Categories
Posts

Benefits Going Abroad

The UK benefit system is not perfect, I think we can all agree on that, but it’s not all bad either. There are people who need and are entitled to benefits to help cover the costs of living and are receiving this financial help. There are others who need and are entitled to benefits to help cover the costs of living and are not receiving this financial help.

Then of course there are those who don’t need and are not entitled to benefits but are receiving them anyway. Some of this may be due the complexities of the benefit system and some due to fraud. Then we get to the situation of benefits going abroad and this really puzzles me and I’ll explain why.

Long term sickness due to injury.

A family member fell whilst on holiday abroad and damaged their leg. The local hospital said surgery was required but if done there then they wouldn’t be able to fly for several weeks. The Doctors put the leg into a temporary travelling cast and advised to fly home and get the treatment at home.

Now this person has worked all of their life in the UK, never claimed any benefits and working long hours paid in more NI contributions per week than I pay in a month. On arriving at hospital at home, the Doctors decided surgery wasn’t required but rehabilitation would be required after a lengthy healing process.

They were signed off work and was paid Statutory Sick Pay. After six months the leg still hadn’t healed and the Statutory Sick Pay stopped. Applying for benefits took six weeks before being told they weren’t entitled to anything because their partner brought home just over the threshold.

A further six months passed and they had to return to work against the advice of the doctors in order to get some money to pay the bills. Risking extending the healing process and further injury.

Romanian Mother

Then we get to the situation where a Romanian mother who has never lived in the UK gets £150 child benefit for her children who also don’t live in the UK. The benefit was first claimed whilst the husband worked in the UK, the couple have now divorced and the whereabouts of the husband unknown after he quit his job.

The mother, a teacher in Romania, who remember has never lived in the UK has been stated as saying,

“I won my case to get the benefits but I’m still not sure I’m getting all the money I deserve”.

The case she mentions was heard by a Romanian judge who stated,

“The divorce of the parents does not alter the fact that the children remain family members of their father, who lives and works in the UK.”

The HMRC agree that ‘this is the correct ruling under European Law’. There are a few points here (well probably many, but here are just a few).

  • Firstly, European Law is idiotic.
  • Secondly how can the UK government allow UK taxpayers money to be sent abroad if the whereabouts of the ex-husband is unknown, how can they say he lives and works in the UK.
  • Thirdly, the UK Government should be sued under misrepresentation due to the fact they can no more Govern than I can perform brain surgery.

This £150 is a large amount of money in a country with an average salary of £400 per month. Child support payments are made regardless of work (earning up to £50,000 pa), savings or investment status.

What do you think? Do you think this mother should receive the benefits? Or not?

It would be great to hear your thoughts on this, so please contact me using the form below.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you.

Justin

Categories
Posts

How to reduce food waste

In the UK as in other parts of the world, millions of tons of edible food are being wasted. There are schemes in place to reduce wastage, but there is more to be done. Wasted food is wasted money and an additional strain on waste resources. I have a few suggestions for reducing waste food but hope that you will be able to also give your suggestions on how to reduce food waste.

At what stage is food being wasted?

Looking at figures for the UK supplied by the Government in 2016/17 the estimated losses post farmgate were;

  • Wholesale
    • less than 1% or 0.04 million tons
  • Food waste in litter
    • 1% or 0.1 million tons
  • Retail
    • 2% or 0.25 million tons
  • Hospitality and food service
    • 9% or 0.9 million tons
  • Manufacturing
    • 17% or 1.7 million tons
  • Household
    • 71% or 7.3 million tons (36% of which is fresh produce)

As can be clearly seen, household waste is responsible for around 71% of all food wastage (around £20 billion). Why are households wasting such huge amounts of feed, we have access to efficient refrigeration and freezing in most homes, yet 7.3 million tons of food is being wasted each year from UK households.

One of the reasons I believe, must be the reliance on best before and use by dates. People seem to have lost the ability to use their judgement on whether a food is edible or not.

Best before date

The ‘best before date’ is based on the quality of the product not safety. This means the product may lose some of its colour, texture or flavour after the best before date has passed but can still be perfectly safe to consume. If stored correctly and has remained uncontaminated then these products can have a period after the best before date in which they are perfectly safe to consume. In general if the produce looks, feels, smells (and ultimately tastes) ok it will be safe to eat particularly if being cooked thoroughly before consuming.

Use by date

The term ‘use by’ is used to label food that is highly perishable and can, after a short period constitute a danger to health if consumed after the use by date. Correct storage will maintain the product safely to the use by date. There are ways to extend this ‘use by date’ though.

