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Black - B r i g h t (A Bespoke Approach to Empowerment)

Issue 40



What’s Inside...? ISSN No. 1751-1909 Blackbright News Magazine Registered Office Studio 57 LU2 0QG Tel: 01582 721 605 email:

- How does the Benefit System Protect us? (Editorial)

- Did you know


‘ - Toyin Odutole

- Managing Your Child’s Fears

- Clifford Johnson Ph.D Founder & Managing Editor Myrna Loy Logo Design: Flo Alowaja Photos taken from Google Images Graphic Design: M Loy For previous issues go to: Printed by Mixam (UK)

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- Clare’s Law - Where are they now - Legal Highs

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comfortably. However, all that changed, when I got married. I didn’t realise the implications of getting married. The benefits stopped and my then husband was not able to supplement my income, so I ended up being worse off financially. The benefit system discouraged couples on a modest salary from getting married because they would feel disadvantaged. Some single mothers were reluctant to work because of the loss of income, housing benefits and because the amount of child benefit given per child might be reduced, so, it encouraged women to have babies but discouraged them from keeping the father! Now there will be many people who say that it is a wotless mind that takes advantage of the benefit system, and maybe it is (or was) but I can understand why those who live on James Turner Street (aka Benefits Street) in Birmingham have done it for so long, because with no qualifications, they cannot earn the equivalent of what they are being paid in benefits! Now, 50 years later, the system wants to pull the rug from under their feet, leaving people homeless, hungry and broken. How can you encourage a mode of dependency for two generations and then suddenly tell people to be independent or co-dependent without the training in place, transitioning, resources or jobs?

When I was a teenager, the Social Security Office as it was known then, was based on Neasden Lane. There was also a branch in Harlesden. I remember seeing long queues outside the Job Centre, and having the opinion that people ‘on the dole’ (claiming benefits), were dossers, i.e. lazy. I also thought they were lucky because they got their rent, utilities, council tax paid, plus they got help with child care via Child Benefit (nurseries were free or payment of a nominal amount); they also got housing benefit, while I went out to work and had to pay my rent and other bills out of my salary. leaving me with practically nothing. I felt like a sucker! Having children was your passport to entitlements, a council apartment or house, so when I got pregnant, I was fortunate enough to get a council flat on Chalkhill Estate (Greenrigg Walk). I was then transferred to a beautiful council house on St Raphaels Estate in Neasden, which was my pride and joy, after I had my second daughter. I decorated it with wallpaper from John Lewis, got Axminster carpets fitted; goats hair rugs were the rage then, so I had one in every room, wall cabinets from IKEA, and bought 3-peice suite furniture from Leatherland, We didn’t have credit cards back then, but we could buy things and then pay for it weekly. Someone from Provident, would arrive on a Friday evening, mark it in a card and we would get a kick watching the balance go down so we could buy something else on hire purchase. When I returned to work after maternity leave, I still got help towards my rent, and my children went to nursery for a concessionary fee. I recall I got concessions for gas and electricity too, so as a single parent family, we lived

Fraser Nelson, Editor of the Spectator reiterated on ‘The Big Benefits Row’: “Everything you earn, you lose in benefits and are zero better off”... ...“Who would want to work under this system?”. He went on to say that “If you are an immigrant from Gdańsk, you get to keep a vast majority of what you earn so there is a huge incentive for immigrants to do British jobs, but the government de-incentivises indigenous Brits from taking jobs because they withdraw the benefits so quickly [when they start working or get married]” When Edwina Curry chastised the unemployed in the audience for not accepting jobs cleaning toilets and cafes, which immigrants are willing to accept, they came down on her like a ton of bricks!


