Tuesday, March 28, 2006

National Inquiry into Self-Harm report (also from my email)

Apologies for two entries in quick succession, but have just this second received the following email too.

I will read the report and come back with what I make of it. This may take some time, as my brain is currently made out of stew.
Truth Hurts - the Report of the National Inquiry into Self-harm among Young People

Self-harm among young people is a significant and growing public health challenge. Despite this, there is almost universal misunderstanding about self-harm even amongst those in closest contact with young people. In response to this, the Camelot Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation launched the National Inquiry into Self-harm among Young People in 2004. The Inquiry Panel has been meeting for two years, hearing evidence from a wide range of interested parties, but most significantly it listened to the voices of young people who have experience of self-harm. Their contributions have been vital to this work.

Truth Hurts sets out an agenda for change, making recommendations about what needs to be done in order to fully understand the prevalence of self-harm; the importance of commissioning services where young people feel listened to and respected; gathering evidence of what works in preventing self-harm and intervening once the behaviour is underway; and building a better understanding of why young people self-harm. Ultimately the aim must be that those closest to young people who self-harm are better equipped to hear their disclosures without panic, revulsion or condemnation.

It is our intention that the report will serve as a turning point in understanding self-harm and be a launch pad for changes in the prevention of, and response to, self-harm among young people throughout the UK. We hope the report is interesting and useful to you. Copies of the report can also be downloaded at www.selfharmuk.org.

As part of the ongoing work of the National Inquiry, there will be two major UK conferences in London on 6 July and Scotland in September 2006. If you would like to receive information about these events, please call us on 0207 8031161 or email gmcewan@mhf.org.uk

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Stop Detaining Children Now! (from my email)

No Place for a Child:

Dear Charles Clarke,

I call on you to stop locking up more than 2,000 babies and children in immigration detention centres every year.

The Home Office currently allows children to be held for long periods of time in immigration detention - children have been held from seven up to 268 days according to evidence gathered by members of the No Place for a Child coalition.

Detaining children is wrong - regardless of the merits of a family's asylum case - and has a damaging effect on their education, health and well-being. It is also contrary to international human rights standards and serious concerns about the detention of children have already been raised by all four Children's Commissioners, Her Majesty's Inspector of Prisons and the European Commissioner for Human Rights.

Last year the UK government locked up over 2000 children - not for committing any crime, but simply for bureaucratic convenience as a part of the asylum process. The decision is taken by an immigration official and without any judicial intervention.

These children aren't told how long they will be detained - it could be weeks or even many months. One third are detained for at least seven days.

Detention is traumatic for any child they feel they are being punished and they don't know why. Many of them have come to the UK to escape terror from state officials in their own country. There's plenty of evidence that the effects of detention are extremely damaging.

The Refugee Council has joined with Save The Children and Bail for Immigration Detainees to fight to stop children being detained. As we launch the campaign today, we need you to take 2 simple and quick steps now - log onto our special campaign website: noplaceforachild.org.uk

Our message to the Government is simple: it's wrong to lock up children. As the campaign develops, we will be talking to them about better ways to manage families going through the asylum process - but right now they need to hear loud and clear from you that it's time to stop detaining children.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Trial and Error.

Whoever it was who found hippie blog by clicking on the Number One search result for how to subtly offend a hippie has probably worked out how to do it now. I'm not feeling very sense of humour-ful today for some reason.

Anyway... this story is incredibly scary. I heard on the news last night that 6 men were seriously ill in hospital after taking part in a trial of a new anti-inflammatory drug. Shit, I thought, If six of them are in hospital that suggests it's not an obscure allergic reaction. Then later I heard that there were only 8 people in the trial. Shit, I thought, if 6 out of the 8 people who were in the trial were so ill (like, multiple organ failure, intensive care type of ill) then something has gone really wrong. Then, later still, I heard that 2 of the 8 men in the trial had had placebos (and were fine...).

So basically, the only 6 men to have taken this trial drug have become really ill.
The young men were being paid to take part in the early stages of a trial for the drug TGN1412 which is designed to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and leukaemia.

But within hours of taking it on Monday, six volunteers had to be admitted to intensive care - a further two had been given a placebo.

Northwick Park Hospital's intensive care director Ganesh Suntharalingam said two were in a critical condition, and the other four were serious but showing some signs of improvement.

He added his team had been doing everything possible in this "unique set of circumstances".

"The drug, which is untested and therefore unused by doctors, has caused an inflammatory response which affects some organs of the body," he said.

Ms Marshall, 35, whose boyfriend is critically ill, said the normally healthy 28-year-old barman's face was so puffed, he "looks like the Elephant Man".

She said: "His friends cannot even face seeing him. I have to stay there because I'm looking beyond all the wires and the puffiness.

"This is not leukaemia, this is not pneumonia, this is not something they know how to deal with."
(Read more...)

