BBC Young Reporter 2021
*Please click on the dropdowns below to read our BBC Young Reporter Articles 2021 - 11/03/2021
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the stress on both private and NHS hospitals has increased rapidly. As a result, some of the UK population (10.5%) believe they can get better healthcare and faster processing for elective (pre-scheduled and sometimes optional) surgeries if they pay money for it - private insurance. Could this be the truth?
There are numerous reasons why a family or individual will make the decision to invest into private medical insurance. It is all dependent on their situation but most commonly includes:
- They believe to be getting a better standard of healthcare
- Could be seen to quicker than they would be through the NHS
- They are in need of a procedure that is unavailable on the NHS
One key factor to their decision would be the waiting times on the NHS. Whilst your procedure may be free of cost, it may take weeks for the NHS to get you an appointment / slot. For many living in the UK this is an obstacle they are not willing to face when their loved ones need medical attention. Most private health insurance plans will now give you access to a virtual GP. As a result, you could be seen faster and get your treatment in motion at a quicker pace.
However, there will still be a sizeable amount of the population that will disagree and stay with the NHS. This may be because they believe in the NHS’s values over the private companies’; they are unable to pay the tariff that is supposedly the privilege of private health care; they simply prefer the format and the environment of the NHS and their staff and / or they are not eligible for certain treatment on private insurance policies.
Additionally, another factor that may cause people to switch to private care is the belief the quality and standard of healthcare will increase with the amount of money they pay. Many with medical insurance have the belief that, because they pay more for their healthcare than the standard tax to run the NHS, the doctors that treat them will provide higher standards and quality of treatment than when they work on the NHS.
On the other hand, the population that are pro NHS are pleased by the standard of care they receive. They know the amount of pressure that the health service is constantly under, especially with the ongoing pandemic. The NHS is a valued service nationally. This was seen when - collectively as a nation in lockdown - every Thursday at 8 pm everyone clapped for the NHS to show their support and how grateful they were for this service.
Even with the two different views, the doctors who work for the NHS tend to be contracted to the private companies also. This means that the standard of care, treatment and quality is equal for all patients no matter if they are private or on the NHS.
A final factor that may be included in making the decision between private insurance and the NHS is what treatments are covered. This refers to whether you can have a procedure done depending on what the insurance company or NHS provide. Whilst private insurance offers a wide range of treatments and procedures, there are still things that won’t be covered for, examples include:
- Pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses
- Pregnancy, childbirth and most related conditions
- Any treatments or practices that are experimental, unproven or unregistered
Additionally, if you have private insurance, emergency healthcare will not be covered for. It is also a lesser-known fact that if a private patient becomes critically ill in a private hospital, the patient is likely to be transferred to an NHS hospital to receive emergency care. This is because the NHS have many specialist hospitals that pioneer in areas such as paediatric (children) care, cardiac (heart) care and oncology (cancer) care.
To summarise, private medical insurance offers a range of care and in some cases can process your procedure at a quicker pace, whilst the NHS provides an equally wide range of procedures and gives the nation the emergency care that it needs. However, in terms of which is better for your health care, it is up to you and your family to decide which suits your medical needs better.
Sources of information:
A brief history of autism
Autism was acknowledged by Leo Kanner in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1943. He was a renowned child psychiatrist, but he was only referred the most severe cases. He described their behaviours as ‘abnormal’ and classified their condition as rare “autistic disturbance of affective contact”. What he noticed is now called 'early infantile autism’.
Some of Kanner’s team members who helped him develop his theory arrived the years before after they escaped Nazis in Europe. They were working for Hans Asperger in Vienna, Austria. The purpose of the Viennese clinic was to help children with behavioural difficulties but special skills to achieve their potential. Hence the name of Asperger Syndrome for the most able people on the autistic spectrum. This team was the first to look at autism as a multi factorial syndrome. Sadly, Asperger ended up using this information in negative ways to the benefit of the Nazi movement, but that is a whole different topic.
In 1966, Victor Lotter published a study about the same pattern coming up with an average of 4.5 per 10,000 children with the behaviour. Finally, in 1979 the last broad point on autism was made by scientist and psychiatrists alike: behaviours varied and there were different types of autisms apparent. Since then, the following information was collected and developed.
What is the autism?
Autism isn’t a medical condition or an illness. According to the NHS website, ‘It means your brain works in a different way from other people’. Healthwise, autistic people are just like others, however, they have lowered and amplified capabilities when responding to the world around them. This means that they can be more sensitive to sounds and bright lighting but struggle with social events and communicating with others. With this in mind, THERE ARE NO SPECIFIC SYMPTOMS TO AUTISM: some are still very much capable of being social with the people around them and others, unlike what is thought by most, are not necessarily above the average intelligence. This, along with all other traits, can vary. I asked a few people what they thought autism was and ended up with, as an anonymous year 9 student said the answer of ‘I think autism is a spectrum disorder which challenges the ability to socialise and communicate’. They are not wrong, but they are not right either. This brings us to the next point.
The autistic spectrum
So, what is the spectrum? Amber, a year 8 student said that she thinks ‘that the spectrum is used to measure the seriousness of someone’s autism or to see how much it is effecting them and for the family to understand what is going on inside their head’ She is making a valuable point that I will build on now.
The spectrum is a visual representation of autism. The spectrum is, essentially, a multifactorial presentation because every autistic person is different. These people can then be classified under types of autism due to the capabilities that are affected and how badly or positively. Therefore, there isn’t such thing as ‘more’ or ‘less’ autism.
This graphic shows a misconception about the spectrum and an idea of what it could actually look like.
Amongst the different types of autisms are some in which the individual needs little or no support. However, some variants make the individual incapable of living a regular lifestyle without the help of others. This creates misunderstandings in which people believe that some autists are ‘more autist’ than others. This, as is shown in the graphic below the first, is wrong.