Freezing for example will extend the life of the product. Approximately 800,000 tons of food worth £2bn is disposed of each year which could have been frozen and eaten at a later date.

Cooking products either on their own or as an ingredient and then freezing will also extend the safe shelf life of the product. Remember to clearly label foods with the date of freezing.

Ingredients for Recipes

Another way in which food goes to waste is the buying of ingredients for recipes for which only a small proportion is used for the recipe and the rest ends up in a cupboard and ultimately disposed of or goes straight into the bin. With so many recipes calling for a pinch of this, one of those, the zest of this, a grating of that or half of one of those, so much good edible food is going to waste.

So what can we do?

Buy Local

One way we can reduce the amount of food wastage (and packaging) is to make better use of local farm shops, farmers markets, box schemes and smaller/independent retailers such as greengrocers, butchers and fishmongers who are happy to sell items in the quantity you need. The produce will be fresher, last longer, taste better and be more beneficial to your health and the environment.

One of the reasons people give for buying at a supermarket is the cheaper prices. This is just not the case, we already know that consumers throw away around £20 billion of food each year in the UK. By spending slightly more for a superior local product in the quantity required you will actually be saving money by minimising wastage.

Supermarkets are very good at promotion and advertising, particularly with their multibuys. For example buy three for the price of two, you think you are getting a bargain but end up throwing one away. All of a sudden the price paid per item has gone up and you paid more for the two items than if you just bought the two originally. Some offers are good but don’t forget the only winner is the supermarket they do not do anything unless there is a profit in it for them. They know that you are very unlikely to just buy the one offer, you are most likely going to buy other products whilst you are there and that is how they maximise their profit and turnover.

Store all produce properly

Store all produce as advised and if you feel you have too much of something look at other ways of making use of it. Use in different recipes, freeze or cook and freeze for example.

Donate

If you find you have surplus of a product and can’t find another way of keeping it, donate it whilst it is still edible. This could be to neighbours who could make use of it or to one of the many charities around the country providing meals for the homeless etc.

Make better use of Recipes

To those that devise recipes that call for the use of half of this or the zest of that etc. please include additional recipes showing ways that use up the remaining ingredients. Additionally devising recipes that include quantities of ingredients commonly available as a standard pack size would appear to be useful.

Grow your own

Growing as much as is possible is a great way to have the best fresh produce and by conserving/preserving you could be eating your produce all year. Making jams, pickles, wine etc. are all good ways of preserving your produce.

Well what ideas do you have?

I have outlined five ways in which I feel food waste could be reduced, what do you think? Do you have any ideas? I would love to hear your ideas, please use the contact form below to let me know your thoughts and suggestions.

Thanks for reading.

Justin – founder of TWITWAY

Categories
Posts

Teamwork in Politics

State Visit to the UK

US President

What exactly are people protesting about when it comes to Donald Trump’s visit to the UK? Firstly it isn’t Donald Trump visiting the UK it is the President elect of the United States of America. Whatever people think about Donald Trump as an individual is irrelevant here.

The United States are the biggest most powerful allie Britain has got and we must work together. Rather than wasting their time protesting about Donald Trump the protestors would be better spending their energy on making the two countries work together for the benefit of all.

Working Relationships

Most of us have had to work with (or for) people we would not choose to be friends with or may even dislike, but you have to build a working relationship with them. It is the same here, we have to build a working relationship with the President regardless of the feelings towards the person.

It is the same within our own Government. There is continual back biting and bad mouthing, even within the same party! It is far easier to highlight the failings of others than to work together and work out how to make things happen for the benefit of the country.

I may be cynical but when you see a politician being interviewed and they spend 95% of the time criticising the opposition, it makes me feel that they have absolutely no idea how to fix the problem themselves.

Government appears to be fragmented, made up of individuals all working to their own agenda. This is never going to work. They are employed by the people for the people. When we work together we are powerful, alone we are weak.

The armed forces are strong as a unit, a sports team successful when working together, when animals work together they survive. The commonality between all these is they are all focusing on the same goal. If we could actually get the members of government to all focus on the same goal, who knows what might be achieved.