I found it defamatory for The Sun Social Commentator KT Hopkins, to say (on the Big Benefits Row) that there is job snobbery going on just because British Citizens are reluctant to clean toilets for the minimum wage for a couple of hours a week, and accept zero-contracts, when families have rent, council tax and utilities to pay and food to buy! The Government has created a hazardous benefits system because claimants cannot survive on or off benefits. It seems impossible to find job that will enable them to pay for basic needs, even when they have degrees, and they cannot survive on the dole either.. In 2009, I was made redundant from a job I was in for 9 years. I am a qualified teacher, but I did not have the confidence to transition from the safety of a Legal Secretary to a teaching post - so I applied for jobs I was used to and . commensurate with my experience, and despaired after 18 unsuccessful interviews. I had always just walked into a place and got a job - but times had changed! I was repeatedly told I was ‘pipped at the post’. I had to claim benefits during this time, and thank God I had mortgage insurance because the Benefits System was supposed to pay the interest on the mortgage, but after 6 months of claiming it had still not been processed, so I would have lost my home! (Peeps – I advise you to pay your mortgage insurance premiums if you can, believe me it’s worth it and gives you peace of mind for up to a year!). I had one of those insurances that not only pays the interests but gives you a little extra to pay bills and I was not penalised by the Benefits Office either, so my unemployment experience was not too bad, but as it approached a year when the mortgage insurance would stop, I started panicking. I ended up taking a job that I was ‘below my capacity’ until I found my feet again So who does the benefit system benefit? Many would argue it benefits those on Benefits Street; others will say they have been paying into the system for centuries and the goal posts keep moving to prevent them from benefiting. I will be stating some interesting facts about the Benefits System, extracted from informed panel members of the Big Benefit Row debate under the ‘Did You Know’ section. (The Editor)



What Statement are you making? Bedfordshire Police continues to call for the public to support the fight against gun crime with the message: ‘Bedfordshire Police is making a statement about gun crime – are you? If you want action, make your words count’.

Mandela’s Corner

The message is supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Luton Borough Council as part of a much wider range of enforcement, reassurance and community cohesion activity going on in the town. It is designed to provoke people with information about incidents, where firearms or violence have been used, to put pen to paper and make a statement.

(1912 - 2013)

“Since the murder of Paul Foster in April 2013 Luton has witnessed an unusual and worrying increase in gun related and violent crime,” said Chief Superintendent Mark Turner. “That is now being addressed and brought under control but with further help from the public we can ensure an even safer Luton for everyone. “We continue to ask Luton residents to be brave and make statements that will help us bring people to justice. We understand that putting yourself forward in this way could cause concern but we want to reassure people, it might be as simple as a confidential conversation but if it is concerns for yourself or family then talk to us about it, we have measures we can put in place to address these fears and anxieties,” he added. Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins said: “The conviction of Kyle Beckford earlier this year showed the value of the public passing on information. Without key pieces of evidence, that result may not have been possible.”


A £2000 reward is still on offer from Bedfordshire Police and Crimestoppers, to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction for gun crime. Anyone with information relating firearms offences can contact Bedfordshire Police, in confidence, on 101, or text information to 07786 200011. Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

DID YOU KNOW THESE FACTS ABOUT THE BENEFITS SYSTEM? 66% think that the Benefit System is unfit for purpose; 20 million people are on benefits and Britain’s Total Benefit’s Bill is £166b at the time of publishing - £5,263 per second is being paid out in benefits equal to £19m per hour; £1.2 billion a year is down to fraud, LESS THAN 1% of the total benefit bill; Fewer than 1% of families have two generations who have never worked; Payments to pensioners make up more than half of the social security spend; 85 people on the planet have the income of 3.5b people; £30b is lost in tax avoidance/evasion compared to £1.2b lost in terms of benefit fraud; In 2010 there was £2b unclaimed in disability and ESA benefits; Many reasons for claiming benefits, e.g., Mental Health Issues, Redundancy, Homelessness, Constructive/Wrongful Dismissal, Disabilities, Broken back/bones; There are applicants with degrees who cannot get jobs; Some job shortages are due to businesses outsourcing jobs to people abroad; 1m pensioners over 85 years old – there are more over 85’s than there are under 16’s; Claimants need a means-tested voucher to go to the majority of food banks.


Nottingham during which 400 women were given sensitive information such as details of a partner’s criminal record or complaints about them. Her family later discovered he had convictions for violence against women, including kidnapping at knifepoint. Clare’s father Michael Brown, who has campaigned for women to receive more protection, yesterday said the law could have saved her life.

Women to get right to check police records of new boyfriends to see if they have a violent past under ‘Clare’s Law’

‘I’m hoping that at the very least there is going to be a substantial drop in the death figures,’ he added. ‘Clare’s Law is not a panacea, we have never suggested that it will stop all domestic violence. ‘But what it does do is give women and men in that situation a reasonable chance to make an educated assumption about what they should do in the future – go or stay.’