The spectrum is represented as a wheel sliced in different capabilities. Individuals are then placed higher or lower on each slice according to their response to each capability. This applies to everyone, not just autists, however, non-autistic people will find themselves placed in the middle or average for each part, whether as, and this is what makes them, autists will find themselves away from the average and higher or lower for each characteristic slice. I asked a few people if they would rather have very high capabilities in some subjects but really low on others or have a rough average on all of them and got an interesting array of answers. Many simply stated that it would be more efficient and easier to build on a rough average in their capabilities however some preferred the high and low capabilities route. Amongst these was Ellie in year 7: ‘I would rather have high capabilities on some subjects because I’d rather have something I’m really good and confident at rather than be average on all things.’ Both groups of people make a point for this instance however what about real spectrum disorders? How do they really effect people and how do they vary from one another?
We’ve talked about there being variants, yes. But what are they and what makes them? Many have taken upon the idea of variants being in the form of an umbrella from the ones in which less assistance is needed to the ones in which the most is. The umbrella and its variants is essentially made up of developmental disorders, so they count as autistic troubles, but they are, as described with autism as an overall topic, all different from one another. This is what Aimen in year 9 described when she said ‘The autism spectrum I think is the scale of the type of autistic disorder you have due to the fact there are many for example autistic disorder seen by people as the 'classic' autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, all of these lie on the autism spectrum in scale of the intensity or mildness’. I have found that after asking several people about the second most well known of the lot; Asperger’s syndrome, people had only heard about it but didn’t know what it was, they only seemed to have an idea of what Autistic disorder/classical autism was.
Autistic disorder/classical autism- substantially, any person with a trait in the autistic spectrum will be called ‘Autistic’ however, this is not the type I am necessarily referring to. The most troublesome version of autism involves having each trait at its worst, this makes the person with the condition unable to live a proper life without constant care, hence making it the toughest variant.
Rett’s syndrome- this kind of autism is only ever found in girls. It is the only of all variants to be medically proved and makes the girl in question suffer from a significant difficulty in communication skills along with quite poor movement coordination skills.
Childhood disintegrative disorder- a child at the age of roughly 2 will suddenly suffer from a strong decline in all self-help skills, sometimes so drastic that they notice it themselves and ask what’s happening to them. From that point on they continue struggling with all of them, varying from simply having some sensory issues as an adult to have the need to be cared for all the time.
Pervasive developmental disorder- this group is used to classify those who do not fit into any category and whose traits are not strong enough or apparent to be any certain thing. Their care needs will range but as they cannot be classified into classical autism, do not need too much.
Asperger’s syndrome- this syndrome is by far the less troublesome and involves an individual usually being quite bright and capable when it comes to academic studies, however, they struggle to maintain what would be called a regular ‘social life’ meaning they lack in those skills. Moreover, people with this syndrome will often also be found to have other not too strong aspects of classical autism such as sensory issues. These people will often manage to live quite a normal life.
In 2020 it was reported that 1 in 54 children in America were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
Overall, you can say Autism is a broad term to describe a large array of people. There is a spectrum sliced into different traits and capabilities that can make up an autistic person, individuals are placed and based on how little or much of the capabilities they have. They can be classified into a type of autism accordingly. There is no such thing as less autistic or more autistic, it is simply a matter of how independent an individual can be.
By a year 8 student
Life for students at schools has been hard online; having no social interaction with friends and teachers. Young people at university have been experiencing the same things but at an extra level. Strict precautions have been put forward in order to reduce and prevent the spread of the deadly virus resulting in reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases. Despite these promising figures, students in universities have been finding studying and socialising difficult.
Freshers in university usually have the hardest but most eventful time in their first year; they meet many new people and begin to make friends, as well as build bonds with lecturers. However, now that COVID-19 has taken over the world, students barely get to meet their lecturers in person and find it extremely difficult to study without the moral support from well-needed friends. Some fresher students have commented that it gets a bit lonely from time to time. To overcome this some universities, have regular check in meetings to check students' wellbeing as loneliness can cause mental health problems for students.
When asked about households (flats), students reported that different households are not allowed to interact with each other; therefore, students in the same class find it hard to meet and help each other. Some students also hinted on the fact that they are put into households with people who do not study the same subject. This also impacts the fact that it is hard to talk to people studying the same topic as themselves. Students have to get tested every week. If a household tests positive, all students in that household have to self-isolate. Anyone in contact with a Covid patient has to self-isolate. These precautions are heavily enforced.
The government have put in place a very successful asymptomatic testing programme in most universities. Mass testing is brilliant however; some students request that, universities should try to invest in some rapid testing so students can return to having a normal university experience.
Universities have many hand sanitising stations installed, and students have to sign in and out of buildings. Students in King's College are required to book a study space to enter the library. King's College also used to have group discussion areas for students to interact with others and finish off group projects. Students who are not able to study at home may find it hard to study in a quiet place as they may not be able to go to the library due to the safety measures put in place. Students are required to wear facemasks whenever they leave their household to travel to somewhere else in campus.
Most learning is now done online with certain apps like Teams and Zoom. Most students feel happy with online learning as lectures are recorded and students can re-watch it again at their own pace. However, asking questions are problems for some students. One student studying at Cambridge University said that: 'Asking for help in the department normally should take around 2 minutes now takes around 4 minutes.' A 50% increase in the time taken. A simple question now takes a while to answer, and this can be frustrating for students who have a lot of work in their hands. One major disadvantage for students who study practical based courses find it hard to do practicals and therefore have to learn the practicals as theory; this reduces their understanding of the practical and students will have to do their own research to understand it better.
Online learning has had some good impacts to university as it has provided them with a new way of teaching instead of in person lectures. Lecturers have been making the online learning more interactive by adding quizzes in between lectures to both entertain and educate students. As lectures are recorded, lecturers are able to break down what would have been a 2-hour lecture into shorter videos so that it is easier for students to comprehend.
Overall, precautions that have put in place in universities have really affected students' and lecturers' learning and teaching environments as well as their social life. These precautions have also sparked new teaching ideas for universities, which may help enhance learning for future generations. Students are missing the normal university experience, but universities are learning to evolve; situations like this horrible COVID outbreak, has its bright side as it helps spark the evolution of the learning system. The majority of students predict that some of these new systems will still run after universities get back into its normal flow.
https://pixabay.com/illustrations/school-learning-programmed-5042064/ - Image by Dr StClaire from Pixabay
As the pandemic began to grow, queries about how difficult life was going to be began to rise. Comparisons between this virus and previous wars were questioned and left some people wondering: we got through two wars, how different can this be? I interviewed someone who was a child during orld War 2 to discover whether it was fair comparing this new COVID-19 to the global war in 1939 – 1945.
