The average cost of uniform for a primary school child is £315, £337 for a secondary pupil, according to the Children's Society. Sadly, a law to make schools place affordability at the centre of their uniform policy will not be in place in time for the start of this school year, meaning that parents will not benefit from the changes until September 2022. The rules will limit the number of logos on uniforms, allowing parents to buy more items from supermarkets and shops other than a school's main supplier. Meanwhile clothes banks like Cradley Heath Community Link are offering school uniforms and PE kits which have been donated. They are providing uniforms for nine schools in the area at no cost, and are inundated with requests. One visitor, Darren Wright, said that if he had to buy it he’s looking at £300 for one child, impossible for people on Universal Credit. See
Last week, Ofcom publicly withdrew from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme, citing as the reason a need to avoid conflict or a risk of perceived bias. They are the latest in a growing list of government departments and public bodies to acknowledge that the advice given by Stonewall is highly partisan, often factually inaccurate, and sometimes misleading. None of this, however, appears to have impacted on the BBC. In a statement issued on 26 August, the corporation defiantly repeated its commitment to workplace inclusion, saying it would remain associated with Stonewall’s LGBTQ+ Diversity Champions’ programme. A sizeable number of BBC staff are deeply unhappy with this. Senior presenters have complained that continuing support for the controversial programme indicates clear bias and partiality, with one commenting, ‘if we’re all being lectured about impartiality, and quite rightly so, why are we signed up to a scheme that is obviously partial?’
Health bosses say that patients will be put at risk unless the NHS receives an extra £10bn next year to recover from the pandemic. A five-year settlement will see the funding increase by £33bn by 2023-24, but Covid has added to costs in a way that could not have been envisaged when Theresa May's government agreed the settlement in 2019. NHS leaders say the pandemic has led to pressures never seen in the history of the health service. Hospital layouts have had to be overhauled, services moved off site into new buildings, extra infection control procedures have been brought in, and the scale of sickness being seen means extra staff are needed to care for patients. At the same time, there is a growing backlog of traditional care such as hip and knee operations. Instead of budget growth by £4bn under the existing settlement, NHS leaders need almost £15bn.
Many businesses are complaining about the UK's shortage of lorry drivers causing serious supply chain problems. The coronavirus pandemic, Brexit, and tax changes have contributed to a lack of qualified drivers. The shortfall is 100,000 workers. Tom Reddy has driven lorries for over 15 years. His pay recently increased from £17.50 an hour to £24.50 - a 40% jump. ‘I've never known anything like it,’ he said. ‘But they could pay me £80,000 a year and it wouldn't be enough. I want to leave.’ While Brexit is a factor, it is the shifts, regularly sleeping in a lay-by and the rude way in which members of the public talk to him that make him no longer want to continue in the job. He also blames gender imbalance in the workplace, racism, and xenophobia. While he welcomes moves by the industry to give attention to drivers’ mental health, this isn't enough for him.
The Children’s Society said modern life continues to erode young people’s happiness and children deserve drastic changes. 306,000 10- to 15-year-olds are unhappy with their lives: in 2010 it was 173,000. ¼ million children did not cope with changes during the pandemic. 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 8 boys are unhappy with their looks, and 1 in 9 children are unhappy with school. Society is tragically failing our children. At school they are pressurised to wear make-up and have the right figure. Children unhappy with their lives at 14 are most likely to have mental health issues by age 17, including self-harm and suicide attempts. Pray for those suffering with mental health issues to come up out of the pit into the light of life.
The Italian coastguard rescued 539 migrants crammed onto a decrepit fishing boat off the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa. A Médecins Sans Frontières nurse said the passengers included three women and several unaccompanied minors in the dangerously packed boat which would have travelled about 300 kilometres from the Libyan coast to Lampedusa. At least twenty of the migrants who were examined by medical personnel had scars from torture. ‘They had burn wounds, firearms wounds. They were very worn down, some were dehydrated.’ Local reports suggest some of them had been falsely imprisoned in Libya. Italian prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what may have happened. The nurse said she didn’t know how long the fishing boat had been at sea, but they had spent weeks or even months in Libya awaiting passage in traffickers’ boats in hopes of reaching Europe.
At a meeting in Parliament and in two letters, officials warned New Life Pentecostal Church that continuing to meet for worship in the car park of their seized church in Minsk could lead to administrative or criminal prosecution (maximum punishment four years' imprisonment). The church vowed to continue its worship. ‘The authorities may initiate criminal charges,’ Pastor Vyacheslav Goncharenko said. ‘This is possible, given that they have gone as far as throwing us out of the building without compensation and imposing debts.’ City and state religious affairs officials refused to discuss the threats. The church has held services outdoors every Sunday - in snow, rain, or hot sunshine - since officials evicted the congregation from its building on 17 February. Pray for God continually to reassure Pastor Goncharenko of His presence with him as he stands for freedom of religion in Minsk.
Ida, the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in Louisiana, hit as Category 4 while the region's hospitals were under siege from rising Covid cases. Debbie and her family cowered on a stairway landing while four feet of muddy water rushed into her home. She and her son had earlier safely rescued her elderly parents from their home, but now they prayed the roof would not collapse on them all. ‘God blessed us that we all survived,’ she said after they were rescued. Her experience is just one of the tens of thousands rescued by crews in high-water trucks, helicopters and swamp boats desperately searching for survivors. Pray for Louisiana communities beginning the huge task of clearing debris and repairing damage. They are facing the depressing prospect of weeks without electricity in the stifling, late-summer heat because the region's power grid is down. On 2 September, New York City declared a state of emergency after flash flooding: see