Even though it doesn’t peak my interest, I understand that podcasts are truly making headway with young people, as more and more of them tune into podcasts. With this in mind I do set out to complete at least 6 episodes of a podcast before I finish my second year, in order to have more experience on the product. This will allow me to carry a podcast out in case my future boss needs me to complete one. Plus it never hurts to practise creating more journalism products!

Last but not least, I also wish to have completed at least 3 Long read articles, which will be completed over long periods of time, as I want to truly take my time completing these articles. I want to devote most of my attention to them, as over time I have realised that long read articles are what I enjoy doing the most, mostly because of the chance to get truly into a subject and explore it well.

All of these aims and targets, will be reached by the time I finish second year and it will make my portfolio look all the better, as the more products I can showcase, the more interest people will show in me and my work.

The final sunset for Greece’s Golden Dawn

The old folk

Growing up in Greece, I used to believe anyone that visited my homeland would fall in love with it. 

The authentic traditional foods, the lively dances which make even a 90-year-old feel young at heart, or even the simple beauty constantly given off by the natural surroundings. 

The island of Santorini. Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

Greece will always hold my heart, even when it hurts to call myself Greek. The old folk back home always said that: “God made Greece so beautiful, he had to counter its beauty by placing horrible people within it, or else it wouldn’t be fair on other countries.” 

With monsters such as ‘Nikolaos Michaloliakos’ and his political party of fascist pigs being the third biggest party in Greek politics. I couldn’t agree more with the old folk… 

First contact

The ‘Golden Dawn’ or ‘Xrisi Augi’, is the name of Mr. Michaloliakos’ political party. He founded the party in 1985 and entered as an official candidate in elections from 1993. With an all-time high of 21 seats within the Greek parliament after the 2012 national elections, the party’s likeness began to increase amongst the Greek community.

In order to make sure the party was loved by Greek nationalists, Mr. Michaloliakos selected the perfect hot headed to represent his party.

Ilias Kasidiaris was made spokesperson of the Golden Dawn with the sole purpose of showing how little he cares about the current rules, something that rested well with angry, un-paid Greeks.

Mr. Kasidiaris had physical fights with members from opposing parties within Greece’s house of parliament, whilst also known for slapping the spokesperson from the far right party on live tv.

Golden Dawn’s main spokesperson and party representative Ilias Kasidiaris slapping a woman on live tv.

But don’t be mistaken. This sudden popularity wasn’t because the Greek community were racist but because they were poor, scared and hungry. When Greece’s economy collapsed between 2007-2008, the public lost all hope with the government. Their incomes were slashed, old citizen’s pensions were cut and income tax was increased to the highest it has ever been of 49%, according to the IREF Europe. People demanded change. Sadly, from the wrong leaders. 

Putting the pieces together

With no money in the system, unemployment was simply creeping around the corner. In July 2008, there were around 364,000 registered unemployed. In 2012 that figure rose to 1.26 million, impacting mostly young adults, as 54.2% of them were declared unemployed, according to Greece’s IOBE economic research foundation.

“This is a very dramatic result of the recession.”

Angelos Tsakanikas, head of research at Greece’s IOBE.

Golden Dawn took advantage of this situation by making the boldest claims anyone had ever heard. They promised people their jobs back, which they would retrieve by ‘throwing’ all of the illegal immigrants out of the country. On top of promising a successful economy after they would declare war with Turkey. Two things Greek nationalists were begging for, as of the long-standing hate for Turkish people (formed after the Greco-Turkish war from 1919-1922) and their need for work.

With their roots, deep inside Greek people’s minds, Golden Dawn began executing their plan to take over. They arranged marches all over Athens’ streets which were attended by brainwashed young Greeks demanding an immediate change in the system, something they were given in bulk by the Golden Dawn. 

Once the marches began, they would ravage through the slums of Athens (which are highly populated by immigrants) and destroy their belongings and stands, which they used to gain money for food to eat. 