One of the main similarities found was children’s education. Although schools did not shut during the war, children’s education was still affected. Many children were evacuated away from their family to be safer and there were also the issues of air raid alarms. One moment you could be sat in a classroom, the next hiding in an air raid shelter. Our source told us that more time was spent in the shelters than in the classroom. I asked, “how much did the war effect your childhood?” they replied, “quite a bit because we didn’t have proper education and when we were in the classroom we were often interrupted by the alarms. When evacuated, we just went to an available school, they didn’t know what to do with us and different schools learnt different things.” Compared to lockdown learning, this is very different. Schools were shut and home schooling was put into practice. Technology meant that many children were still able to communicate with their teachers, but a lot of people didn’t have access to this. During the war, however, children still went into school and saw each other without having to keep a 2m distance from one another.
Another similarity was the lack of food. was taking place so everyone would be given a certain amount of food for the week that had to last. If people owned animals like chickens, they would not be allowed egg rations because they could provide themselves with them. I asked, “What was harder, rationing during the war or shops being empty due to panic buying?” they replied, “It is much harder to get food during this pandemic, at least during the war we all had the same amount. People didn’t have to worry about not being able to get food.”
The main difference is communication. During the war, people did not have mobiles and facetime so the only way to communicate was by letter, telegram or radio and not every household had access to these things. The newspapers would only give an update when there was a large raid and photos were not shown. I asked, “Was it harder not seeing your family then or now?” They replied, “Probably now because back then we didn’t really know any different. It was completely different living conditions, but we didn’t know so much.”
“What do you find is/was more threatening?”
They said that the pandemic is more threatening for them. The war wasn’t in all parts of the world. “It was a different life and we just got on with it.” “At least during the war, we could still go out and see people and go to the shops.”
“What conditions were you living in and were they similar to the lockdown?”
“Police would come round at night to check that no light could be seen because we would all have blackout curtains that had to be up at night, and we had to turn all the lights out, but you just got used to it.” “It was mainly gas lighting so we would just have a torch.” “We had no bathroom and only one toilet in the whole house. One of my houses had just the one toilet that was outside, so we had to go out of the house to use it.” “Some people didn’t have electricity or generators.” “When I was evacuated, I was lucky to be put with a nice family and a good home, but some people were moved to families that treated them badly.”
“Which experience was worse?”
The interviewee said that they have found COVID-19 harder because they have had to shield so they can’t go out for walks or do their own shopping. “It’s harder now as you are locked away.”
My findings suggest some clear differences, but at the same time many resemblances. Whilst this shows how a child during the war felt compared to how they feel as an adult during the pandemic, it would be interesting to see how different someone who was an adult during the war feels compared to a child during the pandemic.
COVID-19 Pandemic – More than 80% affected
Impact of COVID-19 on people
The coronavirus has affected people in many different ways. The lives of many children and young people from across the UK have been turned upside down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of them had to adjust to changes in their education (such as online schooling) or work.
Tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty. Many are unable to feed themselves and their families as they do not have a way to earn an income. Countries that were already dealing with other types of crisis and emergencies were especially exposed the effects of the coronavirus.
About 2,000 young people with mental health needs had to take part in a survey last year in June/July which was announced at the time the Government wanted to ease restrictions. They included the target to reopen all schools in the autumn term. About 80% of those that responded said that the COVID-19 pandemic made their mental health condition worse.
I had the opportunity to interview two of my classmates from Tolworth Girls’ School, London about the impact the lockdown is having on them. The students were Lily and Alexandria. In the interview, I got to understand how they felt about the lockdown and the impact it’s having on them.
When I asked Alexandria how she felt about not being able to go to school, she said “I don’t like not going to school because I enjoy seeing my friends and teachers”. However, Lily felt differently as she said, “I have enjoyed being at home because it has given me time to relax”.
Lockdown as affected people differently. Alexandria felt “more stressed and more anxious that something might happen to someone I love” while Lily felt “a bit bored and lonely at times”.
In addition, most pupils think that they are learning enough from online schooling, others don’t. While Alexandria thought “Yes because we do lots more writing and that can help us if there is a DMT”, Lily thought she has “learnt a lot but in school we did a lot more learning and I just think that it worked better in person”.
Many people thought that changes should be made to lockdown rules. Alexandria would have liked “if they could provide books for school because many of mine filled up quickly”. Others thought that the rules didn’t really affect them much as they could easily get books from the school. Conversely, Lily thought that “the government have made good choices with lockdown rules to keep everyone safe; however I do think that it would be better if they would keep the 6 person rule so me and my friends could be able to meet in a group”.
Are Vaccines the way forward?
Vaccines save millions of lives each year. They work by training the body’s immune system (body’s natural defences) to identify a specific virus or bacteria and then fight it off.
According to the NHS, the COVID-19 vaccine protects people against the coronavirus and is both safe and effective. Between 28th January and 11th February, deaths of over-80s decreased by about 53%. This new vaccine is currently being offered to people who are most at risk such as:
- People aged 60 and older
- People who are most vulnerable
- People who work/live in care homes
- Health care workers
If one is eligible to get the vaccine, they do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS before being able to book a vaccination appointment online. Just like the normal flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine is injected into the upper arm. After you get the vaccine, you still need to continue to follow the social distancing and other guidelines put in place by the government as it is possible to still get or spread the virus.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on many people both young and old. Once the current situation starts to improve, then more people would be able to continue with their daily lives. The government says that there is still a slight chance that people could spread or even catch the coronavirus even after having the vaccine so it’s encouraged that you continue to follow the guidelines put in place.
