According to the latest research, just 10-12 per cent of ultra-high-net-worth individuals, defined as people with a net worth that exceed £10 million are actively engaged philanthropy. The data was released by the Beacon Collaborative and come after a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on philanthropy was established. The group was established in July with the goal of encouraging greater philanthropy in the UK.
Range of new programs could be funded
MP Rushanara Ali who is a member of the group says that if more of the super-rich in the UK became philanthropists, i.e. an additional new philanthropist for every ten that are already giving money, it would raise £2 billion that could be used to fund a wide range of programs. The new parliamentary group will work with all members of Parliament and the Beacon Collaborative in order to connect MP’s to philanthropists, social investors, trust and foundations.
The number of people giving has dropped
In the UK there are 18,000 individuals defined as being ultra-high-net-worth and the median amount they give to charity according to data from the Beacon Collaborative. Previous research undertaken has shown that in the UK, the number of people featured on this year’s The Sunday Times “Rich List” who give more than 1 per cent of their wealth to charity has declined from 86 last year to 72 this year. There are multiple reasons behind the drop in philanthropy.
According to John Pepin CEO of Philanthropy Impact the UK is trending against a cultural change that has been around for a very long time. He cites a lack of knowledge among advisors of wealthy individuals as well a British culture that does not celebrate philanthropy. This is quite different to the culture that exists in the US where philanthropy is expected and is actually the topic of conversation at dinner. In the UK there is no sense that with wealth comes social obligations.
Political uncertainty to blame
There are people that argue that political uncertainty has resulted in more high-net-worth individuals in delaying giving to charity. There are real fears that there will be higher taxes under a potential government headed by Labour Party Leader who is hard-left. In general, when there is economic uncertainty, people tend to be less generous. In order to reach the £2 billion goals is therefore challenging, however when the numbers are crunched, that adds up to just an additional £1.1 million from 1,800 individuals. That in reality when it comes to the one per cent is the equivalent of pocket change.
The latest report by Zero Waste Scotland suggests that Scots are unwittingly spending hundreds of millions of pounds on single-use packaging further contributing to the climate emergency. Scottish shoppers are now being made aware of the obscured financial costs and harmful impact on the environment through the use of single-use packaging when they purchase everyday products.
Cost is concealed
The research by Zero Waste Scotland found that Scottish shoppers collectively purchase in excess of 300,000 tonnes of single-use packaging every year. The amount spent annually by all Scottish households on all the packaging is about £600 million. That amount is concealed within the overall price of their groceries. To make matters worse the Scottish pay approximately £40 million each year to cover the local authority costs of collecting and managing all of that single-use packaging after it has been disposed.
Huge quantity of carbon emissions
That quantity of single-use packaging yields about 650,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year which is about the equivalent of 4 million car journeys between Aberdeen and London. Zero Waste Scotland is trying to emphasise the benefits consumers could obtain from alternative ‘packaging free’ stores which allow them to bring their own containers and fill them with items ranging from past to cleaning products.
Packaging considered part of the product
A spokesperson for Zero Waste Scotland says it is easy to think of packaging as part of the product rather than a product in its own right. The reality is when someone buys 500ml of shampoo, they are also purchasing the bottle but the cost of that bottle is not obvious. Packaging is clearly not free and when its cost is added up the average consumer spends an awful lot on single-use packaging. That is not simply a cost for consumers but a cost placed upon the environment.
Packaging must be recognised as a product
The spokesperson adds that packaging in it of itself is not bad, but consumers must recognise that it is a product and like all products consumers have the ability to make more informed decisions about whether it is worth the cost, if the cost is made obvious before purchasing it. If consumers were aware of what they paid for packaging, the research indicates they would prefer to purchase unpackaged products and reusable packaging options regardless of their attitude towards sustainability.
Price signaling would encourage manufacturers and retailers to discover methods of eliminating single-use packaging which would end up reducing costs for consumers and delivering environmental benefits. The report was released amidst growing worries regarding the cost to consumers and the environment of unnecessary single-use packaging. A recent BBC documentary series titled “War on Plastic” showed that when consumers in the UK sought to avoid plastic waste by purchasing their fruit and veg loose ended up being charged far more for their produce without packaging than the same bundle that was sold in packaged form.
They say charity is supposed to begin at home but that isn’t necessarily where it should end. According to the latest research fewer people in the UK donated to charity last year than in either of the previous couple of years. Generally speaking, the British are traditionally generous and when compared internationally perform very well in terms of giving.
Amount donated is stable
Last year the total amount donated by the UK was £10.1 billion and that figure has been stable for about ten years and the fact that fewer people were donating cash was offset by the fact that the number of people donating goods rather than cash has remained unchanged. Nevertheless, the fact that 43 per cent of those polled said they had not donated cash to charity over the previous twelve months and just 16 per cent said they donated their time is cause for concern.