All women in England and Wales to check criminal past of partners Scheme is named after Clare Ward, murdered by a man she met online

Some 88 women were killed by a partner or former boyfriend last year, according to the Government, and the rise of dating and social networking websites has left many unaware of their partner’s background.

Her killer George Appleton had a history of violence against women Roll-out follows pilot in Manchester, Gwent, Wiltshire and Nottingham. Women across the country are to have the right to find out if their boyfriend has a secret violent past Clare’s Law, which enables them to ask police for background checks that could reveal whether they are at risk of attack or abuse, will be extended nationally within months.

Under the scheme, which is expected to come into force in March, police could take up to five weeks to disclose records. Women will be warned that repeating

It also gives potential victims a ‘right to know’, which allows police to disclose sensitive information about a partner even if an individual has not asked for it. The expansion of Clare’s Law nationally comes after a successful 14-month trial in Manchester, Gwent, Wiltshire and


sensitive details to others could be an offence. In Wiltshire, 118 applications for disclosure were made and 22 granted in the trial. Police also piloted domestic violence protection orders, which ban abusive partners from going near their home for up to 28 days. Critics including domestic violence charity Refuge have said the initiative could waste police resources. Others said it may lead to malicious claims.

Toyin Odutola

But Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘Domestic abuse shatters lives – Clare’s Law provides people with the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy.

Captures the Multi tudes within Our Skin by Emily Colucci In his iconic Black Skin, White Masks, Franz Fanon explains, “I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to


capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a


drop of sun under the earth,” which almost perfectly describes artist Toyin Odutola’s exhibition My Country Has No Name at the Jack Shainman Gallery. Transforming the human body into a luminous, rich and colorful visual landscape, Odutola’s gorgeous and thoughtprovoking show, open until June 29, presents Odutola’s deft artistic investigation into blackness and identity through her intricate line work. From metallic Sharpie on black board to pen and marker on white paper, Odutola consciously selects her materials for their vibrant sheen. In addition to their artistic function, Odutola also enjoys using everyday materials such as ballpoint pens to create her almost paint-like surfaces. As she explains, “I love 9

that my materials are cheap. I love that they are primarily regarded as office supplies, not art supplies; that by my utilizing these tools in such a way expands their consideration, making them more than what they are generally known for doing, limited to by perception.” Born in Nigeria and currently living in Alabama, Odutola’s background heavily influences her focus on identity in her art. As she describes, “I’ve always felt ambivalent about my heritage and prescribed identity. There is something suspicious about labels: they define you in very concrete terms and they can emancipate you all the while potentially limiting and trapping you in place. The finite nature of labels often feels demanding to me in some way, so I try not to let myself get too attached or beholden


to them. This process of tug and pull is often

CLIFFORD JOHNSON Ph.D , Physics Professor,

documented in my work.”


Looking at the work and the title of My Country

Physicist and physics professor Clifford Johnson was born in 1968 in London, England. Growing

Has No Name, Odutola reveals that she “at-

up, Johnson spent ten years on the Caribbean

tempts to highlight the contradictions of com-

island of Montserrat, where his father worked as

mitment and disillusionment towards identity:

a telephone engineer. As a child, Johnson began

how one is susceptible to it, how one can ma-

to teach himself electronics by secretly reading his father’s books. In lieu of watching television,

nipulate it and how one can disregard it alto-

Johnson read electronics books and magazines,

gether.” Playing with her ability to artistically

fixed appliances, and designed devices and ma-

alter identity such as her complete color inver-

chines such as radios and remote-controlled

sion in her series Gauging Tones, Odutola cre-

submarines. He also enjoyed gardening and

ates stunning portraits, which tread the line between realism and imagination






needlework techniques such as crochet and macramé. Due to his interest in how things worked, Johnson decided at an early age he wanted to become a scientist. He went on to receive his B.S. degree in physics from the Imperial College at London University in 1989 and his Ph.D. degree in physics from Southampton University in 1992. After graduating, Johnson began working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced

10 Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1994, he moved to Princeton University as an instructor

and post doctoral fellow. The following year, he became a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California. Johnson taught as an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky between 1997 and 1999 before joining the faculty at the University of Durham, England. Since 2003, Johnson has been a professor at the University of Southern California’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 2004, Johnson founded the African Summer Theory Institute, which held its inaugural workshop meeting in Cape Town,