World Health Organization (2020) Impact of COVID-19 on people's livelihoods, their health and our food systems Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/13-10-2020-impact-of-covid-19-on-people's-livelihoods-their-health-and-our-food-systems (Accessed 15 February 2021)
Young Minds (2021) Coronavirus: Impact on Young People with Mental Health Needs Available at: https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/reports/coronavirus-impact-on-young-people-with-mental-health-needs/ (Accessed 16 February 2021)
NHS (2021) Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/ (Accessed 16 February 2021)
World Health Organization (2021) COVID-19 vaccines Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/13-10-2020-impact-of-covid-19-on-people's-livelihoods-their-health-and-our-food-systems (Accessed 17 February 2021)
BBC News (2021) Covid: How will we know if the vaccine is working? Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-56072684 (Accessed 8 March 2021)
London Gov. When someone has had the COVID-19 vaccine, do they need to keep following the health guidance and rules? Available at: https://www.london.gov.uk/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19-faqs/when-someone-has-had-covid-19-vaccine-do-they-need-keep-following-health-guidance-and-rules (Accessed 9 March 2021)
123RF (2021) Stock Photo - Child and internet. Teenager on sofa with laptop, kid in headphones lying on sofa indoors. Relax time Available at: https://www.123rf.com/photo_78290141_child-and-internet-teenager-on-sofa-with-laptop-kid-in-headphones-lying-on-sofa-indoors-relax-time.html (Accessed 10 March 2021)
Covid-19’s effects on our environment
The covid-19 virus arrived in the UK around February last year (2020) and since then the NHS and the government have desperately been trying to help stop the spread. However, as they do this the number of PPE being produced is increasing dramatically. As more and more people are required to use PPE more and more of it is thrown into the streets and littered. As a result of this, the additional increase of plastic waste in our society and has risen significantly. However, there are the occasional of this pandemic.
Studies have helped to prove that the pandemic situation has significantly increased our air quality in certain countries. In addition to this there has been a large decrease in the pressure placed on tourist attractions and much less noise and water pollution. The drastic slowdown of human activity was still too short to reverse the years of destruction on our planet however we were able to witness a glimpse of the post fossil fuel world. When lockdown began climate-scientists were horrified to witness the affects human activity has placed on the environment and began to research what they called the inadvertent experiment in more detail on a global scale. This included looking and the response from our earth the steepest slowdown in human activity since WW2. An additional question was added by some activists: “How much would it help to save the planet?” Almost one year on from the first report of covid-19 the short answer is strictly not enough. Though air quality did improve some scientists say that the pandemic just made our problems worse.
During the northern hemisphere’s spring when the restrictions being placed were the strictest of all lockdowns, the carbon footprint of a human dropped to a level not seen in decades. The amount of flights halved and road traffic dropped, the footprint fell by more than 70%. Industrial emissions in China- the world’s leading source of carbon- fell by 18%. The only problem was the amount of damage we have created on our earth was too much for the pandemic to make a large change however it did allow us to glimpse what life would be like without nearly as much fossil fuels.
Many people have different opinions as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic helped our environmental issues or not. I interviewed two people to get their insight and thoughts on this topic.
Q- Do you think the increased usage of PPE during the COVID-19 lockdowns added to our pollution problems within society?
A- Absolutely! Even the additional production of a single plastic bottle or PPE is a contributing factor. Production of PPE may be minor in the grand scheme of things, but many minor things add up to the major problem.
Q- Due to restrictions being placed on countries to help stop the speak of COVID, do you think that it helped with out air quality?
A- Yes! I feel like it has given mother nature a chance to heal itself. There were reports of dolphins being sighted in Istanbul! Apparently there were salmon seen in river Thames, these are all indications of improving air and water quality. Furthermore, there were reports that air pollution had decreased substantially in many cities in India and China which makes sense because thousands of factories were not operating, millions of cars were not being drive, hence tons of toxic fumes were being released into our delicate atmosphere. It's a sad reality that we may return to our old ways.
Q-Do you think that if there was a way to make biodegradable alternatives to PPE our environment would be slightly healthier and cleaner or would it not impact our climate issues
A-Biodegradable alternatives are undoubtably better but we also need seriously consider the carbon footprints. It's a tricky one and there are many factors to consider - like cost, shelf-life, effectiveness etc.
Q-Is it possible to measure the effect that COVID-19 lockdowns have placed on todays environment?
A-We are in a technological age so I am confident that it is possible. We measure pollution levels now and compare it to pre-lockdown measurements. It would be very interesting to see the data for high pollution cities.
Q-do you think the increased usage of PPE during the Covid pandemic added to our little and pollution problems within society. If yes, do you this it was a massive addition or a sight one?
A-Yes, I do think that the use of PPE has increased the amount of plastic pollution within societies; discarded masks and gloves are now additional items that we see discarded inappropriately and we are all able to witness this first-hand in our local communities. However, I think this contributes to a slight addition to the amount of litter and plastic pollution overall. Other plastic products are being banned or taxed to reduce their use, plastic alternatives are becoming more widely available and more people are becoming aware of how to reduce their own consumption of plastics. Therefore, we are seeing an increase in the issue of PPE contributing to the problem of plastic pollution, but at the same time we are seeing reductions in other forms of plastic pollution.
Q-due to restrictions and regulations placed on countries to help stop the spread of Covid, do you think that it helped with our air quality
A-In some ways, yes. When the initial COVID restrictions were put in place at the beginning of the outbreak, emissions decreased from reduced numbers of people commuting to work, restricted international travel and reductions in industry. There was real evidence of this in places like Delhi, India -which is renowned for their extremely high air pollution levels - where air quality was improved in the March and April of 2020. However, they are now dangerously high again as soon restrictions have been loosened. I believe that emissions may have increased during the autumn and winter months in the UK due to people spending more time in their homes which would increase the amount of energy they are using through heating them.
Q-do you think that if there was a way to make biodegrade alternatives to PPE our environment would be slightly healthier and cleaner or would it not make a change?
A-Definitely. I think creating more sustainable alternatives to any plastic products is a positive thing for our environment.
Q-And finally, is it possible to measure the effects Covid lockdowns have placed on today environment?