Race attacks in Athens by the Golden Dawn. Video Credit: Avveenggeerr

The beginning of the end

The political party began losing control of its self though after 2012, as Greece began to normalise racism and looking at immigrant workers as ‘tools’ to be used on the fields. 

In 2013, 33 immigrant workers living on a strawberry field in Manolada, began protesting against their employer as he hadn’t paid them in 7 months. By the end of the protest, the strawberry fields they worked on weren’t their natural light-red colour. They were more of a dark-red colour after the employer and his friends shot and killed all 33 workers for their protest. 

Even with the killers sent to prison, the fact that this tragic event happened, shows the dramatic impact the Golden Dawn were having, psychologically on Greek people. They made Greeks feel like the superior race, even if their actions juxtaposed that by bringing Greece’s name down with them…

In the same year (2013), the leader of the party Mr. Michaloliakos made the decision that would doom his own future and that of his party.  On the 18th of September, a Greek left-wing rapper named Pavlos Fyssas was murdered at the age of 34 in his hometown of Keratsini, when a self-proclaimed golden dawn member stabbed him to death. 

Pavlos on the left. Graffiti concerning his death on the right. Photos credit: Greecesolidiarity.org

“With regards to political responsibility for the murder of Fyssas in Keratsini, we accept it. As for criminal liability, there isn’t any. Is it right to condemn a whole party because one of its followers carried out a condemnable act?”

Golden Dawn’s leader Mr. Michaloliakos in a radio interview.

Last days of freedom

The Year is now 2020 and the Golden Dawn party have only just been brought to justice.  After a lengthy 5-year case, 50 high ranking members of the party have been jailed – 18 of which were official politicians, including the leader Mr. Michaloliakos. 

On October 14th, 2020, the final court date was set within Athens’ municipal court. A total of 8 police riot buses were the only thing standing between the court and the thousands of frustrated Greeks awaiting the end of the trial. 

The trial ended on every single verdict being guilty, with the highest sentence given out to the murderer of the rapper Mr. Fyssas, which was a life sentence plus 10 years. The party leader received 13 years in prison on the count of running a criminal organisation and a string of hate crimes committed from 2012-2013. 

Golden Dawn leader Mr. Michaloliatos being taken to prison. Photo Credit: Twitter.com/EvaCosse

Once the verdict was announced, most of the crowd outside the court roared in agreement and cheered on the abolishment of the Golden Dawn party. But there was a small percentage of Golden Dawn followers there too, who began throwing petrol bombs and other objects to the police and the court in general. 

Scenes outside the Greek court. Video credit: AP Archives

This series of convictions will go down in Greece’s history as one of the most important days in terms of justice. Mr. Michaloliakos tried many tricks to reduce his sentence through his contacts within the Greek system, but prosecutors such as Adamantia Economou made sure his tricks had no use to him. 

“Today’s sentencing of the neo-Nazi organization demonstrates the resilience of our democracy and the rule of law. This verdict marks the end of a traumatic period in Greece’s history.”

Greece’s Prime Minister: Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“There is no perfect solution”: The hidden human rights violations under the shiny façade of Jewellery

Jewellery course director and long-time field expert, Michela Ferraro Cuda said: “Personally, I was ready to quit the industry and throw it all out the window, all my experience of 30 years.”

Globally, 90 million carats of rough diamonds and 1,600 tons of gold are mined every year, generating a revenue of over $300 billion yearly, according to the Human Rights Watch.

The use of jewellery in today’s society has become very common, especially with wedding conventions like the engagement and wedding rings. In India, weddings generate approximately 50 percent of the country’s annual gold demand, according to hrw.org, showing the incredible demand for jewellery. 

Wedding and engagement rings. Photo Credit: unsplash.com

But under the shiny, cold and scentless exterior, jewellery becomes ugly.

“This is very new. It is happening now. There was never this much pressure on the jewellery industry but now they are under scrutiny constantly.”

