Panto fans are helping to raise money for a foodbank that supports struggling families in Tyneside.
The St Peter’s Pantomime Society is staging The Wizard of Oz at the Crosskeys Community Hall, in Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, from January 28 to 31.
The cash raised will go towards the Bay Foodbank, which was set up in 2012 to provide emergency food parcels to people with little or no income.
The group’s performance of Little Red Riding Hoody made headlines last year as panto dame Andy Chambers, 26, went down on one knee and proposed to his partner Leanne Gilks on stage.
Andy, who will be the dame again this year, said:
“I’ve just qualified as a social worker and I’ve seen how people are struggling.
“We thought it would be a good idea to raise money for a charity that is helping people in need.
“We are also planning to buy some luxury items, the kind of things struggling families would be unable to afford, and hope to carry out a Supermarket Sweep-style trolley dash.
“Last year we raised about £1,200 for the Crosskeys Community Hall and The Grafters Club, which supports children and their families after burn injuries. We hope to raise even more money this year.”
This year’s production of The Wizard of Oz has a twist to the original tale. Instead of a house being blown through a tornado, it will feature Dorothy getting on a plane for a shopping trip to The Emerald City and the plane has to make an emergency landing.
“We will have a couple of good witches and I’m playing one of them. Leanne has directed the show and also has a role of a travelling salesperson.
“There will be comedy and laughter, with the main aim of raising money for the foodbank. It’s a fantastic charity that does some wonderful work.
“It costs almost £40 to put together one package of basic food items. We hope our efforts will help to fill many more parcels.”
Tickets, costing £5 for adults and £4 for children, can be bought by ringing Christine Bartlett on 07752563693. There will be two shows on the Saturday, at 2pm and 7pm.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 22 Jan 2015
An investigation into a huge child abuse scandal in the North could be re-opened after questions were raised in Parliament.
Home Secretary Theresa May has vowed to look into allegations of “a whitewash” during the investigation into widespread abuse at children’s homes in the North.
Operation Rose involved hundreds of allegations dating back to the 1960s.
Northumbria Police carried out a three-year investigation into sexual and physical abuse at 61 children’s homes run by voluntary bodies and councils in Northumberland, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
But the £5m inquiry resulted in only six convictions, despite uncovering 530 allegations.
The investigation began in 1997 after a woman in her twenties told a social worker that she and a friend had been abused as children in care.
Officers embarked on a process of “trawling” for information by writing to 1,800 former residents explaining that they were looking into homes where they had once lived.
Police regarded 97 individuals as possible suspects, of whom 60 were arrested in connection with charges of child abuse.
Eventually, 32 people who were charged with a total of 142 offences, of which five were found guilty, one pleaded guilty, 12 were found not guilty, nine had cases withdrawn, four died before their cases were heard and one remained on file.
Court hearings continued until 2002.
But the investigation could be re-opened after a series of revelations, including the shocking truth about child abuse by Jimmy Savile, led to concern that abuse and exploitation was more widespread than previously believed.
Northumberland MP Ronnie Campbell, Labour MP for Blyth Valley, urged Mrs May to look into the affair as he said more alleged victims had come forward.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: “Will the Home Secretary look at Operation Rose in Northumberland, which took place a few years ago? It is becoming more apparent that it was a whitewash as more victims come forward each day and each month.”
Mrs May told him she would investigate.
She said: “It is precisely because I want to ensure that we cover all the cases that have come up that I think it is important that the terms of the inquiry panel are drawn quite widely. I will look into the matter that he raises.”
Mr Campbell has raised concerns about Operation Rose in the past. Last year he told the Commons that one constituent who was in care homes in the 1960s and 1970s had attempted to report abuse he had suffered but was told it was “just what happened in those days”.
But Operation Rose also led to complaints during the police inquiry that innocent teachers, social workers and care home staff were having their lives ruined because of the way police encouraged alleged victims to come forward.
The Government last week launched a wide-ranging investigation into the extent of historic child abuse in the country and whether police, courts, the National Health Service, schools and institutions such as the BBC let down victims.
An expert panel will also have the power to scrutinise the behaviour of political parties, the security services and private companies.
And Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last month urged anyone who was abused by Jimmy Savile at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary to come forward. An inquiry has found Savile made at last three visits to the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Newcastle General Hospital, but found no evidence of abuse.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 July 2014
A new political party has been launched with the aim of bringing devolution to the North-East.
The North East Party is aiming to secure powers similar to those in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It intends to contest 12 seats in the region at next year’s general election, funded through membership and donations from people who want political independence from Westminster.
The North East Party (NEP) wants to take control of issues such as job creation, public services, including health and social care, as well as education and public transport. It also says it wants to ensure world class science and research is carried out in the region.
The party’s chairman is Hilton Dawson, former Labour MP for Lancaster and Wyre, who lives in Warkworth, Northumberland, and is from the area.
The 60-year-old social worker, who has a wife, two daughters and is a grandfather-of-four, said: “We are the most neglected region in England and until we have real power and real decision making here we won’t be to address the fundamental issues of the North-East.
“This is the poorest region in the country with the highest level of unemployment and the highest level of social deprivation.
Susan McDonnell, a former Peterlee Town Councillor and Labour Party member, is considering standing against Easington MP Grahame Morris in the general election next May.