A-At the moment we are only really able to measure the short-term impacts lockdowns have had on the environment – such as monitoring air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. However, as things resume to normal, with people returning to work and the aviation industry opening again, we are likely to see an increase in emissions. In years to come we may be able to observe more long-term trends in how the pandemic has caused us to reassess how we live our day-to-day lives. Perhaps, there will be reduced air pollution levels compared with before the pandemic as more business realise that their workers can work effectively from home, reducing emissions from a decrease in commuting. Perhaps more people will be more likely to walk or cycle to places, rather than use a car.
There is plenty of evidence to push our minds into thinking one way or another however, the short answer is that our environment might be slightly better than before, but that doesn’t add up to the massive issues we still face today. It will take massive impact to completely fix mistakes from carbon footprints.
Since the beginning of time, women’s roles have been considered less vital for the world. For noblemen, in most cases, wives were just for company and to get a male heir but in more recent years, women have been fighting for their rights. This article is going to explore feminism over time.
Even compared to 100 years ago, women now have many more rights; many of which, a man would automatically have from birth. Issues like lower pay, which still is there but is far smaller and most employers pay their employees the same no matter their gender is just one example of many rights that women have had to fight for. Even in living memory, the role of girls and women was seen as very different to what it is now: “The girls did things like needlework and cookery, but the boys certainly wouldn’t have done things like that, they would have done woodwork and metalwork” a quote from Gill (born in 1944). Gill also told me that at university, she felt that her opinions were valued and that in her entire school career, the boys were not favoured but the brighter students were. She also told me that both academically and socially, she felt comfortable as a woman; Vera (born in 1943) felt the same, in that the brighter students or children were favoured. Vera grew up rural Ireland whereas Gill grew up in suburban England as well as husband Tony (born in 1944), who also had the same views on the matter as Gill and Vera. This shows that although women’s roles may have been considered to be different, ordinary women were starting to be treated more fairly. The ongoing pay gap shows fairness has not been achieved but the rise in female leaders demonstrates women are being taken more seriously.
Some of the first female leaders of countries came around in the late 1960s such as Golda Meir who was the Prime Minister of Israel from 1969-1974, Indira Ghandi who was the Prime Minister of India from 1980-1984 and Margaret Thatcher who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990. Women like this most likely had to work twice as hard as any man to get to the positions that they had, not just to get the academic qualifications but also the respect of the public. Since then, far more women have become world leaders. However, some countries, such as the USA, still have not had a female leader however, the newly elected president Joe Biden’s vice president is Kamala Harris. Some of the most key female leaders now are Jacinda Arden who is Prime Minister of New Zealand and has been since 2017 and Angela Merkel who is the Chancellor of Germany and has been since 2005.
Some of the rights that women have had to fight for are less discrimination, being able to have jobs that are traditionally men’s jobs, a lowered pay gap or none in most countries, respect from the government and men and the choice of who to marry. In the eyes of women, men had these rights from the day that they were born so they wanted them too and did not understand why they could not have them.
In conclusion, female world leaders are limited, as you can see in the graph below, but their numbers are growing (2009 was the breakthrough year for female leaders), women have and are fighting for rights that men automatically have, and feminism is quickly changing the world as we know it.
https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiUpuf3z5vvAhWbgVwKHZ0mAP8QFjAAegQIAhAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.statista.com%2Fstatistics%2F1058345%2Fcountries-with-women-highest-position-executive-power-since-1960%2F&usg=AOvVaw0CUxscmGuLbvJbHBdSzWuc (the image and some information)
Countryside farmers and vulnerable people have sparked a debate as they speak about the way their mental health has deteriorated over lockdown.
Kelsie Ann Williamson, 23, talks about how she and her late partner coped whilst feeling ‘isolated’ on their countryside farm.
Young farmers have been struggling mentally and physically, claiming they “feel so isolated”. One farmer, Kelsey Ann Williamson, talks about her late partner, and states that “He didn’t get help as early on as he should have. By the time he did, it was too late.”
Her partner struggled with many mental health issues and once lockdown and new rules hit, they both struggled.
A study by the Farm Safety Foundation found that 88% of farmers under the age of 40 have struggled with bad mental health. They say that public transport is limited in the countryside and if you could not drive, you were very limited to socializing. Kelsey also says that whilst her partner was still alive “it was like being on 24/7 life watch.”
Unfortunately, Kelsey is not the only one who struggled with mental health. 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem of some sort each year in England. 8 in 100 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety or depression) every week.
Sadly, COVID-19 has not helped with the percentage of people struggling each day.
The UK Government set up a website called mentalhealth.org which is a free online page that holds tips and support for those struggling in times of need. Now that COVID-19 has hit, this website has been used more than ever.
Over the past year, many people with health issues have struggled with coping during lockdown, as they have had to shut away at home to keep themselves safe.
A History teacher from Tolworth Girl’s School and Sixth Form, Mr Flood, has spoken about how he has coped during lockdown.
Mr Flood has had health problems for over a year, over that time many new rules have been set by the UK Government that restrict where and what he can go or do.
Over the previous lockdowns, people have picked up new hobbies and new lifestyles to try to improve their time inside.
Whilst being at home, Mr Flood has tried new things and has tried to stay positive. However, in his interview he states that ‘keeping positive was not always easy, but the students I teach make me happy and that is why I love teaching!’
Many people around the world and living in the UK have been affected by mental health and when COVID-19 hit the globe, everyone suffered.
As expressed, this past year has been a struggle for many, however, there are many ways of coping with the way you are feeling.
Schools have been shut for several months and students have had to learn from home. It has become evident now more than ever how vital schools are because not only are they a place for people to learn, but they also are a place for social interaction and friendship. Schools are safe and comfortable places for people to have an education no matter their situation at home however coronavirus meant children had to miss out on big parts of their education making it an even bigger challenge to move on in the future.
