Charities Launch Digital And Face to Face Service to Help Vulnerable Children

  • A coalition of charities led by Barnardos will launch the See, Hear, Respond service, designed to help vulnerable children impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with more than £7 million in funding from the Department for Education. 
  • The service will include online counselling, therapy and face-to-face support for those at risk of criminal exploitation. 
  • Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “We all have a collective responsibility to protect children and young people who face challenges in their home lives…many of them may be at additional risk from abuse, neglect or exploitation during these unprecedented times”.

Virtual Family Courts are Huge Disadvantage for Vulnerable People

  • Lawyers and charities have said that family court hearings held remotely during the lockdown, disadvantage vulnerable people. There has been a 500% increase in virtual hearings since the lockdown began. 
  • Mary Marvel, from legal information website Advicenow, said remote hearings could be a “huge barrier” for more vulnerable people, particularly those with limited internet access.
  • Incidents which lawyers argue are cruel for family courts include, using mobiles to access hearings, an order to take a newborn baby into care made over the telephone, a judge accidentally dialling a stranger into a call and a victim being left on the same line alone with the perpetrator.

Gambling Loophole Must be Closed Says Charities and Politicians 

  • Just six weeks after a ban on using credit cards came into effect, charities including StepChange and Gambling with Lives, as well as politicians say the Gambling Commission must take urgent action to shut down a “loophole” which allows people to gamble with phone credit. 
  • Dozens of online casinos allow users to choose a pay-by-phone option so people can use credit if they have a contract and pay your phone bill monthly. This bill can then be paid using a credit card. 
  • Dave (not his real name) a recovering problematic gambler said: “there are people who’ve been in recovery, who are currently struggling, and this will just lead them back into that cycle”.

UK Watchdog Will Launch Inquiry Into Structural Racism Exposed by COVID-19

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission will launch an inquiry into  “long-standing, structural race inequality” highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, to tackle entrenched racial inequalities in specific areas.
  • Black and minority ethnic (BAME) people have been disproportionately affected and are two to three times more likely to die from COVID-19, according to a UCL study. Another study by Public Health England found those from a Bangladeshi background were twice as likely to die if they contracted COVID-19 and other BAME groups faced an increased risk of up to 50%. 
  • The mayor of London Sadiq Khan said COVID-19 had exposed “the major health inequalities that exist in our society”. 

Medics Call for Action to Stop Spread of Misinformation 

  • Medics are calling for action to stop the spread of misinformation on social media regarding COVID- 19. 
  • The doctors called for tougher action on Google, Twitter and Facebook. All three firms told MPs they were working hard to stop the spread of misinformation while giving evidence at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee’s inquiry. 
  • One paramedic giving testimony to MPs regarding the damage of misinformation explained how someone having a heart attack refused to go to the hospital for fear they would die of COVID- 19 once there. 
  • Dr Megan Smith, a consultant anaesthetist, said “doctors across the board” had similar stories about patients. 

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