Obviously donating to charity is not mandatory and for many people the ideal world would be one where the work they do was not necessary because their needs would be met by both the government and employers. The survey did not record which income groups had ceased donating to charity or their reasons why. However, given the backdrop of rising inequality, homelessness, the growing dependence on food banks along with cuts to health care and other public service, the only positive reason to reduce giving or stop altogether is that charities no longer need the cash, but that cannot be the whole story.
The authors of the report instead there are a combination of reasons behind the drop. Chief among them is a decline in trust following a spate of scandals recently involving charities. Other reasons include stricter data protection and fundraising rules plus a decision by many charities to focus on soliciting donations from existing donors instead of seeking out new ones. Household incomes are also under pressure with 22 per cent of people living in poverty which is a national disgrace.
Can’t fix what has been broken
Whilst there is limited research into academic research available surrounding philanthropy and fundraising, it is widely believed that poor people tend to be more generous than wealthier people in the sense they give a larger proportion of their incomes to charity. Charities cannot fix what has been broken, however since medical research and children are the two of the three most popular good causes with animals in third place, clearly, they have a role to play. The state does not have the resources to fund every single clinical trial and this means that specialists play an important role.
Generosity is a reflection of a healthy society
Over the last ten years there has been tremendous pressure placed on charities and the decline in number of donors is example of this trend with governance and other failures also playing a part. Donors may also feel a sense of pessimism regarding the sheer scale of the problems faced and the difficulties posed in addressing them. However, there should be no illusions about the importance of the organisations and whether or not they are indispensable. A healthy democracy needs a vibrant civil society and strong government with generosity being a healthy impulse.
Category: Guide Dogs For The Blind, News
If you have a low tolerance for cuteness and need to aww, then your tolerance will regularly be exceeded as you watch this heart-warming documentary. “Pick of the Litter” features five Labrador puppies that receive training to become guide dogs for the blind. Guide Dogs delivers over 800 puppies every year but only 300 end up actually being paired with a visually impaired or blind individual. The others who do not make the cut during the 20-month training process end up with a “career change” as the trainers put it.
When you watch the documentary, you will notice that each of the five labs have their personalities highlighted thanks to the name-tag graphic that appears every time they appear on screen. For the first 16-months the puppies are placed with civilian volunteers to help them socialise and with whom they learn basic skills from. One of the puppies, Patriot seems to have a love for attacking any object that is unusual is paired with a college student that has no experience.
Would have liked a deeper story
The only real criticism of the documentary is we wish that it didn’t focus on any compelling human narrative that would have told a deeper story about the relationship between human and animal. Eventually Patriot ends up being paired with a PTSD suffering army vet who insists his puppy is in fact a star, perhaps a reflection of his own needs. Apart from that all the volunteers appear to be anonymous which is a real shame.
Watching the puppies train
With so many puppies featured in the documentary there is little time for in depth familiarity with any of them before they eventually return to the shelter and embark on their formal training. This is where they learn the commands that that will be used during their working lives and must also learn how to be “intelligently disobedient”. This is where the guide dog must not comply with the command of its owner if the command were to endanger them. As some of the trainee guide dogs fail to make the cut, their career is montaged and then we are treated to a finale that is short on the stories of their new owners which we would have liked to have seen more of. Check out the trailer.
One out of every two people will develop cancer at some point in their lives. With those kinds of statistics, it can really feel like cancer is inevitable. Experts from Cancer Research UK have warned that diet has the same impact on cancer risk as alcohol with the latest research suggesting diets may be responsible for as many as 5 per cent of all cancer cases which is the same percentage of cancer cases associated with drinking alcohol.
Eat more carbs
The biggest dietary risk contributing towards cancer, is not eating enough whole grains aka carbohydrates. If you want to reduce the risk of cancer, then you should eat more whole grains, dairy, fruit & veg and reduce meat consumption, and eliminate sweetened drinks from your diet. Of the cancer cases related to diet 16 per cent were obese patients. 25 per cent of all people in the UK are obese and a third of all UK children are considered obese or overweight.
Half of the UK will be obese by 2030
If this trend continues, then estimates suggest by the year 2030, half of the UK population will be obese. Despite the significant improvements in cancer treatments obesity continues to fuel an increase in the number malignant tumour diagnoses. Researcher say the evidence that links low whole grain, low dairy and high processed or red meat to increases to the risk of bowel cancer.
Not enough fruit and veg
A lack of fruit and veg has a link to greater risk of mouth cancer whilst processed meat increases stomach cancer risk. Sugary drinks cause obesity that is associated with 13 types of cancer. Fizzy drinks, sports and energy drinks that have additional sweetening with sugar not only make use fatter but are thought to make us more prone to cancer the study determined.
