RSPB which is celebrating is 130th anniversary says that it is critical urgent action is taken to reverse the dramatic declines in populations of seabirds that live on the coast of the UK. The charity which was founded in 1889 by Emily Williamson after learning that hundreds of thousands of birds had been slaughtered simply to decorate hats. In 1997 the organisation reached a million members and has had remarkable conservation success; nevertheless, current RSPB chief Mike Clarke says much more work is needed to ensure coastal birds stay protected.
Urgent action required
Mr Clarke says on and around the coasts of the UK, RSPB will be advocating for urgent action and the establishment of essential protections to stop the dramatic decline in both fishing stock and the many seabird colonies that depend on the. The goal is to create the right conditions so that British seas are well managed. Mr Clarke adds that the scale and pace at which the world around us is accelerating and becoming more profound. The natural world is disappearing and urgent action is needed is wildlife and their habitats are to be saved.
The most recent academic studies suggest that sea birds are feeling the pain from climate change and ocean plastic pollution. Some birds have been found with over 250 pieces of plastic in their stomachs. One study by the University of Aberdeen produced results which suggests the species of bird that is most at risk are seabirds because of the competition they face from the fishing industry for food. The study found that since the 1970’s annual fishery catches have risen from 59 to 65 million tonnes a year. That sort of increase will obviously make it difficult for seabirds to find food.
Food and climate change
Dr Aurore Ponchom who co-led the study says that it is well known that most species of seabird find it difficult to change their diet and this means it is not likely that they will shift to other prey species. This means part of the decline in populations of seabirds that has been observed might come down to fisheries. Dr Ponchom adds that along with competition from fisheries, threats such as climate change, destruction and pollution of breeding habitats puts the global seabird population at risk.
Everyone has a role to play in conservation
Mr Clarke says that all stake holders have a role to play when it comes to solving the problem. Over the last century, nearly every aspect of daily life has been transformed. Irrespective of social, political and economic shifts, the RSPB continues to stay focused on its mission of saving nature. Mr Clarke concludes this is not something that RSPB can do on its own, and solutions need to be found that involve people. RSPB hopes to inspire people from all walks of life from politicians to school children must recognise and understand their connection to nature.
Category: National Trust
This year the National Trust has a new cultural offering that features a number of heritage celebrations, art exhibitions and other events. The organisation will restore and re-interpret some of the country’s most famous sites so that visitors of any age will be able to develop a deeper understanding of their histories. John Orna-Ornstein of the National Trust says he would like thee organisation to provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to feel welcome and connected to the sites that it manages. Here are the cultural highlights for 2019:
People’s Landscapes – nationwide
This programme takes its inspiration from the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. It will feature a number of events activities throughout the UK and visitors will have the opportunity to explore historic landscapes that were the sites where people gathered to demand dramatic social change.
Sutton Hoo – Suffolk
In 1939 this Anglo-Saxon shipwreck and all its treasures was discovered by archaeologists. The site has been transformed so that visitors of any age will be able to develop a better understanding of its history and hear the stories that have transfixed people all over the world. There are new spaces for exhibitions and installations plus a 17-metre high viewing tower which will be a wonderful experience for anyone who visits.
Calke Abbey – Derbyshire
Calke Abbey has an intriguing story has been built around the Harpur-Crewe family known to be both reclusive and socially isolated. Despite that reputation the latest research has shone new light on their lives. The research reveals very interesting and genuinely surprising stories of love, compassion and kindness as well the more well-known ones regarding isolation and loneliness. This property will be open to visitors who can use the opportunity to explore these themes through the stories of six household members including immersive indoor and outdoor experiences.
Anthony Denney was a 20th century British icon and his contribution to design is being celebrated this year at Rainham Hall which is his form home. Denney was an influential tastemaker, a talented photographer who worked for British Vogue, an interior designed and an art collecter. The exhibition at Rainham House will be presented as if it were a magazine with the intent of showcasing Denney’s multi-faceted career with spaces devoted to fashion, jewellery, arts, interiors, food and travel.
