Binge drinking, drug taking and no-strings attached sex; what the history books fail to tell about the Great War

December 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Lex III: Actioni contrariam semper et æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales et in partes contrarias dirigi. Sir Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis, published 1686.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion and for those of you not fluent in Latin here’s the approximate translation in today’s English.

Law III: To every action there is always an opposite and equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.

But what has this to do with the First World War history books? Read more

The Great War battle that’s still raging today

November 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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‘War is hell’ announced General William Tecumseh Sherman in an address to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy in 1879.

And I don’t think any of us would disagree, whether we have fought in, lived through, or had knowledge of such conflict, no matter how large or small. The odd thing though, is that during these times of strife, the human race seems to be at its most creative and innovative.

The inherent creativity used to create weapons of destruction is astounding. The last century, in particular, has seen the most obscene and efficient methods invented.

We have recently remembered the centenary of the outbreak of the ‘War to end all Wars’; except for the one that followed it, and the next and so on… Read more

The Power to…Moderate

November 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment
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Doug and Trevor both like to go to the pub at the weekend. Doug tends to have a few pints over the course of the evening, catches up with friends, then calls it a night.

Trevor only ever intends to have a few pints, but that swiftly turns into eight, by which time he is convinced that shots are a ‘swell idea’.

Trevor does not feel so swell the next morning…..

Moderation is a woolly concept. It allows us to tailor our idea of how allowable something is to our mood, or our own or others preconceptions. The idea of ‘a few’, ‘a couple’ or ‘just a small slice’ often goes out the window in practice.

But what is it that prompts people who are drinking too much to reduce their consumption before it becomes really problematic? And how can this moderation behaviour be encouraged? Read more

PRISINNOVATION: Thinking Out of the Cell

Practivate, led by Fellow Leslie Alfin, provides a gateway for former gang members and ex-prisoners to work in social enterprises. Abilities that have been fostered in destructive patterns of deprivation and loss are rewritten as valuable business skills that can create a positive, sustainable future in society. RSA Catalyst is supporting Practivate’s Indigogo crowdfunding campaign ‘Keepin’ It R.E.A.L. Homeware for Life’, live until November 18th; support their campaign here.

picThe current rate of prison recidivism in the UK is approximately 30% at a cost to UK taxpayers of more than £10 billion annually. The cost of addressing street crime perpetrated by gang activity is over £40 billion annually. The human costs paid by individuals and society can’t be measured. This pattern is repeated around the globe.

As a global society we currently spend more time and money re-purposing plastic bottles than we do re-claiming the vast intellectual and creative human resources that can be found sitting behind bars “spending all day in their cells rather than being engaged in training and rehabilitation.—BBC News” .

Government or institutional “solutions” tend toward manual, low paying labour. This undervalues the potential of individuals who have, from a very early age, collected impressive business experience and skills, a portfolio of innovation ‘know-how’ and tools that could rival (and perhaps trump) the best from business schools.

The assumption that certain “disadvantaged” individuals or communities are less capable of meaningful and valuable contribution may be short sighted at best and stereotypical at worst. Read more

“The only hippy at an Iron Maiden concert”

November 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Last night the Lib Dem Home Office Minister, Norman Baker, resigned from his post. The reason for this, as cited by Mr Baker, was that, “working (under Theresa May) in the department was like ‘walking through mud’”.

This comes less than a week after Mr Baker, along with Caroline Lucas MP, spearheaded the release of a Home Office commissioned report on international drug policies (Drugs: International Comparators) and a debate in the House of Commons. Read more

Leeds Empties: RSA Catalyst-supported project

leeds empties logoLeeds-based fellow Rob Greenland updates us on the progress of Leeds Empties, which the RSA recently supported with a £5,000 Catalyst grant.

You probably have an idea as to what an empty home looks like.  Boarded-up, semi-derelict, with an overgrown front garden. And it’ll probably not be the only empty home on the street.

The reality, at least in Leeds, is very different.  Perhaps 10% of our 5000 long-term empty homes look like this. The rest are empty – but in appearance are no different to any other house on the street.