Diet Coke not good either
The new study follows on the back of a report released earlier in the year that found that drinking diet coke every day increases the likelihood of early death from heart disease and cancer. In fact, sugary fizzy drinks were fond to increase the risk of early death by as much as 20 per cent and experts from Harvard think are also responsible for the increase in cancer cases.
Cancer risk increases
Whilst it is better to drink Diet Coke than the regular version, people who drink more than four a day still remain at risk of dying early. The study found that drinking just two fizzy drinks every day raised the risk of early death by 14 per cent and those who drank more than that increased their risk of early death by a fifth. They also have a 31 per cent higher change of dying early as a result of heart disease. Every additional drink consumed, raises the risk by an additional 10 per cent.
5 per cent of cancer cases are a result of obesity
According to Cancer Research UK more than one in 20 cancer cases are the result of obesity. For people seeking to reduce the risk of cancer, they should have a diet that consists of as much non processed whole food as possible. They should also try and consume fruit and veg about at least five times a day and keep their meat consumption to a minimum. Everything is about moderation though we cannot stress that one can never have enough veg. Also, it is worth noting that there are some cancers that cannot be avoided regardless of what you eat.
The Big Garden Birdwatch just celebrated its 40th anniversary and is an opportunity for people from every walk of life and age to count the number of birds that visit their gardens, helping the RSPB develop some kind of understanding of exactly how the birds are doing. This year, nearly 500,000 people throughout the UK participated and an astonishing 7.5 million birds were counted.
Last weekend of January
The Big Garden Birdwatch takes place every year on the last weekend in January and the results found that the number one species of bird in the UK continues to be the house sparrow. There were some decreases in sightings of long-tailed tits and wrens, both of which experienced double digit percentage drops after a large number of sightings in 2018. Their populations may have been affected by the cold weather last year known as the Beast from the East, and at this stage it is still to early to say whether this is a single blip or the start of a broad trend.
Working out the winners and losers
Over forty years the Big Garden Birdwatch has told us who the winners and losers are in the world of garden birds. The survey alerted the RSPB to the fact that thrush numbers were falling. The species used to be regularly ranked in the top ten during the seventies but by 2009 their numbers were half those recorded by 1979.
The rankings remain the same
The survey has recorded the good fortunes of some species such as the wood pigeon and goldfinch, whilst also demonstrating the alarming decline of house sparrows and starling. The news for these two species though does seem to be good. The house sparrow continues to remain the number one most commonly seen garden bird with over 1.2 million sightings of the species over the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch. Starling came in at second and the blue tit moved into third position.
School children took part
The country’s schoolchildren participated in RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch during the first half of Spring term. 60,000 school children participated in a UK-wide survey of birds on school grounds. Blackbirds ended up being the species of bird that most frequently seen with an average of eight per school and was seen in 89 per cent of the schools that participated.
Highlighting the crisis
Over the last half century there has been a crisis with the loss of over 40 million wild birds from the UK. In order to bring the crisis to the public attention RSPB released a special track of birdsong titled ‘Let Nature Sing’. The single contains some of the most recognisable birdsongs that could well disappear forever. It is a complication of beautiful sound recordings of bird songs plus some particularly resonant conservation stories. RSPB wants the public to download, stream and share the single to help it get it in the charts for the first time.
The cost of polluting the world’s oceans is in the billions of dollars every year in terms of damaged and lost resources according to the latest research. Plastic pollution negatively affects fisheries, recreational activities and global well being. It is also estimated that the benefit lost from the decline humans receive from the oceans is between 1-5 per cent and the cost of such benefits of the marine ecosystem could be up to an astonishing $2.5 trillion a year according to a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin.
Millions of tons enter the ocean every year
It is thought that the waste generated by plastic costs as much as $33,000 per ton in reduced environmental value and about 8 million tons of plastic enter into the world’s oceans each year. Dr Nicola Beaumont who led the study says the study was the first to investigate the social and economic impact of plastics in the oceans. She adds the calculation was the first attempt at pricing plastic.
The true cost could be much higher
More research is required to refine the calculation but Dr Beaumont says the team is convinced the current figure is an underestimate of the real cost to global society. This is because they do not account for the direct and indirect impacts on the tourism, transport, fisheries health and human health. Plastic pollution is a global problem and can be found everywhere from the most populated coastlines on the planet to the most remote.
The creation of invasive species
Plastic negatively impacts all species from zooplankton all the way up to mammals and birds. Plastic continues to float for decades and can’t travel more than 3,000 kilometres from its point origin. The result is the creation of new habitats for bacteria and algae which risk the spread of invasive species and diseases. Experts say the research is the first attempt at showing the holistic impact of plastic pollution. There has been a massive increase in US plastic waste shipments to developing countries after China banned imports.
