A headteacher has praised four pupils who were photographed buying food for a homeless man on their way home from school.
Jack McGill, Cameron Turner-Neill, Charlie Hirst and 11-year-old Sam pooled their money to buy chocolate biscuits, water and cereal bars for the man after noticing he looked upset and unwell.
The boys, who attend Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, spotted the man, aged about 50, sitting on a bench in the town centre and were concerned about him.
A passer-by photographed their act of kindness and posted it on Facebook, prompting widespread praise for the boys.
Cameron, 12, said:
“Jack went over to see if he was okay and sat down next to him. The man asked if he had had a nice day at school and they started chatting. He said he was from London and had been homeless for nine years.
“He was very nice and you could tell he was well educated.
“He used to be a joiner and a carpenter and lived in a flat but it got rented out. He has been walking around the country and had just walked from Stockton.”
The boys said the man had refused to take money from a pensioner who also tried to help and was reluctant to accept the food they bought.
“It’s important to help other people.”
Charlie, 11, said:
“I was upset when I saw him. It made me think I should be more grateful for the things I’ve got when I saw how grateful he was for those small things.”
“It has made me want to help my mum more and be more grateful because he doesn’t have a mum.”
Christine Forsyth, headteacher at Woodham Academy, said:
“At Woodham Academy we teach pupils to respect other people and this is a wonderful example of our children showing unconditional respect for another human being. We are really proud of them.”
On Facebook, one woman wrote: “Lovely to see. What lovely young lads to do such a good thing .”
Another posted: “And there it is to all you people out there that think all teenagers are all anti-social. Here are some fantastic boys. They are a credit to their parents.
Source – Northern Echo, 16 May 2015
Today I learnt of some new developments in the universal credit roll out. These changes are devastating and they left me lost for words. I’ll explain now but please share.
When universal credit first came out you could not apply for it if you were already claiming housing benefit. There was a glitch in the system and the computer said no. They’ve sorted this so here goes.
They are now transferring people onto universal credit from JSA. There’s no option to say no, they are simply changing their claim. Their existing claim will be shut down, as will their claim for housing benefit. The claimant will also have to go to the local council offices to sort out the council tax payments, if not they will be left with a massive bill.
Why am I so worried? If you are already in debt with your rent due to the bedroom…
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Two young boys moved by the sight of people sleeping rough have started a campaign to help the homeless.
Jack and Tom Hobbs were horrified to see people on the streets of Newcastle during a city visit from their home in Stanley, County Durham, at Christmas.
Despite their tender years, they have pledged to do what they can to help and have started to collect warm clothes, sleeping bags and blankets to donate to the needy.
Jack, nine, and Tom, five, started collecting things at St Mary’s Junior School, where they are both pupils.
Proud father Gavin Hobbs, of Iveston Terrace, Shield Row, said:
“We were out for dinner in Newcastle just after Christmas and my two boys saw homeless people on the streets for the first time and were both extremely upset and bothered about them.
“They decided they wanted to collect hats, coats, scarves, gloves, blankets and sleeping bags and start giving them to the homeless people to keep them warm.
“Jack and Tom are very passionate about this and have collected quite a bit already. We have got so much it is unbelievable.”
Car loads of gear will be taken to The Tommy Armstrong Centre in Stanley and The People’s Kitchen in Newcastle on Saturday.
It is being stored at St Joseph’s Church in Stanley. Anyone who wants to help can call Mr Hobbs on 07432-693-558 or take it straight to the church.
Source – Northern Echo, 04 Feb 2015
Kind-hearted Co-op staff have donated hundreds of items of clothing to help the homeless this winter.
A total of 300 bags of clothing are set to help 400 homeless people across the North East.
Customers and Co-op staff have collected a lorry full of toiletries and winter woollies, which included 343 pairs of trousers, 246 jumpers, 194 fleeces, 131 coats, 129 hats, 98 scarfs and 64 pairs of gloves, before delivering the goodies to Crisis Skylight’s HQ in City Road, Newcastle.
Crisis Skylight Newcastle works closely with local hostels and shelters to support single people experiencing homelessness.
