In his recent ‘Fuel Poverty Review’, professor John Hills predicts that by the end of 2011, around 4.1 million homes in Britain will be considered to be living in ‘fuel poverty’. This situation, the review has noted, could directly contribute to the deaths of just under 3,000 people over the coming winter; a toll higher than the average seasonal number of fatalities in road-accidents.
Students across the UK are attempting to save money at the expense of their own health. Government statistics on fuel poverty indicate that students living in affordable yet energy-inefficient accommodation make up a large percentage of those recognised to be living in ‘fuel poverty’ by the ‘Living in Wales’ report, 2008. Swansea students in private accommodation are being let down by prepayment meters which charge a higher rate for energy than other types of meters, inefficient appliances, and poorly insulated housing. All of these things mean a situation in which keeping warm is an artificially expensive dream for students. There is no doubt that living in fuel poverty is devastating for both physical and mental health.
There are clear problems with expecting the solution to come from conventional energy-sources. Recent years have seen attempts by many energy companies to repackage old fossil-fuel solutions; i.e. E.ON’s support for ‘New Coal’. However, the appalling efficiency rating of just 45% for these new coal-powered units highlights the urgency with which we need a more sustainable solution.
To be able to bring about the changes needed to make greener energy solutions, such as the 100% renewable energy tariff provided by the company Ecotricity, more available to financially strained students, what is needed is a strong, eco-conscious current within the students movement. Past and on-going initiatives such Climate Camp, and NUS campaigns such ‘Student Switch Off’, and ‘Green Impact’ demonstrate to us an existing willingness to fight for such changes. It is now necessary, more than ever, for environmentally conscious students to show the rest of the student movement that the commitment to future generations as embodied in the anti-cuts movement should be linked to the commitment to protect the environment we share.
So it’s that time of the year again when we all find out that it is in fact the ‘freshers flu’ and not the hangover you wished it was…
The mixture of thousands of new people from all over the world, stupid amounts of alcohol, little sleep and no mum too cook for you has taken its toll. Everyone is coughing and sneezing and sniffing in lectures and all we think we can do is ‘wait it out’.
So here are my top 10 tips on how to avoid the dreaded flu:
- Sleep! Of course this often takes a back seat in the excitement of the first term but it is essential to stay healthy. We’re not talking about being tucked up in bed by 9pm but getting sleep – whether that be in the middle of the day, late afternoon, whatever – will help. Sleep gives the body time to adjust, repair and rest in this whole new lifestyle.
- Exercise. Working out will boost the immune systems, keep you healthy, avoid weight gain and can help those hangovers. The key is to try and get a balance here – don’t become *that person* who’s always at the gym: they’re depressing!
- Drink water. It appeals to the bank balance as well as your pores. It’s free and is one of the best hangover cures you can get! Hangovers are caused by lack of water in the brain, causing membranes to swell, so rehydrating your body to allow your brain the fluid it needs is a key tip to staying healthy. And we all need a healthy brain if we’re gonna pass the year…
- Make a change to the student diet. Cook some vegetables (yes, seriously); eat some fresh meat (last night’s Chinese does NOT count). Cooking can be the most exciting of tasks and it will help your body get all the minerals and vitamins you need to keep you as well as possible.
- Pop those pills. Well, vitamin tablets. Evidence is controversial on their ability to prevent illness but a few extra nutrients in a hectic few weeks will help rather than harm.
- Stop touching. Leave your face alone; it’s still there. Stop hacking at your nails! Viruses such as flu can survive on your hands and other surfaces. Biting your nails whilst a virus is lurking there is a sure fire way to allow the virus easy access into your system!
- Clean. Moving in can turn rooms into a dump site but this only allow germs to breed. Take your dishes out of your room, move your rubbish outside and occasionally spray the surfaces with anti-bacterial. A few minutes cleaning is definitely worth avoiding illness.
- Register with the doctors. This is tedious but important to do within the first few days of university. Especially if you succumb to flu; you may need it sooner than you think. You don’t want to be sent home suffering because you’re not registered. That would be awkward.
- Check you’re up to date with immunisations. Another not very exciting regime that is important. Illnesses such as Meningitis are much more prevalent amongst the student population and that vaccination could be the difference between life and death.
- Finally, don’t worry and have some fun! Starting university is stressful and having fun will help to reduce those stress levels. Stress reduces the abilities of the immune system so now you have a valid reason to go and have a good night out. It’s all for the benefit of your health after all…#sambucatime
“A Dialogue on Israel-Palestine” That is the title of a motion proposed to the NEC (click here to download, page 38). Reading through this motion you may think that it is harmless and doesn’t actually do more than shape the dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately this motion actively ignores the issues on the ground and promotes an ideal that is literally impossible to implement.
The motion completely ignores the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land (post 1967 armistice line) and Israel’s constant violation of the basic human rights of Palestinians and then goes on to promote peace under a two state solution. A two state solution that is impossible to implement. Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with the help of the separation barrier, have divided it into separate cantons. The “borders” of these cantons are fully controlled by Israel.
These are not areas where we can pretend that freedom of movement exists.
This separation is not like separating England from Wales with a physical border. This is more like separating the different cities that make up greater London into different sections and giving each section different access privileges that are constantly changing. This violates the freedom of movement and directly impacts Palestinian access to healthcare, access to education (which the motion touches on as a vital issue) and access to water (Israel controls most of the water supply even within the Palestinian territory).
