You are currently browsing the monthly Archive for May, 2012.

One billion people, one seventh of the world’s population live in extreme hunger and poverty and exist on less than 80 pence a day.

Of the 25,000 people who die every day in hunger and poverty, 10 percent die as a result of famine or from the high profile emergency crises that we are sadly all too familiar with.

World Hunger Day 28 May, 2012 | Text LOVE28 £3 to 70070However, particularly whilst the focus of the world is on high profile crises, it is vital that we recognise that, even today, the 90 percent majority of deaths from hunger and poverty related illness are happening in other parts of the world, not as a result of famine, earthquake or flood, but because of the chronic persistent hunger that exists in the developing world, in particular, Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

Chronic, persistent hunger is not due merely to lack of food. It occurs when people lack opportunity to earn enough income, to be educated and gain skills, to meet basic health needs and have a voice in the decisions that affect their community.

World Hunger Day is about raising awareness of this situation. It is also about celebrating the achievements of millions of people who are already ending their own hunger and meeting their basic needs.

World Hunger Day seeks to inspire people in both the developed and developing worlds to show their solidarity and support to enable many more to end their own hunger and poverty and make the journey to self-reliance.

Additionally, we hope that World Hunger Day, will encourage even more organisations to work in partnership with each other and with the women, men and children in the developing world who seek to bring about a sustainable end to their own hunger and poverty.

The Hunger Project is delivering ground breaking results in full support of the Millennium Development Goals, mobilising rural communities at the grassroots level.

International Day for Biological Diversity 2012
Marine Biodiversity is the theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB). Designation of IDB 2012 on the theme of marine ecosystems provides Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and everyone interested in marine life, the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action.

How Much Life Is in the Sea?

From 2000 to 2010, an unprecedented worldwide collaboration by scientists around the world set out to try and determine how much life is in the sea. Dubbed the ‘Census of Marine Life’, the effort involved 2,700 scientists from over 80 nations, who participated in 540 expeditions around the world. They studied surface seawater and probed the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, sailed tropical seas and explored ice-strewn oceans in the Arctic and Antarctic. By the time the Census ended, it had added 1,200 species to the known roster of life in the sea; scientists are still working their way through another 5,000 specimens to determine whether they are also newly-discovered species. The estimate of the number of known marine species – the species that have been identified and the ones that have been documented but await classification – has increased as a direct result of the Census efforts, and is now around 250,000. (This total does not include some microbial life forms such as marine viruses.) In its final report, the Census team suggested it could be at least a million. Some think the figure could be twice as high.

Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
Along the Coast
The Continental Shelf
The Open Ocean
The Deep
Great Migrations
The Human Impact
Causes of Decline
A Warmer Ocean
A More Acidic Ocean
The Problem of Over-Fishing
Why We Should Care
Blue Carbon
The Value of Marine Reserves
CBD and the Jakarta Mandate


East Lothian’s Biodiversity

East Lothian Council Biodiversity Officer – can give presentations to schools or classes on biodiversity or related topics. The Biodiversity Officer will also help to develop school grounds, particularly through the Grounds for Awareness award. This award is launched annually in September and can offer up to £1000 for a wildlife, gardening or landscaping project within school grounds.  Tel: 01620 827242

East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service – can visit schools or help with longer term studies such as rivers or rock pooling. They can also work closely with related initiatives such as the John Muir Award and Forest Schools.   ranger at
East Lothian Outdoor Learning Service – often working closely with the Ranger Service. They can provide environmental education, linking this with adventurous activities such as canoeing, gorge walking or coasteering.  0131 653 5217

East Lothian Council have produced a teachers guide about wildlife and the natural world. The 16 page download includes classroom projects,useful websites, pictures and ideas. The Guide suggests good locations close to schools and how to prepare for a visit.  Download your Biodiversity Education Guide here

Ten simple things YOU can do to celebrate:

  1. Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
  2. Invite a family or people in the neighborhood from another culture or religion to share a meal with you and exchange views on life.
  3. Rent a movie or read a book from another country or religion than your own.
  4. Invite people from a different culture to share your customs.
  5. Read about the great thinkers of other cultures than yours (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi).
  6. Go next week-end to visit a place of worship different than yours and participate in the celebration.
  7. Play the “stereotypes game.” Stick a post-it on your forehead with the name of a country. Ask people to tell you stereotypes associated with people from that country. You win if you find out where you are from.
  8. Learn about traditional celebrations from other cultures; learn more about Hanukkah or Ramadan or about amazing celebrations of New Year’s Eve in Spain or Qingming festival in China.
  9. Spread your own culture around the world through our Facebook page and learn about other cultures.
  10. Explore music of a different culture.

