WE MUST NOT LOOK AWAY
(the video above contains distressing footage)

In light of the recent, utterly heartbreaking footage of a small, lifeless child being washed up on the beach amid the largest humanitarian crisis since World War 2, I have reprinted below a small piece I published the other day. Little Aylan was washed up on the Turkish shore yesterday. The child and his mother, who also tragically drowned, were fleeing from the clutches of ISIS (IS/ISIL) with the breaths of these barbaric monsters on the backs of their necks as they sought refuge- essentially as refugees fleeing any other conflict.

Why are they less important? Less important than the persecuted Jews of the Holocaust? Less important than children of the London Blitz escaping to Wales? If anyone feels this humanitarian disaster is just about “immigrants”, not refugees, they should look at that footage again.

Europe seems to have no clear, strong leadership. The problem of this ridiculous ‘not in my back yard’ (NIMBY) mentality continues. European government leaders seem to be showing little to no compassion, and few if any, will allow these desperate individuals to settle. There is a clear difference between economic migrants and those in genuine humanitarian need. We, and government leaders, must not look away. The time to act has passed, but it is still not too late.

I don’t know if I’m right, and of course I don’t have the solution. But I know that this situation fundamentally wrong and unbearably heartless. I have to be honest and admit that I had tears in my eyes when I saw the pictures of little Aylan washed up on the shore. And I felt enough is enough, it is time I did something. We all need to do something.

We could simply start by visiting this link:
http://goo.gl/gk49e3

The global community is witnessing – or is involved in the biggest mass exodus and movement of refugees from modern day war-torn countries since World War 2. All of these fleeing human beings have unshakable faith and desperate hope to simply to be safe and migrate to our western countries, and yes, we really can afford to support them. Yet, the western world looks away, in the most colossally destructive, compassionately redundant, heartbreaking way. The cringe inducing phrase ‘Not In My Back Yard’ is back, bigger and fiercer than ever. The NIMBY’s who self-censor their own view of the difficult to watch TV news reports: “oh why must they put this on during our dinner. It really does put me off eating.” They live among us, from every socioeconomic background, every faith, every family, every village, town, city, country. They’re everywhere, and it’s starting to feel like it’s becoming everyone. This must not happen. We need to heal our hearts of the hardness, educate our stale & engrained viewpoints and be aware of journalistic misinformation. We can all do more, and it only starts with one.

The photo above [see original article] shows a Syrian mother trying to hold her baby, engulfed by a life jacket after swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, all the while holding her little boys head above the water for gulps of air, before mercifully being rescued. Tens of thousands more do not make it.

Imagine this is your little boy – he’s no different to any 8 year old anywhere.

According to the UN, the vast majority of refugees have fled from Syria, where an estimated 220,000 to more than 300,000 people have been killed during its appalling and escalating war. The lack of compassion from many westerners that have been dumbed-down by xenophobic narratives in the mainstream media has been appalling. For once in your life, think for yourself! These people are human beings, our brothers and sisters who are in a perilous and desperate situation (largely caused by imperialism) that require urgent assistance!

Refugees don’t hide their taxes in the Cayman Islands; Refugees don’t privatise the National Health Service; Refugees don’t influence government cuts to spending; And Refugees don’t scrape together their life savings, leave their loved ones behind, bribe and fight and struggle their way onto the undercarriage of a train, or into a tiny hidden compartment of a lorry with forty other people, watch their friends and loved ones die or get raped, all for the express purpose of bragging about earning £67.46 a week.
Imagine waking your children in the morning, feeding and dressing them, pulling a little girl’s hair into a ponytail, arguing with a little boy about which pair of shoes he wants to wear. Now imagine, as you are doing that, you know later today you will strap their vulnerable bodies into enveloping life jackets and take them with you in a rubber dinghy – through waters which have claimed many who have done the same. Think of the story you’d have to tell to reassure them. Think of trying to make it fun. Consider the emotional strength needed to smile at them and conceal your fear.
Try and envisage how it would feel like when that experience – your frantic flight from war – was then diminished by a vicious, dishonest media that crudely labelled you and your family “migrants,” as if you were a scourge on society. Imagine having little to no voice in countering this description of you so commonly used by governments and journalists.

