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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Community"

Anna Firth: Local Government not central Government that has the power and the tools to combat loneliness

Cllr Anna Firth, Chairman of Sevenoaks Conservative Association and the Lead Member for Loneliness on Sevenoaks District Council

Last week’s new #Let’sTalkLoneliness campaign, launched by the Loneliness Minister, Mims Davies MP, and inspired by the third anniversary of Jo Cox’s death, was a very welcome step in the right direction. Central government has a vital role to play in raising awareness and tackling the stigma still attached to loneliness and isolation. The power to prevent it, however, remains firmly in the hands of local government, since the only long-term, sustainable way to address chronic loneliness is to go “upstream” and build more caring, connected communities by design. Only local councils, as the planning authorities, have the power to ensure that all new developments are planned with good mental health and well-being in mind from day one.

It is absolutely shocking that according to the British Red Cross, nearly a sixth of all Britons – nine million people – are chronically lonely and that this is expected to rise by nearly 50 per cent over the next decade. Loneliness also knows no age limits; research shows that 1 in 10 young teens feel lonely, which has a huge impact on their well-being.

Everyone will feel lonely at some point in their lives, but chronic loneliness occurs when, for whatever reason, the individual cannot take steps to address it. At that point, it becomes a serious health issue, as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or obesity, and it shortens lives. As John Steinbeck famously wrote: “a sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker than a germ”.

It also represents a health inequality, since it is experienced far more by some groups then others. Those living or working alone are particularly at risk. As are the elderly, who often lack the mobility and support structures to overcome it.

Up to 85 per cent of young, disabled adults – 18 to 34 year olds – feel lonely.

In rural districts like Sevenoaks, the risk of loneliness is particularly acute due to poor public transport, an ageing population, and pockets of rural and urban deprivation. For example, St Mary’s ward in the town of Swanley falls within the 10% most deprived wards in Kent and the South East. Another vulnerable and increasing group is children living in low-income, rural households. 12 per cent of children under 16 are living in low-income families in Sevenoaks district, where rural deprivation is deemed more isolating than urban poverty. This group is set to increase by 17 per cent over the next 20 years.

The impact of this loneliness epidemic on our already over-stretched NHS is already immense. Lonely people are 3.4 times more likely to suffer depression, 3.5 times more likely to need residential care, and 1.6 times more likely to end up in A&E. Three out of four GPs report seeing between 1 and 5 people a day mainly because they are lonely.

However, with the number of over 85s forecast to rise across Kent by a whopping 97.8% over the next 17 years, elderly people opting to remain in their own homes, coupled with a social care system already in crisis, we have a serious public health storm in the making.

Like many councils up and down the country, Sevenoaks District Council is working hard to tackle the symptoms of loneliness, working in partnership with charities and the voluntary sector. Our Council-led Community Grants Scheme delivers targeted support to schemes supporting social inclusion from youth clubs, community transport; wellbeing walking groups, befriending; pop-up cafés, and access to leisure and open spaces.

Sevenoaks is also one of a number of district councils using public health funding to pay for advisors working in GP surgeries to help tackle the non-medical reasons why people visit their doctor, such as loneliness due to bereavement, or depression caused by debt, or unsuitable housing. Going forward, social prescribing needs to be front and centre of primary care. Sevenoaks District Council also supports a yearly internet safety scheme in primary schools (“the Digital Sunset Challenge”) combating youth loneliness due to overuse of social media, particularly at night, as well as offering a falls prevention home adaptions service to both reduce and prevent hospital admissions.

The role of local government, as acknowledged in the new Health and Social Care Green Paper, in tackling loneliness and isolation is plainly crucial. First and foremost, however, communities need to be more caring and connected by design. High quality, purpose build “dementia friendly” retirement villages and towns, good quality community spaces, investing in community transport, encouraging the elderly to take part in local assemblies, suitably adapted homes, care homes that admit pets, and a clear, local connection for the allocation of affordable housing – these are all things that, properly funded, local government can do to create better connected communities, especially for the elderly.