There are thousands of things that you can do, are you taking part in it?

Now is the time to consider noise problems in your neighbourhood – and what you can do during Noise Action Week to engage your community in reducing noise. We have information and advice on how to raise awareness of noise problems, and how to reduce them. Anyone can take part. Housing providers, local authority noise teams, mediation services, schools, youth groups – and individuals – can work to  engage their communities in raising awareness of the impact excessive noise can have on neighbourhoods and individuals, and measures we can all take to reduce noise.

In East Lothian, residents can make use of a mediation service to sort out neighbour problems.  East Lothan Community Mediation Service can be contacted at the Brunton Hall, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, on 0131 653 5295 or at

See below or a wide range of support materials to download for free.

May 17 was chosen because the date is the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s May 1990 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This victory of the lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cause was a historic step towards considering freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity as a fundamental basic human right.

The objective is to provoke action. Actions can take place in a number of different forms: a debate in the classroom, an exhibition in a cafe, a demonstration in the street, a radio program, a screening in a neighbourhood home, a round table organized by a political party, a short story competition sponsored by a newspaper, an awareness campaign led by an association, etc. These initiatives can be backed by LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans) associations, by human rights organizations, but also by women and men of any background and interest. In fact, today many people who are not specifically interested in questions of homosexuality are worried about the problem of homophobia.

Find out more:

Teach the ’IDAHO Lesson’ – Make your school safer and improve learning achievement for all !

Schools can be violent places.

Although there are many examples of schools which have over the past few year consistently been working to create conducive and safe learning environments, research from many countries still reveals the general high levels of abuse, harassment and verbal or physical violence experienced by young people in schools.

The stigma, discrimination and bullying they suffer goes against their right to education.

Studies have widely documented that bullying in school has a huge impact on learning achievement and dropout rates. It is a major obstacle to the right to education. The psychological damages, including low self-esteem, bear permanent marks on people’s lives and can lead to self-harming conducts, including suicide.

Research in the USA has shown that students who are bullied at school are more than twice as likely to report a suicide attempt than students who are not bullied.

And these unsafe environments are bad for all students

Beyond the terrible impact bullying has on the children and students who are perceived as different, it creates generally unsafe, discriminatory, stigmatizing and violent school climates. These climates have proven to have very negative effects on the learning outcomes of ALL students, not only the bullied ones. It is therefore in the interest of all to reverse the situation and allow education systems to construct societies, which are inclusive of diversity and respectful of the individual.

Kids who are different from the majority gender norm suffer most from violence in schools.

Violence in schools reflects wider social problems such as racism, discrimination of people with physical and mental disability , etc…. However, according to the United Nations World Report on Violence against Children (2006), most bullying is actually sexual or gender-based and targets those perceived as not conforming to prevailing sexual and gender norms.

Young girls who are not ‘feminine’ enough and young boys who are not ‘masculine’ enough are specifically exposed to mockery, abuse, exclusion and violence.

It goes not only against the individuals, but it undermines gender equality objectives altogether.

As this violence is bred by stereotyped gender roles (conforming to what is said to be ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’), to let it happen unchallenged threatens the whole construction of a more gender equal society.

Homo/transphobia is an entry point to tackle sex/gender-based violence

Homophobia and transphobia are forms of the hatred expressed towards people because they are, or are believed to be, homosexual or transgender. Homophobia and Transphobia are forms of gender-based violence because they are based on the assumption that all people should conform to the majority representation of what are ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ behaviors.

This form of violence does not affect only children and students with different sexual orientation or gender expression. Surveys have shown that 80% of people who were exposed to homo/transphobic bullying define themselves as heterosexual.

For teachers, fighting sex/gender-based violence is therefore an essential strategy to improve learning achievements for all and should be taken very seriously

Teachers worldwide are taking action

Teachers know they about the importance of a sustainable safe and inspiring learning environment. They act everyday to provide it to their students and have often developed innovative approaches to tackling sexuality-related bullying in general, and homophobia/transphobia in particular, in the classes. Nevertheless, teachers also often experience unease in raising this specific issue. This is why this present initiative has been developed. It focuses on making use of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia as a good opportunity for action and to provide teachers with ideas, inspiration and material for action.

The fact that the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is recognized by many governments and international institutions, and is marked by UNESCO, provides a good argument for teachers to take action.

An international initiative around the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia : the Global ‘IDAHO Lesson’

The ’IDAHO Lesson’ is an international initiative by where teachers and educational staff in all contexts are invited to use the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to organize some specific activity in their class on this subject.

