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Post Pandemic Britain – Poverty & Empowerment

Coronavirus has altered every part of our society, but for those on small incomes its impact is severe. Since the outbreak, many have lost their jobs or seen their hours cut.

Millions who were already struggling to remain afloat have been drawn deeper under. Others have been driven into poverty. Two million people applied for universal credit in the six weeks to 12 April – approximately five times greater than the same time last year1.

Lacking money to pay for good home, fresh meal and drink, warm clothes is the most conspicuous way poverty damages health but there are many more indirect ways mental status is undermined2. In 2016, the Mental Health Foundation presented a report3, which stressed that poverty reduces “mental bandwidth”, the capacity of brain to perform routine functions, the result of which is that poorer people make poorer health decisions.

According to Wisner et al4, poverty and inequality drive vulnerability, but even the vulnerable have some powers to grapple with setbacks. Strengthening these capacities, so long as they address needs and disaster risk in the long-term, and not only the short-term, can empower people to recover from setbacks. By enhancing resilience, families and community can also do well in the face of disasters, breaking the rhythm of disasters creating and being driven by poverty. Strengthening livelihoods and building resilience is thus crucial to cutting both disaster risk and hardship.

This issue of inequalities being raised is also being examined through an increasing pressure on Britain’s food banks, as more people losing their earnings have had to rely on them, while donations have slowed as people stockpile items to see them through the pandemic5.

Strengthening livelihoods is about developing human, social, political, physical, economic and natural assets6.

Assets perform two key functions:

  • Build capacity through better access to sources, (e.g. education contributing to a better paid work) and
  • Reduce vulnerability by acting as the buffer between communities and hazards and new traumas and stresses

After pandemic, according to Helen Barnard of Joseph Rowntree Foundation1 the local governments have a key role to perform in remedying digital exclusion, social housing and good work opportunities.

The government has recognised the strategic role of councils in supporting the most vulnerable during the crisis. Although it is far from enough to undo years of funding cutbacks that have bitten hardest in poorer localities, the £3.2bn so far promised to councils is a very welcome step forward7.

The funding will mean councils can go on to maintain essential services and support to those who need it most. This consists of getting rough sleepers off the street, supporting new shielding programmes for highly vulnerable populations and support for the heroic public health personnel and fire and rescue services. The funding will also mean councils can provide vital services including adult social care and children’s services.

The District Councils have a significant role to perform in developing the psychosocial demands of disadvantaged people in the community not simply in the short but long term. They should:

  • Offer a protected area for families to share their concerns of their situations, which can help release the stigma around talking about financial battles.
  • Weekly empowerment programmefor parents, which allows key life and learning skills. This influences their families in constructive ways. This needs to concentrate on:
    • Healthy relationships
    • Skills to promote mental health
    • Health and wellbeing
    • Positive psychology
    • Solution focus approaches
    • Links between behaviours and emotions
    • The introduction to a wellbeing diet and the five ways to wellbeing

The District Councils will have to work with social services and target using a successful model9.

  • Disaffected families and involving them
  • Encouraging volunteers or personnel employed by the council to win over aggressive and hostile families

What will the volunteers or personnel have to do?

  • Develop an empathic culture
  • Use a solution-focussed approach, therefore transferring the obligation of ownership of triggered emotions back to parents and families
  • Addressing parents experience of trauma in their own childhood or living in complex life situations

Outcomes of Weekly empowerment programme

The council will audit and endorse the conclusions in the following categories:


  • Once the news spreads on how the programme has helped parent’s lives, participation of the vulnerable families will improve
  • Parents will perceive that their viewpoints and concerns matter and it is feasible to make a success of their lives
  • Parent separation will reduce
  • Relationships within families will improve
  • Parents will come back to studies and getting posts for the first time in years
  • Parents will gain a definite idea of the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and will acquire techniques to address these and seek help
  • Parents will take responsibility for their child’s behaviour and demonstrate interest in their learning
  • A reduction in pupil behavioural issues
  • Improved pupil attendance
  • Positive parent engagement and families seeing the importance in education
  • A shift in how people talk to each other and a persistent use of positive reflective language

What is needed to set up and maintain Empowerment Programme

  • Dedicated place to meet (i.e. community hall, church hall)
  • Staff and volunteers with a positive attitude towards society
  • A crèche to facilitate young parents to leave children whilst attending the programme in the community hall or the church hall
  • An ongoing assistance from the Food Bank and charities to maintain the lives of this vulnerable group of the society
  • Career guidance and opportunities offered


  4. Wisner, B., Blaikie, P., Cannon, T. and Davis, I. 2004. At risk: natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters. London: Routledge.
  5. Sanderson D. 2012. Livelihood protection and support for disaster. In: Wisner, B., Gaillard, J. and Kelman, I. (eds.) Handbook of hazards and disaster risk reduction. Abingdon: Routledge, 2012, pp.697-710.












