Topics for this month:
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an organized movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience from the police against African-American people. In 2013, the movement began with the use of the #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmermanin and the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
For many decades, black people have been treated unfairly compared with people of European descent. Often black people have not been given the same advantages for instance, not offered the same employment opportunity for jobs, been unfairly harassed and made to feel inferior.
Time and again, black people have protested this unfair treatment, while there have been some improved changes and accountability in policing, there continues to be many challenges.
On May 25 2020, a black man named George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They were arresting him for a relatively minor alleged offense, he did not deserve the treatment he got and he did not deserve to die. The arrest was caught on video, everyone around the world saw the brutally unfair treatment of Floyd at the hands of the police. The four police officers who killed George Floyd were fired from their jobs and have been charged with murder in one case and for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in the three other cases.
After Floyd’s death, as well as other recent racist incidents in the US and other countries many protests have took place. Hundreds of thousands of people have marched to raise awareness about racism against black people and the need to find a solution.
Racism or discrimination of any kind has no place in society. Equality and equity for all should not be a controversial issue, it is a human right regardless of the colour of a person’s skin. The value of black people’s lives is not dependent on how well they can assimilate into a society that was built to work against them. Ignorance of racism is a choice, yet many people of society still fail to act on this to fight against it.
This doesn’t just mean protesting, donating, signing petitions or posting hashtags. While these all play their own role in moving BLM in the right direction, the most important thing we can all do during this time is educate ourselves. Thinking about this gives hope that the next generation will be the driving force to create meaningful change and more acceptance and equal treatment to black people and that their lives matter.
In order to be true allies to black people and to the many ethnic minorities in this country that suffer oppression under systemic racism, we need to understand how to get there. There are various toolkits, campaigns and resources on the website below to help take action and support this change.
Reading Terrorist attack
A terrible terrorist attack took place on Saturday 20th June in the evening in Reading, during which three people tragically lost their lives. At this stage the incident appears to be a lone actor attack, and it is not believed that anyone else was involved, or that there is any further threat to the public now that the offender is in custody.
We understand that staff and learners may be feeling anxious or worried and this is completely fine. The Safeguarding Team are here to support you. We would like to share again the Run, Hide, Tell video (see link below) which provides simple but useful advice for anyone who unwittingly gets caught up in a terrorist incident or other emergency situation. We have also attached the Run, Hide, Tell leaflet for information.
Managing feelings about lockdown easing – Mind Charity
Lockdown has been difficult for many people. But when we were in full lockdown across the UK, things might have felt more certain, as the rules were clearer. Now things might start feeling less clear, and there may be new challenges. It can feel stressful when things are changing fast.
What might I be feeling about lockdown easing?
You might feel relieved or excited when lockdown is eased where you live. But you might also find yourself feeling less positive about the changes. You may move through a range of difficult feelings and thoughts.
- Stressed and unprepared for the changes that are coming.
- Anxious, afraid or panicked that the changes may cause an increase in infections. Or that someone you care about may now be put at risk when they weren’t before. For example if your children might be asked to go back to school or nursery.
- Angry or frustrated. Perhaps because people aren’t following social distancing rules, and now can’t avoid them. Or you feel that the changes are wrong, or the measures in place aren’t enough. Other people may seem to have more freedom than you, if you’re shielding or live somewhere with more restrictions. Or you may feel that the changes will make your work more difficult or higher risk, especially if you’re a key worker.
- Conflicted or confused. For example, you may want to socialise more if it’s allowed, but feel like perhaps you should still stay at home.
- Protective of your lockdown routine, like you’d rather not have to deal with more change or uncertainty.
- Grief for people who have died, and that you want to avoid more loss.
- Reluctant or unmotivated to rearrange events that couldn’t happen during full lockdown. This could be big birthday celebrations or weddings, or everyday things like barbecues, meet-ups, or dating.
- Uneasy about relationships that have changed during full lockdown.
- Distrustful of the Government’s reasons for changing the rules, or how things are portrayed in the media.
- Powerless, like you don’t have a say in anything that’s happening.
- Stigmatised or that others will avoid you. Perhaps because you’ve already had coronavirus, or they think your work makes you more likely to spread the virus.
- Like you’re having to make an unfair sacrifice. For example if you are being asked to go back to work when others are still able to stay at home.
- Under pressure to return to work when you can’t, or when you feel it’s not safe to.
- Unsupported or disregarded, perhaps if you’re asked to go back to work without having access to things like childcare, personal protective equipment (PPE), or safe transport.
- There’s no ‘normal’ response to lockdown or lockdown easing.
- Your feelings might change. You might feel one way one day, and another way the next. It might not feel logical.
Your feelings might be influenced by:
- your personal situation
- what lockdown has been like for you
- your own views about what’s happened so far, and what should happen next
- lots of things that are out of your control.
As restrictions are being lifted differently around the UK, it might feel like others are following different rules to you. Your general mood may feel quite different to full lockdown, when most people were following the same rules.
What could help me manage these feelings?
Some of the feelings you’re having now may feel difficult to manage. For those of us with existing mental health problems, they may be particularly tough. You might find it useful to try some of these suggestions.
- Get practical support from organisations who can help. Our coronavirus useful contacts page lists lots of organisations who can help with different aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, including bereavement, work and parenting.