Leadership

Within government there are 25 ministerial departments

  • Attorney General’s Office
  • Cabinet Office
  • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport
  • Department for Education
  • Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs
  • Department for Exiting the European Union
  • Department for International Development
  • Department for International Trade
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work & Pensions
  • Department for Health & Social care
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • HM Treasury
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Northern Ireland Office
  • Office of the Advocate General for Scotland
  • Office of the Leader of the House of Commons
  • Office of the Leader of the House of Lords
  • Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
  • UK Export Finance

Each of these departments will have their own aims and objectives. 25 individual departments working towards their own aims and objectives and forgetting how each objective fits with the ultimate objective makes government very weak. However if each of these departments works properly and achieves its aims and objectives, clearly understanding how what they are doing takes the country nearer to achieving its ultimate objective then government will be very strong.

Teamwork training

The sports teams and armed services train tirelessly to gain the skills to understand what the objectives are and how to achieve them. This is what the Prime Minister must be doing, ensuring clear communication and understanding of the objectives. Gaining the respect of the government (and the country) and leading them forward to success.

This is a very simplistic view of politics but sometimes I feel that this is what’s needed. Look at how politicians in particular answer a question, they can talk at length and still not answer the question. This is very clever, but not impressive. What would be impressive is a straight answer. I would be mightily impressed by any politician who came out and answered a question by stating ‘this is where we are now, this is where we need to be and this is how we are going to get there’.

As you have probably realised if you managed to read all of this, I don’t know a lot about politics and to be honest I don’t think you need to. I like simple, straight talking. Tell me your objectives and how you are going to achieve them, simple!

What do you think? Am I being too simplistic? Is this not possible? Does politics have to be run this way? Please let me know by leaving your comments below and I will reply as soon as possible.

Thank you for reading.

Justin – founder of twitway.com

Categories
Posts

Is this what’s meant by a ‘Woman’s prerogative?’

I think most people have heard the saying ‘it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind’. But my partner seems to be taking this to the extreme lately. We moved into a rental bungalow around 12 months ago. It had just been refurbished with neutral (read magnolia) on the walls and beige carpets put down in the bedrooms and living room.

I was happy because it was in a great location, had a small suntrap garden, new conservatory, new paint and carpets, just move in, tidy up the garden and relax. What was I thinking?

I was soon taught that magnolia is a horrible colour and had to go. First was the living room, after deciding on green, the shade needed to be chosen. After checking out endless colour charts and various tester pots the shade was chosen. Paint mixed, we were ready to decorate.

paint brush

Cutting in and rollering the first wall, all was going well until there was some doubt about the shade. Back to the shop, new shade chosen, paint mixed, ready for take 2. I managed two walls this time, back to the shop, new shade chosen, paint mixed, take 3! Finished the room this time, looking good, moved furniture in.

Bedrooms next, apparently grey is the colour of the moment, so back to the shop. Who knew that grey could come in so many different shades? I thought it would be a choice between dark or light grey! It’s like trying to buy a cup of coffee, you have to answer 20 questions! Anyhow, choice made, paint mixed, ready to decorate. Half a wall done, then back to the shop, new shade chosen, paint mixed, take 2.

All done this time, looks good, ready to move furniture in. Now apparently our furniture won’t go with grey, so new white furniture chosen and ordered from that famous flat pack company. A triple wardrobe, chest of drawers and two bedside tables later, bedroom 1 completed.

Bedroom 2 was painted white so nice and simple. Apparently, cream bedroom furniture looks dirty next to white walls! New order to the shop that sounds like ‘eye key her’, 1 double wardrobe, 1 chest of drawers and 2 bedside tables later, all done.

Kitchen to be grey, great we already had a grey shade, get washable version and crack on. No, had to have a different shade, went to a specialist shop this time, found the shade and got paint mixed. First shock, chose durable, washable paint, diamond hard finish, £70.00 for 5 litres! should have checked that before getting mixed.

Decided we had to like this shade because there was no way I was going to waste it. Actually looked ok, but, apparently didn’t really go with the work tops. New worktops chosen and old ones replaced. Kitchen finished. No, whilst working in the kitchen, I was tasked with fitting a dishwasher as that apparently is a necessity. Integrated dishwasher ordered, I set too, removing a cupboard and fitted the old unit doors to the dishwasher. All done and looks just like original unit, result.

Hallway next, to be grey so used up what was left of the kitchen paint. Very expensive for a hallway but looked good. Bathroom, white, again nice and simple, bought white bathroom paint and job done. No, bath panel didn’t match white walls (how can anything not match white?) So bought tongue and groove, cut to size and made new panel, marvellous.

Colour pallette

All rooms done, sit back and relax. No, now would like new sofas (they were quite old to be fair). Fancies grey sofas, weeks of looking and decided on a style and colour for two snew sofa and an armchair. All ordered, left the shop and the doubts started. Back into the shop and changed the style.

