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Damian Moor MP to open the debate into giving immunity for soldiers who served in Northern Irelands

ON Monday, 20 May 2019, MPs will debate a petition urging the Government to not prosecute the military for its work in Northern Ireland. Southport MP Damien Moore, who is a member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate.  We are told that MPs will not debate specific cases that are active within the Courts, but they will be able to debate the general principle of giving immunity to service people. The petition, which has more than 146,000 signatures, states:- "Do not prosecute the military for its work in Northern Ireland. Our military should be excused all criminal investigations after a period of time."

In response to the petition, the Government said:- "This Government is unequivocal in our admiration for the Armed Forces whose sacrifices ensured terrorism would never succeed. However, our approach to the past must be consistent with the rule of law. Criminal investigations and prosecutions are a matter for the police and prosecuting authorities who act independently of government and politicians."

Monday's debate will provide an opportunity for MPs to question a Government Minister directly on this topic.  You can find out the numbers of people who signed the petition:- 'Immunity for soldiers who worked in Northern Ireland' via location, on a virtual map now, plus also you can read the House of Commons library briefing online now...

Battle of the Atlantic heroes honoured with plaque

Liverpool marks Merchant Navy Day in 2017

A permanent memorial to the Merchant Navy heroes of the Battle of the Atlantic will be unveiled tomorrow by the Lord Mayor, at Liverpool Town Hall. A plaque bearing the names of some of the 3,500 vessels that were lost from the merchant fleet will now have a permanent home, within the City of Liverpool. It will also serve as a memorial to the 36,000 Allied Merchant Sailors who lost their lives on the convoys that brought vital supplies to Britain during the 2nd World War.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Christine Banks said:- "The Merchant Navy was truly Britain's lifeline during the 2nd World War and it is important that the Liverpool Town Hall of this maritime City should be home to this permanent memorial. We should never forget the vital role these heroes played. The plaque will act as a reminder both of their tremendous achievements and the huge losses and hardships they endured."

The plaque was created by Neville Greenhalgh and was presented to the Merchant Navy Association. It was decided to present it to Liverpool due to the role the City's Port played receiving supplies brought via the treacherous North Atlantic Arctic convoys from New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Rector of Liverpool Rev Dr Crispin Pailing will lead prayers, at Friday's ceremony and there will also be a speech by Bill Anderson, chairman of the Merseyside Branch of the Merchant Navy Association. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the 2nd World War, running from the declaration of war in September 1939 until the defeat of Nazi Germany, in May 1945.

Bill Anderson, chairman of the Merchant Navy Association Liverpool Merseyside branch:- "It is magnificent that the plaque now has a home in Liverpool Town Hall and it will give me such pleasure to see it unveiled there. My father was a merchant seaman during the 2nd World War and I know 1st hand the battles that they fought, not only at the time, but also when the war had ended. They are truly the forgotten heroes of the 2nd World War. Without them, many of us wouldn't be here today."

The Merchant Navy at the time was the largest formal merchant fleet in the world and sailors from across the Commonwealth and other nations, including Ireland and China, all sailed under the Red Ensign. The City of Liverpool has previously honoured its Battle of the Atlantic heroes when they were awarded the Freedom of the City in 2003.

7 out of 10 people feel overwhelmed by the demands of living with diabetes

NEW research from Diabetes UK has found that 7 out of 10 people feel overwhelmed by the demands of living with diabetes, significantly affecting their mental and physical health. The survey of more than 2,000 adults with Type 1, Type 2 and other types of diabetes from across the UK shows that the majority of those who feel overwhelmed say that this affects how well they can manage the condition.

In order to explore the links between mental health and diabetes the charity collected extensive insights from people affected by the condition and healthcare professionals from across the UK. The findings, published in the report:- "Too often missing: Making emotional and psychological support routine in diabetes care,"show that diabetes is much more than a physical condition.

Management of physical symptoms 24/7 - for instance by checking blood glucose levels, or managing diet; alongside the continual need to make decisions, and take actions, in order to reduce the likelihood of short and long term complications, can affect every aspect of day to day life.

The research revealed that the relentless nature of diabetes can impact people's emotional, mental and psychological wellbeing and health; from day to day frustration and low mood, to specific psychological and mental health difficulties such as clinical depression and anxiety. 75% of those needing specialist mental health support, such as from a counsellor or psychologist, to help manage the condition, could not access it. 70% of people with diabetes also reported that they are not helped to talk about their emotional wellbeing by their diabetes teams.

Healthcare professionals surveyed also revealed that there was more to be done in this area. Specifically, 40% of GPs say they are not likely to ask about emotional wellbeing and mental health in routine diabetes appointments, while only 30% feel there is enough emotional and psychological support for people living with diabetes when needed.

