Author Archives: Charity-News

Unprecedented demand for cancer helpline

The number of calls from people with cancer facing difficulties at work has shot up over two years — with some employers reported to be breaking the law — a leading cancer charity has revealed.

Macmillan logo

New figures from Macmillan Cancer Support show a 74% increase in calls to its support line on a range of work-related issues such as discrimination and even dismissal, as a result of a cancer diagnosis.

A YouGov poll for the charity reveals that one in five (20%) employees who returned to work after cancer reported facing discriminatory treatment, such as demotion and worryingly more than a fifth (22%) of managers also have concerns about employing someone who has or has had cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support is now expanding its dedicated Work Support Service helpline to meet rising demand — with the charity receiving nearly 3,000 (2,987) calls about work issues this year alone.

It is also warning bosses they are breaking the law if they don’t provide the necessary support, such as reasonable adjustments, to employees with cancer — which is classed as a disability under the Equality Act.

While most of the 1,500 people polled (87%) who were employed when diagnosed with cancer said it was important to continue working after their diagnosis, employers’ ‘misconceptions’ add to the large number of difficulties already facing the 890,000 people of working age with the disease.

For example, more than a third (34%) of managers worry their employee would not stay long in the job and nearly a tenth (8%) fear someone could use their illness as an excuse not to pull their weight at work.

Around one in eight managers have concerns about the impact of the diagnosis on other staff, with some worried it could cause awkwardness (13%) or resentment (12%) among colleagues.

Sadly, the research also found some workers with cancer did experience a lack of understanding of their needs from their employer (9%) and colleagues (8%). Others even lost their jobs (4%) as a result of their diagnosis.

Former web developer Jordan Taylor, 24, from Telford, Shropshire, was diagnosed with testicular cancer earlier this year and said: “Before I was diagnosed my colleagues felt like a family, but as time went on their attitude towards me completely changed.

“When I returned to work after treatment I was called into a meeting by my boss, who said performance was down in my absence and that companies had complained. There was no time to ease back into my role or any mention of reasonable adjustments to help me during recovery.

“Shortly after my return, I was told my whole team was facing redundancy. A few colleagues insinuated that it was my fault, even though I was ill — it was awful and caused me a huge amount of worry.”

Liz Egan, Working Through Cancer Programme Lead at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We know how important it is to many people to work during cancer treatment, or return to employment afterwards, and this is entirely possible with the right support. Unfortunately, however, many bosses have misconceptions about employees with a cancer diagnosis.

“The rise in calls we have experienced to our helpline is staggering and shows just how vital it is that people with cancer have support and advice with their choices around work. We want to be able to support everyone living with cancer who needs us and are reliant on generous donations from the public to provide services like this.”

The charity is also helping thousands of employers through its Macmillan At Work scheme. As well as offering a free toolkit, resources and advice, the charity also offers specialist training sessions for line managers and HR professionals to help them feel equipped and confident supporting staff with cancer who want to stay in work during treatment or return to work after.

Macmillan Cancer Support and its team of trained work support advisors for employees with cancer can be called for free help and support on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday — Friday, 9am-5pm). Information is also available at www.macmillan.org.uk/work.

Charities join forces to change the lives of homeless people and their pets

Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, and Mayhew, leading animal welfare charity for dogs, have launched a joint Christmas gift campaign that will help homeless people and their dogs access vital services, health and wellbeing checks, and warming food and supplies.

Crisis logoHomelessness is devastating, and a dog can be the only companion for someone who doesn’t have a place to call home. Crisis and Mayhew have been working together for 11 years to bring warmth and support to homeless people and their dogs. This year, the two charities have collaborated on an extra special initiative – a range of four virtual gifts designed to make a real difference to vulnerable owners and their pets.

Supporters can choose to donate £5, £10, £15 or £20 and, with proceeds split equally between Crisis and Mayhew, can help both charities fund much needed items and services for homeless people and their dogs. A few examples range from providing a cup of tea and a canine health check to a warm coat and help accessing a practical skills course.

Mayhew logoFunds raised could help provide homeless people with advice, food and warmth at Crisis at Christmas, and help them leave homelessness behind through Crisis’ year-round support with housing, employment and health. It could make a real difference to projects like Mayhew’s Pet Refuge programme, which provides shelter and care for the pets of people going through a crisis period. This is a lifeline for owners and enables them to access vital services, many of which are proffered through charities like Crisis who provide comprehensive support with housing, employment and health.