Next day, decided really needed 1 sofa and 2 armchairs and if I was going in to change the order could I change the colour as well? Shop very understanding and changes made. Now to choose the paint to match the sofa colour.

After lots of changes of mind, I suggested going back to the shop to get a swatch of the material. So back to the shop and guess what, a change of mind on the colour of the sofa, apparently looked different this time. Once again the shop was very understanding (at least to my face) and with the colour now changed and with swatch in hand, paint colour was chosen.

With the new paint on the walls it will be 6-8 weeks before the furniture arrives. What will happen in that time is anybody’s guess, but I am trying not to think about it!

Updated 3/6/19 – Living room now ‘Dusted Fondant’ on one wall and paler version on the other walls. Curtains changed to match the paint!

Has anybody else got stories like this? Why is it so difficult for some people to make a decision and stick to it? Please let me know your stories and experiences, it might help if I know I’m not alone in having an indecisive partner.

Thanks for reading.

Justin – founder of Twitway.com

Categories
Posts

NHS Patient Experience

Back injury

I was unfortunate enough to hurt my back at work in March 2019, or to be more precise the damage I had been doing to my back over the years accumulated to the point when my back cried – STOP! This is a short record of my NHS patient experience.

I bravely soldiered on for a few hours and then threw the cape away, stopped being a hero and went home. I called in sick the next day (Saturday) and rested over the weekend.

GP

On Monday, unable to move the toes on my left foot, I made an appointment with my GP. He was very good, signed me off work for a week (he wanted to do more, but I would only get statutory sick pay so didn’t want to be off too long) and prescribed some pain relief.

He advised that if I had any numbness in other areas (I won’t expand where!) or felt things were getting worse, to go straight to the A&E. I rested for the week and went back to work on arranged ‘light duties’. At the end of the first day I didn’t feel too bad, had a hot bath and went to bed.

A&E

In the morning I was unable to flex my foot upwards at the ankle and my back was once more telling me something. I phoned in to work and took myself to A&E. Being around 8.30am it was fairly quiet with only a few patients waiting. I didn’t have to wait too long for triage who took some history and details of the problem.

Back in the waiting room it wasn’t a long wait before I was called to see the Doctor. Quick recap and examination and decision made that a scan would be needed. Call to orthopaedics to get the ok to book the scan and I was taken to a cubicle. Given a gown to get into (not easy!) then a nurse checked details, attached id bracelet and took general observations, temperature, pulse and blood pressure. Took bloods and inserted a cannula at same time.

Orthopaedic registrar came and assessed me and agreed that an MRI was needed. I was taken into a different cubicle to wait for the MRI. In the new cubicle the nurse who would be looking after me introduced themselves and checked all of my details and got me a cup of tea.

After about an hour the nurse said the MRI had been booked for later in the morning and someone from imaging would be round to explain what would be happening and check on my weight etc.

They duly arrived and told me they would be back to collect me at a certain time. This they did, I was taken to the MRI, went through the scanner and was taken back to the cubicle. The orthopaedic doctor came round to check everything was ok and to say they were just waiting the results of the MRI.

By this time it was lunchtime and the nurse got me a sandwich and another cup of tea. Orthopaedics said they had got the results and were just taking a look, (apparently there was quite a list!)

MRI results

Shortly after lunch I was given the results – listed below:

  • Multilevel spondylosis and facet joint arthropathy.
  • 6mm spinal synovial cyst seen at L4/5 on the right side
  • Multilevel disc desiccation and decreased disc height in keeping with degenerative disc disease, most pronounced at L1/2 and L4-S1
  • New modic type 1 changes are seen at L3/4
  • At L1/2 there is a broad based posterior disc bulge indenting the thecal sac, obvious neural compromise is present
  • At L4/5 there is a paramedian disc protrusion indenting the thecal sac and impinging upon the exiting right L4 nerve root
  • At L5/S1 there is a posterior broad based disc bulge which together with the endplate osteophytosis and facet arthrosis significantly narrows the neural foramina, more on the right side
  • The disc bulge impinges upon the exiting L5 nerve root on the right side

I just had to wait whilst they contacted the local spinal hospital for their opinion. This did take a couple of hours but eventually they replied that I should be referred to the local spinal triage. All in all I left the hospital at around 5.30pm. During that time every member of staff was unfailingly polite and helpful, amazing service.