South Africa. Johnson received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Career Award in 1997, and in 2005, he was awarded the Institute of Physics’ Maxwell Medal and Prize for his work on string theory and quantum gravity. He has also been listed in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education as the most highly cited black professor of mathematics or a related field at an American university or college. In addition to his research and teaching, Johnson communicates and explains science to the general public. He blogs, has made short films on science, written articles for magazines, has co-authored a play, authored a book, and is currently writing and drawing a graphic novel featuring science. He appears on the History Channel’s The Universe series and other series on channels such as Discovery, Science, National Geographic, Spike, and Comedy Central. He has been a science consultant for film, TV, radio, and theater. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2011. 11

children, who thrive on predictability and security. The following information is intended to help you understand and ease your child’s fears. Understanding your child’s fears Children who have been exposed to a traumatic event are afraid of many of the same things adults are afraid of: that the event will happen again; that they or their family will be hurt; or that they will be separated from family members. They may also have fears based on misconceptions of what has happened. The importance of security and routine Among the most important things adults can provide for children, at any time, is an unbroken sense of security and routine. If your child has been exposed to a traumatic event, it’s important to do as much as you can to keep disruptions to a minimum and to reassure him that he is loved, cared for, and protected. It can be helpful to: Reassure your child that you are there to protect him, and that your family is safe and together. Provide extra physical reassurance. Hugging, sitting close to read a book, and back rubs can help restore a child’s sense of safety.

Helping a Child Manage Fears

Give your child a comforting toy or something of yours to keep — a scarf, a photograph, or a note from you. Your child may be afraid of separating from you, and keeping a reminder of you close by can help.

Helping a Child Manage Fears After a Traumatic Event © 1997, 1999 Ceridian Corporation. All rights reserved.

Overview Here are some ways to help children cope with fears associated with violent traumatic events such as major accidemts or shootings — whether the child has been directly involved or has learned of the event through the media.

Be available as much as you can for talking with and comforting your child. (If you can, you may want to save phone calls for after your child’s bedtime.) If your child’s daily routine has been interrupted, let him know that this is only temporary. (You will probably need to repeat this many times.)

Understanding your child’s fears The importance of security and routine Helping your child

Helping your child

Common reactions

Open, thoughtful communication with your child will help comfort and reassure her. The following guidelines can help:

If fears continue Traumatic events can have profound effects not only on those who have been injured, but also on loved ones, survivors, and witnesses. Extensive media coverage of tragedies means that the circle of witnesses has expanded to include those who were not present at the event. Largescale tragedies such as bombing incidents and school shootings can be extremely disturbing to


Ask your child what she thinks has happened. If she has any misconceptions, this is a chance for you to help her. If a child knows upsetting details that are true,

don’t deny them. Instead, listen closely and talk with her about her fears. Help your child talk about the event by letting her know that it is normal to feel worried or upset. Try to listen carefully and understand what she is really trying to say. Help younger children use words like “angry” and “sad” to express their feelings. Try to be patient when your child asks the same question many times. Children often use repetition of information as a source of comfort. Try to be consistent with answers and information.

Positive Roots Consultancy is a Family Welfare/Support organisation that seeks to empower individuals & communities to lead a healthy and violence free lifestyle both in the UK and abroad. The staff team at Positive Roots Consultancy Ltd comprises of criminologists, social workers, probation officers, parenting practitioners, youth workers, psychotherapists and life coaches. We are specialists in addressing issues relating to all forms of abuse including parent to teen violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation/ sexualised behaviour & child protection concerns. Our services also extend to working with offenders & those at risk of offending. Positive Roots provide these services to parents/carers, children/young people & all health, social & criminal justice professionals working with children & families.