The charity will distribute the clothing and toiletries to up to 400 people currently sleeping on the streets and in hostels on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, who will also enjoy a hot festive meal at its Newcastle centre.
Nicola Wylde, from The Co-operative’s Membership team, who co-ordinated The Co-operative’s appeal, said:
“As a community retailer, it is vital we support local good causes and we are pleased to have worked with Crisis Skylight Newcastle to help provide much needed warm winter clothing for the homeless in the area in time for Christmas.
“We’d like to thank our customers and colleagues for their support and generosity, which has been overwhelming and exceeded all our expectations.
“Their unwanted winter woollies will make a massive difference to those in need, and will also help Crisis provide a lifeline to its guests this Christmas, and help them take their first steps out of homelessness.”
Ian Richards, head of Crisis at Christmas, added:
“Without the generous support of donors, volunteers and partners, Crisis at Christmas would not be possible. We would like to thank The Co-operative for their fantastic support which will help us to provide a lifeline for our guests this Christmas, and help them take their first steps out of homelessness.”
Any items left over after the Christmas Day and Boxing Day events will be donated to Storehouse, a local charitable organisation supporting people in poverty.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 24 Dec 2014
Christmas spirit is taking over Teesside this year as groups of volunteers plan to feed and clothe the homeless and others in need over the festive season.
Friends Faye Forbes Spencer and Zoe Lonsdale, both of Billingham, have set up a 12 Days of Christmas project for the Billingham and Stockton areas, and have already had offers of help from dozens of kindhearted people as well as bags full of donated clothes, tinned food and toiletries.
Faye decided to set up the Billingham-based project after reading a message on Facebook suggesting it.
“The initial idea was to go out on to the streets with hot food for the homeless, but we realised they can often be hard to find as they tend to hide. We approached some shelters, including Prefer Homes and the Moses Project, so now we’re working with them.
“We’ve asked what they’re in need of for donations, and we’ve got kitchens to cook in over of the 12 nights in the run- up to Christmas, from the 12th to the 24th.
“The shelters are helping to get the word out to homeless people to let them know we’re going to be there, so we’re not sure how many people will turn up.
“We’ll just have to take the first night as it comes and learn from it for the next.
“We’re not just giving out food though; we’re also there to meet people and have a chat with them.
“I didn’t want to be just one of those who drops off donations on the doorstep, it’s also about interaction.”
Faye said she and Zoe have already had to sort out dozens of black bags full of kind donations, and were grateful for every single item.
“I didn’t expect it to get this big. People have been absolutely fantastic. We’ve had plenty of coats, hats, scarves.
“The things we’re lacking in now are shoes and duvets or sleeping bags.
“Loads of people have been brilliant, and I can’t name them all, but one lady used to own a warehouse, and she donated what she had left over, loads of toiletries, which I’ve been able to use to make little washbags we can give away. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s offered help. It’s been hard work sorting it all, and Zoe and I have put as much of our own money into it as we can, but if we can make just one person’s Christmas better, then it’s worth it.”
Faye said the group has also had offers of help from Billingham’s Asda and Iceland.
Anyone wanting to get involved can friend request Faye Forbes Spencer on Facebook and ask to be added to the 12 Days of Christmas group.
A meeting is also being held in The King’s Arms, Billingham, tonight from 7pm, which people can attend for more information.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 11 Dec 2014
With temperatures dropping rapidly and winter well on its way, warm clothes are starting to make an appearance.
You may be pulling out some of your old favourites or hitting the shops to get a completely new winter wardrobe.
Either way, as you do this, spare a thought for those who do not have this option.
Over the winter months, people of all ages across Teesside will find themselves in need of warmth.
In the hope of helping as many of these people as possible, a major, annual appeal for donations of winter warmers was launched on Monday.
Wrap Up Middlesbrough – led by Middlesbrough Council and partner organisations – is a drive to get staff and members of the public to donate winter coats, jumpers and fleeces to be given out to homeless people, in housing need and/or suffering hardship.