A couple of observations

Whilst the staff were amazing, the politics and procedures involved in communicating with other departments was ludicrous. The referral to spinal triage (in the same hospital) would need to be done by my GP, the A&E and Orthopaedics were not able to do it. So, make an appointment with my GP to get him to refer me to spinal triage!

Also to get the MRI booked the A&E doctor contacted the orthopaedic SHO to get the go ahead. The SHO said they weren’t able to do this, it needed to be done by the registrar. So call the registrar who said it didn’t need to go through them, it should go through the SHO. So, another call back to the SHO and finally got it organised!

It is the internal policies and politics that seemed to bottle neck progress and was the one thing the staff commented about on numerous occasions. There has to be a message there, I guess the people making the policies aren’t (or won’t) listen.

On the whole the treatment I received was excellent and can’t praise the staff highly enough. In fact I wrote an email to the Trust to ask them to pass on my thanks, to which I got a nice reply promising to pass my thanks on to the relevant departments.

I just thought it would be nice to show that in my experience NHS staff are caring, professional and human. Pretty good qualities in my book. I know there will be people who have had an awful time but I can only speak for myself and hope that if people have had a poor experience they were isolated cases.

Do you have an NHS Patient Experience?

Please get in touch with your experiences – good or bad. Let’s celebrate the good and together discover solutions for the bad. Things will never improve if we do not discuss issues and talk to the right people about solutions, let’s make it happen!

Thank you for reading.

Justin – founder of Twitway

Categories
Posts

Right to Roam UK

What is right to roam UK?

The right to roam sometimes referred to as right of access is an act within the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW). CRoW amended the law relating to public rights of way along with those laws relating to conservation of nature and the protection of wildlife.

The big change and what I will be concentrating on is ‘right to roam’. This act basically provides open access to areas of land such as mountains, moors, heaths and downs along with areas registered as common land for recreational purposes such as running, walking, climbing and nature watching.

Identifying open access areas

Natural England have an interactive map available which details open access areas across England. Put in the area or post code you are interested in and the map will display available open access areas. Unfortunately it would appear that many people seem to have heard about the right to roam but not about the restrictions and responsibilities involved.

I’ve got the ‘Right’ to Roam!

Millions of people access the countryside and have done for many years using the miles of footpaths, bridleways, byways, permitted paths etc. And for all of these years farmers have dealt with the litter, open gates, escaped stock, damaged fences, fires, destruction of habitats and damaged crops that the people leave behind.

The CRoW now gives people a ‘right’ and to many people that right is the right to roam where they please and to try and explain to someone that this field contains crops which they are not allowed in will often be met with the words “I’ve got the ‘right’, you can’t stop me!”

What’s the problem?

barbecue right to roam

In a survey by the National Sheep Association in 2017, 56% of respondents stated that the majority of sheep worrying incidents occurred in private enclosed fields with no footpath. The number of sheep worrying incidents is increasing every year and is completely unacceptable. Please see my article on sheep worrying for more details.

CRoW states that “mountain, moor, heath or down” does not include land which consists of improved or semi-improved grassland. Now I am quite confident that to many visitors to the countryside grass is grass and will not be able to identify the difference between mountain, moor, heath, down, improved or semi improved grassland.

Then we have people who come to the countryside to have their barbeques. The litter left from behind by families having barbeques is unbelievable, in the urban parks, there are litter bins and people employed to empty the bins and pick up rubbish. This is not the case in the countryside, the litter left behind can and does kill livestock and wildlife.

heathland fire right to roam

Just doing a quick search brought up a fire covering 10 acres on the Isle of Sky on April 24th 2019 – a large heath fire Burton near Christchurch 21st April 2019 – a moor fire covering six square miles in West Yorkshire, 26th April 2019 – ‘apocalyptic’ moor fire in West Yorkshire covering 1.5 square km, caused by barbeque.

The damage done by these fires will be immense, habitats will be lost, wildlife killed, species endangered and the financial implications are also huge – these types of fire demand a massive fire fighting presence with time recorded by the day rather than by the hour.

It has to be more than a coincidence that the sheep worrying and fires and general damage to the countryside has increased to records levels since the right to roam was put in place. The countryside should be enjoyed, but it is not a playground, it is a place of work and a huge habitat for our flora and fauna which demands respect and understanding from those that wish to spend time there.

The minority spoil it for the majority

As is often the case unfortunately, it is the minority of people who spoil things for the majority. Most people visiting and enjoying the countryside are able to do so whilst showing some understanding and respect for the environment they are in. But it is the minority who do the damage, the minority that make news headlines and the minority that provide a divide between those that live and work in the countryside and those that wish to visit the countryside.