This division means that the implementation of a two state solution would not create two separate and contiguous states but would instead create one Israeli state which has control over the most valuable natural resources and a highly divided and fragmented Palestinian state. This is the solution that would be produced from a two state agreement without taking into account other issues like refugees, borders, or air space. Israel, using it’s barrier and settlements, has currently engulfed many natural resources including most of the water supply and much of the fertile land. To create a two state solution based on the 1967 armistice line, Israel would have to relocate the settler population of over 300 thousand and move the barrier back to the armistice line.
The motion acknowledges the existence of different narratives and Israel’s occupation of post 1967 Palestinian territory can be considered to fall under the Palestinian narrative. Many people would debate that Israel only reclaimed the land from Jordan and Egypt who were the original occupiers. Even if we take these different arguments into account we cannot deny Israel’s current actions against the Palestinian people.
Israel’s actions are regarded to be as those of an occupier, a coloniser or even an apartheid state.
When the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shaped we can almost always see that the Palestinians and Israeli’s are put on an equal footing. As if to say that the entire conflict is actually between two equally powerful states and revolves around an uninhabited piece of land. This is not the case, the Palestinians are not on an equal footing with Israel and the conflict is most definitely not about an uninhabited piece of land. If anything the piece of land that it could be about (and it isn’t, this is an oversimplification) is overcrowded and has become increasingly divided.
How can NUS campaign for children’s right to education when these same children can be held in prison indefinitely without a fair trial or any trial at all?
My main issue with this motion is its support for a two state solution. Although this solution is the one spoken about the most in the media, it remains impossible to implement because of current Israeli practices which this motion completely ignores. Not only does this motion support an unreasonable solution but it also does not set a basis for this solution (eg. the 1967 armistice line) or demand that human rights be upheld in the area. The motion touches on the right to education but still misses the point, how can NUS campaign for children’s right to education when these same children can be held in prison indefinitely without a fair trial or any trial at all? There is no room to pick and choose which issues should be supported, many of the issues impacting Palestinians are related to each other and campaigning to resolve only part of them will not solve the cause of these problems.
Yousef Cisco is a Palestinian who grew up in Palestine and lived there for over 14 years under an Israeli occupation, soldiers have raided his house (three times) with guns pointed at him and has been in the line of fire – he says ‘I know for a fact that most Palestinians have had it worse than me. My family still lives in Ramallah.’ Yousef is currently a student at Bangor University and is part of the NUS Wales Black Students’ Campaign Committee.
Everyday scientists reveal conditions to the world and continue to medicalise everything in it. Ground breaking research takes place on all manner of topics and sometimes they even make predictions of the future which become science until proven wrong. One such prediction is a ‘global pandemic warning’ stating that ‘By 2030, half of all UK men could be obese due to passive overeating.’
This prediction is classed as a pandemic which could see health systems unable to cope with an overwhelming amount of obesity related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and the need for corrective surgery such as a gastric band. A series of research papers published in the lancet medical journal details what has gone wrong in the developed world and how such ‘wrongs’ can be approached to make a ‘right.’
Many strongly blame the contribution of rising obesity figures on the food industry itself. Processed, high calorific food can be produced on the cheap which is extremely appealing to cross sections of society in the recession. Much of the public are opting to buy cheap foods even if it contradicts the health and wellbeing of themselves. Many do not acknowledge that such foods can cause mood problems, diabetes and heart disease; let alone obesity itself. All effects put a strain on the health care system and food companies take no responsibility for the damage processed foods at cheap prices can cause.
They are also accused of advertising confectionary such as chocolate as a ‘light’ option which leads consumers into a false sense of security. For example, maltesers are advertised and prised for containing only 187 calories per packet. This is even less than an avocado pear which contains 198 calories. For the dieting individual, maltesers seem a better option due to less calorific value than the avocado. However the count fails to detail the amount of sugar, saturated fat and lack of nutritional goodness in maltesers. Nutritionally the avocado pear far exceeds maltesers and contains only natural sugars and little fat.
Recommendations from health experts say clear guidelines on food packaging as the current ‘traffic light system’ is not enough. Eye-catching packaging entices young children towards unhealthy foods and the glorification of ‘only 187′ calories is benefitting the food industry and not health which is the perceived intention. The recommendations also suggest a less popular method of control; to enforce tax on confectionary and introduce policy on more stringent labelling of foods.
Lack of efficient policy is also blamed for the increasing waist bands of nations. Attempts to change public attitudes on food consumption and maintaining a healthy lifestyle was predominantly delivered through the use of television adverts. If people are anything like me, this is a time we’re known to pay less attention to television by maybe using the toilet, preparing a drink and spending the time on facebook. Therefore such unilateral attempts to reach the public fail and the expensive campaign has now been dropped.
Health advisers state that health education needs to be improved. Young people need to be educated of the importance of healthy eating and the dangers of ignoring dietary requirements can bring. This doesn’t end at school; Student Unions at University must play a bigger role on informing peoples dietary choices. Physical exercise also needs to be encouraged more often and school dinners need to set an example of what a healthy meal consists of.
Food distribution across the world is unfair and contributes to rising levels of obesity. Over 70% of the world’s food products are distributed amongst 1/5 of the world’s populations. The other 30% is delivered to livestock and the other 4/5 of the population. Such unfair distribution of vital sources needed for survival leads to an overwhelming amount of starving people currently highlighted by East Africa’s famine where one person is dying every 6 minutes due to starvation.
The conclusion of the recent research in light of the obesity pandemic is that something radical needs to be pushed by the Government on a national level to stop the increasing weight levels of populations and prevent demand beyond capacity of the health service with regards to conditions stemming from and including obesity itself.
The stark reality is that people are dying from starvation and due to overconsumption people are now dying from obesity and related conditions.