Written by: Louise Ingham
Today we are celebrating the 50th annual World Earth Day!
The theme for this year is Climate Action. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges to humanity, wildlife and the planet and we all need to work together to combat it. Due to COVID-19, Earth Day has organised plenty of digital events through their website, visit www.earthday.org to get involved.
Here at Peace Partners we are focusing on how to keep positive and maintain our wellbeing during this challenging time. Despite the many difficulties and losses the crisis has brought, there have been noticeable benefits to the environment. We have seen significant drops in air pollution and carbon emissions across the world, due to decreased travel and industrial production.
In addition, the air and water is becoming cleaner and there have been surprising wildlife sightings, in places where they haven’t been seen in decades. For example, dolphins in the Venice canals and deer roaming the streets of East London.
There are plenty of ways you can help the environment from home and celebrate World Earth Day this year. Practical work that has a positive impact can be fantastic for improving your well-being. Simple things can help such as letting your grass grow wild in your garden – this encourages wildflower growth and protects wildlife that might live in your garden, such as dormice. and newts. You can put out bird food to help the bird population thrive, or place some moss and water into a bowl to provide a drink to the busy bees. Eating more vegetarian meals whilst at home can also have a hugely positive impact on reducing carbon emissions.
As Earth Day celebrates its 50th anniversary, and with millions practising social distancing, we celebrate the resilience of the environment and its capacity for recovery.
With whole countries going into isolation, we have seen some uplifting developments in the major areas affected by mass tourism: the Himalayas are visible for the first time in decades thanks to a drop in air pollution, the waters in the canals of Venice are at their clearest without boats crowding them daily, and closer to home UK lockdown has resulted in an air pollutants dropping significantly.
The fight for equal access to clean air, water and nourishing food is more essential than ever, to ensure that more positive changes can be registered in time for 51st Earth Day in 2021.
Written by: Sean Morrissey
The news of late is pretty grim. You wake up every morning to the TV over tea and toast to news that’s solely focused on coronavirus. You comb your hair, you brush your teeth, you make a plan for yet another day in isolation - but it’s okay. You call a friend, walk the dog, and otherwise abide by all social distancing guidelines, after all your home is the safest place to be.
However, not everyone is so fortunate to wake up in the warm bed of a safe home. An example of a typical story is someone like Davy - who didn’t always sleep rough but he does now. In fact, not so many months ago, Davy woke up every morning in his modest one-bedroom, fit for Davy and his partner to afford on a retail wage. Things were tight but they made it work until they couldn’t and as the relationship dissolved so too did Davy’s home security. He would spend the next several weeks hopping around local hostels, commuting to and from work until the cost of his stay outpaced the money coming in. Overwhelmed, he took leave from work and has been living rough through most of 2020; just one of the more than 4,200 people sleeping on the streets of London every night.
The challenges besetting rough sleepers, be it the need for personal safety or disease prevention, are well understood and have been further exacerbated by the outbreak of coronavirus across the UK. Recent research published through WPI economics finds that while rough sleeping throughout London alone has increased by more than 150% since 2010, related funding for homelessness aid has been cut by £1 billion annually (read the WPI 'Home for Good' briefing below).
With millions self-isolating at home, limiting outdoor time and activity, rough sleepers like Davy go without refuge, increasing their risk of exposure to this highly contagious disease. There is also added concern that, as many rough sleepers make periodic use of group homes and community hostels, overcrowding will invariably clash with NHS social distancing guidelines.
As a leading voice for human rights and one of the largest homelessness charities in the UK, St. Mungo’s dedicated volunteer network is working tirelessly to provide safe means of self- isolation and medical care to those in need. At the time of writing, St Mungo’s outreach teams have placed more than 600 individuals into self-isolating spaces, providing a safe and stable foundation from which to explore options for long-term accommodation.
These figures are a testament to the brave men and women at St. Mungo’s who are working around the clock to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. With our support, they can continue to help provide the means necessary to safely house and care for those experiencing homelessness. There is an immediate need to assist individuals in harm’s way, and help them on a path toward permanent housing. The end goal remains the same, by empowering individuals back into a life of dignity and to protect them from harm.
Your support of St. Mungo’s, through Peace Partners’ fundraising appeals not only serves the immediate needs of outreach teams during the crisis, but provides a foundation on which to build a new future.
Read the WPI 'Home for Good' briefing:
Written by: Sean Morrissey
“I just never thought I’d see something like that here”, he says, “shelves are just naked, you know? Just gone, like they can’t keep up with demand.” He stops. “Never seen anything like it before in my life.” Mark, Food Bank volunteer
A barman by trade, Mark spends a good deal of his free time walking in nearby Wandle Park and working as a warehouse volunteer for his local Croydon food bank. He sees first-hand the impact of coronavirus on vulnerable people.
These wide-scale panic purchases, while disturbing, do have a way of settling back into the familiar, and often sooner than later. As the UK settles back into a relatively familiar routine, we are starting to see the ongoing effects of food shortages and panic buying across the UK food bank network. Food banks across the UK have been forced to reconcile their diminishing stock, leaving many to pay for the difference. For example, the North Paddington food bank, whose donation rate is down 25% in the wake of coronavirus, reported spending an additional £200 each week to cover the needs of vulnerable local families.
At a time when millions are self-isolating at home, or otherwise unable to secure the means they need to feed their family, now more than ever we must ensure that food banks across the UK are able to provide a fully reliable service to their clients. With the UK’s largest network of food banks, The Trussell Trust is leading the fight against food scarcity during this delicate period, garnering vital support from local merchants, like minded charities and community leaders.
Thankfully, organisations like Tesco and XTX Markets have pledged generous sums to mitigate the drought in donations, while members of British Gas will be providing door-to-door parcel delivery for vulnerable clients. These are incredible gestures to be sure, but the unprecedented demands that are facing area food banks cannot survive on corporate charity alone.
Your support of The Trussell Trust, through donations to the Peace Partners fundraising drive extends far beyond the immediate needs of recipients, providing much needed financial support for months to come.
Hope you are safe and well. We have some exciting news to share with you: on 11th April Peace Partners celebrated its fourth year as a charity! It hardly seems possible that we have been operating for four years, nevertheless much has happened and much difference has been made. This time last year we had just announced our National Lottery Community Fund award. Since then we have put the funds to good use towards the Peace Education initiatives we are supporting; our regular fundraising has continued to the benefit of both our humanitarian and peace education causes. To focus on one particular highlight amongst many, on 21st September, International Peace Day, we hosted a 'Practice Peace' forum in Croydon, attended by amongst others the Deputy Mayor and the Imam, which was streamed live over the internet and featured on the day's PeaceCast.tv broadcast.
Preparations for expanding our support of the Peace Education Programme have been underway for a while, and although we have had to cancel some events due to the Coronavirus situation, we are already looking at increasing our use of internet based distance forums instead. This past week we have launched fundraising appeals in support of the Trussell Trust food-bank and St Mungo's homelessness emergency responses.Thank you to everyone for your generous support, your collaborations, your interest and for making the last four years Peace Partners such great charity. We are looking forward to an ever more engaged fifth year! Thank you!