Powis Castle – Powys
This year is the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Anniversary. To mark this important moment in history Powis Castle will be celebrating its past when it served as a refuge for a girl’s school over the course over the war. For the first time, the top floor of the castle will be open to the general public and the rooms will be transformed in to dormitories the girls used to stay in with access to original photographs and audio recordings.
Category: Cancer Research UK
The warning signs for cancer are not always obvious. Often when people visit the doctor complaining of symptoms such as indigestion it is impossible to determine on the first appointment whether cancer is the cause. More often than not the cause is something far less serious. Currently there is no simple test that can determine whether a patient needs to be referred to a specialist for additional testing for a wide range of cancers.
All that is needed is a breath sample
There is however a trial being conducted that is funded by Cancer Research UK at the MRC Unit at the University of Cambridge that seeks to change that by attempting to develop a cancer test that simply needs a breath sample. The idea is to develop a test that can detect volatile molecules in the breath which would indicate whether a patient may have an early cancer they are unaware of.
The study is a pilot, so the researchers are examining a range of cancers to determine whether they can obtain a signal and compare it to signals of healthy individuals. Obviously the first cancer that would be detected would be lunch cancer and testing for this cancer using breath using proprietary technology is already ongoing. The problem is that the way the body recycles metabolites, may other volatile molecules from different parts of the body also end up in the breath as well.
Determining the difference between cancer signatures
If the technology is able to determine the difference between cancer signatures and healthy ones, the researchers will then see if there are differences between cancer types or if there is only a single cancer signature. Depending on how the research progresses, the breath test technology has the potential to be used on the general population to screen them and determine whether individuals have cancer without displaying any symptoms.
Cancer screening would become simple
The goal is to make is as simple as possible for an individual to undertake a breath test. Ideally the testing device would be sitting in a GP’s surgery. Before such a test can be rolled out, a number of large-scale studies would have to be completed in order to confirm that the benefits outweigh the risks. Ultimately such a test would be used as a screening tool where healthy people are tested as well as being used as a triage test that GP’s can use to help them determine which patients need to be referred.
Research team needs data
What is required for such a test to come to fruition is data and the researchers need to find enough patients with a variety of different cancers that they wish to investigate. The research team say they are confident that the non-invasive nature of a breath test means finding subjects will not be difficult. All that is required from people who participate is about ten minutes worth of their breath. So long as individuals volunteer there will be enough data to collect to draw the necessary conclusions which would bring a cancer breath test a step closer to reality.
In November 2008 the UK Parliament passed the Climate Change Act. That was the culmination of intense lobbying of a variety of conservation coalitions that RSPB was a member of. That is obviously a spectacular achievement but many people must be asking what has been RSPB been doing in the decade since it helped bring about the act to reduce the effects of climate change? Well here are five achievements of RSPB over the last decade.
RSPB is a founder member of two conservation coalitions
RSPB helped found The Climate Coalition which helps to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the things people love as well as influence the policy of the UK governments. RSPB played a massive part in the Show the Love campaign which got people including politicians and celebrities to wear hearts to show their commitment to the conservation of the environment and wildlife.
RSPB now manages its nature reserves differently
RSPB reserves are managed in order to develop resilience to climate change and the organisation seeks to help wildlife adapt to changing conditions. This includes allowing species to expand their range as well as allowing visiting species to move in permanently. An example of this is the migration of spoonbills permanently from continental Europe.
Restoring critical UK peat bogs
England’s peat reserves are able to prevent 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere alone. In Scotland RSPB has been engaging with the Scottish Government for many years now. This has been key to getting it to commit to the restoration of 250,000 hectares or 350,000 football pitches of damaged peatland by 2030.
Creating new inland wetlands
RSPB has created reserves at Lakenheath Fen, Ham Wall, Ouse Fen that seek to prove brand new homes for wildlife whose coastal homes are at risk from rising sea levels. Ham Wall for example now serves as home to a minimum of six species of heron. Another example of RSPB’s conservation work is Ouse Fen which will eventually serve as home to the biggest reedbed in the UK.