These clothes will then be given out at the annual festive event In Out of the Cold, held in the Town Hall Crypt from 1pm to 3pm on Tuesday, December 23.
Councillor Brenda Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for supporting communities, said:
“I’m delighted to see so many organisations joining forces once again to support such a worthwhile cause.
“It speaks volumes about the community spirit in the town that people are willing to do their bit to bring warmth to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
“Many of us will have spare coats, jumpers, fleeces and other warming items of clothing that we no longer wear and I know these will make a real difference to the lives of those most in need.”
Donations can be made from today until Thursday, December 18 and items should be in a good, clean condition.
Locations for donations are as follows: Teesside University Students Union, Information Desk and The Link, first floor Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm;
Teesside University School of Health and Social Care, Centuria Building South, opposite the lifts, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm;
Middlesbrough Cycle Centre, Middlesbrough Bus Station Monday to Friday, 8am-5.30pm and Saturday 9am-4.30pm;
Vancouver House, Corporation Road/Gurney Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm;
Civic Centre, Centre Square, Monday to Friday, 9am-4pm.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 26 Nov 2014
Bedroom tax and benefit reform have been blamed for a rise in youth homelessness as parents struggle to accommodate their children.
A survey published this week found the primary cause of youth homelessness in the region was parents no longer being willing to house their older children.
Youth homelessness is continuing to increase in the region according to the third annual survey conducted by Youth Homelessness North East (YHNE) and published this week.
North-East local authorities are seeing at least one homeless young person a day, the research suggests.
Each month, hundreds of youngsters approach their local authorities for help after finding themselves homeless – mostly because of family breakdown.
The issue has been linked to changes in the benefit system as well as overcrowding, abuse and financial difficulties.
Bedroom tax, benefit sanctions and the introduction of universal credit are having a significant impact on the region’s young people, according to YHNE.
Changes and reductions in housing benefit are also reported to be affecting young people’s ability to access and sustain housing.
Sharon Brown, the regional manager of YHNE, said:
“Youth homelessness is increasing in our region and the main factor is family relationship breakdown.
“The impacts are massive both short-term and long-term – young people without homes, security and jobs feel they have no future.
“They can find themselves on a downward spiral of poverty, poor mental and physical health.
“The consequences though affect all and it’s really important that we invest in our young people – that means making sure they have somewhere to live, that they have the means to pay their bills and plan for the future.”
To help young people affected by benefit reform, the report calls for more welfare rights officers in the region, the production of accessible information resources on welfare reform for young clients and regular one-to-one meetings about benefits.
A homeless couple who told police they stole food because they had not eaten for days have been jailed.
Mum-to-be Ashley Forster, 21, and Benjamin Hall, 27, both pleaded guilty to leaving the Monsoon Kitchen restaurant in North Bridge Street, Sunderland, without paying their £46.50 bill when they appeared before city magistrates.
Prosecutor Lee Poppet told the court the pair had been arrested in The Wheatsheaf pub and had been ‘extremely compliant’ when interviewed.
The court heard both had a previous record for similar offences and were subject to suspended sentences imposed just a week before the offence.
Hall also admitted stealing sweets worth £4 from Poundland in Sunderland. When arrested he told police he was ‘hungry and starving.’
Gerry Armstrong, for Forster, said:
“This is someone who was placed in the care system, who acquired a criminal record when she should have been protected, and who now finds herself before the court.
“She found herself without anyone to support her and everywhere she turned, I am afraid to say, doors were closed in her face.
“This offence was committed not out of a sense of devilment but out of necessity because, as she said to police ‘I had not eaten for four days.”
Forster, who was in the early stages of pregnancy, had made tentative contact with family in Scotland and was keen to have the suspended sentence activated in order to get it out of the way.
“She wants to draw a line under her time in Sunderland, to get this sentence removed and start afresh when she is released,” Mr Armstrong told the court.
Kate Meek, for Hall, said the pair had been in a ‘mutually supportive’ relationship.
The offences had been committed out of desperation.
“It was not because they had a drug problem to fund,” she said.
“It was not because they had alcohol or gambling problems to fund. It was because they had no funds and had not been able to eat.