Post Pandemic Britain- Mental Health

On Sunday 10th May 2020, the Prime Minister will be announcing the government’s roadmap for lifting the lockdown1.

COVID Pandemic has been catastrophic to the whole world, with United Kingdom leading in Europe with the highest death count.

It is worth understanding few terms before going on the media hype:

 Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is the most commonly discussed measure, which relies on the number of confirmed cases and on the total number of deaths, and with COVID-19, some people who are sick and will die soon have not yet died. It is calculated as follows:


Number of deaths from disease   x 100

——————————————                                     =   CASE FATALITY RATE (In %)

Number of diagnosed cases of disease

It is not the same as the risk of death for an infected person, as the media suggest that it is!

 Crude Death Rate or Crude Mortality Rate measures the probability that any individual in the population will die from the disease; not just those who are infected.

It is calculated as follows:

Number of deaths           x 100

—————————                                  =  CRUDE DEATH RATE

Total population

What the country wants to know is the Infection Fatality Rate.2

Number of deaths from the disease             x 100

—————————————————–                                = INFECTION FATALITY RATE

Total number of cases

What do all these data mean to an individual?


 This pandemic has resulted in a significant number of people becoming sick and many have lost their loved ones.

The losses experienced can affect men and women differently. Social and cultural patterns determine how they will react. For example, men tend to repress painful emotions, and expressing them is interpreted as a weakness. Their emotional response may be to drink heavily or become violent. Women tend to communicate with each other more easily, to express their fears, and to seek support and understanding for themselves and their children. Death of a loved one can imprint on the part of victim’s lives and will never be erased from their memories.

Sadness, suffering and grief occur expectedly following the death of one or several loved ones.

 Impact on Mental Health

 It is estimated that between one-third and one-half of the exposed population may suffer from some form of psycho-pathological manifestation.

The disturbances among survivors are:

  • Depression
  • Transitory stress reaction

Leading to

  • Generalised fear
  • Adjustment disorders, which manifest as emotional alterations affecting social life, difficulty accepting the changes brought about by the loss

Later on, some may develop post-traumatic stress as a delayed type of disorder.

What happens after lifting of the lockdown?

People will still have:

  • Fear of a new epidemic
  • Aggression and protests against authorities and institutions
  • An increase in unemployment above 9% after the government support via the Job Retention Scheme ends3.
  • If the recession is equal to that of 2008, the UK can expect an additional 500 000 working-age group people to develop mental health condition4.
  • Social and mental health side effects like depression, pathological grieving, post traumatic stress, alcohol and drug abuse
  • Continuing rise of domestic violence

How can the Mental Health Services, Public Health England (PHE) of the UK help?

  • The PHE can initiate a good mass communication strategy to promote recovery
  • Continuous in-service training for teams of recovery workers
  • Mental health care for the Key Workers
  • Individual and group mental health services for affected people, families and communities, as a medium term psychological recovery plan
  • Discussion of experiences and lessons learned
  • Community forums should be set up for mutual support expression, sharing, understanding and listening where the impact is social5.

According to Dr Kluge, WHO Regional Director6 “the issue facing each and every one of us is how manage and react to stressful situation unfolding so rapidly in our lives and communities. We can draw on the remarkable powers of strength and cooperation that we also fortunately possess as human.”




Post Pandemic Britain – ECONOMY


The Corona virus pandemic has had a substantial impact on the UK economy, costing hundreds of British people their jobs and forcing several sectors to come to a complete standstill. The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR)1 estimated the outbreak could result in over two million job losses and cause the economy to shrink by 35%.

Many businesses have had to close with hundreds of thousands unable to work. While the UK government has produced unprecedented loan and pay schemes to keep companies in business and workers on the payroll, it is unavoidable that numerous people will become unemployed and many businesses may never open again.

A feature of the last decade has been the rise of self-employment, including gig economy workers. About 15% of workers now work for themselves, most of them operating alone. Many earn little and lack access to the traditional safety net, including sick pay and the national minimum wage. The self-employed have suffered more than the employees in terms of real income losses2.

The lockdown is having the biggest impact on the young, low-paid and female workers, according to a recent research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies3.

Many low-income households will struggle to make ends meet. Citizens Advice – a charity which provides guidance on jobs, welfare and debt management, had over two million website views in a week. The most viewed page being “Advice on what to do if you can’t pay your bills?”.