Future proofing coastal communities
RSPB is trying to minimise the risk of flooding whilst also establishing new wildlife habitats. You can see this happening in West Sussex and in Essex. RSPB has realigned the coast in Medmerry which not only helps keep nearby homes protected but has also resulted in the creation of a range of habitats. Another example is Wallasea which has had its landscape restored creating 670 hectares of coastal wetland over the ten years which ended in 2018.
Category: National Trust
So, it is a brand-new year but the weather still remains cold and you are wondering how to warm up. Well grab your wellies and take an invigorating winter walk. You can blow away the winter blues by hiking through stunning wintry woodlands. Alternatively, you could stroll through manicured gardens or ramble along icy river banks and lakes. Regardless of your preference, the National Trust has something to suit all tastes. Thanks to the help of its supporters, the National Trust is able to care for hundreds of walking trails all over the country and here are three you can try in Surrey and Hampshire.
Winkworth Arboretum, near Godalming
The wintry woodland of Winkworth sits on a hillside in the very heart of Surrey. This is the perfect spot for people who wish to take a walk in the crisp clean air. The landscape offers a mix of level walkways and moderately difficult hills to climb. There is a route for everyone here including those who wish to bring their dogs with them, provided they are on a leash. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy repetitive treadmills, then take a lung full of the fresh air and enjoy the sights as you walk or jog. You can rest at the boathouse which boasts stunning views of the lakes or warm up with a coffee or hot chocolate at the café among the trees.
Hinton Ampner, near Alresford
Hinton Ampner and its acres of woods and parkland is a fantastic location for a winter walk. There are four different walks that you can take that will give you a great sense of the estate which is extremely picturesque and is filled with spectacular views. You could for example stroll around the local village of Kilmeston and its surrounding fields that served as the venue for a great Civil War battle. Anybody who loves the outdoors is going to enjoy it here.
Box Hill, near Dorking
There is nothing better than freeing yourself from being trapped indoors and taking a bracing winter walk. It is hard to imagine a better place to do this than on Box Hill and its famous slopes. This part of the UK is well known for its amazing views and lovely woodland walks. Box Hill is also the perfect venue for a family outing because the kids can enjoy themselves on the natural play trail which features dens and balance beams. At the end of your excursion you can relax at the café with pot of tea which is the perfect way to end the day.
Category: Guide Dogs For The Blind
If you live in London you may recognise the drone robots that Dominos Pizza have been using to deliver pizzas developed by Starship Technologies. Over time it is highly likely that these types of robots are going to become ubiquitous. In order to get ahead of any problems visually impaired people may have, the company has been researching the impact delivery drones have on guide dogs. Starship Technologies has partnered with Guide Dogs in Milton Keynes to undertake the research.
Studying guide dog reaction to drones
As part of the study, Guide Dogs along with either their owners or trainers were deliberately placed in situations where they would encounter robots on pavements. A number of scenarios were experimented with including having the guide dogs encounter the robots head on, from behind, heading towards one another at road crossings and overtaking. Fortunately, the study found that all the guide dogs that participated in the study reacted very calmly, mainly stopping before the robots approached and did not have any adverse reactions.
Training new recruits
Guide Dogs will use the results of the study to train their next batch of recruits and encourage them to treat drones as if they were any other type of obstacle they meet on the pavement. Starship Technologies says it intends to expand the scope of its study to see how its drones will impact the entire spectrum of people with visual impairments. Guide Dogs spokesperson John Welsman says that technology constantly evolves and is reshaping our environment and lifestyles. This means it is important for Guide Dogs to lead the way in helping shape the future for visually impaired people.
Guide Dogs has partnered with tech companies in the past
This is not the first time Guide Dogs has partnered with a tech company to find out how innovation will affect the visually impaired. In the past the organisation teamed up with Microsoft to test its Soundscape app which helps visually impaired people to navigate using their smartphone through 3D audio cues. All of this is part of Guide Dogs Cities Unlocked Project which is tasked with understanding how changing cities will impact the visually impaired.