Research from YoungMinds has shown that 74% of people have agreed schools being closed has had a negative impact on mental health. One of the causes of this were the lack of resources needed to fully participate in online learning
Because of this I had asked a few students what type of problems prevented them from learning at best during lockdown? One said, ‘I didn’t have much space to work around. It was just a very small desk and I also had a lot of connection problems so it was hard getting to meetings.’ However, another student stated, ‘I personally found it okay to learn from home as I don’t have as many technical problems and I had gotten all the resources I needed’. When also asked how they personally felt about learning from home one said, ‘I feel there is a lot of pressure to catch up with work so it’s really hard’ and another answered, ‘I would have preferred being in school but I managed to work through it’.
Due to the fact students have a lot of catching up to do the government has proposed new ways to make up for lost time. These include having summer schools, longer school days and having to repeat the school year. Having summer schools means have teachers teach smaller groups of students who are disadvantaged and have not been able to learn well during the pandemic. Although some can agree it may benefit those who are less advantaged, some also argue that it is too tiring and challenging for teachers and students because they will be asked to give up their summer holidays. Extended school days will mean teachers and students will be in school for longer than usual and even though this may help students with their education, it may affect their mental health due to any extra stress they may be feeling. Another proposed way is repeating the school year which is very rare in UK schools. Although repeating the year make help certain people, it also may cause a pause in some student’s education.
Overall, it is clear that lockdowns impact on student’s education will continue to have a knock-on effect in the coming years. Whether students feel these impacts or not, the truth remains that people are behind on their education and that there is no perfect way it can be resolved just yet.
Homeless, Not Hopeless
COVID-19 has definitely had a huge impact on people on the streets, as says in this extract from an interview with 34-year-old Kirsty, ‘...how to “stay at home” when you don’t have a home? How to wash your hands and keep the virus at bay when you have nowhere to wash?’ However, every year the level of homelessness within our society rises, and with charities forced to close and shelters running out of staff due to recent restrictions, how are we supposed to help those who need it, now more than ever?
62-year-old Alison Gelder says, ‘Usually, I just try to say something to show that I’ve seen them and recognise them as a person.’ This, to me, seems to hit the nail right on the head. Everyone you see on the streets has a story, a life, a world of their own possibly filled with trauma and worry, a longing for an actual home. Sometimes the best thing to do is just acknowledge they exist, bring a warm smile into a cloud of cold.
Money could seem to be the best idea to give homeless people, right? It could guarantee them food and water for the rest of the day, or possibly even weeks, so what’s so bad? The sad truth is that many of the homeless crowds you see on the streets have ended up there from some form of an addiction, be it alcohol, drugs, or any other possible addictive substance, and by giving them money could be feeding this said addiction. It is much better to offer someone a warm drink, or a sandwich, or perhaps donate to certain charities purposely designed to help communities get off the streets.
However, for many people who have been resigned to sleeping in parks or bus stations for shelter, finally finding a home and getting back into a routine can be very frightening. Just as we now can fear losing our homes, as it means drastic change, it can often work vis-versa with the homeless. For anyone, any form of change can evoke anxiety and concern, so it is natural for people on the streets to feel the same. Getting a real home to live in could be a dream come true, but also a fear-provoking experience as new responsibilities are encouraged, and the pressure of keeping stable as to avoid the same thing happening again can all be too much to bear.
We must also consider the growing number of families and children found on the streets, and how they would adapt to a home life again. Imagine having to re-create your whole life, having to build complete friendships from scratch and deal with the pressure of school with the constant fear of ending up back on the streets.
So now we come back to our first point-how can we help in these pressing times? What can we do whilst we ourselves are struggling to stay inside the guidelines along the way? Well, just the small things can have a huge impact on the lives of many stuck on the streets. Things I have already mentioned, such as donating to charities and offering to buy a meal for someone you see, can have a simply vast effect on a homeless person’s day, for all you know this could be the first person to offer food or drink in days.
Charities such as St Mongos, Shelter, Housing Justice and Crisis have devoted everything to helping communities off the streets. Many charity shops, which are usually the main income for donations towards the said charity, have been shut due to COVID-19, so they are relying on other donations alone to fund them. If you are interested in keeping these charities alive, and wish to donate, you can by clicking on one of the following:
Of course, without the government’s help, we will never be able to fully eradicate homelessness in the UK. 32-year-old Dominique from St Reatham says, ‘I think we need more affordable housing and support services to help people build independent lives. We also need to ensure that everyone can get funding if they are unable to work as lots of refugees end up homeless because they can't access benefits despite their tough situation.’ We must all work together to make a difference, be it small. In only London there is at very least 412 left homeless, and with just 10% of this community in safe homes, London will soon be over 41 people happier.
I’m writing this article to give everyone a glimpse of how small businesses have been and are coping with this pandemic. It is no surprise we are all devastated and tired.
The UK’s economy is made up of 5.94 million small businesses as of start of 2020 (with 0 to 49 employees), 99.3% of the total business. Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) account for 50 percent of the total revenue generated by UK businesses and 44 percent of the country’s labour force. But due to the pandemic many businesses have struggled and had to close down their business. Almost 1 in 5 /(17%) small business fear they won’t survive any more lockdowns. 67% were forced to stop trading at some point during the pandemic.
I interviewed two small business owners, questioning the personal effects COVID had on their business:
Maria, 22 years old owner of MariasMunching food catering @mariasmunching (Instagram)
What is your business and how was the business going before COVID?
“I am a small business owner who operates at home selling cakes and handmade crafts. The business was going alright before COVID and there were profits made and the advertisement for the business was easier to reach to a wider audience, the face-to-face interaction with my clients was what helped boost my business”.
What changes took place that affected your business?
“I was a devastated. My products are not everyday use items like my cakes are for special occasions like birthday parties and events but due to restrictions of social interaction it was impossible to get orders. This resulted in loss in business”
What were the consequences of these changes?
“The consequences included a loss in business, financial crisis and the worry of my rent and utility bills made me anxious, I had to use up my savings for everyday expense which had troubled me as they were saved up for me to graduate university”
What steps have you taken to improve the situation?
“I’ve had to take bounce-back loan on my business account, although it did help with my business expenses temporarily it was very hard to keep up with the loss, due to lack of demand which is a big problem. I have tried to resource the local neighbourhood groups for advertisement and client hunting but soon I would need to pay back the loan with interest which worries me.”