While it is important to fight bullying, the initiative also suggests that homo/transphobia bullying is encouraged, if not altogether motivated, by homo/transphobic educational contents. The initiative therefore also encourages a critical examination of the curriculum.

The annexes below provide many resources for teachers, according to grades and subjects and indicate organizations, which they can turn to for advice and support.

The ’IDAHO Lesson’ creates an opportunity to tackle the issue of sex/gender based violence using the specific angle of homo/transphobia. Take Action ! – Read the full Teacher Brief in the ’Document’ section above and access many resources for action, facts and figures, and more information on the issue

Download the full teacher brief

PDF - 1.8 Mb
IDAHO lesson Teacher Brief

Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest annual festival of learning; inspiring thousands of people each year to discover how learning can change their lives.

Through thousands of events and award ceremonies, Adult Learners’ Week celebrates all kinds of learners and promotes the benefits of every type of learning.

You can find out about the range of events and classes available across East Lothian in this ELC Newsletter (opens as pdf).


A 2011 Dying Matters Awareness Week event in Sefton

The theme of the week is ‘Small Actions, Big Difference’. By being more open about dying and taking small actions such as writing a will, signing up to become an organ donor or looking out for those who have been recently bereaved, we can all help make a big difference to ensuring people can live well and die well.

5 small actions you can take immediately to help make Awareness Week a big success:
    1. Tell us and others about your event by adding it to our Events Calendar.
    2. Spread the word within your organisation about Dying Matters Awareness Week 2012 and its ‘Small Actions, Big Difference’ theme.
    3. Show your support on your organisation’s website or in your emails by downloading our Awareness Week banner or button.
    4.  If you or your organisation aren’t already, become a Dying Matters Coalition member * sign up for our e-newsletter * follow us on Facebook and Twitter (if you’re tweeting about Awareness Week, please use the hashtag #DyingMatters) * join in the conversation in the Dying Matters Community Area.
    5. After Awareness Week, share what you did with us – email

Information for Schools

Information for schools

Children see the world very differently to adults; their imaginations are still unprejudiced. Why not tap into this through education?

To die will be an awfully big adventure.’ – J.M. BARRIE, Peter Pan

Dying Matters, together with the National Council for Palliative Care, believes all secondary school pupils in England should be taught about issues relating to death and dying as part of the national curriculum.

Someone in the UK dies every minute, but many schools remain unsure how to best support pupils who are affected.

Three 17 year-olds from London’s East End, who have all won university places to study medicine, launched the lesson plan at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday the Lesson Plan at Parliament today, Wednesday 16 March.


We have produced a number of resources to help teachers incorporate death, dying and bereavement into lessons. Access these using the links below.

A Dying Matters 2011 hospice event

UN Family Photo

The Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) supports the worldwide observance of the International Day of Families (15 May) by preparing background information on the family for use by Governments, the UN system, including the regional commissions, and UN Information Centres and NGOs. An annual message of the Secretary-General is prepared for wide distribution.

The theme for 2012 is “Ensuring Work-Family Balance”

Trends impacting work-family balance

Over the past decades several demographic and socio-economic trends led to major changes in work and family life. Demographic trends towards smaller households, growing women’s labour participation as well as rapid urbanization and greater mobility in search of better job opportunities, have resulted in weakening of traditional extended family networks offering care support for younger and vulnerable family members.

As extended kin are less available to care for the young, employed parents find it more difficult to manage working environment with caring for children and fulfilling other family responsibilities. In particular, being active in an increasingly competitive labour market to provide economically and having enough time to care for the young and vulnerable members of families is a main challenge for contemporary parents.

Globally, 52 per cent of women are in the labour market with over half mothers across the OECD countries in labour force before their child reaches 3 years of age. In addition to care for young children, families face multiple obligations, such as caring for older relatives, family members with disabilities or young people who tend to leave their families later in life. Consequently, employed parents often experience escalating family responsibilities to several generations at the same time.

Work responsibilities have increased as well. Although regular working hours in developed countries seem to plateau or decline, they remain high in developing countries, especially in Asia. Moreover, according to European data, non-standard ‘atypical working hours’, such as work on weekends or at night, as well as bringing work home, are becoming more common as well, making it more difficult to balance work and care responsibilities.

There is a growing body of research linking long working hours with higher absenteeism due to illness and lower productivity. Excessive working hours reduce the time parents spend with their children and have a negative impact on family interactions.
In light of these trends, supporting formal policies as well as practical strategies promoting reconciliation of work and care responsibilities for families, especially those with young children, is becoming an important family policy goal.