Michela Ferraro Cuda

According to Verité’s report, small-scale mines in Eritrea and Peru have seen a large amount of forced labour, where children and adults are ordered to work indefinitely with no extra reward. At the same time, in Zimbabwe, from 2008 to 2014, workers were forced by the military to work in diamond mining.

At least 70% of diamonds are cut and polished in India, whilst another 20% are processed in China, according to HRW. Both because of the cheap child labour found in these countries. 

There are an estimated 1 million children working within the jewellery industry, according to HRW. But with 80-100 million people depending on small-scale mines for their livelihood, there is no other option available. 

Although Jewellers are aware of these issues, the blame cannot all be directed to them. The official origin of the industry’s materials, such as: metals, gemstones, gold and diamonds, is nearly impossible to keep authentic. This then makes it a lot harder to stop the spread of unethically sources materials, as the source cannot be found.

This is mainly due to 3 factors:

Firstly, Jewellers all over the world rely heavily on trust with their partners and sometimes official procedures are forgotten about because of an invisible trust net. When the same supplier has been supplying a jeweller for a long time, papers are often put aside and the true origin of materials is therefore lost.

“Paperwork requires time and the industry is based on a trust net. People will forget about the papers because of the trust between the players in the industry.” 

Michela Ferraro Cuda

Secondly, independent sellers who may accidentally find some gemstones and sell them are not licensed miners. This leads to unaccounted for materials flooding the market in unofficial ways. A student on the course of Michela Ferraro Cuda, Timothy Strickland stated:

“The true origin of the gems and gold will never be truly traceable. This is because, as it is a natural resource, people all over the world are driven to search for it out of necessity and therefore are not morally obliged to go through the proper and fair process of selling it.”

Timothy Strickland
Uncut diamond in the dirt. Photo credit: https://www.templumdianae.com/significato-diamante/

The last factor relates back to the trust net used within the industry. With people trusting one another, there is always the possibility of someone abusing that trust and using it to make profit. 

For example, according to the hrw report, the head of a large mine may fall upon a large number of unethical gems for a very low price. They could then sell them as ethically mined stones to the people who trust them and wouldn’t second guess the products.

“The bad apples are everywhere, the fact that there is trust means there is also people taking advantage, it happens very often and keeps happening.” 

Michela Fearraro Cuda

There are currently lots of different rules and organisations with the sole purpose of correcting this flawed industry. For example, the UN Guiding Principles require companies to emplace and reinforce human rights due diligence.

These principles are further reinforced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), but as it is a voluntary service and suffers from a lack of monitoring, they do not provide results which show a decrease in child and slave labour within the industry, according to hrw.org. 

A lot of people see the Responsible Jewellery Council, as a good beginning towards a sustainable industry, as of the members of the council being the some of the biggest companies in jewellery, such as Tiffany Co. 

“Responsible jewellery council is at least a good starting point. It is giving some sort of guidance, to an industry where people are too busy to make guidance.”

Michela Ferraro Cuda

At the same time, others seem to think that the council needs to become more strict with certificate hand outs. The RJC’s governance, standards and system of audits are flawed.

Companies that fail to meet human right standards, seem to become RJC certified none the less, changing nothing within the industry, according to the report: “Existing Standards–And Why They Are Not Enough” by the hrw.org. In which, the Human Rights Watch wrote: ‘Reform may be particularly urgent for RJC member companies’. 

When looking over the jewellery industry, even if it causes a lot of problems, it also solves them.

“I am not demonising the jewellery industry, although I was very closed to.”

Michela Ferraro Cuda

For example, in Botswana, the mining sector is one of the highest wage industries, with employees making on average BWP 10,940 (approximately USD 1,061) per month, according to research by American University’s School of International Service.

“It is not right to say the jewellery industry is a bloody industry as it is not correct. It is helping and providing jobs to a lot of people around the world.”

Michela Ferraro Cuda

Hopefully, the bad factors within the industry will begin to disperse over time. As the next generation of jewellers is being taught by the current generation, such as Michela, who has based one of her main modules on responsible jewellery production.