The global community is witnessing – or is involved in the biggest mass exodus and movement of refugees from modern day war-torn countries since World War 2. All of these fleeing human beings have unshakable faith and desperate hope to simply to be safe and migrate to our western countries, and yes, we really can afford to support them. Yet, the western world looks away, in the most colossally destructive, compassionately redundant, heartbreaking way. The cringe inducing phrase ‘Not In My Back Yard’ is back, bigger and fiercer than ever. The NIMBY’s who self-censor their own view of the difficult to watch TV news reports: “oh why must they put this on during our dinner. It really does put me off eating.” They live among us, from every socioeconomic background, every faith, every family, every village, town, city, country. They’re everywhere, and it’s starting to feel like it’s becoming everyone. This must not happen. We need to heal our hearts of the hardness, educate our stale & engrained viewpoints and be aware of journalistic misinformation. We can all do more, and it only starts with one.

The photo above shows a Syrian mother trying to hold her baby, engulfed by a life jacket after swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, all the while holding her little boys head above the water for gulps of air, before mercifully being rescued. Tens of thousands more do not make it.

Imagine this is your little boy – he’s no different to any 8 year old anywhere.

According to the UN, the vast majority of refugees have fled from Syria, where an estimated 220,000 to more than 300,000 people have been killed during its appalling and escalating war. The lack of compassion from many westerners that have been dumbed-down by xenophobic narratives in the mainstream media has been appalling. For once in your life, think for yourself! These people are human beings, our brothers and sisters who are in a perilous and desperate situation (largely caused by imperialism) that require urgent assistance!!

Refugees don’t hide their taxes in the Cayman Islands; Refugees don’t privatise the National Health Service; Refugees don’t influence government cuts to spending; And Refugees don’t scrape together their life savings, leave their loved ones behind, bribe and fight and struggle their way onto the undercarriage of a train, or into a tiny hidden compartment of a lorry with forty other people, watch their friends and loved ones die or get raped, all for the express purpose of bragging about earning £67.46 a week.

Imagine waking your children in the morning, feeding and dressing them, pulling a little girl’s hair into a ponytail, arguing with a little boy about which pair of shoes he wants to wear. Now imagine, as you are doing that, you know later today you will strap their vulnerable bodies into enveloping life jackets and take them with you in a rubber dinghy – through waters which have claimed many who have done the same. Think of the story you’d have to tell to reassure them. Think of trying to make it fun. Consider the emotional strength needed to smile at them and conceal your fear.

Try and envisage how it would feel like when that experience – your frantic flight from war – was then diminished by a vicious, dishonest media that crudely labelled you and your family “migrants,” as if you were a scourge on society. Imagine having little to no voice in countering this description of you so commonly used by governments and journalists.

[photo credit: Associated Press (before editing)]

Compassion is Key to Elderly Care – Download the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People Report

Being compassionate should be as important as being clever when it comes to the recruitment of staff to care for the elderly, experts say.
[download the full report at the end of this article]

The recommendation was one of a series made by the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People to improve standards in hospitals and care homes in England.
The group said too many vulnerable people were currently being “let down”.

The review comes after a series of critical reports into elderly care.
Cases of neglect have been documented by the likes of the Health Service Ombudsman and Patients Association in the past year.

And so the commission was set up by Age UK, the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association to set out a blueprint for how the NHS and social care sector should tackle the issue.
‘Patronising language’

In total, the commission published 48 draft recommendations which will be consulted on over the next month before a final action plan is published in the summer.
The measures cover issues such as making dignity a priority at board level, encouraging staff at all levels to challenge bad practice and ensuring patronising language, such as “old dear”, is not used.