What should be a great idea, to let people access the countryside and get closer to the way our food is produced and hopefully get a better understanding of the management that is involved in maintaining the vital habitats and environments that make up our diverse countryside is doomed to failure if people do not treat it with respect.

If there is not a swift change in attitude from those people abusing the right to access the countryside I believe the right to roam must be revoked. Some education must be given to the public, tv adverts are expensive but is minimal compared to the animal cruelty, destruction of habitats and the losses faced by farmers. If the government wishes to continue with the right to roam, they should produce a series of short information films highlighting the impact people can have on the countryside.

What do you think?

Should people have the right to roam? Is more education the answer? Please let me know you thoughts by commenting below.

Thanks for reading

Justin – founder of twitway.com

Categories
Posts

Birth Tourism

A visitor to TWITWAY brought this to my attention recently so I have been doing a bit of research. Firstly, what is Birth Tourism? It is a term to describe expectant mothers living outside of the UK, travelling here to have their babies in NHS maternity units for free.

passport birth tourism

The NHS is our National Health Service (not International) which provides healthcare for those permanently resident in the UK. Patients that receive healthcare in the UK but are not resident here must pay for their treatment or have health insurance to cover the cost of their treatment.

This is why, if you have received non urgent hospital treatment you will have been asked by staff where you have been living in the past six months. If you are not eligible for NHS treatment you will be required to pay the fees up front.

So how come expectant mothers are getting away with it? This is because the upfront fees only apply to non-urgent treatments. Life saving, A&E, GP and maternity services are still free.

baby birth tourism

So if you turn up at maternity in labour, you will not be turned away but receive all of the treatment and care required. Then the mother and baby leave the hospital and don’t pay a penny. Although the hospital may chase the patient for payment, it is never going to be easy when the mother and baby have left the country.

How much is this costing the NHS?

Figures obtained by a national newspaper claim that at least £10 million a year is lost to mothers ineligible for NHS treatment. This is just from maternity units, if all treatments received by ineligible patients is included the total is nearer £2 billion a year!

Of course as well as the financial implications there is the fact that these ineligible patients are using up resources and appointments increasing waiting times for those who are eligible for treatment.

We can’t charge for life saving treatment

I believe life saving treatment is provided in all countries, even in America, they have to stabilize a patient whose life is at risk, but that is all they are obliged to do, if you can’t pay for further treatment you are discharged maybe to a charity hospital if available. And then they will pursue payment for the treatment you have received.

The flipside

On the flipside I can sort of understand how if you lived in a country with a poor healthcare system you might wish to receive better treatment somewhere else. However, we as a nation are not responsible for the poor and/or expensive healthcare provided in other countries. The NHS is under severe financial pressure as it is with constant cuts being made. We need to do everything possible to save the NHS.

The UK must get tougher

I believe we have to get tougher in the UK to safeguard the health and wellbeing of UK residents. Yes, we should provide life saving treatment to all, as there are of course legitimate cases where holidaymakers/visitors are taken seriously ill.

But before a patient is discharged all ways of receiving payment for their treatment must be investigated, not by nurses who are busy enough, but by immigration. Although expensive remember we are losing £2 billion a year to ineligible patients.

Immigration can research the patients travel arrangements, financial status and place of residence. If the patient is found to have travelled to the UK primarily for treatment to which they were not entitled, then that is fraud and should be made to pay, fingerprinted and punished before being removed from the country and not allowed to re-enter.

Stealing

If you had money stolen from you, you would do something about it. Well these ineligible patients are stealing £2 billion of our money every year, money we pay through taxes and National Insurance and it is time something was done about it.

Taking a firm stance although costly to start with, will slowly get the message across that the UK is not a soft touch and that patients will pay somehow for the treatment they received and receive punishment.

What do you think?

Is there a solution? If you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions, please comment below.

Thanks for reading

Justin – founder of twitway.com

Categories
Posts

Addicted to Compliments

Have you noticed how society seems addicted to compliments? Someone cooks a bowl of pasta, posts a picture on social media and waits for everyone to tell them how amazing they are! There literally is no limits to what people expect praise for today.

Putting on makeup, finishing homework, doing the washing up, walking the dog, opening their own tin of beans, getting out of bed before noon, remembering to eat – the list of worthless tasks people post on social media and and expect recognition really is endless.

And it gets worse, people expect praise for things they haven’t done – not getting a detention all week, not bullying their brothers/sisters, not leaving the toilet seat up, you get the idea. So what is wrong with praise? Well I’m glad you asked, let me explain.

well done

What’s the problem?

