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By VIEW editor Brian Pelan On my way last night to a photography exhibition in Belfast about homelessness I passed several people along the way who were lying on the streets of our city centre. The irony wasn’t lost on me. The event, organised by the Belfast-based Westcourt Camera Club, was held in conjunction with the Westcourt Centre for Homelessness Awareness Week 2019. The black and white images on the wall at the Artcetera Studio in Rosemary Street (taken by documentary photographer John Bolloten who is based in Bradford, UK) were stark, visceral and compelling. They portray people’s lives caught…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan A new think tank in Northern Ireland has called for big changes in policy to address serious social issues. Pivotal, headed up by former civil servant Ann Watt, says it will act “only in the public interest’. The group’s initial financial backers include the Irish government, along with Belfast Harbour, NICVA, The Community Foundation, The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Queen’s University and Ulster University. Ms Watt, who was the head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland, said that Pivotal will not have a position regarding the constitutional question in Northern Ireland. She also said…

By Una Murphy TWO men who have spearheaded the ‘Preston Model’ of promoting growth in the local economy have paid a visit to Belfast to advise on community wealth building. With 28 per cent of children in Belfast growing up in poverty and more than 56,000 residents in the city living in poverty, the local council has developed plans to boost an inclusive economy to tackle deprivation and “connect all residents with economic growth”. Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council and Derek Whyte, who has just stepped down from the council and is now an independent policy adviser, spoke to…

FILM REVIEW: Shooting the Mafia By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Stark black and white images of Mafia victims dominate the documentary Shooting the Mafia. The images are the work of Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia – a feisty Italian extrovert who proudly proclaims: “If people don’t like me they can fuck off. I’m going to live like this to my last breath.” Battaglia is now 83-years of age but it doesn’t appear to have diminished her love of life. British documentary film maker Kim Longinotto explores, not always successfully, her life and work. We learn that Battaglia felt stifled and abused by…

By VIEWdigital co-founder Una Murphy Health Inequalities still matter was the message from the recent 25th Annual General Meeting of the Community Development Health Network (CDHN)  in Belfast. Professor Jennie Popay from Lancaster University told delegates at Crumlin Road Gaol: “If we want to achieve health equity, we need to put power back at the centre of communities.” She said that “peoples’ lived experiences” must be listened to in order to reduce health inequalities. It was a matter of social justice, Professor Popay added. Speaking to VIEWdigital she added that too much blame was now placed on individuals for smoking and…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Universal Credit should be perhaps renamed Universal Misery given the countless stories of those severely impacted since its introduction in the United Kingdom. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper showed that more than a million households on universal credit and 60 per cent of them are having their benefits cut to repay debts and loans. The deductions have forced many claimants to turn to food banks. One young woman told VIEWdigital about her frustrating experience going onto Universal Credit herself. Joanne (not her real name) helps advise people about a range of issue, including…

16 Days of action and activism across Northern Ireland Women’s Aid across Northern Ireland are supporting a global campaign which is demanding action on ending violence against women and girls. The 16 days of Action on Violence Against Women and Girls, which started last Monday and will continue to December 10 ending on Human Rights Day, highlighting that violence against women is a violation of human rights. Throughout the 16 days, Women’s Aid are campaigning to end violence against women and girls and raising awareness of the vital frontline and specialised services that are delivered 365 days a year across…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan A leading welfare rights advisor has urged the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith to introduce urgent legislation to avoid a looming crisis of child poverty, hunger and mass evictions. Kevin Higgins, Advice NI and member of the Welfare Reform Mitigations Working Group, added: “We have a mitigation package which has sheltered people from the harshest impacts of welfare reform, impacts that are disproportionately greater in Northern Ireland than anywhere else as evidenced by the recent Commons Joint Committee report. “We have inadequate, segregated social housing; we have higher rates of disability; we have…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Emerging into the sunlight, I’m thankful to escape a grim world of zero-hours contracts, with no holidays or sick pay. I’d had just watched Ken Loach’s latest work, Sorry We Missed You, which tells the story of a parcel delivery man trying his best to survive in the gig economy but who is desperately drowning in a sea of economic worries. Ricky Turner, played by Kris Hitchen, is told by Maloney (Ross Brewster), the hard-nosed delivery-depot boss in Sorry We Missed You. “You come on board. We call it on-boarding. You don’t work for us –…

For our final Communicate Your Story! event of 2019, VIEWdigital will host a workshop with our readers at Ormeau Baths, Belfast to find out more about what stories they want us to cover in 2020 and invite them for a festive drink! Take time out from BREXIT blues and General Election hype to support independent journalism on social justice issues and social affairs. The VIEWdigital team also wants to tell readers about our big plans for 2020. COMMUNICATE YOUR STORY!, Ormeau Baths, Belfast, Monday, December 9 – From 2pm to 4pm To find out more contact Una Murphy, publisher VIEWdigital…

Shocking new figures reveal that more than half (59%) of stroke survivors in Northern Ireland feel they did not receive enough support with their recovery. The Stroke Association has published new findings that show thousands of stroke survivors in Northern Ireland said they struggle to access the support they need to rebuild their lives after stroke. There are currently more than 38,000 stroke survivors in Northern Ireland, and these latest findings show that many people feel let down by the health and social care system. The charity’s Lived Experience report is compiled from a large survey of people affected by…

The campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed has carried out a survey to understand more about the cost and impact of childcare on families, it has found that the exorbitant cost of childcare creates financial anxiety in 84% of households. These findings support recent research by the OECD that singled-out the UK as having the most expensive childcare system in the world with 35.7% of income being spent on it (OECD, April 2019). The financial burden of childcare has meant that 17% of parents have had to leave their jobs, with 62% saying they work fewer hours because of childcare costs.…

New research from the housing advice group Housing Rights shows that renting privately in Northern Ireland is becoming increasingly unaffordable for people who rely on housing benefit to pay their rent. Almost nine out of 10 of rental properties are out of reach for people receiving Housing Benefit with the research showing that as little as 12% of properties in the sector would have their rent fully covered by the amount of benefit available. The report focuses on the provision of housing benefit in the private rented sector, which is paid at ‘Local Housing Allowance’ (LHA) rates. The research used…

By VIEW deputy editor Kathryn Johnston Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), brought a stark message about Brexit during a visit to Belfast last week. Ms O’Grady, speaking at an event in the Mac to discuss Labour and the foundation and development of Northern Ireland, said: “No deal doesn’t mean a clean break. It’s not as if it’s going to be a short, sharp shock. The fall-out will poison our political life for years to come. We’ve seen what the neofascists are capable of – in Britain, the memory of the murder of Labour MP Jo…

JOB DESCRIPTION POSITION: Business Development Executive EMPLOYER: VIEWdigital RESPONSIBLE TO: Directors LOCATION: Belfast SALARY: Dependent on Experience (Circa £35,000) This is offered as a freelance position. VIEWdigital – Independent Publisher of social affairs journalism in VIEW magazine and the VIEWdigital news site. Thousands of readers see VIEW magazine in digital and print editions in libraries and on their smartphones or laptops and follow us on social media. OUR PURPOSE AND VISION – VIEWdigital highlights social justice issues, champions community initiatives and provides independent quality journalism on social affairs. JOB OPPORTUNITY – An outstanding, newly-created opportunity exists for a Business Development…

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