Mudassar ,50 years old owner of Malik Empires LTD
What is your business and how was the business going before COVID?
“My business is car rental company. Before COVID my business was going very well. For our business to excel we needed hotels, restaurants to be open, to be surrounded by tourists, for vacations to take place, leisure centres and pubs were open, no social restrictions were in place as all of these required cabs which was our client’s jobs. The customer rents a car from us and uses it as a cab or an uber.”
What changes took place that affected your business?
“All COVID restrictions in one way or another affected my business such as the social restrictions of not able to meet with others. Due to the closure of facilities our customers were lacking jobs and were unable to pay us rent. As a result, the entire chain of our business from customer to government was disrupted”
What steps have you taken to improve the situation?
“I have taken steps such as lowering the rental prices due to low demand and to attract clients. We had to reduce the sheer amount of loss to maintain our expenses, we spent money on online advertisement rather than face-to-face interactions. We were helpless because of the restrictions. The main thing is that we have the stay-at-home rule so who would need a taxi or cab in this situation. We also had to sell our fixed assets to gain money, and took a bank issued loan to keep up to track”
How have you been affected in the long-term?
“We have deprived of a whole year of profits and have been put 1 year behind our goals and what we wanted to achieve. Our business would have expanded but it went downhill instead. This will have a long lasting effect as COVID isn’t going anywhere , we will still be restricted and have limitations no matter what.”
In difficult times like these we should all support and help each other whenever we can
Throughout the pandemic people are questioning whether wearing a mask is good or bad. Globally people have discussed who should be wearing a mask. There has been some confusion as to where and when masks should be worn. Above all, from presidents to the public have wondered why people are wearing a mask. Is it to prevent spreading, or to prevent catching? Lastly, people are questioning which mask to wear and how it stops the spread.
According to the UK law, children under the age of 11, people 1.5 metres apart, those who are exempt and those who are exercising do not need to wear a mask.
Personally I believe that people under the age of 18 should not wear a mask because it will damage their health. Instead they should focus on washing their hands regular and keeping their distance. My reasons are the following:
If you cough, you breath in your own germs, it makes breathing difficult. People communicating while wearing a mask often moves closer as the quality and volume speech is reduced, and they move closer. For those who wear glasses it is a nightmare. Also people don’t change their mask as regularly as they should.
On the other hand, masks are also good for you because it stops the virus getting from you and it has a very low chance of you getting it when you wear one. In a public place it also helps preventing from spreading because that bacteria can’t travel straight to your immune system as quickly as without one. Other people feel like it is a barrier protecting them from that bad germ that can cause harm to them, their friends and family. Some people feel like that it is a necessary thing to do it they want to survive. It makes them feel safe and that is what is important.
I interviewed Irina who thinks that wearing a mask is a really bad thing, because people are born to breathe in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide, but with the masks people are breathing in carbon dioxide, which starves the brain, due to that it causes headaches and other illnesses. Secondly, it stops people from communicating as well as without one. It makes people feel depressed as they cannot smile or cannot see people smiles, which usually cheers them up. Psychologically people feel constant fear as a person in a mask implies that there is danger all around them which stops people from feeling happy and safe.
Overall, there are both positives and negatives to masks but at the moment we should all follow the government guidelines.
Mental Health concerns through covid
COVID-19 is a deadly disease that has affected 7,874,965,825 people from all 200 Countries and all 4500 Cities. The whole world has gone through this situation and no one is alone. Our earth is advising us to stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as social distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds and close contact, regularly cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. These 7 rules will make a huge difference and save us. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. The first who learnt about this virus was on the 31st of December but not only it has affected our lives it has impacted our thoughts and feelings. This all began on the 11th of March 2020 and is still here to this day. We are going to talk about the mental health issues we have developed through the past year including loneliness, stress and concerned feelings.
Since 2020 we have been attached to our electronics for over 7 hours a day this is resulting in depression and anxiety with many other different issues along sides these points. Physically we are also creating problem such as back pain getting overweight and straining eyes. These effects are unhealthy and it is all leading up to the point that we are not getting the normal life we need such as the fresh air and exercise. We must look after ourselves especially through this hard time. Suggesting that we don't have normal rights which is not also sad but very unhealthy. Drawing attention to the loneliness for those in care homes. Imagine not being able to see family members and just sitting alone for 24h for the past year which is not just sad but unhealthy. Many elderly people are experiencing this and are wishing to see their family.
The educational system in the UK has had its turns but all the amazing teachers are doing all they can to teach remotely in such an effective way.
We have luckily had a chance to interview some of the Tolworth girls school student and teacher. Our first question was headed to a proud teacher of Tolworth Girls school with the question of:
What were your first thoughts of when you heard we weregoing to work remotely:
Well, I had quite a unique story for the first one - I had been diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before and had just gone off ‘sick’ three weeks before all the schools shut down, so SELFISHLY I was really happy that I suddenly realised I was going to be able to teach online again, and the school were amazing in letting me teach some. What the school did in that first lockdown was remarkable. Since then I have taught over 330 lessons, both in-person and online, which makes me incredibly proud.
I was much more frustrated at the news of the second lockdown because I was so close to getting a vaccine and I thought 2021 was going to be much more normal. I can’t wait though to come back and teach face-to-face again in, fingers crossed, April and hopefully more normality after that!
Wow-what an incredible and inspirational story!
A student has kindly shared some thoughts and feeling about the question:
How dramatic were the changes in your feelings and did you experience any feelings that you hoped not to?
I think at first a lot of people are feeling quite excited especially students to have a week off of school but when that got extended and news headlines came out that Covid was getting worse I think people are feeling a lot more worried anxious about what was the come in the future and I think that changed everyone’s mood is quite a lot. Especially mine I was feeling worried about that like they wouldn’t be able to find a cure and more people will die and it made me quite feel quite anxious about the future!
2020 and 2021 did not start the way that we wanted. We need to make sure that we take daily walks and take a break from our electronics. We will all get through this and this will soon be over.