If your child seems reluctant to talk, ask her to draw pictures of what happened, and talk about the pictures with her. Encourage a young child to act out her feelings with toys or puppets. Don’t be alarmed if she expresses angry or violent emotions. Instead, use the play-acting to begin a conversation about your child’s worries and fears. Talk with your child about your own feelings, but try to find other adults to talk with about your anxieties and frustrations. Children pick up on their parents’ emotions, and will tend to feel more frightened and helpless if that’s how their parents appear. Shield your child from graphic details and pictures in the media. They will only make her more anxious. Common reactions Here are some common reactions associated with traumatic events and ways to help your child deal with them: Regression. Many children may try to return to an earlier stage when they felt safer and more cared for. Younger children may wet the bed or want a bottle; older children may fear being alone. It’s important to be patient and comforting if your child responds this way. 07591 165870

Thinking the event is their fault. Children younger than seven or eight tend to think that if something goes wrong, it must be their fault — no matter how irrational this may sound to an adult. Be sure your child understands that he did not cause the event. Sleep disorders. Some children have difficulty falling to sleep; others wake frequently or have troubling dreams. If you can, give your child a stuffed animal, soft blanket, or flashlight to take to bed. Try spending extra time together in the evening, doing quiet activities or reading. Be patient. It may take a while before your child can sleep through the night again.


Where are They Now? Buy Julian Ashaye

you some kind of support and acknowledgement.

What has happened to our warriors, the ones that fought for change and regardless of the consequences they carried head on into the breach? It seems they have passed away with time itself. Today’s warrior is more comfortable fighting their battle behind their Personal Computers (PC’s). They feel safer there. You could call it their happy place even. They know when the fight becomes a little to rough or involved, they can always just unplug and head off out until the next cyber battle. The escape route is assured and no harm will come to them, well maybe their ego may have been bruised but better that than a physical encounter anytime. No one is ready to step out and be battered… .oops sorry I mean counted. But I suppose the new age warrior cannot be blamed for their lack of wanting to put themselves all out in the front line, fighting the good fight for the people. The new age warrior knows the people won’t be standing behind them supporting and cheering them on. So armed with that little insight they will fight the fight for the people from their PCs, until the people wake up and give them the support they need to fight the good fight.

We all need something or someone to motivate us and keep us going. Because without that we then feel lost and with no direction and even worse, that we are alone. So our warriors are human after all and what drives them to fight is the support and love of those they fight for.

As you must be able tell, even warriors need the love of the ones they are fighting for. A little love goes a long way when fighting a cause. No one wants to feel they are doing something for nothing. And when it involves fighting to give the people more rights, better deals etc, the least those you are fighting for, can give

I suppose if the people started supporting those that stood up and fought against wrongs and were not so cynical that maybe, just maybe we would see the return of the warrior, the champion of the people. I suppose some of us can live in hope to see such a time again when the likes of another Martin Luther King, Brother Malcolm, Rosa Parkes, Maya Angelou, and all the other known and unknown warriors who fought for human rights.


DID YOU KNOW... Over 700,000 kids in the UK take Legal Highs? Legal Highs were linked to 53 deaths in 2013 an 87% increase from the year before, according to Fiona Foster who presented ‘Dying to get High’ on the Tonight Programme on ITV (October 2013). 1 teenager in 12 has tried legal highs and the associated risks do not put them off. A drug called GBL killed a 17 year old, and it has since been banned. Benzo Fury another drug was linked to deaths and it was banned only to turn up again in a different guise so that it is legal to use. The people who sell these drugs are called “Head Shops” I had never even heard about Legal Highs until I researched. Manufacturers are avoiding the law by labelling the product ‘Not for Human Consumption’ but then telling them how to use it. Combinations of paint strippers, cold tar, horse tranquilisers, hallucenics which give them heart attacks, convulsions, disablement and death, but the associated risks do not turn them off!! Each teenager thinks they know how much to take, and that if they give themselves the right measure they will be OK, but they are not thinking of the medium to long-term effects. The government has tried to pass laws to ban the drugs but manufacturers keep adjusting the formula so that it is no longer governed by a particular law. It is scary. Why do young people want to get high? What are they escaping from? Why would manufacturers put teenagers lives at risk?? I am lost for words! The word ‘legal’ in the eyes of a teenager suggests that the drug has been researched, that it is harmless and that is OK to use, but the fact that there is a big label that says ‘NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION’ should indicate to them that they should not take it, but they do!! Teenagers are synonymous with risk... 1,000 parents have never spoken to their children about legal highs. So if you have teenage children - educate your children about legal highs.. Please! The Editor

15 (for previous issues) email:

Blackbright march 2014  

This edition covers the Welfare Benefits System, Clares Law (Protection against Domestic Abuse), the dangers of Legal Highs and other intere...