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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 13 February 2006

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Searching for the Northwest business eco-champions

PROFESSIONAL eco-warriors are being sought by the Northwest Business Environment Awards 2006 to highlight the fact that implementing environmental practices means better business for the region.

Businesses across the region are being asked to nominate employees, who have gone above the call of duty to make the environment part of the organisation’s working practices, to be crowned Northwest Business Environment Champion 2006.  Each year, an average company can save 4% of its turnover by addressing production waste and the use of energy, water and raw materials. Adopting environmental practices can save British businesses £1.8 billion a year through such actions as greater energy efficiency.

Entries to the Environmental Champion category are invited from professional individuals from large corporations as well as SMEs, who can demonstrate that being sustainable and environmentally friendly at work is good for commercial success.

Last year’s Environmental Champion winner was Pete Petrondas, founder of Cheshire-based Eazyfone Ltd, who diversified his business to develop a successful recycling mobile handsets division.  Pete developed a broad network of working partnerships with the private, public and voluntary sectors, which allowed the company to build substantial and profitable revenue through recycling unwanted goods. This has helped to prevent almost 200,000 handsets going to landfill in just 3 years.

Commenting on his win, Pete said he was very surprised to win the Northwest Business Environment Leadership award because of the high calibre of entrants in 2005.  “The awards show how people in the Northwest really care for the environment and how we are working hard to make things better for future generations,” said Pete.  “We would recommend anyone to get involved as it helps bring better understanding of environmental issues to the business community and has given a great boost to the Eazyfone team as it recognises their hard work over the past 2 years recycling mobile phones."

Guidelines and applications forms can be downloaded from The Mersey Basin Campaign website can be found on:- merseybasin.org.uk or by telephoning 0161 242 8200 for more information.

Closing date for entries is February 13 and the winners will be announced during a week of celebrations in June 2006 to mark World Environment Day.

Carers UK forefronts carers’ rights with launch of national TV campaign

'WHO CARES' ITV NEWS campaign week: Monday 6 – Friday 10 February 2006.  An ITV News investigation in conjunction with Carers UK has uncovered a bleak picture for the 6 million people in this country who look after a sick or disabled relative and receive little or no outside help.

An exclusive survey highlights that most families struggle financially, find the benefits system difficult to understand and often lead very isolated lives.  The findings will be part of a special ITV News series “Who Cares” starting on Monday 6 February.

To coincide with the “Who Cares” series, Carers UK will be tabling an Early Day Motion on Monday 6 February calling on MPs and Parliament to recognise carers as the backbone of community support in the UK and a vital part of the nation’s health and social care system. During the week there will also be a debate in the House of Lords on the support needed from Government for carers.

Through charity Carers UK, ITV News asked 1,000 people how they cope financially with looking after someone and a staggering third of respondents said it was “difficult” while another 21% said it was a “constant struggle”.   Almost a third of carers said they lived on benefits alone and a shocking 31% reported that they had actually fallen into debt as a direct result of having to care for someone. Only 43% of respondents have income from employment – despite the majority of them being of working age.  1 in 4 respondents had not claimed benefits because the benefits system is too complicated (13%), they didn’t know what benefits to claim (10%) or they felt it wasn’t worth it (6%).

In addition to struggling financially, many carers also feel socially isolated and say their health has suffered. 63% of respondents said they felt isolated as a carer and over a third said they never get a break from caring. Going on holiday or simply leaving the house to go shopping is often difficult.  A worrying 45% said their health had deteriorated since becoming a carer with 14% claiming their health was “much worse”. Out of all respondents, 44% said they spend more than 70 hours a week caring for someone else, while another 10% spent at least 50-70 hours a week on a sick or disabled family member.

As a result of these striking findings, ITV News on Monday 6 February is launching a campaign calling for the Government to appoint a 'Carers’ Czar' to champion the rights of carers.

“We see and hear first hand that many carers find it a constant struggle just to get by,” says Imelda Redmond, Chief Executive of Carers UK. “We are delighted ITV News is looking in depth at this critical issue. We hope Government will hear our call to provide real help for people who are simply taking on what they feel is their responsibility and duty - looking after a sick or disabled loved one or friend. Carers save the economy £57 billion every year. We could not manage without them.”

There are 6 million carers in the UK and 1.25 million care for over 50 hours a week. 1 in 5 people have given up work in order to care for someone.

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