The good news is that there is already a growing body of evidence demonstrating the clear savings to local health and social care services as a result of loneliness investment. Living Well Cornwall, initiated by Age UK and the NHS Kernow CCG, has shown a 41% reduction in the cost of hospital admissions, while Gloucestershire village and community agents has resulted in savings to health and social care services of a £1.3 million between 2012-2014.

However, we also need to consider the role of families. According to a UK Government survey, in 2017, the UK was the loneliest country in Europe. France, Spain and Italy spend far less on social care, yet they don’t have a social care crisis. Why? France, Spain and Italy they have more preserved family structures. Many older people still live close to or with their sons or daughters. A Conservative government should not be shy at championing the role of the family to help alleviate chronic loneliness and also go a long way to solving the adult social care crisis. Tax breaks, coupled with an extension of permitted development rights for anyone wishing to build a granny annexe or add an room in the roof or in the basement in order to care for a relative or loved one, needs to be considered. Temporary or mobile garden granny lodges should also be encouraged.

In the meantime, we will only truly tackle chronic loneliness in our communities by rediscovering the art of caring for one another. A smile, a wave, pausing to ask someone how they are, picking up the phone rather than messaging – all are crucial. Such actions could change an electronic, transactional conversation into a friendly moment that could be the only human, social contact that a person has had all day, possibly all week. In short, simple, everyday actions really do help.


Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

I Support LGBT Individuals, but Not Its Community of Activists

Westlake Legal Group gay_pride_flag.0-e1464764572490-620x349 I Support LGBT Individuals, but Not Its Community of Activists vox transgender Steven Crowder Politics LGBT individuals Front Page Stories Featured Story Community children Allow Media Exception Activists

During “Pride Month” you tend to see what look like a lot of anti-LGBT writing coming from the right, and I feel like that oftentimes gets misconstrued. It gets misconstrued because the activist left like to paint any kind of logistically analyzed event or negative commentary as a blanket hatred of LGBT people.

It’s not.

That there are truly bigoted people out there is an undeniable fact, but the truly bigoted people are a small minority. Many are like me. We may have LGBT friends or family members that we love very much. We love them because we think they’re good people who are a pleasure to be around. I personally have plenty of gay and lesbian friends that I truly think it’s a pleasure to be around and love talking to.

Of course, like many on the right, including many libertarians, we turn around and write articles that slam the LGBT community. It almost looks like a night and day difference.

It’s not.

The nuance may seem small but looking at it makes it glaringly obvious how many on the right look at members of the LGBT community, and it’s that we’re not looking at them as members of a community but as individuals. We’re not giving our respect for them by the way they identify, but whether or not that individual is a good person and friend.

However, the left typically thinks in terms of categories and groups. Simply identifying as something automatically earns you a certain level of respect and deference. It’s a backward way of doing things as it completely dismisses the person and breaks down the individual into how they fit into the collective.

When a right-leaning individual attacks an event or a person within the LGBT community, the activist left immediately makes it an attack on a general lifestyle, and so makes the front line of the battle an attack on the entire community. This narrative thrives because activists go above and beyond to make any attack seem like an existential threat to homosexuals and transgendered individuals. People get defensive which leads to people getting offensive, which leads to people getting defensive, which leads to people getting offensive, and so on.

The reality is that the majority of people on the right are perfectly happy to leave members of the LGBT community alone. What you do in your private life isn’t our business and we’d like to keep it that way. The problem is that the activists within the LGBT community aren’t content to return the favor.

Jack Phillips of the Masterpiece Cakeshop is gearing up to fight a third lawsuit against him because he wouldn’t violate his religious beliefs. Vox is currently destroying all of YouTube by using the excuse that Steven Crowder dared to oppose someone who is gay and called this gay man names. Schools are forcing LGBT lifestyles and concepts on small children, and disallowing parents to have a say about it if they tell them it’s happening at all. In fact, transgender activists are currently working to try to take your kids from you if you deny any spark of transgenderism in your child at all, whether it’s legitimate or not.

