This article was written by: Noor Etienne-Richards
The ability to vote (freely, equally, and accessibly) is the cornerstone of democracy in the UK. It allows people of all ages, genders, races, and socio-economic backgrounds to have a voice, and contribute to the change they want to see in the society around them. The more people that vote, the more representative and reflective changes in society and the government will be. Each individual vote gives weight to important societal changes, policies, and laws. It can be the difference between feeling supported by the government or feeling insignificant and alienated by society. Furthermore, voting redistributes power into the hands of the people, it enables us to hold those ‘at the top’ accountable, and to engage with issues ‘we’ feel are vital, whether that be surrounding climate change, education, human rights, immigration, the economy and much more. This article was written to promote ‘London Voter Registration Week’ (LVRW) from the 18th-24th September 2023 and aims to highlight the importance of voting, by encouraging everyone to register to vote, especially ‘under-registered and under-represented Londoners’.
Without representative voting, a small minority group is given power to shape society in a way that impacts society. Whether that be positively or negatively – these are the voices that represent us all. There is a plethora of data that demonstrates a negative relationship between particular social demographics and the number of completed electoral voting registrations and voting rates. This is particularly true in London, which has one of the lowest voter registration rates across the United Kingdom (Mayor of London, 2022). Individuals from ethnic minority groups are slightly less likely to register to vote and to vote, than their White British counterparts. Statistics on the percentage of those who have completed voting registration are 84% for white ethnic groups, and 75% for Black ethnic groups (with Black Africans being the least likely), furthermore, in many South Asian and Chinese ethnic groups, women are significantly less likely to vote than men (Uberoi & Johnston, 2022). Additionally, individuals living in socio-economically deprived areas are also less likely to register to vote and to vote, which often stems from feelings of isolation from the mainstream political sphere. Some other demographics that have low levels of voter registration include those from LGBTQ+ communities (particularly trans and non-binary individuals) and those who are deaf and disabled.
Young people between the ages of 18-25 are some of the least likely to vote, based on polling data from the general election in 2019, only 54% of young people voted, compared to a much larger, 77% of people aged 65 and over (Uberoi & Johnston, 2022). Young people (of any race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) specifically have the potential to eliminate, what many academics deem the ‘crisis of representative democracy’ through registering to vote and engaging with the world around them. A common myth based on the perception of these statistics is that young people are apathetic, indifferent or are just not enthusiastic about politics and society however, this could not be further from the truth. This idea is heavily dependent on how one measures political participation, when purely focused on voting, rates amongst young people are low, however, there is evidence of young people participating politically in other ways such as signing charitable petitions, donating to charity, volunteering and discussing political opinions online (EACEA, 2013). This sends the clear message that young people care about their communities, so why don’t they vote?
A key reason for this is based on these groups often being systematically excluded from politics through poverty, socio-economic marginalisation, and a lack of opportunities for political competence. Therefore, it is important to spread awareness about voting, to gradually remove the many daunting voting barriers in place for many young people and marginalised communities. It can be a complex task to navigate the world of voter registration, questions such as, ‘Am I allowed to vote?’ and ‘How do I register to vote?’ can deter many young people from voting, but all this information can be easily found here – https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Another important reason for low voting levels amongst young people is an intrinsic distrust of the government, and the feeling that even if they did vote, no one would truly listen. Recent data shows that only 23% of people say they trust the government to put the interests of the people first (British Social Attitudes, 2020). Although it is valid to feel this way, not voting can perpetuate a never-ending cycle of marginalisation and isolation. By not voting, important opinions and perspectives are not considered, thus there is the potential for laws and policies to be made which will not consider the impact on everyone in society. Registering to vote marks the beginning of an important journey of speaking out and showing who and what you support and oppose.
At its core, empowering communities is at the heart of democracy. By registering to vote, young people take on the rewarding opportunity to shape and strengthen their community on a political and local level, not only for themselves but for future generations. An interesting study by Settle, Bond and Levitt, found that meaningful connection to one’s community not only shapes a person’s journey through adolescence but also their political participation and has positive implications on one’s role in society (Settle, Bond, & Levitt, 2011). Thus, this is an incentive for young people to register to vote, not only will you positively shape the world around you, you will also help to create a generation of adolescents who are eager to have a political voice. The research by Settle et al, also puts a responsibility on us all, to create communities and environments which ensure all under-represented communities feel comfortable and confident in sharing their voice and registering to vote.