When I was at Uni, several of my friends regularly took part of medical trials and testings to get a £few, and while people knew it was a bit risky, it was generally thought that by the time anyone actually swallows anything, it would be as safe as it can be. Makes you wonder, and clearly others are concerned, too.

Something has gone horribly wrong in this London trial yesterday. I don't think we know yet whether this was a horrendous accident that noone could have predicted, or whether there has been a big mistake made somewhere. I guess time will tell, and am hoping they all are ok soon.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Having not heard it for probably twenty years, in the last few days I have heard it twice. I hope to hear it again, as I adored it as a (very little) child. It was apparently by Joe Dolce, and it went something like this:
What'sa matta you, hey!
Gotta no respect, whatta you think you do,
Why you looka so sad? It's-a not so bad, it's-a nice-a place,
Ah, shaddap you face!

Why is it funny? Why does it make me laugh? I have no idea. It has been Australia's highest selling single for 25 years.

Not only can you hear it again, you can even watch a video of him singing it. Go awwn, you know you want to! Full lyrics here.

Ahhh, I love the internet!

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Time for More Health Awareness.

This week is Endometriosis Awareness Week. A group of women have held a communal screaming event (oh yes!) outside Parliament, to give people an idea of the pain caused to so many women by endometriosis.
By Ben Pindar, Community Newswire
HEALTH Scream London, 06 Mar 2006 - 08:39

A group of women were today gathering outside Parliament to scream for better funding and increased awareness about an incurable crippling disease affecting two million women across the UK.

The communal scream has been organised by the National Endometriosis Society and following the event the women will march on Downing Street to hand over a 12,000-signature petition to Tony Blair.

Organisers are staging the event to mark the launch of Endometriosis Awareness Week and the publication of a major new study which shows women with the condition face misdiagnosis, ignorance and misunderstanding.

Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found outside it which can create painful inflammation, adhesions and cysts.

A total of 89% of British sufferers experience pain throughout their monthly cycle with the average pain lasting 14 days a month. Of those in employment with the condition, 80% lose an average 5.7 days a month.

The new poll being published today reveals women have to wait an average of 11 years to get a correct diagnosis after the initial onset of pain.

Leading artist Adelaide Damoah was leading the demonstration outside the Houses of Commons today and everybody was screaming in unison to represent the almost continual pain some women endure as part of their daily lives.

The National Endometriosis Society wants increased funding for research into the disease and also wants the Government to help raise awareness about the suffering the condition can cause.

Robert Music, chief executive of the National Endometriosis Society, said: "The communal scream event is indicative of the pain each of these women has to endure but also demonstrates their frustration at a lack of funding and action from the Government.

"Their needs to be a lot more research into this condition and the impact it has peoples lives but this can only be achieved if the Government increases current funding levels.

"The funding received by researchers investigating this disease is very small but it is obviously incredibly important that more is done.

"Awareness of the condition also needs to be dramatically increased as a lot of symptoms go unnoticed.

"We need a three year awareness campaign at the very least so we can reach all women and ensure everything is being done to beat this condition."

At present there is no cure for endometriosis, with most patients treated through medication. For many, a range of alternative and complementary therapies have also delivered some degree of success in alleviating symptoms and pain.

Women with endometriosis or those wanting more information about the disease can contact the National Endometriosis Society via the helpline on 0808 808 2227 or through the website at endo.org.uk

Two years ago, for National Endometriosis Awareness Day, I wrote the following.
National Endometriosis Awareness Day
The National Endometriosis Society tell me that today is National Endometriosis Awareness Day which I had not known. Unfortunately I have been super-aware of this disease the last few days because of the agony and misery it has been bringing me.

Every Part of My Body Hurt is not only a very apt description of the disease, but also a challenging article about one woman's experiences of endometriosis, diagnosis, treatment, and not recovering, but taking control of her treatment options.
(Read more...)

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Stop Selling Women's Bodies.

It is estimated that the number of women being trafficked into Germany to be used as prostitutes will increase massively in the run-up to the World Cup there in June. This is an appalling indictment of a European country's treatment of women - indicated, however, by the fact that brothels are legal there. Legitimising sexual exploitation of women and girls in this way suggests already a poor view of, and abusive treatment of women.

With the expected influx of mainly male football supporters, it looks likely that there will be an increase in 'demand' which can only be met through trafficking women from other countries. This trade in, and selling of women's bodies must be stopped, and the European Women's Lobby have set up a petition you can sign.

The text of the petition is:

800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year

90% are women and girls.

The majority are sexually exploited.

Dear President Barroso,

Thousands of women and girls will be trafficked into Germany for prostitution during the World Cup.

I urge you as President of the European Commission to take action, in cooperation with EU countries, to stop this crime.

Celebrate the World Cup.