That’s just one bit of the icing on a much larger activist cake.

While the LGBT community may have to suffer criticisms about the content of its parades or jokes about their habits and traditions, they can rest easy knowing that this happens to everybody else on the planet. Everyone has their ways criticized and analyzed. Everyone is given third-person takes. Everyone is going to be the butt of a joke at some point. Being gay doesn’t exclude you from the discerning eye that is human society. Making yourself a sacred cow isn’t going to stop it from happening.

In fact, making yourself a sacred cow in the age of the internet is likely going to make it happen more.

And that’s okay. In fact, it’s good for you. No one individual or group should consider themselves beyond reproach, as those kinds of people end up hurting themselves and others with their undeserved sense of self-importance and inability to learn from mistakes.

And there definitely are mistakes occurring within the LGBT community that need to be addressed posthaste.

For instance, the sexualization of children is consistently seen in the LGBT community with kids like “Desmond is Amazing” who is being thrust into the spotlight as a representative for “drag kids.” The sexualizing of an eight-year-old is gross and has gone far beyond allowing a boy to dress up as a girl. He’s dancing in front of audiences at gay bars at 2 a.m. while they throw money at him.

This infamous clip of a half-naked boy dancing sexually as a crowd gathers around him shows just how bad the problem of sexualizing children is within the LGBT community. Then there are the aforementioned attempts by public schools to drill transgenderism and homosexuality into the heads of children.

Problems like these need to be addressed and stopped immediately, but they’re not. We’re told we must either ignore or even applaud things like this.

I want to be very clear that I do not believe everyone who is LGBT agrees with the kind of disgusting things that happen within the LGBT community, or the overt attempts to control society. This is definitely the work of activists and those who follow their every whim. I’m positive that many feel as disgusted as anybody else does.

It’s hard to take action because many people fear the activist community, even within LGBT circles. Speaking out makes you a pariah, and if it’s your own circles that are rejecting you, it can be very difficult. At some point, however, we all have to recognize that we’re individuals with individual feelings about specific things. That the dislike of one thing doesn’t mean a dislike of a person or a group of people. That there is a moral line we should draw and stick to when it comes to forcing others how to live, or what we push on children.

Once we embrace the idea of individualistic thinking, much of the problems the right and the LGBT community have will dissolve. Not at all of it, but enough of it to truly bring about a peaceful understanding. LGBT people and right-leaning people get along all the time every single day. We’re definitely not enemies, and we shouldn’t let others make us so.

The post I Support LGBT Individuals, but Not Its Community of Activists appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group gay_pride_flag.0-e1464764572490-300x169 I Support LGBT Individuals, but Not Its Community of Activists vox transgender Steven Crowder Politics LGBT individuals Front Page Stories Featured Story Community children Allow Media Exception Activists   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

From warehouse to gathering place: A builder’s vision for Old Town’s future

Westlake Legal Group Warehouse-Reconstruction From warehouse to gathering place: A builder’s vision for Old Town’s future warehouse Old Town marketplace History Culture Features construction Community Bonitt Builders alexandria
Rendering courtesy of Bonitt Builders

The art of preservation is a challenging skill to grasp, and with modern developments popping up all over the Northern Virginia region, it has become a rarity. Yet somehow, award-winning developer Murray Bonitt, who has been in the industry for about 35 years with his company Bonitt Builders, doesn’t get tired of restoring fractured pieces of history and giving them a purpose again.

In late May, Bonitt announced his plans to transform and preserve one of Alexandria’s last remaining waterfront warehouses, located at 10 Duke Street in Old Town, into a grocery market and kitchen for the surrounding community to enjoy. The establishment will go by the name The Mill, as a nod to its previous life and its goal of being a gathering place.

The building was once used as a mess house by the Union Army in 1864, where soldiers could return for food, support and, most importantly, comfort. In October 2020, the warehouse will serve a similar purpose, yet with less men in uniform and more hungry guests who can stop by the downstairs level for a quick bite to eat or head upstairs to relax by the open kitchen in the sofa lounge.

