Schoolchildren protest outside Westminster

A large crowd of school students gathered at Parliament Square this Friday morning and started a peaceful protest demanding action from politicians to combat climate change.

Demonstrations tend to be led by adults. Not today. For many kids, this Friday was not the average school day. All across the UK, schoolchildren changed the classrooms for the streets as they walked out and protested against climate change inaction from the Government. In London, the main protest took place in Westminster.

Under a clear, sunny sky, students chanted and waved their banners outside the Houses of Parliament from 11am. After 1pm, they moved to Westminster Bridge, occupying both road directions.

The protest was been overseen by a modest amount of policemen, who had to occasionally intervene to ensure traffic flow could continue.

The protests, inspired by activism of 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, was supported by organisations such as the UK Student Climate Network and the UK Youth Climate Coalition, which are independent from any schools. Most of the schoolchildren who attended were not accompanied by an adult. There were, however, some parents who marched along their children – specially those with young kids.

Schools took different stands ahead of this example of youth activism. Some encouraged their students to take part in the strikes, whereas others preferred not to acknowledge the particularity of the occasion.

Darcy Lawler, a mother who attended the protest with her son, celebrated this strike: “He [her son] has been super passionate about the environment and global warming for many years and today it’s his first opportunity to participate in an organised protest.”

Regarding the response from her son’s school, Mrs Lawler claims that they supported the strike action. “They sent out an email saying that anyone who wanted to participate in the protest would be authorised to leave school. They were completely supportive,” she affirms.

Stephanie, another mother who attended the protest, found a more passive attitude at their daughter’s school: “They didn’t really support the protest, but they didn’t keep us from doing it either,” she explains.

At that point she looks at her six-year-old daughter and asks her if they said anything about the strike at school, to what the young kid replies “no”.

As most of the parents who shared this experience with their children, Stephanie was very enthusiastic: “It’s amazing, it’s great! I hope they [the children] see that together they are stronger and that they have something to say.”

But is it too early for a six-year-old to join a demonstration? Stephanie does not think so. “I took her here because I think that she should see that she’s got a voice and that it’s important to put it out there and be inspired by the children who have organised this.”

Stephanie compares today’s school strike with the spirit of 1968, one of the most iconic years in the history of student activism, with today’s protests, and adds: “Our youth managed to change some things, but obviously not massively because we are still here and actually worse off than when I was a teenager.”

A follow-up strike is expected to take place on 15th March as part of the global student movement against climate change inaction.

Sian Berry announced as Green candidate in 2020 mayoral election

Sian Berry has been confirmed as the Green Party’s candidate for the London mayoral election next year.

She’s been a member on the London Assembly since May 2016, and is currently a councillor for Highgate. In the previous election, she came third to Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith.

Top on Sian’s agenda is tackling London’s housing crisis. Writing for Metro, Berry wrote about how social housing is being hit hard by destructive ‘regeneration’ schemes. According to research she did last year, 4000 council and social rent homes have been lost so far – with a further 7000 expected too.

She announced her intention to create a People’s Land Bank if she was elected as mayor in 2020. Berry wrote yesterday about how it will ‘put community organising at the heart of solving the housing crisis.’

Berry came third in the 2016 mayoral election. Photo: London Assembly.
Berry came third in the 2016 mayoral election. Photo: London Assembly.

Earlier today, she attended the climate strike in Parliament Square, where large crowds of school students have gathered to protest against the lack of global action against the climate crisis.


Sadiq Khan calls for a £1.5 billion fund for air pollution crisis

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is calling for a £1.5 billion fund to remove polluting vehicles from the UK.

The Mayor is proposing the fund alongside the support of the UK 100, a network of local government leaders, who are hoping to achieve 100% clean energy by 2015. This comes after the Mayor has launched the most advanced network of air-quality monitors to try and gather more information on the air-pollution crisis.

According to leaders, the funding will be used for a two-year national scheme designed to upgrade vehicles to lower emission alternatives. This may include better transport such as electric buses, cycling and walking.

The government have pledged that they would deliver a ‘green Brexit’ along with a new environment bill that will bring new legislation on air quality.

Accumulate brings LFW to the homeless

While The Strand lights up with some of the world’s biggest brands at the launch of London Fashion Week today, down the road in Somerset House a second fashion week is underway: a modelling of denim jackets by London’s homeless.