By putting a value on the huge tangible and intangible costs that are associated with marine plastic waste, it becomes possible to develop a strategy for devoting resources and attention to protecting the oceans do that future generations can enjoy them in the same way we have. Dr Beaumont says she hopes the study would push services to streamline themselves and address the problem of plastic pollution by making better informed decisions.
The cost of recycling is minimal
It costs just a few hundred dollars to recycle a ton of plastic compared to the thousands of dollars into the marine environment. Carbon is now traded in order to price it and cut the amount that is released into the atmosphere. This means it should be possible to do the same thing with plastic. The authors of the study hope that the results will highlight the reality of the problem that is plastic pollution in human terms.
WWF has partnered with Sky Ocean Rescue to launch an autonomous marine robot that will be used to clear the North Devon Ilfracombe harbour of waste. The vehicle is known as The WasteShark and will travel up to 5 kilometres in the water where it will scoop up pollutants such as oils, microplastics and plastics. If WasteShark is used five days every week it has the ability to scoop up more than 15 tonnes of waster every year and the plastic it collects can be recycled.
This is the first time an autonomous robot is being used in the UK, though WasteShark has been successfully deployed in five countries. The robot was developed and built by RanMarine Technology and is the first autonomous marine robot with the capability to consume waste and collect data. The robot has been designed not to impact the environment as is navigates its way through the water. It emits zero carbon, noise or light pollution and does not pose any threat to wildlife.
Plastic pollution is catastrophic on wildlife
Eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the ocean every year and that is nothing short of catastrophic for wildlife. 90 per cent of the planet’s seabirds have plastic pieces contained in their stomachs. The work WWF is doing with Sky Ocean will improve the health of the seas around the UK. This also includes Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which despite their official designation as being environmentally important faces a number of threats from issues such as plastic pollution.
Marine Protected Area
Ilfracombe Harbour is located within an MPA that serves as home to a diverse range of species and boasts some of the most beautiful and incredible wildlife in the UK. This includes grey seals, pink sea fan corals. The effort to collect all the waste that pollutes the harbour will help prevent the immediate area from being damaged and being taken out to sea which would pose a threat to the important wildlife in the surrounding MPA’s.
The WasteShark has the ability to do its job for up to eight hours on a single charge. It runs on GPS which allows it to navigate towards hotspots where waste collects and operators can program and monitor its path remotely. Not only does the autonomous robot remove waste, but the WasteShark is able to collect important data about the marine environment.
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.
The RSPB was instrumental in the successful prosecution of a game-keeper who shot and killed two owls. Timothy Cowin was charged with the intentional killing of two owls that are a protected species, the short-eared owl. Mr Cowin plead guilty to both charges as well as an additional charge of possessing weapons that could be used to commit offenses against wild birds. He was fined a total £1,210 for all the charges he was found guilty of after appearing in Lancaster Magistrates Court.
Conviction is a stark warning to others
The North Yorkshire Police who partnered with RSPB issued a stark warning to others who feel inclined to commit crimes against wildlife. A police spokesperson said the latest conviction represents yet another step in the fight against crimes against protected species of birds. The conviction of Timothy Cowin is the first time a raptor prosecution case has been successful in court after many years and the police are proud of the officers who worked hard to make the case.
The spokesperson added that whilst on the surface things seemed rather straightforward, in fact the case was rather complicated as a result of matters of law. According to judgement, on April 19th last year, RSPB officers visited the area Mr Cowin worked in as a game-keeper and saw him walking along the moor with a gun in hand. One of the officers saw Mr Cowin shoot and kill two short-eared owls and watched him dispose of their bodies on the moor. The RSPB officers immediately contacted the police and after a short pursuit, the police were able to detain Mr Cowin and arrest him.
Probably not the first time
Both of the owl corpses were collected and taken for post mortem which confirmed the cause of death had been a bullet wound. Mr Cowin also was found in possession of a Fox Pro calling device which is used to lure prey. Mr Cowin’s vehicle was seized as a result. The police spokesperson adds that not only did Mr Cowin let himself down but has tarred his former profession negatively. His actions are likely to have an impact for a number of years. The police say they will continue to take action to ensure the laws are obeyed.
RSPB grateful to police
A spokesperson for the RSPB said that the organisation has received several disturbing reports over the years from the hunting community alleging that short-eared owls were being systematically targeted on the grouse moors in Northern England. The spokesperson adds the way these spectacular birds were premeditatedly flushed shot and then hidden is shocking. He concluded by saying RSPB is incredibly grateful for the immediate response of the police to a location that is considered remote at best.