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Issue:- 14 June  2012

Look out for bees, beetles, butterflies and even flies; we need them more than you think!

SCIENTISTS are concerned that production of some foods, such as many of our favourite fruit and vegetables, could be under threat. That is, if the decline of insects that help farmers with the pollination of crops like apples, strawberries, tomatoes and courgettes isn't halted. 80% of British plant types use insects to help transfer pollen between flowers to assist in the production of seeds and fruits. Despite their importance only 54% of adults questioned by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) knew that pollinators are crucial for growing many types of fruits and vegetables.

LEAF is working with the food and farming industry to hold the first ever National Farm Pollinator Survey on Open Farm Sunday on the 17 June. The information collected through the Pollinator Survey will improve understanding of the ecology of insects visiting flowers on farms, and in turn help farmers with their work to conserve and encourage pollinating insects. The Survey will also help the public understand more about the importance of these insects and learn that bees are not the only pollinating insects; which is what most people think.

New research shows that most of us have very little understanding of which insects actually can be responsible for pollination and how crucial they are. Although 86% of respondents correctly identified bees as important pollinators of plants, other potential pollinators like butterflies (46%), wasps (30%), ladybirds (24%), flies (11%) and beetles (10%) were not so easily recognised as being important.

Awareness of which fruit and vegetables needed insect pollination was also low. Less than four in ten people knew that insects were critical to growing apples, with even fewer recognising that the same was true for tomatoes (27%), aubergines (20%) and the production of rapeseed oil (31%).

Pollinating insects contribute around £500million to the UK economy yet 40% of respondents failed to recognise this. Experts are keen to find out more about the ecology of insect pollinators, like bees, butterflies, beetles and ladybirds, across our farmland landscape. Visitors to selected farms on Open Farm Sunday will be able to take part in this scientific survey to help record the number of insect pollinators they see during their visit.

Dr. Helen Roy, NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology says:- "Visitors will be asked to spend a little time recording how many insects they see in 2 different habitats, such as a field of oilseed rape and a margin of wildflowers. In addition the ecologists have selected 5 insects, including the common blue butterfly and 14 spot ladybird, for visitors to record anywhere on the farm they visit. After Open Farm Sunday all the research will be collated and analysed by a team of scientists and the results shared with farmers to help them conserve pollinating insects on their farms."

The recent research revealed that many respondents were unaware of the work farmers already do to encourage pollinators on their farms. Caroline Drummond, Chief Executive for LEAF says:- "The majority of people failed to realise that farmers plant and encourage the growth of wild flowers, maintain hedgerows on their farms, and even introduce bees from elsewhere to help with insect pollination and the biodiversity of the environment. In fact, as visitors will discover for themselves, farmers do all this and a huge amount more to care for the countryside and all the wildlife that lives there, as part of the work they do to produce food for us all to eat. The Pollinator Survey is also a great opportunity to get the public excited about pollinators and science."

The results also revealed confusion over what pollen itself actually was. Although the majority (84%) understood this was a substance produced by flowers, 55% of these believed it came from the female part of the flower rather than the male.

Hundreds of farmers across the country, are opening their gates on Open Farm Sunday, 17 June 2012, and inviting you to come and discover the story behind our food. This annual event organised by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is a great day out for everyone. It's a fantastic way to find out the work farmers do, not only to produce our food, but also to look after our countryside. To find a farm taking part near you, please visit:-

There is something for the whole family, including big kids - especially dads, which makes Open Farm Sunday an ideal day out for Father's Day and most of the events are free! From amazing machinery and food, to the latest technology and wildlife there is so much to see and do! You can also be a scientist for the day and help out with the first ever National Farm Pollinator Survey, as we try to find out more about how insects like bees, ladybirds and butterflies help with pollination. For those interested in tractors and technology, many farms will have a display of some of the incredible equipment used in modern farming to maximise productivity whilst caring for the environment. Some farms will also have vintage equipment on display, providing you with a great opportunity to see how farming has advanced over the years. Or simply enjoy an informative farm tour with a farmer, and discover first hand more about the work they do every day, so that we all have food to eat and countryside to enjoy. Each Open Farm Sunday event is unique and could include exciting things to see ranging from milking robots, sheep shearing to farm animals or local wildlife. Events may also offer activities to enjoy like tractor trailer rides, food tastings or picking your own fruit.

For Open Farm Sunday 2012, we are inviting the public to help with the first ever National Farm Pollinator Survey. Insect pollinators like bees, flies and butterflies are very important to farmers, as without these important insects the availability of some key crops such as soft fruits, oilseed rape and tomatoes could be affected. Insects like these are also vital for the countryside and their value to the UK economy has been valued at approximately £500m.

This survey will help us learn more about these important insects, so farmers can protect and conserve pollinating insects on their farms. Many farms will also be offering the Discover Pollinator activity to help everyone learn more about pollination and the insects involved. So you can start to recognise these insects which are vital to our food and our countryside.