Through this new joint initiative, Mayhew and Crisis hope to help even more vulnerable owners and animals this Christmas and beyond, and make a real difference to the ongoing lives of homeless people and their dogs.

Richard Lee, director of fundraising at Crisis, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be partnering with Mayhew this Christmas to ensure our homeless guests and their dogs receive the support they need. Homelessness can be a devastating experience at any time of year, but it can be particularly hard at this time of year. That’s why Crisis at Christmas is so important – as well as food, warmth and vital services like those provided by Mayhew, our guests will be introduced to our year-round services that help thousands leave homelessness behind for good each year.”

Mayhew CEO Caroline Yates said: “Homelessness is devastating, and for many in such a situation, a dog is their best friend and the only source of comfort they have. The expense of food and vet care puts an extra burden on someone already in a vulnerable situation, so we are thrilled to have teamed up with Crisis to give people a way to help us both provide necessary items and services to those in need. Helping people and helping animals come hand in hand, especially at Christmas.”

To see the virtual gifts and to make a donation, click here.

Report reveals health impact of air pollution

Particles in air pollution cause a wide range of damaging effects to the cardiovascular system, according to a landmark new report.
Air Pollution photo

The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) report found that air pollution can cause damage to the cardiovascular system in the following ways:

  • increasing blood pressure
  • making the blood more likely to clot
  • the build-up of fatty materials inside the arteries, reducing the space through which blood can flow – also known as atherosclerosis
  • altering the heart’s normal electrical rhythm – also referred to as arrhythmias
  • causing inflammatory effects on the cardiovascular system – or systemic inflammation.

COMEAP advises the government on all matters concerning the health effects of air pollutants and this new report marks the most comprehensive review to date, examining the studies conducted over the past decade on the potential biological mechanisms by which exposure to air pollution results in adverse cardiovascular health effects.

In the report, COMEAP found clear evidence that exposure to small particles of air pollution has a wide range of effects on the cardiovascular system, including irregular heartbeat and blood clots. The COMEAP report also provides recommendations where new research is needed to get a more precise understanding of the impact of air pollution on cardiovascular health.

It follows the publication of a COMEAP report in July this year, which estimated that long-term exposure to the air pollution mixture in the UK contributes to between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths every year. The WHO also estimate that almost six in ten deaths related to outdoor air pollution being caused by a heart attack or stroke.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) Chief Executive Simon Gillespie said: “This thorough report gives us a clear view of the damaging impact air pollution has on our heart and circulatory system. While there are steps that people can take to reduce their exposure to air pollution we can’t expect people to move house to avoid air pollution – Government and public bodies must be acting right now to make all areas safe and protect people from these harms.

“We were reassured to see that the Government’s draft clean air strategy had a focus on health, but we need a commitment to WHO guideline limits for particulate air pollution in UK law to drive action to better protect the nation from the damage to health caused by air pollution.

“Having these targets in law will also help to improve the lives of those currently living with heart and circulatory diseases, as we know they are particularly affected by air pollution.”

Click here to read the COMEAP’s report.

Global credit union movement surpasses 260 million

The World Council of Credit Unions has released its latest report, which shows the continued growth of credit union membership around the world, surpassing 260 million members in 117 countries. This is an increase from its 2016 report, which showed membership of 235 million members in 109 countries.

WOCCU logoThe most notable changes from the end of 2013 to 2017 are 12 million new members in the US, 11 million each in Latin America and Africa, 7 million in Asia and one million in Europe.

“This year we can celebrate as a global community. We have realized our vision of reaching 250 million members by the year 2020,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. “We see that membership growth continues to reflect the important role that credit unions have in providing economic empowerment to people worldwide.

“The three primary challenges we hear from credit unions everywhere are advocacy, disruptive technology and membership growth. For 2019, we will launch the logical next step and take on the second global challenge, which is disruptive technology. We are gearing our efforts toward digitization, including access to core services by online and mobile channels, automation of internal processes and connection to local payments and electronic ecosystems. If we want to continue growing and competing in tomorrow’s disruptive markets, we take on this challenge, make it our own and market the advantage to serve the under-served.”

The World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. It promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial co-operatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services.

World Council reports data based on country responses to its annual survey and does not make estimates for non-reporting countries. The Statistical Report provides the most comprehensive data on the global credit union movement available and is cited widely by governments, international institutions and analysts as an expert resource.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 89,026 credit unions in 117 countries serve 260 million people. Learn more about World Council’s impact around the world at www.woccu.org.