Firstly there is nothing wrong with praise – just the way it is given. When used indiscriminately, praise becomes worthless. If someone is praised for every little thing they do, it has no meaning. I’ll use a classroom situation as an example.

I am sure we all remember being in the classroom and feeling miffed that teachers would praise outcomes not effort. The bright ones in the class would produce a piece of work with no effort whatsoever and be praised for their amazing work. Yet the students who worked really hard and put a lot of effort into their work get no praise because the completed work isn’t as good as the others.

I am sure classroom management could be vastly improved by praising effort rather than outcomes – but that’s another story. Then we get to the teachers who praise everyone regardless of effort or achievement. Why would a learner work really hard on a task if they were going to get praised just for writing their name at the top of the page?

Do you think those smart learners really felt good because of the praise or was it just expected? The learner who hardly ever gets praise is much more likely to appreciate praise when it is received.

Praise makes you feel good (if you’ve earned it)

like me graffiti

I think most people feel better about themselves when they receive a compliment, it is human nature. But it must be earned. I really think it is more important that you are happy with what you have achieved yourself rather than looking for compliments from others.

Thanks for nothing

Then we move onto those who get praise for doing something that was their fault in the first place. Like people who get praise for losing weight – it was their fault they were fat in the first place! Why don’t we praise the people who are not fat? Or alcoholics who have been on the wagon for a while! They shouldn’t have become an alcoholic. Again we don’t praise those who are sensible and can moderate their alcohol intake.

What about when a prolific burglar is in court and is praised because they haven’t been in trouble for 15 months – well whoop-de-doo. Let’s get everyone who has not been in trouble for 15 months together and congratulate them. Besides it doesn’t mean they haven’t done anything wrong for 15 months, just that they haven’t been caught – until now!

I really don’t understand society, I was always brought up to tell the truth and not hurt anyone. Today you daren’t be honest in case you offend someone. When people ask for your opinion, what they are really asking for is reassurance of how amazing they are.

My goal is to….

Reach an age where I can tell everyone what I really think and not give a damn for the consequences, just blame my age! Not be nasty, just truthful.

What do you think?

Is praise given out to easily today? Or am I a dinosaur that just needs to lighten up? Please let me know.

Thanks for reading

Justin – founder of twitway.com

Categories
Posts

Living with Invisible Disability

What is an Invisible Disability?

These are disabilities, injuries, illnesses or conditions that impact on the sufferers life but are not obvious to other people. This can be very frustrating for the sufferer and others around them.

Although distressing for all sufferers it can be particularly so for those of school or working age. Sufferers can feel (and be treated) like a fraud. Things are often said without thought and can be really hurtful. Even if not said it is often what sufferers believe is being said or thought.

  • ‘What, you’ve got a bad back?’ I’ve had a really bad back too, but I just manned up, took the pills and kept going to work!’
  • ‘Why aren’t you at work/school? There looks nothing wrong with you!’
  • ‘Why are you getting special treatment? It’s not fair, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just making more work for everyone else!’
  • ‘Sciver, you’re just lazy and want the benefits!’

The difficulty is that, yes some people do exaggerate about their symptoms but I will leave them to their own conscience (or lack of), I am only interested in those with genuine conditions. Conditions such as:

What sort of conditions?

  • Mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, anxiety etc.
  • Brain injury
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic dizziness
  • Vision related
  • Hearing related
  • and many more

All invisible disabilities come with their own challenges. In many cases, sufferers everyday lives or work lives are affected, but with care, understanding and reasonable adaptations, those challenges can be overcome.

overcoming challenges
Overcoming challenges

Speak up

However, if a sufferer doesn’t speak up and make others aware of the challenges they are facing, then others can’t be held responsible for not making allowances. It is not always easy though, to tell people that you suffer from a condition that may need procedures put into place in order to manage them effectively.

Sufferers may worry that people will think differently of them or think they are making a fuss. Well, to be honest, that is their problem not the sufferers. This is especially so where Health and Safety is concerned. Consider what may happen if a sufferer can’t hear a fire alarm, vehicles moving or spoken instructions. Being alone and having an epileptic episode. Not able to read warning signs or written instructions. Has to take medication at set times throughout the day. Needs to eat at certain times or is allergic to certain foods. The consequences can quite literally be deadly.