- Talk to someone you trust. It might feel hard to start talking about how you are feeling. But many people find that sharing their experiences can help them feel better. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself. If you aren’t able to open up to someone close to you, you can call Samaritans any time on 116 123.
- Try online peer support. Mind runs an online peer support community where you can share your experiences and hear from others. We welcome people from all backgrounds, whatever you’re going through right now.
- Express your feelings creatively. You might find that it helps to express how you are feeling about the easing of lockdown by writing, drawing, painting or any other creative way that feels helpful to you.
- Make choices to control the things that you can. Although the coronavirus outbreak means that your choices are limited, try to focus on the things you can change. It might be helpful to list the things you can change on one piece of paper and all the things you can’t on another.
- Seek help. If you are struggling with your mental health, it is ok to ask for help. A good place to start is by speaking to your GP, or your mental health team if you have one. The NHS and other services have adapted to the coronavirus outbreak. There are video and telephone appointments available, if you need to speak to someone.
- Alternatively, you can speak to JTM’s Safeguarding Team who can discuss your concerns and whether you would like external support to be arranged.
For further information, visit: https://www.mind.org.uk/
Health and Safety – Tips for working from home
- Get ready for the day – Get up early and prepare for the day in the same way you would if you were going into the office. Some people find it useful to wear office clothes – but this is ultimately up to preference.
- If you have a spare room or space, use it – Try to allocate a specific place where you work. This will help you to maintain a distinction between home and work, which can help you to relax when you need to, but also be productive when working.
- Keep your normal work structure – Work the hours that you normally would. Know when to log off and don’t be tempted to just keep working the whole day – you’ll be more productive if you keep a good structure.
- Drink plenty of water and keep moving – It can be easy for a whole day to pass before you realise you’ve been largely sedentary or dehydrated. Set reminders to drink water and to get up and move every hour.
- Find what works for you – You might find new things that work for you, whether it’s taking a lunch break at the same time, working at a standing desk, or putting on shoes to make you feel more productive.
How best to respond? Contextual Safeguarding Factsheet
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer/Questioning) people can face unique and complex challenges growing up and later in life. It is integral that we educate ourselves and young people in our care about LGBTQ communities to promote tolerance not only during Pride month, but throughout the year.
Find out how to best respond to the needs of LGBTQ young people by reading the Contextual Safeguarding fact sheet created by Ineqe.
New Xbox parental control app
During COVID-19, it is inevitable that everyone – and especially young people – are spending more time online due to lockdown restrictions. Microsoft have announced that that will shortly be releasing a new family settings app for their games console. The Xbox Family Settings app is for parents to manage their children’s gaming activities on Xbox One consoles, from iOS and Android phones.
Currently, parental controls for the Xbox are controlled via the settings on the console itself, a process which is not as simple and straightforward as it should be.
With the new app parents, don’t now actually need to go near the game console itself – the settings are controlled via the app.
The app will allow a parent to:
- Set screen time and update content restrictions
- View activity reports – gain insight into your family’s Xbox gaming activity with daily and weekly activity reports
- Regulate screen time – set console screen time for your children and block or unblock content
- Manage incoming requests for screen time.
- Friend management – stay on top of incoming friend requests
- Employ privacy tools – set communication limits and allow online multiplayer in each child’s Xbox profile
The Xbox Family Settings app will be released by Microsoft shortly.
Gaming loot boxes and gambling
Most games and apps have in-game/in-app purchases, particularly free ones, for example Fortnite. Free games are a deliberate way of gaining traction and popularity quickly, meaning the likelihood of big profits through in-games purchases is significantly higher. There are a range of things that can be purchased, but one of the most popular are loot boxes.
Loot boxes are virtual treasure chests containing undisclosed items that can be used in games, i.e. the player doesn’t what they are buying until the transaction has been completed. These might be ways of customising characters or weapons (‘skins’). These contents may affect progress through the game, or simply be designed to convey status.
Loot boxes are a key feature of many online games. They have come under fire for using predatory techniques to push players to spend money while gaming. Some researchers have noted an overlap between loot boxes and problem gambling. It is also known that some children will gamble items for real money using unregulated websites (known as skin gambling).
Despite resembling a lottery, loot boxes are not classified as gambling in the UK. So far, the UK Gambling Commission has accepted industry arguments that because the items inside are only used in the game, loot boxes shouldn’t be seen as gambling. Other countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, and China, have taken a different view and moved to classify loot boxes as gambling or to restrict them.
This and more has prompted the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to put out a call for evidence on loot boxes to examine links to gambling-like behaviour and excessive spending in games. It is hoped that the findings will provide a solid foundation for future steps and will be considered alongside a review of the Gambling Act.
In the meantime, parents should be aware that children are often pressurised to spend money on loot boxes. Some things for parents to consider when thinking about their children and gaming:
- Show an interest in the games they play. If your child is being exposed to loot boxes, talk to them about why they think they are being asked to spend money without knowing what they’ll get in return.
- Buying a loot box occasionally isn’t going to lead to problem gambling. The concern comes when the habit gets out of control. Make sure to get involved and be aware of what your child is spending.
- Check that your card details aren’t saved on any gaming system. It’s easy for a child to get tempted into buying a new skin for their character or a new weapon camo – or simply to click the wrong button and make an accidental purchase. Beware of having payment methods (vouchers, prepaid cards, debit/credit card) linked to their account.