The 49-year-old, who lives in Peterlee with her husband, and has one son, narrowly missed out on a seat on Durham County Council last year.
Ms McDonnell, the party’s administrator, who works as an office manager for an email marketing company in Newcastle, said: “The purpose of the party is to bring political representation to the North-East.
“We had a referendum on regional assembly and that failed because it was dressed up as another level of bureaucracy.
“What we would aim to try and do is get true devolution for the North-East so we are not beholden to Westminster. We would decide on the key issues that affect the region with our own Government.
“It won’t be a separate country, but we will have devolved power so decisions that affect the North-East will be made here in the North-East by North-East people.”
The first gathering of the North East Party will be held at the Durham Conference Centre on Monday, June 16 from 6pmto 9pm.
For more information:
Source – Durham Times, 27 May 2014
Church vicars are increasingly being asked for help by hungry parishioners, the Bishop of Durham has claimed.
The Right Reverend Paul Butler spoke out as ministers sought to brush off new figures revealing more than 900,000 people turned to foodbanks for emergency relief in the past 12 months – a near three-fold increase on the previous year.
Bishop Butler, a former social worker, said: “Clergy have told me of increased requests directly from parishioners struggling to make ends meet.”
And, having joined dozens of bishops and hundreds of faith leaders in signing an open letter demanding the Government take urgent action, he urged: “This is a reality and not a problem that will easily be solved – but solve it, we must.”
The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 foodbanks nationwide, reported a 463 per cent year-on-year rise in demand across the North-East.
Bishop Butler said that many families were facing the “terrible reality” of empty cupboards was deeply challenging and raised acute moral, social and political questions.
Speaking of a recent visit to a Hartlepool foodbank, he said the number of children in need was shocking.
One foodbank user from Brandon said she had asked for help having been forced to leave a stable life and move to care for her father and his partner.
“We have now been housed by Durham County Council, found help and guidance through places like foodbank. Without this help until benefits are resolved and wages for new jobs are paid, we would not be able to survive,” she added.
The faith leaders’ letter, published today, calls food poverty a “national crisis” and comes just two months after 27 bishops said Prime Minister David Cameron had a moral duty to act on the growing number going hungry.
Source – Northern Echo 18 April 2014
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has hit back at the “boring Tory boys” after they mocked her North-East accent.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said that Conservative party members who are claimed to have mocked her accent don’t bother her – because it means they have nothing else to criticise her for.
The town’s MP also welcomed the support she received from constituents over the row which has broken out over claims by Durham North West MP Pat Glass, that Tory MPs target female opposition members.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “It is annoying sometimes, but I never let it silence me. I just think ‘grow up’.
“I feel sorry for them really, because I think if that’s all you have to say about me, then I must be doing a good job.”
Fellow Labour MP Mrs Glass said that abuse in the “Gladatorial” atmosphere at Westminster is worse for female MPs with strong accents, and likened Mrs Lewell-Buck’s to that of fellow South Shields native, comedian Sarah Millican.
She said: “I know Emma has a lovely strong accent, but they have really gone for her in the chamber over that,” she said.
“She has that Sarah Millican accent and they shout at her because of it.
“There are big differences between my accent and hers, but generally, if you are a woman, they target you and if you have a northern accent, they go for you.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck, who grew up in a family of shipyard workers, and was a social worker before gaining her seat in Parliament, said: “I want my constituents to hear and see someone who looks and sounds like them.
“I want them to understand what I am saying, because I am in House representing them.
“I don’t care if the posh boys in the Tory party don’t understand me.
“They do, sometimes, get themselves over-excited and shout things, but I just think it’s not like they’re going to launch themselves across the commons and punch me.”
She added: “I’ve always said that to be an effective MP you have to talk to your constituents, that’s a huge part of the job.
“I’m always out and about talking to them, and use the information they give me when I’m in the House of Commons representing them.
“For me, the most nerve-wracking thing is that people put me there, and I don’t ever want people to think that they put me there and I have let them down.”
Mrs Glass said it was not just older Tory MPs who were guilty of barracking Labour women.
She said: “What I found is if a woman gets to speak, particularly women with an accent, then there is orchestrated barracking.
“You don’t get to see it on television because the camera is fixed on the person who is speaking and not on the orchestrated response.
“I get the impression they think women who are Northerners should not be there.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck, added: “It doesn’t really surprise me that people in South Shields have been supportive about my accent.
“So far, I haven’t had anyone say ‘you have let us down,’ or ‘we didn’t like what you said’.
“In the main, a lot of people have been really supportive.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 21 Feb 2014
Thanks to Nicola Jones for this … worrying times indeed!
A British citizen was held for days without charge in a London mental hospital under little-known laws which allow the police to arrest and detain anybody who voices criticism against politicians or celebrities.
The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) was quietly set up to identify individuals who they claim pose a direct threat to VIPs including the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Royal Family.
It was given sweeping powers to check more than 10,000 suspects’ files to identify mentally unstable potential “killers and stalkers” with a fixation against public figures.
The team’s psychiatrists and psychologists then have the power to order treatment – including forcibly detaining suspects in secure psychiatric units.
Using these powers, the unit can legally detain people for an indefinite period without trial, criminal charges or even evidence of a crime being committed and with very…
View original post 800 more words