Mental health is something that people everywhere struggle with on a daily basis especially children or young people. Recent data has shown that the most common type of mental health illness among young school children are emotional disorders. Emotional disorders consist of anxiety, depression, mania and bipolar affective disorder. At many times this feeling of anxiousness can become constant so that is overwhelms you to the point where it can significantly affect your daily life. Mental health affects our thinking, feelings, actions and social wellbeing.
Thankfully there are many things you can try to help with anxiety and mental health.
Understand your anxiety:
Maybe try keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you are feeling at that particular moment in time. Then you can look back at that situation and identify why you where feeling this way and then do something to face this problem.
Challenge your anxious thoughts:
Challenging unhelpful thoughts and worries is a great thing to do when feeling anxious, this will hopefully make you less anxious.
Make time for worries:
If you know your bad feelings are becoming overwhelming and they began to take over your day, maybe if you make time for a specific time to take a break and go through your concerns so you can focus on more important things.
Shift your focus:
A lot of people find relaxation helpful like meditation for example. It will reduce tension so you can focus or become mor aware on the present moment.
This interview was given by a year 7 student on the topic of anxiety and therapy.
Reporter: What is your opinion or view on therapy?
Anonymous: It helped me to get my stress out and talk to someone, but honestly I don’t really think I needed it, it just depends on the person and whether they need it or not.
Reporter: How do you deal with your anxiety?
Anonymous: I talk to my friends. I try to distract myself as much as possible and do something that makes me feel positive and happy.
Reporter: Do you think when you started high school it has made you more stressed out? Why do think this?
Anonymous: I think High school is just generally extremely stressful. All of my friends have all been talking about school being really stressful. The teachers are really nice and it’s a good school I just think I have gotten more stressed out with homework and friendships and stuff. Primary school was a lot easier and it was not as complicated as high school.
Anxiety and any other mental health issues affects everyone differently and can be brought on by different situations or experiences this is our body’s natural reaction to perceived danger, focusing out attention and giving us a rush of adrenaline to react, sometimes called the “fight or flight” response.
At least 1 in 5 children deal with mental health issues so remember you are not alone when you are dealing with mental health. It is always best to talk to someone about how you are feeling.
Find mental health support for young people services (NHS| www.mind.org.uk)
Problems at School | Association for children’s Mental Health (http://www.acmh-mi.org/get-help/navigating/problems-at-school/)
One small step for man OR one giant hoax for mankind!
On July 20, 1969 American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, were the first men to land on the moon. This was televised to roughly 600million people worldwide yet for some people believe it was all faked!
The third guy!
Yes, believe it or not there was a third astronaut upon the rocket (Saturn V) called Michael Collins. He however did not set foot on the moon with Buzz and Neil. While the others were walking on the moon for the world to see, he had the most important and vital job as while Neil and Buzz where making history, Collins orbited the Moon alone in Columbia, for 21.5 hours. During those solo orbits, Columbia's pilot experienced periods of the most profound solitude any human being has ever known: 48 minutes at a time alone on the far side of the Moon, with no radio contact with Earth or his crewmates and a 2100-mile-wide ball of rock between him and every other human who ever lived. Without him, Neil and Buzz would never have made it to the moon in the first place!
The Conspiracies and opinions…
Two people were interviewed on their beliefs on this event to see their opinions on the matter.
Dave said that he does indeed believe that this moon landing happened and was real. Although, he does think that the government are capable of telling such a lie.
Anonymous said that they do also believe the event was real because it was how they have been brought up and learnt.
While others have said this.
The Theory: The flag placed on the surface by the astronauts fluttered despite there being no wind on the Moon. This suggests that it was filmed outside on Earth or a wind effect was used to cause the flag to flutter. This does sound very convincing
There are many more to debate with and all are extremely convincing…
Is the moon landing just one big lie?
So this Historical event is questioned by many but taught of in schools, is the government keeping an out of this world secret! Or have we really landed on the moon!
Over the past year, scientists have been striving for a cure to COVID19, working day and night, testing, and making and working. These scientists are our real-life superheroes, saving us from the threat of COVID19 with a vaccine and enabling the government to help the UK take the steps slowly back to normality.
COVID19 has not been easy but with the help of scientists the UK managed to start setting rules for Covid in place. From isolating if you are vulnerable to quarantining if you have had Corona or been in contact with someone who has the virus, we have been through track and trace and finally started testing. And now we are here, at the stage where we are giving out vaccines and saving lives, all of this is down to scientists and their amazing ideas. It was scientists who enabled the NHS to go on through COVID19, with life support systems for patients and special suits and masks to keep the virus out.
In conclusion the scientists of the world have made a massive contribution to stopping coronavirus and are helping the rates of deaths and active cases slowly go down in numbers. Thanks to scientists, we will be able to see friends again, to meet up and have fun. So, the scientists of the world, are real life superheroes.
The much-anticipated trial of Derek Chauvin will commence shortly and is expected to be the most-watched event in recent US history.
George Floyd, has the world forgotten? Who can forget that on the 25th of May 2020 all it took was 8 minutes and 46 seconds to change the world as we know it today!
Geoge Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Minneapolis, Minnesota USA was pulled over by the police for allegedly paying for a packet of cigarettes using a fake dollar bill. During the arrest, policeman Derek Chauvin, a white officer from the Minneapolis Police Department along with two other officers who were bystanders threw Mr Floyd onto the floor whilst handcuffed and in front of many witnesses who begged for him to stop and filmed it, proceeded to kneel on his neck cutting off his airways until he died.
George Floyd was recorded begging for his life and crying out for his mother.
Jury selection is about to begin on the 8th March for Mr Chauvin’s trial for second-degree murder which could take up to a month and could see him go to prison for a maximum of 40 years. Police officers rarely go to trial as they usually say that they acted in ‘self-defence’ and were in danger themselves, but this is not the case as Mr Chauvin was filmed by many bystanders and it was shown on national television all over the world, sparking massive riots.
The other two police officers are also on trial and if found guilty of playing a part in the murder or deliberately not being seen as trying to help George Floyd, could also receive a charge of second-degree murder.
This is going to be a monumental event and will surely go down as the most watched trial of all time.