Technology for all members of society
Technology companies should be aware that when they design products, those products should work for all members of society. Lex Bayer who leads Starship Technologies says his company believes that drone deliveries will be able to play an important role supporting every individual within communities. They will make everyone’s life more convenient including those who are visually impaired. Mr Bayer says the company’s top priority is working seamlessly alongside residents and enhancing its services by partnering with organisations such as Guide Dogs.
Category: Help For Heroes
Help for Heroes is urging the UK government to provide additional funding for the most seriously injured British veterans. The organisation says there are at least a dozen veterans with injuries so serious, they will never full recover from the wounds they suffered on the battlefield. The charity says the veteran’s injuries are so extensive that in previous eras, they probably would not have survived. According to Help for Heroes some of the injured are having to rely on friends and family for their care because under current NHS packages, they aren’t fully funded.
Choosing care at the expense of quality of life
Help for Heroes says many injured service people are forced to make the choice of care at the expense of their quality of life and constantly need to fight to ensure that their long-term care and rehabilitation needs are met. The charity adds that the medical conditions of these service people will not get any better and the only thing that prevents them from achieving a sense of confidence, self-worth and esteem to live a more purposeful and meaningful life is money.
In a recent report published by the charity, Help for Heroes is urging the UK government to provide a further £600,000 in funding to support extremely seriously injured veterans. The funding would be part of the Government’s Integrated Personal Commissioning for Veterans project. Carol Betteridge who heads up Help for Heroes Welfare and Clinical Services department says the requirements of veterans that have very serious injuries are the most complex.
Wanting to live a normal life
Many of these ex-service people do want to live as complete a life as possible. She adds that the charity wishes to work as closely as possible with the MOD, NHS and other authorities to ensure they are cared for but the project requires urgent funding. Help for Heroes Chief Executive Mel Waters says the charity is committed to partnering with the government to improve the lives of injured veterans and their families so that they can all live safe and healthy lives filled with meaning.
Funding would make a huge difference
Ms Waters adds the paper is the first in a series of proposals outlining what the charity believes the government should be doing. She concludes that by praising the NHS for doing what it can, however acknowledges that funding for the scheme would make an enormous difference to the lives of very seriously injured veterans.
Oxfam GB will be certainly be hopeful that a difficult 2018 is firmly behind it with the appointment of Danny Sriskandarajah as its next chief executive. A few months ago, Oxfam GB announced that it would be appointing as CEO Mr Sriskandarajah who previously served as Secretary General and Chief Executive of Civicus which is a South African based global alliance of civil society organisations. Mr Sriskandarajah will be succeeding Mark Goldring who last year announced he would be stepping down from his role at the charity.
Strong non-profit background
Mr Sriskandarajah who is based in London has a strong background in the non-profit sector having worked at Civicus since 2013 and previously having served as Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Prior to that Mr Sriskandarajah was a director of the Commonwealth Foundation and also worked at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Mr Sriskandarajah is originally from Sri Lanka, but was raised in Australia and PNG before moving to the United Kingdom in 1998.
Oxfam chairperson Caroline Thomson says Mr Sriskandarajah is the correct person to lead Oxfam as it seeks to change and renew itself because he both a brilliant strategic thinker and has a track record of delivery. Ms Thomson adds that Mr Sriskandarajah has a solid understanding of the challenges faced by the entire sector including gender justice. Ms Thomson describes Mr Sriskandarajah as one of the next generation of leaders who has both a global reputation of original thought and the ability to inspire the people who work with him.
Will deliver solutions
Most importantly Ms Thomson says that it is believed that Mr Sriskandarajah is willing to ask all the hard questions necessary and has the ability to work well with colleagues across the entire federation of Oxfam to deliver solutions. A spokesperson for Oxfam did not say how much the organisation would pay Mr Sriskandarajah but did say it would be less than what was paid to Mr Goldring. Last year the charity earned £472.2 million during the financial year of 2017-2018 and employs 5,000 full time staff members as well as tens of thousands of volunteers.