Action on Hearing Loss launches online resource for employers

National charity Action on Hearing Loss is launching a comprehensive new online guide for HR professionals and employers on how to best support both prospective and current staff with hearing loss and deafness.

Action on Hearing Loss logoThe Employer Guide has been developed in response to research conducted by the charity which found that more than half of people with deafness had been mocked or teased about their condition in their workplace, and that more than a third had felt bullied by their colleagues.

The guide will offer support on how to make workplaces more accessible for people with deafness and hearing loss – from simple deaf awareness tips for staff and management to providing more detailed information on how to take advantage of the Government’s Access to Work scheme to cover the cost of additional communication support.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is the national charity helping people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables people to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way, giving people support and care, developing technology and treatments, and campaigning for equality

As part of the launch the charity invites everyone to take an online quiz to find out how much they know about hearing loss in the workplace, which can be found here: www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/workingforchangequiz.

The new guide forms the latest part of Action on Hearing Loss’ Working for Change campaign, which is seeking to break down the barriers faced by people with deafness and hearing loss when accessing and progressing in employment.

Dr. Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Although there are around five million people of working age in the UK with some form of deafness and hearing loss, the results of our survey indicate there is a profound lack of awareness and understanding of its impact.

“It doesn’t have to be like this, however. There are a number of ways HR professionals and employers can educate themselves and their staff. Deafness and hearing loss do not limit anyone’s capacity for excellence, and we want employers to make the most of this huge pool of talent by enabling existing and prospective staff with deafness and hearing loss to thrive in the workplace.

“This guide is not only a resource that can educate employers and staff about hearing loss and deafness, it also sets out best practice and explains what support there is, such as the Government’s Access to Work scheme, to create an inclusive environment. We believe that the more educated and aware people are about deafness and hearing loss, such negative attitudes will become a thing of the past.”

To read Action on Hearing Loss’ Employer Guide and for other available resources, click here.

Charity calls on government to commit 1% of annual cost of dementia to research

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, is calling on government to adopt a bold new action plan to bring about a life-changing dementia treatment and improve the lives of people with the condition. The charity is urging government to commit to spending just 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research into the condition by 2025 to transform research efforts.

Alzheimer's Research UK logoThe call comes as the charity launches its new Make Breakthroughs Possible campaign and pledges to commit a further £250m to dementia research by 2025. Dementia is the leading cause of death across the UK and the number of people living with the condition is expected to grow to 1 million in just three years. Alzheimer’s Research UK believes there is no time to lose if progress is to be made for the millions of people with dementia and their loved ones across the UK.

The plan detailed in the charity’s new report, “No time to lose: An action plan for dementia,” sets out five clear actions designed to bring about a new dementia treatment and improve lives. The call for increased investment in dementia research aligns the condition with investment in other major disease areas.

Dementia currently costs the UK economy £26bn each year, much more than other major health conditions, like cancer which costs £18.7bn. In contrast, only £83.1m, or 0.3%, of the annual cost of dementia is put towards researching the condition compared to 1.4% put towards cancer research.

Increasing funding for dementia research to just 1% of the cost of the condition would accelerate breakthroughs similar to those made in conditions like cancer in recent decades, which have already transformed thousands of lives.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is the health crisis of our time. With no way to stop or slow the diseases that cause it, no-one has yet survived dementia but we hope to change that.

“We’ve seen progress in recent years thanks to the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia launched in 2012, but without renewed government priority given to dementia, this momentum risks being lost. Dementia has been conspicuously absent from priorities set for the health system in recent months, and we cannot afford to let the condition slip off the radar at this critical time.

“We must see government ensure dementia is a leading health priority and begin to push for the progress seen in the treatment of diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS over recent decades. Spending just 1% of the cost of dementia on research would make breakthroughs possible, and the thousands of families across the UK who are feeling the impact of dementia deserve nothing less.”

The action plan laid out by Alzheimer’s Research UK aligns its goals with the G8 ambition to bring about a life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025, which the UK government helped to set in 2013.

The plan includes five key actions for government:

  1. Commit 1% of the annual cost of dementia to research
  2. Double the number of scientists and volunteers taking part in dementia research
  3. Work to detect the diseases that cause dementia before symptoms appear
  4. Increase awareness of how people can reduce their risk
  5. Prepare now for future treatments so they reach people quickly.