The message is clear

If you have an invisible disability, then please speak up. This could well save your life. Likewise, if somebody tells you they have an invisible disability, take a moment to think about how hard it may have been for them to tell you. Consider what can be done to help them, not just to make their tasks easier but maybe save their life.

Please comment below

Thanks for reading

Justin – founder of twitway.com

Categories
Posts

The cyber bully and the ‘Trojan Horse’

What is a ‘Trojan Horse’?

Trojan horse
Trojan Horse

After a fruitless 10 year siege between the Greeks and the independent city of Troy the Greeks came up with a plan. The Greeks built a huge wooden horse, left it outside of the gates to Troy and then sailed away.

The inhabitants of Troy saw the Greeks sail away and pulled the horse into their city as a trophy for winning the war. What they didn’t know was that the Greeks sailed back in that night and that inside the horse were 30 Greek soldiers who opened the gates to Troy from the inside and let in the rest of the Greek soldiers allowing them to enter Troy and win the war.

Although this happened a long time ago the term ‘Trojan Horse’ is still used today to describe any tactic used to enter a secure place by tricking their way in.

In the past if someone was being bullied they were able to enter a place of sanctuary – usually their home – and avoid the bullies. Today they are unable to hide from the bullies as the bullies enter in their ‘Trojan Horse’.

The modern ‘Trojan Horse’

The ‘Trojan Horse’ today takes the form of the internet and in particular social media. This Trojan Horse allows bullies to connect with their victims 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no longer a place of sanctuary for victims.

Social media
social media

It might be simple to suggest turning off the devices or disconnecting from social media. There are a couple of problems though. Firstly, why should they? Would you want to be forced to do something you didn’t want to do by a bully? Secondly, psychologically it is very difficult to ignore something that in your mind you know is there. Think about a wobbly tooth, you know it’s there and it hurts if you wobble it. But you can’t ignore it, you have to keep wobbling it to see if it is still wobbly and still hurts.

Thirdly, quite often the bully and victim have never met and often don’t even know each other. Without making excuses for the bullies, sometimes the bullies forget their is a person at the other end. They may make a derogatory remark about a photo they have seen on social media, but remarks are not about a photo – they’re about a person!

It is amazing how bullies have fitted the same profile throughout history. Pick on those weaker than themselves and/or surround themselves with a ‘gang’ (again independently weaker than themselves) which boosts their own lack of self esteem. Not many bullies work alone and not many will pick on those stronger than themselves. That profile is still much the same with cyber bullies, although they feel they have the advantage of anonymity, the reasons for bullying are still there.

They bully to look good to their ‘gang’. They are egocentric, need adoration and being weak themselves surround themselves with weaker people so they feel good about themselves and feel popular. Not having the intelligence and being too lazy to work towards being good at something like sport or music they take the ‘easy’ option and belittle others to make themselves feel good.

It is sad that others have to be hurt to make someone feel good and whilst it could be easy to advise victims of cyber bullying to just delete, block and ignore hurtful posts, if you were bombarded consistently you would need to be a very strong individual to ignore them. Particularly if threats turn to suggestions of physical violence.

Stopping the bullies

no bullying
No bullying

It might be tempting to try and belittle the bully with words, make the bully look silly to their ‘gang’ by picking them up on spelling, grammar etc. but it would be very hard for a bully to retreat with their ego intact so is more likely to escalate.

Removing the trojan horse would be one place to start. This is an area for cyber security experts to jump in. I do not have the knowledge to know what is or is not achievable. I would suggest something along the lines of anyone wanting to enter the internet must have their fingerprints entered into a database, using fingerprints to log onto the internet would help identify offenders and access to the internet denied when fingerprint tries logging on.

Fingerprint
Fingerprint

I know they could get other people to log on for them, but again if any offence was committed, that fingerprint would be locked out as well. Many people would not want to lose their access to the internet for someone else. Fingerprints being locked out could find themselves unable to access the benefits system, exams, driving tests, phone contracts, smart tv, internet gaming etc. etc. Maybe this would be enough of a deterrent! What do you think?

As I said before I don’t know if this is even possible but seeing as my phone uses fingerprint recognition it does sound plausible – to me anyway. I also know trying to build a database of every person on the internet would be a mammoth task and that those who feel they are not doing anything wrong would not want big brother watching. I also do not like the idea of big brother watching, but if you are not doing anything wrong then there is nothing to worry about.

Your thoughts and comments? Please let me know what you think. Am I living in cuckoo land? Do you have a solution? Please share with us, your idea might save victims of bullying and make the internet a safer place!

Thanks for reading.

Justin – founder of www.twitway.com