“They are straightforward, low level, unaggravated and, to some extent, mitigated offences of desperation.”
Magistrates jailed both defendants for two weeks and activated suspended sentences of eight weeks for Forster and 16 weeks for Hall. Both were ordered to pay compensation.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 12 Sept 2014
A homeless man was seriously injured when thugs set fire to his sleeping bag in Newcastle’s Leazes Park.
The 51-year-old, who the Chronicle understands to be homeless, suffered serious burns and is receiving hospital treatment, his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
Police are now appealing for witnesses to the incident, which happened sometime last night.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “Officers are carrying out inquiries into the incident and are asking any witnesses to come forward, in particular the man was helped by two passers by in the park and police are urging them to get in contact. Inquiries are being carried out to identify the offenders, who are believed to know the victim. Inquiries suggest this is an isolated incident.”
“Extra police will be in the park, both to carry out enquiries into the attack and also offer reassurance.”
Any witnesses should contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference 296 010714 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 01 July 2014
> No money for welfare, but always money for weapons of war…
Watch the video before reading the article. It’s from the Thatcher/Reagan era, but although the faces may change, the song remains the same.
Britain should renew its nuclear weapons programme, according to a cross-party group of MPs and experts, although it should consider whether to abandon continuous patrols.
The Trident Commission, which includes Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, and Lord Browne, the former Labour defence secretary, published its final report on Tuesday.
The group concluded the Trident nuclear system should be renewed, even though to do so could cost up to £20bn, to provide an effective deterrent to other states who might wish to threaten the UK with their own nuclear weapons.
> And these states are… who, exactly ? How are you going to nuke a terrorist organization that operates across national borders ?
But the commission also called on the government to consider relaxing its rules on providing round-the-clock deterrence, though it was split on whether the UK should do this unilaterally or in conjunction with partners.
The report said: “If there is more than a negligible chance that the possession of nuclear weapons might play a decisive future role in the defence of the United Kingdom and its allies, in preventing nuclear blackmail, or in affecting the wider security context within which the UK sits, then they should be retained.”
> This, of course, is all from the viewpoint of those who believe they have a place reserved in the bunker.
For the vast majority of us, in the event of a nuclear action we’ll all fry anyway – the idea that we might do so more happily if we knew our counterparts in the other country were also frying is horrendous, but that’s how its sold to us.
And all too often, bought by us.
The consensus from all group members, including Sir Menzies, whose party has traditionally been most hostile to renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent, is a sign of the similar conclusions reached by all three parties on the issue in the last year.
While the Conservatives have always favoured replacing the entire weapons system, along with all four submarines, the Lib Dems prevented them from making the final decision to do so during this coalition.
But following a Cabinet Office investigation into alternative options, the Lib Dems now back replacing the Trident system, albeit arguing for a reduction from four to three boats. Though this could mean abandoning uninterrupted patrols, the party argues that this would be worth doing as it would save up to £5bn in capital costs and show the UK’s commitment to disarmament.
> Lib Dems go back on profoundly held views shock ! And justify it on the grounds that spending slightly less on weapons of mass destruction amounts to showing the UK’s commitment to disarmament.
Labour has taken a position somewhere between the two, arguing that continuous deterrence must be maintained, but that it might be possible to do so with three boats rather than four if the design is sufficiently advanced.
All three parties accept that any other form of nuclear weapons system, whether based on the land, air or in less powerful submarines, would actually be more expensive than simply replacing the Trident boats. The commission endorsed that conclusion, saying: “We are opposed to proposals to develop alternative platforms and delivery systems, with new warheads, simply on the basis of possible but speculative cost savings.”
The final decision to replace Trident will be taken by 2016, barring any last-minute changes of heart by the three main parties.
> So if you’re hungry, homeless, disabled, living under threat of benefit sanctions, just be grateful that in the case of a nuclear war, you might die horribly and pointlessly, but so will your counterparts in the “enemy” state.
You’d rather that £20 billion was spent to ensure death rather than to sustain life, surely ?
Source – Financial Times 01 July 2014