FRED is a youth-led campaign that aims to enforce the restorative justice values of ‘Fairness – Respect – Equality – Dignity’ (FRED). The FRED campaign supports our vision to build the first restorative justice postcode in SE16 through social action in the form of blogs, campaigning, and providing high-quality volunteering opportunities for young people.
For more information, please go to:
British Social Attitudes. (2020). Democracy: Brexit, the pandemic and trust and confidence in government. London: The National Centre for Social Research. Retrieved from British Social Attitudes.
EACEA. (2013). Youth Participation in Democratic Life: Final Report. London: LSE Enterprise Limited.
Mayor of London. (2022). Survey of Londoners 2021-22: Headline findings. London: Greater London Authority.
Settle, J., Bond, R., & Levitt, J. (2011). The Social Origins of Adult Political Behavior. American Politics Research 39(2), 239-263.
Uberoi, E., & Johnston, N. (2022). Political disengagement in the UK: Who is disengaged? House of Commons Library.
This article was written by: Lorenzo Izzi
In a world in which the entire human knowledge is available from a device in our pocket, the risk of over-simplification is around the corner regarding the news. The main objective of this article is to give an overview of the attempted military coup in Russia by the Wagner group, by giving a holistic explanation of the event. It will therefore start by giving a context to the Wagner group, explaining its origin, its fit into the power structure in Russia, and its role in Russian military operations, including the invasion of Ukraine, and it will create a guide to understand future events as the tension is likely not to stop here.
Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner group, origin and goals
Wagner is a self-defined “private military company” (PMC) that acts in close ties with the Kremlin, the building in which the president of Russia resides. However, its private nature gives it a special role in Russian military operations. It is not known precisely when this company started to exist, but its first international appearance was in the first stage of the Ukraine invasion in 2014 (when a dispute over Donbass and Crimea was settled). After that, Wagner is reported to have assisted Russian military operations in Syria, Venezuela and various parts of Africa. Since we don’t know much about the origins of Wagner from the literature, we need to draw on the sanctions imposed by the European Union, in which Wagner’s founder is identified with Dmitry Utkin, “a former Russian soldier adorned with Nazi tattoos” (The Economist”). The economist reports he allegedly named Wagner after Richard Wagner, Adolf Hitler’s favourite composer.
However, as with every project, the Wagner group needed funds and that is where Prigozhin becomes relevant. Prigozhin started his career in the food sector, holding many restaurants and organising diplomatic meals for President Putin and the head of states that visited Russia over time. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he took advantage of the wave of privatisations that Russia was undertaking to save its real economy and got involved in various businesses in the 90s that granted him a place of power in the Russian economic system. Nonetheless, it is widely believed that the role of Prigozhin in the Wagner Group was very lucrative at the very start, as he managed to take possession of oil fields in Syria and diamond reserves in Africa through Wagner and the involvement of his businesses (The Economist). Various violations of human rights have been reported by the Wagner Group as well, such as violence towards civilians and harassment towards peacekeepers and aid workers (Office of the high commissioner for Human Rights in the United Nations)
Wagner and the Russian military
Before putting into context the role of Wagner in Ukraine, and subsequently the causes of the rebellion, it is worth reflecting on the nature of the Russian state very briefly. In fact, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a few portions of the population took advantage of the political situation and became extremely rich and powerful, including Prigozhin. These groups of people, usually referred to as the Russian oligarchs, therefore control certain sectors of the Russian economy and, as already stated, Prigozhin controls a very big part of the food industry in Russia. Most of these oligarchs want to maintain their wealth for as long as possible and they conveyed that the best way to do so is to support Putin’s regime, providing security in exchange for power. It is vital to understand that the power of Putin’s regime therefore comes from the legitimisation of the oligarchs, and that is why Wagner’s rebellion has been quite noisy in the news, as in the past oligarchs or influential people opposing Putin’s regime have not managed to undertake any concrete action and were often found dead in mysterious circumstances. However, this time Prigozhin, having behind this big network of private militaries and mercenaries who are not the direct dependencies of the Kremlin, and taking advantage of the involvement of the Russian regular army in Ukraine, managed to take control of Rostov-on-Don quite easily and start to move towards Moscow. This historic event in the Russian Federation is already relevant per se, but understanding where this comes from will help us to assess its importance for Russia, Ukraine, NATO and the West as a whole.