Accumulate, a charity which specialises in helping young, homeless people to develop their wellbeing and improve their lives through creativity, has partnered with Somerset House and Levis to open the fashion industry to young homeless adults in London.

A selection of young adults will be designing their own denim jackets this week thanks to a generous donation from Levis and material and fabrics contributed by artists and screen printers in London.

Participants are invited to  redesign their gifted jackets and model their work in a photoshoot by Duncan Raban this afternoon, who has previously photographed stars like Tina Turner.

The project aims to ensure young adults who have aspirations in fashion aren’t shut out of Fashion Week, particularly those living on the street who are possibly in the most disadvantaged position.

‘The fashion and creative industry as a whole are not diverse,’ says Marice Cumber, Head of Accumulate. ‘They don’t really represent what London’s population is. This project is a representation of London.’

The charity also helps source and fund scholarships so that some of the people they work with can attend the Access to HE Diploma course in Design and Digital Media at Ravensbourne University London.

See their designs at Autograph in Rivington Place on April 9 where the charity will be displaying and selling their creations. 

Monero Dolls: representing BAME women

A businesswoman has opened a children’s boutique in Islington selling custom made, handcrafted black dolls inspired by women in her life.

Sandra Monero, of Stoke Newington, launched Monero Kids Boutique after seeing an empty unit. After losing her mother, father and brother, she found making clothes therapeutic and decided to go professional.

Now her shop is proving a hit with the community for its range of eco-friendly, hand crafted children’s clothing, books and her most popular dolls called “gratitude dolls”.

“The dolls are named Monero Dolls and we do three, which represent archetypal women. My mother, Ellie is one, and it’s been like therapy making the clothes.”

Growing up as a woman of colour, who loved playing with dolls. Sandra felt like there was no doll that represented. “My dolls tell a story,” she says. “They have Afros, one has a beauty spot on her lip and another has a birth mark on her left cheek.”

Sandra now sells around 20 dolls a week after the word of her creations are spreading.

LFW: Are they doing enough for sustainability?

London Fashion Week returns today to celebrate fashion designers world-wide. One designer in particular has gained a lot of media attention after announcing a collaboration with BBC Earth.

London Fashion Week 2018. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
London Fashion Week 2018. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Mother of Pearl designer, Amy Powney is trying to highlight the negative impact the fashion industry has on the planet. Powney is launching a campaign to raise awareness about micro-plastics by unveiling a film that will look into ways the fashion industry can stop harming the planet.

Sustainability has been a hot topic within the industry after the government recently launched an investigation into different brands and retailers commitment towards reducing climate change. A number of high-street stores such as TK Maxx, Missguided and Amazon were condemned by the investigation.

Amy Powney is the only designer that has voiced her commitment to sustainability ahead of fashion week. Although for a consecutive season fashion week is fur-free, despite it not being prohibited by organisers.

Savings Threads, an organisation that promotes sustainable fashion choices is sceptical about how ethical the clothes showcased at fashion week will be: “it’s taken everyone so long to stop using real-fur so it could be a very slow process.”

London Fashion Week in 2018 saw a rise in protests against the government’s approach on climate change. Action group, Extinction Rebellion blocked five bridges over the Thames in protest against unethical designers. This year they are intending to protest by swarming the streets and encouraging attendees to dress as though you are going to the most glamorous funeral. They have stated their aim is to disrupt the event rather than target specific shows.

In response to more conscious consumers who are aware of the impact the fashion industry has on the environment, independent stores are popping up all over the City. They pride themselves on selling 100% sustainable products only.

The Keep Boutique, Brixton, explains the importance around catering for the rise in ethical consumers looking to buy sustainable clothing.

We are yet to see if the designers at Fashion Week have embraced the demand for more sustainable clothing, following in the footsteps of Amy Powney.

For more on this topic and to listen to the full interview, tune in to City News Radio at 2pm.

Featured image can be found here.

Out of control hen party, diverts flight from Glasgow to Malaga

A Ryanair flight from Glasgow to Spain had to be diverted last night after a ‘full fist fight’ reportedly broke out on board amid scenes of ‘absolute chaos’.

Eyewitnesses report that the fight started out when a drunk male started to ‘pester’ two women on a hen party. This then resulted in two men getting into a physical altercation which escalated to the point that cabin crew had to get fellow customers to intervene.

