Hinterland - 11 September 2018

This week social prescribing, the impact of austerity on kids and more widely on local government, animal welfare, tractor drivers who need to show a little more consideration and drinking in men’s sheds- something I routinely do at the end of my garden. Read on.....

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NHS should expand 'social prescribing', says health secretary

Jessica and I are massive fans of social prescribing.  We’re working with a group of practitioners in Lincolnshire to set the evaluation framework for a pilot in our patch and its very exciting. I was therefore very pleased to read this article, which tells us:

Doctors and nurses should routinely tell patients to take part in sports and social activities rather than prescribing them drugs, the new health secretary has recommended.

Matt Hancock backed a dramatic expansion of “social prescribing” as a way of relieving the pressure on the NHS as well as improving patients’ chances of recovering from their illness.

GPs in particular are increasingly advising patients, especially those who are isolated or have certain mental health problems, such as depression, to take part in activities including bingo and gardening, instead of simply writing them a prescription.

 “There is a growing evidence base that social prescribing can be better for patients than medicine. Of course there will also be medicine prescribed – and rightly so – but I want to see the balance shifted in favour of social prescribing,” Hancock said in a speech at the NHS Expo in Manchester, NHS England’s annual showcase of innovation in patient care.

“The nature of social prescribing is that what you’re prescribing is a social activity, so of course, anybody can suggest to somebody that they do a social activity. My wife regularly tells me to do more exercise. But what I really care about is ensuring that within the NHS it is normal practice to consider a formal social prescription and that the growing evidence base for the value of social prescribing is taken on board by practitioners,” he added.


Four million UK children too poor to have a healthy diet, study finds

This is a shocking indictment of the society we live in. It tells us:

Almost 4 million children in the UK live in households that would struggle to afford to buy enough fruit, vegetables, fish and other healthy foods to meet the official nutrition guidelines, a groundbreaking food poverty study reveals.

The research, by the Food Foundation thinktank, says the diminishing ability of low-income families to pay for healthy food is consigning the least well-off to a greater risk of diet related illness, such as obesity and diabetes, as well as widening health inequalities across society.

The poorest fifth of families would have to set aside more than 40% of their total weekly income after housing costs to satisfy the requirements of the government’s Eatwell guide, the study finds.

The authors of the report have called on ministers to increase welfare benefit payments and ensure healthy foods are made more widely available and affordable to low-income households, for instance through maternity food vouchers and universal free school meals.


The Guardian view on public services: the state has abandoned its responsibilities

Tony Travers spoke brilliantly about the challenges facing local government at the RSN Conference this week. One of the other speakers said “graph of doom again – get used to it..” My answer is NO!!!! This article tells us:

Austerity was sold to the British public as the only way to shore up our feeble national finances. Cutting public spending, voters were told, might make the UK a bit meaner. But if there was a social price to pay for this less generous approach to public spending, it would be easily outweighed by the benefits of making the UK into a leaner and more prosperous place.

It didn’t work. Eight years on, the economy remains anaemic and, while unemployment is low, under-employment and low pay are widespread. Meanwhile, the true costs of many of the cuts are only now being fully revealed. Unemployment support and the other payments that make up the UK’s system of social security were the number one target for reductions in spending, with legal aid and grants to local councils not far behind. Figures produced last year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that the Department for Work and Pensions will have had a real-terms cut in its budget of almost 50% between 2010-11 and 2019-20. And local government leaders warn that they face a financial black hole, with county councils citing a £3.2bn funding gap over the next two years.


Animal welfare campaigners fear Michael Gove could backtrack on pledge to ban live exports after Brexit

Whilst I eat meat animal welfare is massively important to me. We must not slide back on this!

The government could be preparing to backtrack on a key post-Brexit pledge on animal welfare – a ban on live exports, campaigners fear.

They are lobbying environment secretary Michael Gove to stick with his plan to halt exports of live farm animals for slaughter.

And the curb should be widened to exclude a potential loophole that would allow the trade to continue, activists say – sheep and cattle sent abroad for further fattening.

Otherwise unscrupulous dealers could be exporting farm animals for slaughter under the guise of fattening.

Official figures show that each year at least 4,000 sheep are transported from the UK to Europe for slaughter, with an estimated 6,000 calves exported from Northern Ireland.

Animal lovers celebrated when, in April and May, Mr Gove held a public consultation on a proposed ban of living creatures for slaughter. They had battled for years to highlight the cramped, unnatural conditions on export trucks during long journeys with insufficient water in often sweltering temperatures.

But now environment and food officials have asked advisers on the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) to review the conditions animals are subjected to during long-distance live transport and to make recommendations on improving them.

Campaigners from charity Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) say this raises suspicions that the government may be backing away from a ban on the “cruel and completely unnecessary” practice.


Farmer Focus: Farmers are not above the rules of the road

Great story – and so say all of us!!!

A couple of weeks ago Hertfordshire Police posted on social media about some checks they carried out on farm machinery on roads.

The results weren’t great – two tractors had to be escorted off the road to have their issues addressed immediately, and most of the others had a fault of some kind.

Unfortunately they didn’t receive a good response from farmers, with many questioning why they were doing it, and claiming it was a waste of police resources.

Some even went as far as to say that because the police haven’t caught farm thieves or hare coursers then they shouldn’t stop tractors on the road.

I make no apologies for saying that if you questioned, or claimed the police were wrong to check farm machinery for roadworthiness, then it is you who is wrong.

With farming needing to make a vast improvement to its health and safety record, increasingly busy roads, and the fact that it is the law to have functioning lights, brakes and a visible number plate, it is about time the industry sorted itself out.

If everything is up to scratch and road legal, there is nothing to worry about – if it isn’t, don’t take it on the road. The cost to make it roadworthy isn’t an excuse – even if you only go a few miles, it could be deadly.


And Finally….

Meet the Shed of the Year contenders who've built pubs in their back gardens

If men are from Mars – you’ll find them in a shed. This article tells us:

If you think your significant other spends too much time in the shed, then look away now. Look down the garden, where he or she might be attempting to emulate the standout entrants from this year’s Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition: the pub sheds.

A brief note on the rest of the competition before we take a look at the magical fusion of shed and pub. Shed of the Year, a competition that has been running annually since 2007, ­attracted 2,971 entries this year, and from these the organisers selected 24 entrants, across eight categories, for the public vote. The categories were eco sheds, cabin and summerhouse sheds, workshop and studio sheds, budget sheds, historic sheds, pub and entertainment...


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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