That’s not to say they’re not a problem. They’ll be costing the owners money – and, whilst there’s a chronic housing shortage, it’s a wasted resource.
leeds empties
More often than not the owner would like to bring their home back into use, but they don’t know where to start. That’s where our Empty Homes Doctor service comes in. Read more

“Magic” pill may be hard to swallow

October 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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The pill that promises to help problematic drinkers, who consume half a bottle of wine or have a couple of pints of beer a day, to drink less is a hard one to swallow.

Nalmefene, which costs £3 per tablet, may soon be offered by the NHS in England and Wales to around 750,000 habitual drinkers who are regularly drinking more than the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines. It will not be available to severe alcohol-dependent people or those deemed able to stop by themselves without the help of medical intervention. Read more

‘No wonder birds fly so high…’ – A horticulturist’s (and ornithologist’s) nightmare

October 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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An unsuspecting Grandmother from the south-west of England has grown a 5ft cannabis plant in her front garden.  She has broken the law, but will not be punished; other than being asked to remove and destroy the plant.

This all came to light after she sent a picture via email to the BBC Radio Devon’s gardening programming ‘The Potting Shed’, asking for help in identifying the ‘weed’.  She had two emails back; one from the programme experts identifying the plant and the other from the police. Read more

Recovery is not welcome here

October 3, 2014 by · 2 Comments
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The RSA, in partnership with CRI and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust operates across three sites in West Kent and has recently been focussing its effort on raising awareness in the local area. Where possible we have been trying to let the community know that we are here in the hope that we can reduce some of the stigma around recovery and also to encourage the huge amounts of people with a drug or drink problem to access the treatment and support that could help.

With this in mind, I spotted this article today and was both saddened and surprised. Crawley Borough Council has reportedly turned down a proposal to open up a recovery service in the local area. This came after a series of concerns had been aired to councillors by members of the public around the perceived increases in crime and antisocial behaviour that a service might generate.

This isn’t just nimbyism, it’s counter-productive and the concerns are not based on any sort of reality.

I think the overwhelming positivity we have seen in West Kent has made me naïve to the negativity that still surrounds recovery and the short-sightedness of politicians from all sides that don’t want an unpopular decision blotting their copybook.

The major reason given for the refusal seems to be that the proposed site is in a residential area. Heaven forbid that services are made accessible and put in places that people live! I would suggest that this is a perfect place. A good service would likely go out in the community and try to engage with problematic users, just like the fantastic outreach workers do in the West Kent Recovery Service. It would help to solve the problem, rather than acting as a magnet for trouble.

This situation reminded me of a story that a colleague told me a while ago when a local treatment centre was to be moved about 100 yards and placed on the high street. There was an awful lot of fuss from local councillors and residents which died down when it was pointed out that a service had been operating so close by for the last 15 years, without causing any trouble.

On a positive note, it made me realise that there is still a lot of work that can be done, including from the recovery advocates and champions that are all over the country and remain largely unseen. We need to get out in the community more often, let people know that we are here and demonstrate what really happens in a recovery service.

To give you an idea, I spent yesterday morning in one of the West Kent Recovery centres. Whilst in a meeting with a service-user led research team there was a Breakfast Club happening next door. I could hear mixtures of laughter and story-telling, people enjoying each other’s company and sharing their problems. Following this was a peer support group run by the amazing Aspire2Be (more about their work here) and then a music group. In my experience, recovery spaces are inspiring places to be. Nowhere else can I think of a philosophy where supporting other people is so central to your own achievements.

And, if you were wondering, I’d be more than happy to have a recovery service in my back yard.

Mum’s the word! Why we shouldn’t brush ‘legal highs’ under the carpet

September 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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My septuagenarian mother is a hardened, habitual, drug-using criminal, who uses illicit substances on a daily basis.

Or at least she would be if a proposal by the Local Government Association (LGA) was introduced. They are advocating a change to UK Law in order to stop ‘legal highs’ being sold in shops. Making all psychoactive (brain chemistry altering) substances illegal; with some, such as alcohol and tobacco, being made exempt from the legislation. The LGA, which represents 400 councils nationwide, want to replicate the system already in operation in Ireland. Read more

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