Family oriented policies and programmes for work- family balance

Family focused policies and programmes promoting work-family balance vary across the regions. They may range from parental leave provisions and flexible working arrangements to child benefits and access to quality and affordable childcare.

Parental leaves

Maternity and paternity leaves upon the birth of a child and parental leave to care for a young child are offered in the majority of developed countries as well as many developing middle income countries. In the majority of developing countries, however, few provide comprehensive benefits in accordance with the ILO standards. The uptake of parental leaves, especially paternity leaves can also be hindered by work-place cultures and societal expectations.

Maternity leave provisions have been associated with reduction in infant mortality and morbidity and higher rates of breastfeeding. Paternal leave taking often results in fathers’ practical and emotional investment in infant care and has been linked to higher level of father involvement in family responsibilities later on.

Gender equality & the role of men in families

Gender equity goals are directly linked to ensuring work-family balance. Out of choice and necessity, women enter the paid labour force in growing numbers, where they are often discriminated in access to employment and benefits. At the same time, both women and girls still continue to bear most responsibilities for the household. In all regions, women spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work. In some countries, women spend up to ten times as much time as men on caring for children. When unpaid work is taken into account, women’s total work hours are longer than men’s in all regions. Continued limited participation of men in care work is often considered a major obstacle to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
This trend, however, is slowly changing and men’s roles as fathers and caregivers in families, going beyond income provision, are gradually being recognized more in many parts in the world. Engaging men and boys in gender equality efforts and encouraging them to take up a bigger share of household and care responsibilities is a policy priority in many countries. Such strategies have a positive impact on gender equality; contribute to fairer distribution of family responsibilities between both parents and help achieve work-life balance for all family members.

Flexible working arrangements
Over the past decade, there have been growing efforts to create ‘family friendly’ work places by offering flexible working opportunities, such as: flexi-time schedules; working from home; part-time work; or working time adjusted to school timetable, without loss of pay. In the majority of developed countries informal arrangements exist and in some developing countries informal codes of good practice have been introduced but a legal right to request flexible working arrangements is generally rare.

Flexible working arrangements are more common in larger organizations with lower level of competition and recognized trade unions. They are also more frequent in the public sector jobs, work places where strong equal opportunities exist and where more employers are involved in decision making.

Flexible working opportunities result in better health outcomes for parents and children. At a company level, they have also been associated with employee productivity, organizational commitment, retention, moral, job satisfaction and reductions in absenteeism.

Quality childcare

With the growth of women’s professional aspirations and the need to obtain gainful employment to provide economically for their families, formal child care provisions have been adopted in most countries. Investments in early childhood education and quality child care are seen as a form of support for parents with young children to help them remain engaged in paid work. However, although primarily driven by the concern about female labour supply, the policies also aim at promoting fertility, gender equality and child well-being.
Childcare provision and subsidies for private childcare arrangements are considered an important part of work-family balance strategies in developed countries. The importance of early childhood care and education has also been emphasized at the international forum, e.g. by UNICEF and ILO in the context of work-family balance and decent work.

In the majority of developing countries, affordable quality child care facilities with professional staff, proper equipment and sanitary conditions are rare. Often, re-occurrence of accidents and mistreatment of children discourages parents from using ill-equipped childcare facilities. According to comparative fieldwork, poor families are often forced to leave their preschool children at home alone or in the care of older siblings, making them more prone to injuries and accidents as well. At the same time, there are numerous examples of innovative workplace solutions in developing countries, many funded from mixed partnerships between employer organizations, workers, and local government bodies able to provide child care options for working parents.

As far as the impact of child care arrangements on children’s well-being is concerned, some research indicates that stable parental care for infants is of outmost importance, and recommends that optimally young children should not be left in poor quality non-parental care arrangements. More consensus has been found on benefits of early childhood education, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Overall, a wide range of childcare arrangements should be advocated. Support for mothers who opt to stay at home with their children beyond the maternity leave period has often been recommended in the context of unpaid work. In some countries grandparent child care benefit has been introduced to assist families with the costs of child care.

A way forward

Work-family balance lies at the core of the ability of the family to provide economically and emotionally for its members. A variety of strategies to help families cope with work and family responsibilities is being used around the world. In the majority of developing countries, however, reconciliation of work and family life policies competes with a large number of development priorities. Moreover, access to work-family balance support systems is chiefly in the formal and regulated labour markets while many workers in the informal sector face not only family-unfriendly but also dangerous work environments. Global employment protection is then needed to secure better working conditions, especially for poor working families.