“It is making clear what is sustainable what is responsible and what is ethical. It shows all the options out there and prepares the students for when they are managers. To understand what the best combination of actions is to minimise risks.”

Michela Ferraro Cuda commenting on her responsible jewellery module
Miners working in a gold mine. Photo Credit: unsplash.com

A lot of people have no idea how bad the jewellery industry can be and the true effect it is having on people within third world countries. This is mainly due to the fact that jewellers try not to mention the dark side of the business, as it would damage the beautiful and innocent picture of jewellery.

“Jewellery industry want to pretend to be perfect, because they are dealing with such beautiful exquisite items, they require very high skills behind the scenes. They feel they appear weak in exposing they are not as perfect as their materials.” 

Michela Ferraro Cuda

Of course, there is still and always will be hope. New and upcoming jewellery companies are approaching the industry in more ethical and morally correct ways. Companies are now using more recycled waste to form their jewellery, which helps by not having to exploit the earth further.

“You can do a good business whilst taking care of these aspects. We are seeing more jewellers are adopting sustainable methods.”

Michela Ferraro Cuda

For example, Monarc is a London based jewellery company founded in New Zealand. Over 90% of the metals used in their jewellery comes from recycled waste, whilst their diamonds are sourced by the Diamond Foundry. The organisation that claims to be the world’s first certified carbon neutral diamond producer. 

With companies like Monarc arriving in the Jewellery scene, a new trend could potentially start, with customers buying more ethically made jewellery and paying more attention to the jeweller’s background methods.

“If the industry improves, the customers will reward them with praise.”

Michela Ferraro Cuda

The effect of Covid-19 on U.K farmers and the new plan to restore hope in agriculture

On June 24th, the U.K Government announced their news plans to reshape the farming industry amid Covid-19’s devastating impact on farmers across the world.

Within the U.K, there is an estimated 9,200 dairy farmers, 5,200 of which have reported suffering from reductions in milk prices. The price cuts range from 0.5ppl (pound per litre) to 4ppl and higher. In addition nearly 500 farmers, had their milk collections cancelled, another 500 had payments deferred and over 2,200 have been asked to reduce milk output, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

The dairy farmers unfortunately are not the only ones facing issues caused by Covid-19, as the wheat farmers are being offered less money for their yields too. AHDB reported a reduction of £1.45 per tone of wheat, which for many farmers is a devastating blow to their predicted income figures, at a crucially difficult time.

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/farm

James Webster, a senior analyst and writer for AHDB, stated: ‘Based on currently available data it is my view that the change to wheat consumption for flour production in April-June could be down by as much as 152Kt (-13% on 5-year average levels).’

In order to turn things around, farmers all over the U.K are being invited to multiple webinars. There they can pitch in and come to a decision on how to reshape the use of farming land in the country. Of course, knowing that all farmers do not have the ability to enter a webinar, the government has set up another method to share their ideas by having a policy discussion document on Citizen Space.

The are 6 planned webinars available to sign up for on Eventbrite using the link below, within these specific dates:

  • Wednesday, 1 July – 12:00-1:30 pm
  • Tuesday, 7 July – 6:00-7:30 pm
  • Thursday, 16 July – 8:30-10:00 am
  • Thursday, 23 July – 12:00-1:30 pm
  • Tuesday, 28 July – 8:30-10:00 am
  • Thursday, 30 July – 6:00-7:30 pm

Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, commented on the upcoming events: “This conversation is a chance for farmers and land managers to have their say and help shape our future approach to farming alongside caring for the environment. I would encourage all those interested to sign up to an event and have their voice heard.”

The deadline to share views on the document setting out policy ideas for the new scheme is 31 July 2020.

Estranged in isolation

On March 23, citizens in the UK received the text message from the government announcing a wide spread lockdown. A lockdown, widely expected to last till May or the start of June at worst.

We are now mid way though June and only just getting a clear picture at the end of this tunnel.