The report can be read in full at: alzheimersresearchuk.org/actionplan.

Charity Pioneers campaign recognises good deeds

Accounting software company Sage is celebrating the good deeds of the most inspirational charity workers in the UK and US. The recently announced Charity Pioneers campaign recognises hard-working people that have dedicated their lives to a cause or charity. 

Charity Pioneers Campaign Photo

Sage is on the lookout for the most groundbreaking and life-changing charitable faces working in the UK and US today. Whether they’re promoting causes like entrepreneurship, diversity or education, these individuals actively strive to make the world a better place for young people, women, and military veterans. The charity pioneers Sage has chosen so far come from a range of backgrounds and demographics and yet they all share one thing in common – they’re changing lives for the better and that deserves to be celebrated.

Nominate a Charity Pioneer

Know someone that deserves recognition? Sage is still hunting for the very best. To submit a nomination, enter the name of the chosen nominee, the type of charity they work for, and the reason they should be recognised. Note that nominees must work with young people, women, or military veterans.

Sage Group logo

Not only could nominees feature alongside other Charity Pioneers, but their charity could also win the GBP equivalent of $5,000 of Enterprise Fund funding (Sage Foundation). The competition closes on 21st September 2018 and the campaign page can be found here: https://www.sage.com/en-gb/c/v/charity-pioneers/.

Sage offers a range of products to help charities and nonprofits, such as its accounting software which has been specifically designed to handle charities’ financial needs, including GiftAid and VAT.

Working families fall short of minimum living standard

The overall cost of a child over 18 years (including rent and childcare) is £150,753 for a couple and £183,335 for a lone parent. But work doesn’t pay low-income families enough to meet a no-frills standard of living, new research from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) shows.

Cost of a Child ReportA combination of rising prices, benefits and tax credits freezes, the introduction of the benefit cap and two-child limit, the bedroom tax, cuts to housing benefits and the rolling out of Universal Credit have hit family budgets hard.

Life has been getting progressively tougher for families on low or modest incomes over the past ten years, with families on in-work and out-of-work benefits hardest hit, the report warns.

Despite the introduction of the ‘national living wage’, low-paid families working full-time are still unable to earn enough to meet their families’ needs. The gains from modest increases in wages have been clawed back through the freezing of tax credits.

Even families with two parents currently working full time on the ‘national living wage’ are 11% (£49 per week) short of the income the public defines as an acceptable, no-frills living standard.

The cumulative effect of cuts, frozen benefits and new punitive measures hit lone parents particularly hard. For lone parents, even a reasonably paid job (on median earnings) will leave them 15% (£56 per week) short of an adequate income because of the high cost of childcare. A lone parent working full-time on the ‘national living wage’ will be 20% (£74 per week) short of what they need to achieve a minimum standard of living. However, a lone parent relying solely on benefits will go without 40% of the budget they need for a socially acceptable minimum.

With the introduction of the two-child limit, families with three or more children fare worst – a third child born after 1 April 2017, for whom no additional support will be provided, costs around £86,500 or £4,800 a year excluding childcare.

Larger families on out-of-work benefits who avoid being hit by the two-child limit will instead be hit by the benefit cap which restricts support to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside London regardless of family size. The impact of the benefit cap means that an out-of-work family with three children living in a privately rented home will receive just a little over a third of what they need to meet their needs, with a shortfall of around £400 per week.

The costs of a child are calculated according to a minimum standard of income that covers the costs of essentials such as food, clothes and shelter as well as other costs necessary to participate in society. It looks at the needs of different family types and is informed by what ordinary members of the public feel is necessary for both couples and lone parents bringing up children.

Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “Today, the majority of children growing up in poverty have working parents. While the number of parents in work is increasing, income from work alone is not sufficient to enable some to meet their families’ needs or escape poverty and the cost of a child is substantial. There is strong public support for government topping-up the wages of low-paid parents and investing in children is the best long-term investment we can make. By using the forthcoming budget to unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances, the government can take steps towards making work really pay.”

Click here to read the report.

Ethical public relations versus fake news

In a blog for the Charity PR website, Ethos public relations looks at ethical PR versus the growth of fake news.

Ethos PR 20th anniversary logo

For over 20 years, Ethos public relations has described itself as an ethical PR agency. We might not have known it back then, but what we were really saying was that we were against ‘fake news’.

In recent years, a number of things have contributed to the term ‘fake news’ being bandied about, almost every time someone disagrees with some information or an editorial stance. This is not at all useful and is only going to increase mistrust of information and expert opinion.