The report said language which denigrates older people should be as unacceptable as racist or sexist terms.
Another key recommendation involved the role of ward sisters, which the report said should be given the authority by management to take action when standards slip.

But it is the issue of staff training which there will be most focus on. There have been suggestions in the past that nurse training has become too academic.
Some places have started to trial ways of testing the emotional intelligence and bedside manner of students.

The commission said it should become commonplace for universities and professional bodies to take into account compassionate values as much as they do qualifications.
Sir Keith Pearson, co-chairman of the commission, said: “We’ve been deeply saddened by the reports highlighting the undignified care of older people in our hospitals and care homes.

"In too many cases, people have been let down when they were vulnerable and most needed help. We want this report to be a call to arms.”
But Peter Cater, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, suggested the most important factor when it came to standards was ensuring there were enough staff.

“It is absolutely critical that hospitals and care homes employ safe numbers of nurses with the correct skill mix. This is the key challenge that must be met.”
Roswyn Hakesley-Brown, of the Patients Association, said the recommendations were a “step forward”.

But she added without action on the ground it would be of no comfort to the people “who contact our helpline every day to tell us their loved ones are being left without adequate pain relief, are not being helped to eat and drink or who are left to lie in their own faeces because a nurse says she is too busy to help them to the toilet”.
Care services minister Paul Burstow said the commission had made some good recommendations and he would be looking to work with the group to improve standards.

[[posterous-content:OpF5BoGG1qPNRdMCLC41]]

More information:

http://www.nhsconfed.org/priorities/Quality/Partnership-on-dignity/Pages/Draftreportrecommendations.aspx

‘Sunday Girl’ Phillipa Alexander has a Sunday baby – and a hit song from Mail on Sunday Ad (includes free mp3 download)

She was an unknown session artist until she left thousands transfixed
by singing Blondie’s Sunday Girl on television adverts for The Mail on
Sunday’s You magazine last week.

Now Phillipa Alexander is celebrating the success of the song with a
Sunday Girl of her own.

Phillipa recorded the track for the advert just days before giving
birth to her daughter Priya. And, appropriately, the little girl came
into the world on a Sunday. ‘The song is ­obviously nothing to do with mother­hood, but to have
given birth to my own Sunday girl and to have sung it while she was
still inside me feels like a special and very sweet coincidence,’ said
Phillipa.

Her song is used on a series of adverts whose theme is ‘You time’ –
the precious moment of the day when readers retreat with their
magazine. The Mail on Sunday was inundated with requests to know who the singer
is – and is now making the complete track available as a free
download.

The musical arrangement to Sunday Girl was masterminded by M&C Saatchi
agency composer Alex Ball. Although not a household name, Phillipa,
38, has impersonated ­singers from Nina Simone to Billie Holiday and
provided voiceover performances for clients including Levi’s, Lynx and
L’Oreal. ‘I am a huge fan of Blondie,’ said Phillipa. ‘Heart Of Glass is my
fav­ourite Blondie song.’

Phillipa moved from Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, to America when she
was seven after her father Colin got an engineering job in San Diego. Her creative ambitions were encouraged by her mother, Wendy, an artist
and illustrator.

Phillipa enjoyed success as a session singer before moving back to
Brighton with her family at 21. There she met her husband, music
producer Sanj Sen, 35, in 1999. He suggested a career doing voice­overs for advertisements, and seven
years ago she joined Calypso voice­over agency.

As well as her singing and voice­over work, Phillipa runs a successful
songwriting business, Chicks With Hits, with friend Ellie Wyatt. Their
songs have been heard on hit U.S. shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and
Desperate Housewives, and they are currently trying to secure a record
deal for their latest artist, Larissa Eddie, and her band, Eddie. But Phillipa’s priority now lies with her gorgeous baby girl.