Category: National Trust
The Director General of the National Trust has vigorously defended the charities decision regarding charging for entry to the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre. Some people have complained that they have been misled by official signs which suggest they must pay to visit the world-famous stones in County Amtrim. Hilary McGrady who heads up the Trust says that all money collected is used for maintenance of the site as well as other properties in Northern Ireland under the care of the National Trust.
Trying to be transparent
Mrs McGrady says her organisation is trying to be transparent about the signs. Some residents who live nearby and those who walk past the site have complained about the signs indicate that people are accessing the tourist location with the “permission” of the National Trust. Mrs McGrady whom herself hails from Northern Ireland says the organisation has been clear that anybody wishing to walk to the Causeway Stones for free has the ability to do so.
Maintenance not free
She adds that maintenance of the attraction is not free and somebody has to pay for it to be looked after. This means that entry to the visitor centre and the experience one gets from it will not be for free and that is the reason the National Trust charges an entry fee as well as for parking. People are paying for those two things rather than the Stones. The National Trust is the largest landowner in the United Kingdom and earned an income of £600 million from legacies, membership and property. The organisation has assets of approximately £1.3 billion.
Doing a better of job of being clear
According to a recent report, the Giant Causeway generated a contribution of more than £480 million to the Northern Ireland economy in 2017. Mrs McGrady who assumed the role of Director General in 2018 says it is a privilege to lead the National Trust. She says she has worked hard to be clear about what exactly the Trust is about. This is because for many years the media and the public conception of what the National Trust stands for has been a little confused.One day the conversation is about climate change and the next day the topic of discussion is LGBTQ so one can understand the confusion regarding what the organisation stands for.
Mrs McGrady says the overwhelming majority of the general public have enormous affection of the National Trust because it takes care of special places and she is seeking to take the organisation back to its roots which is what it does on a day-to-day basis. This doesn’t mean the organisation will stop pushing boundaries and it will continue to push the stories that the public wants to hear. She also wants to make sure the organisation stays relevant and its standards continue to rise.
Jessica Kellgren-Fozard in an internet celebrity who also happens to have be deaf and disabled. Not surprisingly Ms Kellgren-Fozard isusing her fame to support a charity that provides dogs that help hearing impaired individuals. Jessica has a YouTube following and is posting videos in a bid to raise £1,000 to sponsor Leo the puppy who will one day be one of the 900 plus dogs that have been paired with hearing impaired humans, assisting them with every day activities.
On her fundraising page Jessica tells readers that she knows intimately what it is like living with disabilities and being deaf. She says there is a feeling of worry and isolation and that she is lucky to have a couple of dogs named Tilly and Walter who provide her with comfort whenever she feels in need of it. Jessica says no one should ever feel isolated and hopefully with the support of her followers, Leo will go on to provide assistance to someone and ensure they never feel that way again.
Hearing Dogs For Deaf People is thrilled
Rachel Annetts a fundraising manager with Hearing Dogs responsible for Brighton says the charity is thrilled that Jessica has chosen to raise money for it. The charity receives absolutely zero in terms of government funding and is therefore completely dependent on the kindness of supporters in order to continue training dogs that transform the lives of hearing-impaired people. Ms Annetts adds that Jessica’s campaign will help a lot. Not only do these guide dogs make their human partners aware of important sounds that could save their lives such as smoke or intruder alarms, but they also provide emotional support as well.
The charity is grateful
Ms Annetts concludes that guide dogs are critical for many hearing-impaired people because as Jessica notes they do experience a sense of loneliness and isolation. Anyone who chooses to support Jessica in her efforts to raise money for Hearing Dogs For Deaf People will be directly aiding deaf people move away from a life of loneliness and reconnect with the world so the charity is extremely grateful. At present one in five UK residents experience some form of hearing impairment and this will increase to one in four over the next one or two decades.