In the PR context, what we meant by ethical PR was not engaging in spin but focusing on the real news behind a story. For many clients, especially in the charity and social enterprise sectors, this is particularly important as they have meaningful stories to tell supporters and funders and we believe this is best done with real, honest case studies and stories that demonstrate the real impact of their work.

Back in the 1980s it wasn’t fake news that made us develop our honest approach but rather spin and ‘kiss and tell’ stories.

Unfortunately, the transformation to fake news from this was almost inevitable, and was supported in part by some bad editorial decisions by the media along the way.

It’s easy to blame editors, but a free media does need to be protected, although probably almost everyone working in public relations can cite examples of where really interesting, pertinent and newsworthy press releases have gained no coverage, while less socially useful information gets on air or in print.

Journalists aren’t social workers, but they do need to take a responsibility to their community and reflect what is going on in a balanced and holistic way. We have always subscribed to – and done our best to adhere to – the NUJ principles in our dealings with the media.

In a pre-digital age, it was true that air time and newspaper space was limited, but that’s hardly the case now. Real, good quality and verifiable news should be able to find an outlet on trusted media sites to balance the seemingly endless rise of so called ‘news’ sites peddling opinion as fact.

Only 3% of public think all UK tourist attractions suitable for wheelchair users

A YouGov poll carried out to mark the 10th anniversary of Trailblazers – Muscular Dystrophy UK’s national network of 800 young disabled people – shows that despite many advances in disability rights, most people’s experiences show there is a long way to achieving full accessibility.

Trailblazers

The survey found that:

  • Only three per cent of UK adults think all tourist attractions provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 11% of UK adults think all Premier League grounds provide easy access for wheelchair users
  • Only 6% of UK adults think all UK railway stations provide easy access for wheelchair users

The advance of disability rights has been reliant on campaigning by organisations such as Trailblazers – and remains a patchwork of successes and work yet to be done. For example, while more railway stations now provide step-free access, half of stations remain inaccessible and assistance often needs to be pre-booked. There remain issues with staffing support, onboard toilets and making vital services like ticket machines accessible across much of the country.

Lauren West, Trailblazers Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We are so proud of the hard-won results that our Trailblazers have achieved in the last decade, and it’s encouraging that members of the public recognise the difficulties disabled people face when it comes to accessibility. But the headline successes should not leave people under the impression that the UK is now fully accessible.

“Take Premier League stadium access. It’s only after years of work by disability groups like Trailblazers that we are finally seeing clubs providing enough space for wheelchair users. But even that achievement just covers topflight clubs on one measure, and we still hear from disabled fans who have to sit away from friends or families, or even with the opposing team.

“We know it can be complex – the good practice guide on accessible stadiums is 116 pages long. But working with groups like Trailblazers is essential if businesses and organisations want to make sure they are open to everyone. Today we celebrate our achievements but now we want to hear from the next generation of young disabled people to help us tackle the next decade of advancing our rights.”

Trailblazers is a national network of almost 800 young disabled people and their supporters, and is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK. The group campaigns for change, provides guidance, and is an expert in what life is like for young disabled people. Members are passionately committed to challenging the barriers in society that stop us from living full and independent lives. The group launched in 2008, with 50 people at a meeting in London. Since then, it has successfully campaigned on issues such as accessible public transport, airlines, gaming and hate speech. Muscular Dystrophy UK is the charity bringing individuals, families and professionals together to beat muscle-wasting conditions.

Since its launch in 2008, Trailblazers’ achievements include:

  • Lobbying Twitter to update its rules to protect disabled people from hate speech. The social media giant went on to introduce the measures called for by Trailblazers
  •  Launching a report on accessible gaming and trialling Microsoft’s new adaptive controller for XBox
  • Fighting for accessible public transport in two End of the Line reports – published in 2009 and 2016 – which resulted in the government announcing new measures in early 2018 to ensure wheelchair users can access buses.

Trailblazer Connor Colhoun, 21, from Glasgow, said: “I’ve been to theme parks, and although it’s not usually possible to go on the rides, they do cater for wheelchair users. Things are definitely improving for disabled tourists, and accessibility is much better now than it used to be; I think that must be because there is more awareness. I recently went on the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and it was excellent – everything was so accessible.”

2,134 people were surveyed on 4th and 5th July 2018 in the Muscular Dystrophy UK-commissioned survey by YouGov.