The UK has only just reached the stage where shopping stores are reopening, whilst restaurants, pubs and barbers remain shut. It sure has not been easy living as a foreign student during these tough times and to only make matters more frustrating, I am having to see all my friends back home in Greece partying and enjoying the normal unrestricted life.

This is after Greece lifted it’s lockdown early seeing how successful their early imposed lockdown was. The country has reported just over 3,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, alongside 184 deaths according to the Greek government website (www.mfa.gr). With numbers this low as well as 21% of the country’s economy relying on tourism, it is no wonder that Greece has reopened all of it’s businesses ahead of other countries.

Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announcing the reopening of businesses.

With the UK not imposing an early and strict lockdown, the Covid-19 numbers are still too high, for safe country’s like Greece to allow flights and travellers from the UK into the country.

Alongside those travellers, even Greek nationals living or studying in the UK are being kept out of the country as of fears of the virus being brought over. With this being said, it was without a doubt that my flight back home on the 25th of May was cancelled, leaving me stranded in the UK.

The troubles really started though when my contract at my student accommodation run out on June 1st (as planned), leaving me without a place to stay. This is when I turned to the kindness of my friends who let me stay with them for the time being. As much as I love what they have done for me and cannot thank them enough, I am still stuck away from the people I should be with, my family.

June, July and August might just be ’summer’ for many people. To me, these months are the only time I get to be with my family throughout the year. As any other estranged student would tell you, this is the longest period of free time off studying we have and it is important to spend as much of this time with family.

I can honestly say that not being home with the people that I love the most, has both positive and negative mental health effects. The positive side is that being away from them, keeps me grounded constantly with the goal in my mind of succeeding in this country and getting an education which I could only imagine of in Greece.

On the other hand, when the only time I have with them in a year, is slowly being taken away from me, day by day, because of this virus it creates lots of anxiety surrounding the topic of will I get to see them at all this year.

It seems as if overtime, Covid-19 statistics are not the only thing on a steep rise, as levels of uncertainty surrounding every aspect of our normal lives are also being raised.

When the lockdown was imposed in March, uncertainties about university field trips in April began appearing. These then later on turned into uncertainties concerning work experience in June (which has been cancelled). But it didn’t stop there. We are now in June and with Beijing showing a resurface of the virus after successfully getting rid of it, uncertainties are being raised concerning face to face teaching after the summer of 2020.

What started off impacting small parts of our lives, is now still here and impacting much larger and important parts. To add to all of this anxiety, we have now finally realised that no doctors or scientists truly know what is going to happen with this virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said a second covid-19 wave: “could happen but is not inevitable”. Whilst scientists from the Singapore university of technology claim that: “The model predicted a 100% end to the pandemic on a worldwide scale around December 4.”

With scientists and doctors predictions juxtaposing each other, it shows us one thing. That everything right now is uncertain, which is so frightening as we clearly have no control over a deadly disease, adding yet another factor to the pre-existing anxiety revolving life right now.

So with all this in mind, most people are coping with these issues whilst at the side of their families, fighting against this virus together. Except for that minority, who are either students studying abroad or workers and travellers stuck in foreign countries, away from their homes and loved ones, battling alone. To them I have to say, keep fighting and don’t give up hope.

DJs continue spinning decks for homebound fans

Covid-19 has led to one of the longest running lockdowns for people all around the world.

This has led to many, finding it hard to cope at home, so DJ’s from around the world are working hard to keep the public’s motivation up through putting on live sets on Instagram live.

The trend started with disc jockey expert known as DJ D-Nice, otherwise known as Derick Jones, best known for his sets at ‘Vibealite’, as well as the weekly show he had on pirate radio station Fantasy 101.9 FM in his home town of Sheffield.

The DJ began a live stream on Instagram whilst he was practising one of his sets. The live quickly picked up followers and reached over 100,000 listeners, giving him the third most watched Instagram live ever.