As for the impact the warehouse will have on the community, Bonitt expects it will be well received.

“When a building is made from scratch, you can’t replicate the feel of looking at 200-year-old items that have stood the test of time,” Bonitt explains. “People are appreciative of repurposing materials. It takes some extra work, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it, bringing those pieces back to life.”

Westlake Legal Group Warehouse_2 From warehouse to gathering place: A builder’s vision for Old Town’s future warehouse Old Town marketplace History Culture Features construction Community Bonitt Builders alexandria
Rendering courtesy of Bonitt Builders

The entirety of the structure will be repurposed and restored, according to Bonitt. The brick and roof presses removed for construction will be placed back in the walls, and any boom or beam taken out during the process will be reused for tables, flooring or accent walls.

Bonitt is also keen on the fact that The Mill will be built with local residents in mind. He has plans to survey the residents of the Southeast quadrant of Old Town to see exactly what type of goods they’d like in the market, and he also has an extensive process for choosing which restaurant will be providing the cuisine. While the concept is still being developed, he envisions a vibe of Southern comfort food that will bring friends, neighbors and family together on a regular basis.

As a result of his various years within the culinary industry, Bonitt has adopted a Triple-A approach to hospitality—affordable, approachable and amazing—that will utilize when transforming the warehouse.

“I’ve learned that when people walk in the door, they become the celebrity in the restaurant,” says Bonitt. “You want to make it so that it’s a reasonable cost, approachable so nobody’s intimidated by things on the menu. Yet also a vibe that’s awesome, where they are pointing out unique things on the walls or anywhere else. A place needs it all.”

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Nkechi Diallo (f.k.a. Rachel Dolezal) avoids jail time

Westlake Legal Group DolezalBook Nkechi Diallo (f.k.a. Rachel Dolezal) avoids jail time welfare fraud The Blog Rachel Dolezal naacp Community black

Nkechi Diallo, who until a couple of years ago was known as the “transracial” NAACP executive Rachel Dolezal, is back in the news. And once again, it’s not for anything good. Diallo got herself into a spot of trouble with the law when she failed to disclose income from her book, In Full Color while collecting public food and child care assistance. This type of welfare fraud can result in time behind bars, but Diallo and her attorneys apparently struck a deal that will keep her out of the crowbar hotel. (KATU News)

A former NAACP leader in Washington state who was exposed in 2015 as a white woman pretending to be black has reached an agreement to avoid trial on charges of welfare fraud.

Rachel Dolezal, who changed her name to Nkechi Diallo two years ago, was charged with two felonies last May.

Investigators alleged she failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in income from her memoir, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World,” and other sources, so she could collect $8,847 in food and child care assistance from the state.

I’m assuming that the “tens of thousands” of dollars Diallo received for the book represented her advance from the publisher since I never heard anything about the book hitting the best sellers lists. After that, her opportunities for income were extremely limited, at least according to her. She claims to have landed a few jobs under her new name, but employers kept figuring out who she actually was and terminating her employment.

There was a time when I thought that the entire Dolezal debacle might have served some larger public purpose. After all, if people who are born with all the obvious, normal biological markers of males or females can claim that they are the opposite gender just because they feel that way, why couldn’t they say the same thing about race? But if Diallo, whose childhood pictures show her as coming from one of the whitest, most Scandinavian looking families imaginable, can’t be accepted as a member of the black community, why are exceptions being made for transgender individuals?

I never heard or read a suitable answer to that question, but the matter seems to have been largely dropped in social media debates. And left in the wreckage of that fight we have Ms. Diallo, who once had a promising career in community organizer circles, but is now struggling to keep a roof over her head and stay out of jail. It’s really kind of a sad story when you stop to think about it.

The post Nkechi Diallo (f.k.a. Rachel Dolezal) avoids jail time appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group DolezalBook-300x159 Nkechi Diallo (f.k.a. Rachel Dolezal) avoids jail time welfare fraud The Blog Rachel Dolezal naacp Community black   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com