The report marks the launch in parliament of a Diabetes UK campaign to make the emotional and psychological demands of living with diabetes recognised and provide the right support to everyone who needs it.

The charity is urgently calling on each of the 4 nations' health services to create national standards for diabetes emotional and mental health services. These should ensure that everyone is asked how they are feeling as part of every diabetes appointment, and that a mental health professional with knowledge of diabetes is part of every diabetes care team.

Clare Howarth, Head of the North of England at Diabetes UK, said:- "The day to day demands of managing diabetes can be a constant struggle affecting people's emotional wellbeing and mental health. In turn, people tell us that struggling emotionally can make it even more difficult to keep on top of self management. And when diabetes cannot be well managed, the risk of dangerous complications, such as amputations, kidney failure and stroke increases. Diabetes services that include emotional and psychological support can help people improve both their physical and mental health, reduce pressure on services, and save money. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, but services for people with diabetes don't always reflect this. We need to bridge the divide between physical and mental health services to ensure those with emotional and psychological difficulties related to their condition do not have their needs overlooked. It is critical that all diabetes care sees and supports the whole person, and explores what matters most to them."

Diabetes UK is launching a petition to call for national standards for diabetes mental health support and services. To find out more about the campaign and sign the petition go to:- Diabetes.Org.UK/Missing.

Teachers say SATs are harming mental health of Primary School children

NEARLY 95% of teachers are against the controversial Year 2 and Year 6 tests, sighting children with:- problems sleeping, headaches, bed wetting, and displaying emotional outbursts, negative changes in behaviour, and low self confidence.  As Year 6 pupils all over the country sit SAT's, research reveals that some 95% of Teachers and Teaching Assistants believe that young children are becoming increasingly stressed by the tests, which pupils must also take in Year 2 of primary School. Among the disturbing responses to the stress of the tests seen frequently by the hundreds of teachers surveyed were children:- feeling: sick, not wanting to come to School, being teary, anxious, having problems sleeping, headaches, bed wetting, and displaying emotional outbursts, negative changes in behaviour and low self confidence.  The survey, by lesson planning and resources experts PlanBee, comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed that a Labour Government would scrap SAT's, saying that young children should not be subjected to:- "extreme pressure testing." 1 teacher who replied to the survey said:- "I've seen a Year 2 child cry during the test. This was an able child. I had to tell him how amazing he was and that what he did in the test did not matter because I already knew how good he was." Another reported:- "nervous fidgeting during teaching and follow on work, increased sensitive behaviour, lack of motivation/interest in the curriculum, parents reporting they [the child] didn't want to come to School." The survey shows that teachers are equally opposed to the tests across the country, with few Regional variations. But opposition was highest in the North West and lowest in the West of England and the South West.

When asked if Year 2 children should revise for SATs, 75.3% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that children should be revising at all, with less than 10% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they should revise. The attitude to revision by Year 6 pupils was only slightly less hostile, with 50.8% believing they should not revise. 26% said that at this stage children should definitely revise, the remaining 23.3% taking a middle view, suggesting they favour less intensive revision sessions than many Schools currently provide.  Very few Schools allow their pupils to undertake SAT's with little or no preparation. So should children as young as 6 be aware that they are revising for an:- 'important' test? An overwhelming 85.9% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Year 2 children should not be aware they are revising, compared to 48.1% for Year 6. Only 6.3% disagreed or strongly disagreed that Year 2 children should not know they are revising, compared to 29.3% for Year 6.

Former Teacher Becky Cranham of lesson planners PlanBee, which carried out the survey of 334 teaching professionals, said the results showed that teachers had overwhelmingly negative attitudes towards SAT's preparation for young children and were very fearful of its impact on their mental health. Becky Cranham commented that:- "1 would hope that subjecting children to rigorous, standardised testing would be used to help further the children's education, assess pupil attainment and improve learning. Alas, this does not seem to be the case. A whopping 87.5% of our respondents believed that the primary purpose of SAT's was to assess School performance." Only 2.7% of respondents said the purpose of the tests was to inform setting for Year 3 or Year 7 and just 4.2% believed it was to assess and improve pupil learning. She added:- 'We know that many children are becoming more stressed about SAT's at a time when they should be enjoying the broad and balanced curriculum that Ofsted agrees enables children to achieve most successfully in their School careers. However, the pressure put on teachers to achieve particular SAT's results and the subsequent pressure teachers then have to put on their pupils; means that in reality many curriculum areas are pushed aside in favour of ensuring children are ready for the tests, particularly in Year 6."

Ms Cranham said that in her experience, parents were swayed by Ofsted rankings rather than SAT's results and queried who was actually benefitting from the annual ordeal. 'Why on earth are we still bothering with SAT's,' she asked.

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