‘Holding her for the first time was the most incredible experience,’
she said. ‘Priya is adorable, although running my own businesses at
the same time is tough. I am constantly juggling. I am hoping she will
teach me to relax more.’ Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1305022/Sunday-Girl-Sunday-baby–hi…

On Depression & Getting Help by Rob Delaney

The passing of Andrew Koenig prompted me to write this, but it’s something that will apply to plenty of people.

I have dealt with suicidal, unipolar depression and I take medication daily to treat it. Over the past seven years, I’ve had two episodes that were severe and during which I thought almost exclusively of suicide. I did not eat much and lost weight during these episodes. I couldn’t sleep at all, didn’t even think about sex, and had constant diarrhea. My mind played one thought over and over, which was “Kill yourself.” It was also accompanied by a constant, thrumming pain that I felt through my whole body. I describe the physical symptoms because it helps to understand that real depression isn’t just a “mood.” These two episodes were the most difficult experiences of my life, by a wide margin, and I did not know if I would make it through them. To illustrate how horrible it was, being in jail in a wheelchair with four broken limbs after the car accident that prompted me to get sober eight years ago was much, much easier and less painful. That isn’t an exxageration and I hope it helps people understand clinical depression better. I’m saying that I would rather be in jail in a wheelchair with a body that doesn’t work than experience a severe episode of depression.To clarify the timeline, I got sober eight years ago and my first episode of depression was seven years ago. I had been in talk-therapy with a psychologist for months and was getting used to life without booze. It’s my understanding that it’s not terribly rare for someone in early sobriety to get depressed. I started to exhibit the symptoms I described above and had no idea what was happening. My psychologist urged me to see a psychiatrist, as did my family, among whom alcoholism and depression are old pals, so to speak. Everyone wanted me to go on medication, except me. I felt that it would be “weak” to do so and that I could soldier through and get a handle on it. But everything got worse and it was terrifying. Most of my thoughts were telling me to kill myself and I began fantasizing constantly about suicide. The images of my head being blown apart by a shotgun blast or me swimming out into the ocean until I got tired and drowned played over and over in my head. My whole body hurt, all the time.
Fortunately, a tiny part of me recognized my thought process as “crazy.” I knew that if anyone other than me was describing these symptoms I would lovingly handcuff them and take them to the hospital and help the shit out of them, whether they liked it or not. So I tried very hard to step out of myself and look at the situation with a modicum of objectivity and “imagine” that I was someone who deserved help.
Quite literally I thought, “I don’t think anyone else would shoot me with a shotgun, so maybe, temporarily, I’ll postpone that and try this Lexapro that everyone who knows me is recommending.” It worked. It wasn’t magical, but it addressed some chemical issues in my brain that allowed me, gradually, to feel better and actually experience my life. I ate again, slept again, got boners when I encounted attractive women, and made normal number twos when I went to the bathroom. I didn’t and don’t feel euphoric all the time or anything. I still get angry, sad, and afraid sometimes. But I also get happy, excited, and horny too. I experience the full range of human emotions, rather than just one horrible one.
Just under eighteen months ago, after a couple of years of both my marriage and my decision to pursue comedy full-time, I experimented with a lower dose of medication and had another episode. It was as bad or worse than the first one, but thankfully I had some idea of how to deal with it. This episode drove home the knowledge that, like alchoholism, depression demands respect and attention. Whether it’s a “good” thing or a “bad” thing, I cannot pretend to know, but it exists and it can kill you dead.
My psychiatrist adjusted my dose and I got feeling better over time. If you know me personally, all this information may surprise you, as I think I generally have a pretty sunny demeanor. For most of my life, I’ve been a happy, optimistic guy. But for whatever reason, I’ve had depression of a serious, life-threatening nature rear its head a couple of times.