Fight sexual slavery.

And you can sign it here. Please do so!

Prostitution during World Cup is a whole new ball game.
From Melanie Haape in Berlin

GERMAN cities are building mobile brothels and installing huge numbers of condom dispensers in the run-up to an expected boom in the sex business during the upcoming World Cup.

It’s thought up to 40,000 prostitutes will be brought into the country to augment the thousands already at work to service the needs of some of the estimated seven million chiefly male fans as they pour into the country from June 9.

Meanwhile, women’s activist groups have seized the occasion to highlight the problem of human trafficking and forced prostitution, especially of girls from eastern and central Europe.

Justice officials hotly dispute the 40,000 figure, however. Munich central police’s Andreas Ruch reckons it’s “been plucked from the air”.

“We know from the Oktoberfest, which has six million visitors, that the number of prostitutes increases, but we honestly don’t expect a mass invasion.”

Germany legalised prostitution in 2002, and the Bavarian capital has 500 registered sex workers. Ruch estimates that there are an extra 200 illegally plying their trade. “We expect the number to perhaps double during the World Cup, and while we do see the number of those coming from eastern Europe growing, this is a general tendency in many professions,” he said.

Berlin, which has up to 8000 registered prostitutes, is gearing up for strict controls during the tournament, said criminal department spokeswoman Kerstin Menzel.

“During big sports events in the past, we haven’t seen a major upsurge in prostitution-related criminality, but we are definitely putting in stronger controls in certain areas of the city which we know are troublesome. We’re also working with non-government organisations,” she said, adding that she couldn’t imagine that as many as 40,000 extra prostitutes would flood the city.

Nevertheless, to augment the city’s existing array of bordellos, three train stops from the main Berlin stadium a new structure covering 3000 square metres is being built to accommodate 640 customers at a time. Cologne has also built provisional brothels, and Dortmund plans to follow suit.

Hamburg’s famous Reeperbahn red-light district, meanwhile, hopes to use the World Cup to polish up its tatty image with its campaign “fairness in sex”. Brothels are co-operating in a plan to reduce complaints against dishonest money-grabbing practices on the part of the prostitutes.

There is no central strategy to control the problem of girls being smuggled into the country, or brought in under false pretences and then forced to offer sex-related services. Instead, each of the 16 states (Länder) is responsible for its own law enforcement. This is not enough for the Deutscher Frauenrat, the national women’s council which represents more than 50 women’s organisations nationwide.

A spokeswoman said: “After seeking role models and support for our campaign among the entire German football team, so far we have managed to get support only from Jens Lehmann who is also goalkeeper for the English club Arsenal. Others like Oliver Kahn have stayed silent, so we’re not only disappointed but really angry.” The council’s pleas to the football stars stated that as an example for many men, the stars’ word sometimes counts more than that of politicians.

“Therefore we ask you to state publicly that ‘real’ men are against human trafficking and forced prostitution,” wrote council head Henny Engels.

The EU has the issue on the agenda for its plenary session starting on March 13, said Anna Wittenberg, assistant to European Parliament member Lissy Gröner, also on the Women’s Committee in the EU. Wittenberg added that Germany’s state heads and police are now being pushed to improve controls on visa issuing, for example.

The European parliament reckons that almost 90% of the 500,000 people smuggled illegally into the EU are trapped into sexual exploitation. Hungarian translator Nico Anastasio, who has assisted in a number of trafficking cases , said: “The problem is that they seldom report their abuse as they are usually here illegally .”

26 February 2006

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Self-Injury Awareness Day

Today, as every 1st March, is Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD). That makes two entries about self-harm this week, which was entirely unintentional - I have only just remembered it is SIAD, and I remembered it with an out loud 'DAMN' because I and others are always planning to organise some kind of media awareness campaign, and always, *always* forget the day is approaching.

As we did, it seems, this year!

So, please be aware of self-harm. Many many people do it, for many many reasons. I wrote an awful lot about it here, if you want to know more, and I wrote very recently about it here on hippie blog, more specifically in terms of receiving medical treatment in the context of being someone who self-injures.

There are also millions of websites on the subject from all over the world. You'd be amazed how many people do, or have done something on the spectrum of self-injury at some point, and how many do so repeatedly.

It's not all about slashing yourself open - it can be about getting so drunk you become ill, or depriving yourself of sleep, or punching a wall when you're angry, or not caring to check when you are about to cross a road.

It is an important thing to be aware of - in yourself, your friends and family, and in the world. Not only self-harm as an issue, but the things in the world around us that can lead someone to do what can initially appear to be an entirely counter-productive thing. There's a long, long way to go before we have made the world we live in a nice place to be for everyone, before we have made it a place where the people who live in it have no reason to want to hurt themselves at all.

Self-Injury Awareness Day, 1st March 2006.

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