Family-friendly strategies facilitating work-family balance have a key role in supporting parents to raise the next generation of children and ensure harmonious family relations. Work-family balance policies also demonstrate Governments commitment to the well-being of families and employers’ social responsibility and contribute to successful labour relations, employee health and well-being, gender equality and child welfare.

It is important to share knowledge about good practices in work-family balance being implemented and advocated for by Governments, private sector, civil society and academic institutions. Promoting professional support and advice and efforts to create a more family-friendly culture in the workplace are equally important. Wide-ranging consultation and partnerships between employers, trade unions and employees to promote better understanding of the importance of work-family reconciliation is strongly encouraged to improve the well-being of families worldwide.

International Dawn Chorus Day is the worldwide celebration of Nature’s daily Miracle.

In East Lothian, IDCD is being celebrated with a Dawn Chorus Walk, organised by the Scottish Ornithologists Club (see below for details)


Dawn Chorus Walk

Event Information

Date 6-May-2012
Start Time 6.00am
Location The SOC, Waterston House
East Lothian
Admission £2 SOC Members, £4 non-members
Breakfast Includes refreshments after the event back at Waterston House.
Suitable for children Yes
Contact Jane Cleaver
Telephone 01875 871 330
Additional Information Includes refreshments after the event back at Waterston House.

From 21st-27th May 2012 Arrhythmia Alliance will be holding its annual Heart Rhythm Week which gives anyone the opportunity to raise awareness and promote better understanding of heart rhythm disorders.

For Heart Rhythm Week 2012, Arrhythmia Alliance and its members will be promoting the importance of patient empowerment. Those taking part in the week will be encouraged to organise awareness activities that help people with symptoms of a heart rhythm disorder access the appropriate information and support from a healthcare professional. Find out how you can get involved

Now in its fourth year, Green Office Week is an award-winning initiative designed to address green issues in the workplace and encourage office workers to spring into action and adopt practical ways to help the environment.

The aim of the week is to encourage workers to make environmental changes. Whether it’s to introduce a new policy, start recycling, reduce your carbon footprint or buy eco products, there will be a small change you can make.

Green Office Week (GOW) is an action-packed week full of fun and simple ideas to make your office greener. See what’s happening each day and then find ways you can fit these environmental ideas into your own work place. You can make a real difference to the environment by making a few small, practical changes. But don’t stop there! Become a true green champion by taking our daily themes and making them work for you every week of the year.

For the first time ever you can take part in the Green League to measure your environmental impact.


Focus on Energy

Encourage measures to reduce energy consumption in your company.



Focus on Transport

Encourage measures to reduce your company’s environmental impact through travel.


Focus on Waste

Encourage the 3Rs: reduce/reuse/recycle and benefit from the cost-reductions.



Focus on Purchasing

Encourage a review of purchasing habits and switching to eco-friendly office products.


Focus on Innovation

Encourage further discussion, action, and thinking about the environment well beyond Green Office Week! What ideas do you have?

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) is the UK’s annual awareness-raising campaign promoting inspirational vegetarian food and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle.

Why take part in NVW?

Taking part in NVW is fun, easy and will open your eyes to a world of delicious food and healthy eating. If you’re planning something as an organisation or community group it might help get more people to join you, buy your products or attend your events. It’s also a chance to try something new with your colleagues, show your students that you can cater for all diets or show vegetarians that your restaurant has some tasty choices for them.

Anyone can get involved with the Week: businesses, schools, colleges, universities, community groups, libraries, hospitals, families and individuals are just a few adding what they’re doing to our What’s Happening page each year. When the Week has finished we’ll be looking at the What’s Happening page to choose the winners of the Local Hero awards – so you might even win a prize and really make your mark on the veggie map!

Action packs

Inspirational ideas for businesses

ideas for community groups

Ideas for schools

Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest annual festival of learning; inspiring thousands of people each year to discover how learning can change their lives.

Through thousands of events and award ceremonies, Adult Learners’ Week celebrates all kinds of learners and promotes the benefits of every type of learning.

Adult Learners’ Week:

  • gives you the opportunity to explore the many different kinds of learning; whether you want to get a better job, try something you’ve always wanted to, be able to help your children at school or discover something new about the world around you.
  • recognises the achievements of outstanding individuals and inspiring learning projects through national and regional awards.
  • offers your organisation the chance to showcase the learning opportunities that you provide; for 2012 you can even link your activities to our themes.
  • attracts widespread media coverage, highlighting the stories of people who have transformed their lives and proving that adult learning really does matter.
  • is backed by thousands of supporters each year, helping us all raise the awareness of the benefits of learning.

View videos of inspirational learners here.