The sole reason I’ve written this is so that someone who is depressed or knows someone who is depressed might see it. While great strides have been made in mental health over the years, certain stigmas still exist. I strongly resisted medication at first. But after having been through depression and having had the wonderful good fortune to help a couple of people who’ve been through it, I will say that as hard as it is, IT CAN BE SURVIVED. And after the stabilization process, which can be and often is fucking terrifying, a HAPPY PRODUCTIVE LIFE is possible and statistically likely. Get help. Don’t think. Get help.Reprinted with permission of the author ~ 
© Rob Delaney 2010
http://robdelaney.tumblr.com/mobile/post/414007899

Image © Ryan Price 2010 (self portrait)

In Sound: The Salvation Army Band Play on Gallowtree Gate, Leicester – Christmas 2010

I recorded this on the 11th December 2010 at 14:43 – a bright, winter afternoon in Leicester city centre. The Salvation Army played Christmas Carols to shoppers on Gallowtree Gate. My last Christmas in Leicester.

In memory of George Thomas Brown
12th April 1920 ~ 11th December 1999

Jesus on Toast

British artist Adam Sheldon recreated Jesus’ crucifixion using some pieces of burned toast and a scraping knife. His work of art is now on display at the Anglican Church of St Peter, in Lincoln. 33-year-old Adam Sheldon took on the project at the request of his mother, who worships at St. Peter’s Church. Before starting work on his 1.8 ,meters long, 1.1 meters wide masterpiece, Adam scraped the Last Supper on three pieces of toast, to perfect his technique.

He used a regular toaster to burn the pieces of bread, then dried and flattened them so they would fit in a giant frame. Using a scraping knife he managed to create the lighter parts of the artwork, and darkened the background with a blowtorch.At first, the reverend and parishioners were stunned by Sheldon’s creation, because they didn’t expect something this original, but now they’re thrilled to have such art on the walls of their church. The artwork was so skillfully scraped, some believed it was actually painted on tiles, before realizing the tiles are really pieces of bread.

The toast crucifixion of Jesus was on display at the Anglican Church of Saint Peter until January 30 2010.

Act Aware: World Aids Day – 1st December 2010 – Take Action

Act Aware

TAKE ACTION ON 1ST DECEMBER ‘10

Over 90,000 people are living with HIV in the UK and new infections continue every year. World AIDS Day 2010 is all about raising awareness to tackle HIV prejudice and help stop the spread of HIV.

This year, (RED) launches the most important campaign to date.

For the first time since AIDS arrived on the scene, we have a chance to realize, in the next 5 years, a whole generation born AIDS free. This goal is achievable through continued funding from the global health community, including the Global Fund.As a way to educate people about the goal and create a rallying cry to help achieve it, (RED) have enlisted numerous street artists, painters, illustrators, photographers and sculptors to provide their creative interpretation of an AIDS Free Generation born in 2015. Each artist chose a headline and incorporated a unique take on “2015”.  We are launching with 10 artists, but many more will follow in the months to come.

The best way to understand the reality of living with HIV in the UK today is to read true accounts written by people with HIV.People are often surprised to hear that what it is really like to live with HIV. Advances in treatment mean that many people diagnosed today can expect a near normal life expectancy if they get diagnosed early and take treatment correctly. However side effects of daily treatment can have an impact. For many people with HIV it is the social consequences that can have the biggest impact – dealing with prejudice, money worries or how to tell friends and family.

The stories below have been submitted from people living with or affected by HIV. Each person explains in their own words the impact HIV has had on their own lives.Whether you have a family member or friend that is affected by HIV, or are HIV-positive and want to tell people what it’s really like to live with HIV – we’d like you to share your story. Real stories, whether positive or negative, help build a true picture of HIV in the UK today and increase public understanding:

View real stories from people living with HIV and hear them explain in their own words the impact HIV has on their lives. These videos messages include stories from Gary, Steve and Adrienne who tell us about late diagnosis, long term medication and stigma and disclosure.
 
Gary – Late diagnosis

Steve – Long term medication

Adrienne – Stigma and disclosure

A special message from Annie Lennox:

Now visit these links, please:
www.worldaidsday.org
www.joinred.com

Do Something