D Nice, revealed later on that he put the show on to connect people, as he said: “To have a few hours of not worrying about a thing and hearing music, celebrating with each other and allowing that to relieve some stress is important.”

Audible And Hello Sunshine Celebrate The Launch Of Sophia Chang's Memoir THE BADDEST BITCH IN THE ROOM In NYC
Photo Credit:https://twitter.com/djdnice?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Just like all musicians, DJ’s use live venues to make their income, as on an average night they rake in 250-300 dollars, so now many DJ’s are in dire financial straits. But, with the popularity of Derick Jones’ live stream DJ’s from around the world began taking part in the new trend.

Los Angeles’ own, DJ CEE, is one of many beginner DJs who was hoping to work his way up the industry ladder this year, but Covid-19 paused those plans. With 15% of DJ’s never having played in a live venue, according to ‘DJtips’, they need to start showing their skills to the public some other way, such as Instagram live. His opinion on the new trend was: “Going live is a great way to interact with your followers and gives people the impression that you are active.”

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DJ CEE on his instagram live. Photo credit: https://twitter.com/DJCEE_

Even if some DJs have other financial income, most DJ’s do not and for them DJ CEE said: “I do believe they should be receiving some sort of compensation for their work since there isn’t many opportunities left to count on.”

In order to fight back against these tough times, American radio and DJ personality, Raashaun Casey, otherwise known as DJ Envy on his radio talk show ‘The Breakfast Club’, began a national fund where he collected over $50,000 from celebrities such as DJ Khaled and others. This money was sent directly to struggling DJ’s who needed the funds, showing an attempt to fight back against the financial situation created by Covid-19.

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From stocking shelves to becoming a pandemic’s unsung heroes

Covid-19 has been the cause to over 200,000 deaths throughout the world, according to the World Health Organisation, but before the death tolls sky rocketed, it brought other problems with it. Panic food shopping and bulk buying.

In order to keep up with these unpredicted shoppers, supermarkets around the world were relying on their workers more than ever, making supermarket employees critically essential, just like the NHS workers.

But unlike the NHS staff, who have been gaining praise on social media and nation-wide attention, through methods such as with the 8 p.m clapping around the UK, supermarket workers are not being as credited.

Mr. Matthew Parker, an employee at Oadby’s Asda supermarket shared his frustration during these times, as he said: “I see people bringing the elderly, babies, children, groups of kids. It’s not on and people need to get a grip.”

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Photo credit: Matthew Parker

Food stores and non-store retailing were the only sectors to show growth in the monthly volume series in March 2020, with food stores seeing the strongest growth on record, at 10.4%, according to ONS’ most recent research. This gives a better idea to the large number of customers their stores see day to day.

Putting these numbers along with the new spikes of shoppers caused by the panic buying, a perfect storm was created amongst the UK’s supermarkets. In a matter of days, supermarket’s weekly stocks had run out, leaving them empty for the first time ever.

This forced supermarkets to enforce bulk buying rules, as shoppers can now only get a max of 3 per item. The restrictions now seem to work as Mr. Parker said: “it was hard at first to figure out the right way to run things but they fixed it and now it’s much better working conditions.”

In order to help those who are still working and having to risk their lives to help others, the NHS has been urging people to “stay home, save lives.” With this being said, Britons are still not following the guidelines and going outside in large groups.

The King’s college in London, recently conducted research based on the responses the public are having to the new restrictions on their freedom. The report showed that 48% of the UK is accepting the new rules as they understand the risks behind not following them.

This percentage is much higher than the 9% of the population that are resisting the lockdown rules, leaving 44% in the ‘suffering’ category of the report, where people are saying their anxiety and depression is on the rise.

These statistics show that less than half of the UK’s population are completely agreeing with the new restrictions. Sharing his frustrations on the subject, Mr. Parker said: “It makes me mad, those people who are not taking care need to realise that if they don’t take these precautions the government have set seriously, it will make the lockdown longer and more restrictions will be put on it.”