News from the sector on the pandemic #NeverMoreNeeded
Animal welfare link to domestic abuse
There is concern lockdown has exposed Glaswegians to greater risk of domestic abuse. Chiefs at animal welfare charity Scottish SPCA (SSPCA), which has a centre in Cardonald, worry people are being put in harm's way by being confined to a home "with their abuser". The Scottish SPCA has now relaunched a domestic abuse campaign in a bid to protect both animals and humans from harm. First Strike was first introduced in 1998 to highlight the link between domestic violence and animal abuse. Gilly Mendes Ferreira, head of education, policy and research, said: “The relaunch of our First Strike campaign reaffirms the Scottish SPCA’s commitment to helping people and animals who are victims of domestic violence. The nature of our work means we often enter situations where domestic violence is a problem, and in our experience animals can often be the forgotten victims. Pets can be exploited as a form of control by an abuser and be beaten or mistreated directly. There is real concern the lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic has put those who were already being abused at even greater risk, confining them to a home with their abuser.” When it was originally launched, First Strike was adopted by The Links Group, which consists of medical professionals, veterinary surgeons, police, social workers and animal welfare organisations.
Hated sanctions expected to restart
JobCentres are set to re-open this week and with it the return of benefit sanctions for jobseekers. Sanctions were suspended with face-to-face appointments and offices closed when the UK went into lockdown. Now the UK Work and Pensions secretary said Jobcentre will be reopening and it was necessary for the rules to be re-applied. Unemployment in Scotland rose by 30,000 according the latest figures earlier this month to 127,000 between February and April. The rise is despite the conronavirus job retention scheme where hundreds of thousands were put on furlough to protect their jobs. Jobcentres will be expected to deal with many more people out of work and more people will be chasing after fewer vacancies. But sanctions, which have been criticised as been unfair on many jobseekers are expected to return when work coaches are available for job seeker appointments again. The UK Government relaxed the rules and suspended sanctions for 90days, which has come to an end. Therese Coffey, work and pensions secretary was asked if she would extend the sanctions ban, but she declined. She said: “It is important that as the jobcentres fully reopen this week we reinstate the need for a claimant commitment. It is an essential part of the contract to help people start to reconsider what vacancies there are, but I know that I can trust the work coaches and jobcentre managers, who are empowered to act proactively with people. There will be some people right now who have not had to look for a job for the last 20 to 30 years, and they will need careful support, tailored to make sure they can start to look for the jobs that are available and which I hope will soon become available.”
Kruger asked how to mobilise communities
MP Danny Kruger has been told to develop proposals to maximise the role of volunteers, community groups, faith groups, charities and social enterprises in the fight against coronavirus by Boris Johnstone. In a letter to the Tory MP for Devizes, Boris Johnson said he wanted to enlist Kruger’s help as the UK enters the “recovery phase” of the crisis. Johnson said in the letter: “The recovery will be long and hard and it is clear our communities will need help that goes beyond both statutory welfare and economic stimulus.” Kruger, who was first elected to parliament as the Conservative MP for Devizes last year, is a co-founder and former chief executive of the criminal justice charity Only Connect and a former government adviser on civil society, The letter, which Kruger posted on Twitter, said “government has a role to play in supporting the voluntary effort and social entrepreneurialism that have proved valuable so far, and will be just as vital in the years ahead.”
Edinburgh Zoo reopens
Families braved a downpour to visit Edinburgh Zoo on the first day of reopening after the lockdown. The zoo, which is part of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, was ineligible for UK Government funding and warned it faced a financial crisis if it was not allowed to open by the end of June. It was forced to borrow £5m to stay afloat. Signs have been erected reminding visitors to keep a two-metre distance from each other, and to walk single file to allow others to pass in the opposite direction. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last Thursday that outdoor businesses such as zoos and garden attractions could reopen from today. Anyone planning to visit the attraction must book online in advance, but the zoo said it was fully booked until July 12. Perspex screens protect staff at the visitor entrance, where animal print face masks will be available. Also available is a £5 ‘Go Safe Pack’, which includes a disposable face mask, a pack of tissues and a mini 60ml hand sanitiser.