We need to talk about ‘Chemsex’…

January 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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Public Health England have published the latest statistics for HIV infection in the UK. The figures show that 110,000 people are infected with the virus. Worryingly, there has also been an increase in the number of gay men diagnosed in recent years, with 3,250 newly diagnosed in 2013. In London, the proportion of gay and bisexual men living with HIV is 13% of the HIV population. Read more

Room at the Inn?

December 23, 2014 by · 1 Comment
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… ‘And laid him in a manager because there was no room at the inn.’ Luke 2:7

We all know the tale so let’s forget the theological and philosophical sides of it. After all there are far wiser men than me to comment on it.

So unmarried Mary falls pregnant; her partner Joseph, a carpenter, was born in a town other than where they lived; a census was called that made him and his heavily pregnant girlfriend travel back to the city of his birth, Bethlehem, and so on… . Read more

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

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