Ryanair faces troubles as a fistfight causes a diversion @lucasdavies
Ryanair faces troubles as a fistfight causes an diversion @lucasdavies

The plane, which had been heading from Glasgow Prestwick to the southern Spanish city of Malaga, was forced to divert to Madrid.  The disruptive passenger was met by Spanish police in the country’s capital before the jet carried on to its intended destination.

A Ryanair statement said: ‘The flight from Glasgow Prestwick to Malaga diverted to Madrid and the crew requested police assistance upon arrival after a passenger became disruptive in-flight.’

‘The aircraft landed normally and police removed and detained an individual before the aircraft continued to Malaga.’

‘We will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behaviour at any time and the safety and comfort of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority. This is now a matter for local police.’

First Electric Mini Launches Today

British Company, Swindon Powertrain, has revealed its new electric version of the classic mini as part of The London Classic Car Show today.

The new model comes with added boot space, with the removal of the original fuel tank, and offers a top speed of 80 miles per hour.

The launch coincides with a boom in the electric car industry with sales of new electric cars in the UK rising by 21% in 2018, reaching a market share of 6% of all vehicles. In contrast, diesel car sales plummeted by 30%, though these vehicles still represent a 32% market share.

The electric model means zero road tax and congestion charge for all Londoners, making it a cost-effective inner city car.

‘The mini has always been a city car. It’s easy to park, it doesn’t pollute so you keep the air quality as good as possible around you and it’s easy to use,’ says Raphael Caille, managing director of Swindon Powertrain. ‘No gear changes, no clutch, it makes perfect sense in town.’

Electric cars are already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel alternatives in five European countries,  new research by the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT)  shows.

The study examined battery electric, hybrid, petrol and diesel versions of the VW Golf and found over four years, the pure electric version was the cheapest in UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and Norway, owing to a combination of lower taxes, fuel costs and subsidies on the purchase price.

Guardian Graphic. Source ICCT.
Guardian Graphic. Source ICCT.

Electric car owners can currently benefit from reduced parking and road toll charges and initial purchase prices are also set to fall between 2025 and 2030 as battery prices drop.

Prices for the Swind E Classic Mini start from £79,000.


Celebrity X Factor returns after 13 years

Simon Cowell has revealed 2019 will see TWO series of The X Factor.

Although exact details are yet to be confirmed, Simon has announced his plans to air both Celebrity and All Stars versions of The X Factor UK.

The music mogul, 59, spoke to The Sun saying “I want to clear up any myths — because I’ve got some exciting news.”

“I’ve had a meeting with ITV, I’ve told them what I think we’d like to do with X Factor because we’ve been waiting to have this opportunity.”

The upcoming series is being described as “huge,” with Cowell saying

“We haven’t exactly confirmed the dates or the order of the shows, but essentially there are going to be two versions of X Factor running this year . I think it’s going to be huge, it’s the best I’ve felt about this show in years.”

The X Factor first aired the celebrity version in the summer of 2006, following the first two regular series.

With EastEnders actress, Lucy Benjamin being voted the winner, beating the likes of Paul Daniels, Debbie McGee and Gillian McKeith.

Medicinal cannabis refused to patient despite being legal

Medicinal cannabis was legalised in the UK last November, after ongoing campaigns pressing for its use for epilepsy sufferers.

But despite its legalisation, it is still very difficult to access. Only specialist doctors are allowed to prescribe it – not GPs – and only to specific cases, including children with severe epilepsy, chemotherapy patients with vomiting or nausea issues, and MS patients suffering from muscle soreness.

Cheryl Keen’s daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 16. Charlotte usually suffers from three to five seizures a week, leaving her bedridden most of the time.

However, Charlotte’s consultant refused to prescribe her with medicinal cannabis.  As an alternative, she uses cannaboid (CBD) oil, which is legal and accessible. But, it is only affordable in small doses. In Charlotte’s case, the dose she needs is too expensive for Cheryl to afford. In the following video, Cheryl talks of her frustration about this.

It is also very likely that Charlotte is not alone in her situation. Back in October, The Independent reported that many people who would benefit from using medicinal cannabis would not actually be able to access it. This leaves only a minority of sufferers being able to feel the potentially life-changing benefits.

This afternoon on City News Radio, our reporter Naomi Schanen is covering the complexities of medicinal cannabis in the UK. Tune in at 2pm to hear the show.


Video background image by Matilde Campodonico for AP Photos.