After the lockdown is lifted, some businesses may snap back to how they used to operate before, but with changing habits it will create a demand for new products and services. For example, many may continue to work from home, whilst the delivery of goods and services online may see a sustained increase4.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has introduced schemes in which the state will pay 80% of the salary of the workers who would otherwise be laid off by their employers, up to £2,500 per month5.

It’s a difficult conundrum which not only the UK government but the rest of the world will try to address over the coming months and years.


READ MY NEXT BLOG – POST PANDEMIC BRITAIN – Effect of Pandemic on Mental & Physical Health



  2. Bloomberg –






2050 – Dementia in India

October 14, 2019 Leave a comment

12 million people with Dementia by 2050 in India A report published in The Hindu quotes a three-fold rise in people suffering from dementia in India. It will present an overwhelming financial and human burden to health and care systems.

I wonder where are the Care systems, who educates and takes interest in the Carers?


Categories: Health Tags: , , ,

Dementia – Awareness in India

October 14, 2019 Leave a comment

Dementia in India We need to educate ourselves about the terms Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease if we are to look after our loved one’s who will grow old and one day develop signs and symptoms of dementia. It’s sad to read that almost a quarter of Indians surveyed by the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) considered that those suffering from dementia to be “dangerous ” and about three fourths felt that those with dementia are “impulsive and unpredictable”.





Rubbish on the streets

This is my second post on street rubbish.

What are the types of people who throw rubbish on the street?

My hunch is- lazy people

Educated/ uneducated of varying age groups who are in a rush!!

This poster in India made me wonder, can this act as a deterrent?



Dementia – Risk reduction of cognitive decline

The WHO has released new guidelines for risk reduction of cognitive decline in dementia.

Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem with around 50 million people suffering from the condition. Approximately 60% of these people are living in low and middle income countries.

While age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of ageing. Several recent studies have shown a relationship between the development of cognitive impairment and dementia with lifestyle- related risk factors, such as

  • physical inactivity,
  • tobacco use,
  • unhealthy diets and
  • harmful use of alcohol.


Certain medical conditions are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia, including hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, obesityand depression. Other potentially modifiable risk factors include social isolation and cognitive inactivity.The existence of potentially modifiable risk factors means that prevention of dementia is possible through a public health approach, including the implementation of key interventions that delay or slow cognitive decline or dementia.

It is worth a read and acting on these recommendations and prevent a rapid decline due to this tragic condition.

Cigarette butts and plant growth

It’s usual to see cigarette butts strewn on the roads on daily walks!! People either throw it out of the car or crush it on their walks. But the impact it has on plant growth is enormous.

A study carried out by Anglia Ruskin University found that the presence of cigarette butts in the soil reduced the germination success and shoot length of clover by 27%.

Most cigarette butts contain a filter made of cellulose acetate fibre which causes damage the plants, even without the additional toxins released from the burning of the tobacco.

An estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide each year making them the planet’s worst plastic pollution!!

Let’s do something about it.





Dementia in India (1)

I am touched by the passion with which Swapnil Kishore writes about the plight of Dementia care In India.

A quote from her post is quite poignant – “Awareness is so poor that there is no way to tap the bulk of actual, hands-on caregivers. Besides, caregivers come in various stripes; the ones who most need help are not visible, not tapped, not participating in most dialogues. Patients who need the most help are the ones locked up in houses because of social stigma, or who remain undiagnosed or are labelled as crazy and shunned. So where are their voices, their concerns, their perspectives on what they need most and fastest? Where can we find persons diagnosed early enough to have insight into their dementia who may share their realities so that we can know what “friendliness” means to someone who actually has dementia? Don’t their opinions matter?”

She also observes “But we have a severe shortage of people and resources in the dementia domain. We don’t have the foundation for advanced and ambitious projects like a “dementia-friendly community.”


We need to help in setting up viable education tools to help carers of dementia sufferers in small steps. It is a long way off from achieving the status of western models of care but overstep matters.

We are on the way towards making that first step!



Categories: Blogs, Health Tags: ,

Childhood obesity

According to the government data  the proportion of overweight and obese children in reception year remains at 22.4% (136,586 children) and for year 6 children, it is 34.3% (197,888 children).

Physical activity and childhood obesity: There is a large amount of evidence which suggests that regular activity is related to reduced incidence of many chronic conditions.

Healthier eating habits will encourage a child to loose weight along with regular exercise.

Involving a child in walking the dog, walking or cycling to school and using stairs instead of the lift increases the aerobic activity.

Encouraging a child to join classes which they enjoy such as dancing, swimming or football will make a child active.

Limiting the time in front of the TV or smart phones and tablets allows a child to get enough sleep.


#childhood obesity,#walking,#cyclingtoschool,#walkingtoschool