NB. The Pollinator survey will be available on selected farms, if you are interested in finding the farm nearest to you taking part in The Pollinator Survey, please see:-  The majority of events take place on Sunday, 17 June 2012; but this year some farms will be open on alternative dates...  For up-to-date campaign information, like us on Facebook Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

NSPCC warns of child neglect crisis as reports to its helpline double

THE NSPCC have issued a warning that a sharp increase in reports of neglect cases will place additional pressure on already stretched children's services.  This warning comes as new figures have been released by the charity on 11 June 2012.  The figures show that reports to its helpline about neglect have doubled over the past 2 years to reach record levels.

Last year (April 2011 to March), trained NSPCC counsellors working on the 24 hour freephone:- 0808 800 5000, service dealt with over 12,000 contacts from people across the UK about neglect, of which 1,419 were from the North West. The UK-wide figure is the biggest number of reports about neglect yet recorded by the charity's helpline.

The latest NSPCC helpline report shows there were twice as many calls and emails to the charity about neglect as in 2009/10 and is up by 33% in the last year alone.

Of the 1,419 contacts from the North West, 1,090 were so serious they required the involvement of police or children's services; an increase of 33% from the previous year (2010/2011)and of these 75 were from the Liverpool Metropolitan District, 53 were from the Wirral Metropolitan District, 39 were from Sefton Metropolitan District and 38 were from St Helens Metropolitan District. In other cases helpline counsellors provided advice, support and information to callers.

Callers to the NSPCC helpline described children going hungry and begging neighbours for food. Others were worried about children left home alone or outside in the cold for hours on end, or children whose parents had drink or drug addictions.

The rise in reports of neglect to the NSPCC comes as local children's services face unprecedented pressures, with more children being taken into care, and more families needing help at a time of significant funding cuts.

Last year 108 children in Liverpool were subject to child protection plans because they were at risk of harm from neglect.  And recent statistics from CAFCASS, the organisation that represents children in care cases, revealed that in 2011/12 the total number of care applications for all reasons topped 10,000 for the first time.

The NSPCC is testing a ground breaking new approach with local authorities to find out what is most effective in identifying, preventing and tackling neglect quickly. The charity is also working with social workers and other professionals to find out what extra support and training they need. This research includes a survey in partnership with Community Care that is live online now and the NSPCC is urging professionals working with neglect cases to take part.

Bernadette Oxley NSPCC regional head of service for the North West, said:- "More people than ever are contacting the NSPCC about child neglect. Some of this will be down to the public being more willing to speak out - and this can only be a positive thing; but there is clearly a worrying trend, not just in our figures, but from a range of agencies and bodies. More research is needed on why this sharp increase has occurred. Professor Eileen Munro highlighted in her review of social work the importance of acting quickly to tackle neglect, before problems spiral out of control. But social workers tell us they need better tools and training to help them identify and tackle neglect earlier. And parents need access to support to help them to change their neglectful behaviour. If we are to tackle this growing problem, these 2 issues must be addressed.  Calls to the NSPCC reveal the stark reality of children's suffering behind the statistics. 1 resident from Liverpool told the NSPCC that they often saw parents of a baby smoking drugs around the child. Sometimes there were several people smoking while the baby was crawling around. They were also concerned that the baby wasn't well looked after. The caller said - ''the baby's face and clothes look dirty, the house stinks of damp and dirty nappies, the house is full of rubbish, and nobody is looking out for that baby.''"

Bernadette Oxley continued:- "The NSPCC is working closely with professionals and local government across the UK to find out the best ways to identify and tackle neglect before it ruins children's lives. And we want the public to keep raising the alarm so families can be supported to prevent more children suffering the devastating consequences of neglect.  Obviously if families will not or cannot improve, children must be protected and taken into care. But our experience shows that with the right support many families can improve their behaviour. The costs in both financial and human terms for supporting families to change are far lower than the costs of taking children into care."

Anyone who thinks a child is being neglected, or suffering any kind of abuse, shouldn't wait until they are certain there's a problem. Contact the NSPCC on:- 0808 800 5000, email or report online or contact your local authority children's service.


A convicted burglar who stabbed a women in the leg while raiding her home is wanted by the police. Marc Joseph Brown was last seen at his bail hostel in Aigburth, south Liverpool on Sunday, 10 June 2012. The 26 year old is wanted for breaching the terms of his licence having served half of a 2 year sentence for burgling the home of a 34 year old woman in Bootle in March 2011. During the break-in, Brown stabbed the woman in the leg with a knife before fleeing the scene. Due to his conviction for violence, Brown should not be approached but anyone who sees him or knows where he is should call 999 and ask for the police. He is described as white, around 5ft 8ins tall, of medium build, with short dark hair. He is known to frequent the Bootle area of Sefton, where he has family, and Norris Green and other parts of Liverpool.  Anyone with information should call Merseyside Police or Crimestoppers anonymously on:- 0800 555 111.

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