Wagner is deeply involved in the war in Ukraine, as it has fought in Bakhmut, determining the outcome of the battle (The Economist). Meduza, a Russian news agency based abroad and opposed to Putin’s government, reports that Wagner has been the most terrifying Russian military division for Ukrainians, as its determination, power and cruelty have been of great problems for the Ukrainian army (Meduza). Therefore, his high involvement in the battlefield in one of the most embarrassing wars for Russia in terms of military losses and outcomes made Prigozhin aware of battlefield issues amongst soldiers that weren’t necessarily clear to the Kremlin, such as the need for ammunition for the Russian military, especially in light of the heroic Ukrainian counter-offensive. Therefore, Prigozhin, which is protected by his private army, started to make some noise in the previous weeks to get what he wanted from the Russian minister of defence. A few days ago, though, what he received was a minefield on his way back to Wagner military camp in Ukraine and allegedly Russian planes striking over Wagner.
Another point to raise is that the Russian army receives orders directly from the minister of defence in Russia, Sergei Shoigu, which at that moment was in Rostov-on-Don; therefore, Prigozhin’s anger was likely directed at Shoigu as well and therefore the main reason why he headed to Rostov was to have his head with his own private military company. In addition to that, Wagner has been ordered to stop being a private military company and to be fully integrated into the Russian army, under the control of Shoigu himself.
Looking at Prigozhin’s words themselves, it is clear that he was aiming to cut off Shoigu’s power more than anything else as that constitutes a fundamental threat to his control of this PMC and his wealth; however, he never mentioned Putin in his speeches. At this point, while the world was looking at the news to understand what was happening in Moscow, Prigozhin suddenly stopped his move and headed to Belarus after the mediation of the president of Belarus Lukashenko, who somehow managed to convince Wagner to stop there. Although the reasons for this withdrawal are not yet clear, there are some things that this event helped us to understand.
Lessons to understand any future event.
The first and most obvious lesson we might derive from this event is that Putin’s regime is weak, as a PMC managed to march within 200km from Moscow practically without any resistance, a dissident oligarch managed to threaten the status quo, and most importantly, he managed to tell Russian people the reality about the war. It is important to understand that, in Russia, information is controlled by the government, and the narratives about the causes of the war are not quite the real ones.
To justify the war in Ukraine, Putin claimed that NATO and Ukraine were planning an invasion of Russia and therefore by attacking first, the Russian Federation would have made sure that this could have never happened. He also stated that he wanted to de-nazify Ukraine as Russia once managed (during the Soviet Union era), with the biggest “patriotic war”, as it is now called in Russia. However, Prigozhin, the day before the rebellion, released a short video in which he stated that these reasons were lies that high-ranked Russian officials and people in power were telling the world, providing detailed evidence for that. He said that Russia doesn’t believe in the mission of de-Nazifying Ukraine, as Russia released a big number of members of the Azov group (a part of the Ukrainian army that is usually associated with right-wing ideas) in exchange for Medvedchuck, a former Ukrainian pro-Russia MP who was supposed to become the new president of Ukraine if the murder of Zelensky took place. In that video, which was released on the 24th of June 2023, what we can notice is a powerful and influential man, who is somewhat expert on battlefields as well, accusing high-ranked generals and politicians to be “bastards that sent Russians to die because they wanted glory”. Using this rhetoric in Russia is quite unusual and dangerous, and the fact the entire Wagner went away without consequences and that fighting did not take place are all signs of weakness by the Russian state. This means that negotiations had to happen with the mediation of Belarus because Russian elites knew that they were not powerful enough to fight Wagner and the casualties would have been way too high, especially considering the war in Ukraine. The Russian government wouldn’t have had any problem undertaking a bloodshed in the street of Moscow if they thought it was worth it (if we think about the number of casualties amongst the Russian oligarchs that opposed the war in Ukraine we can presume that the Kremlin is not worried about sending killers to murder those who are aligned), therefore the fact that this did not happen and that all charges against Prigozhin were dropped, means that the Russian government is well aware of its weakness.
For Ukraine, this is good news, as it means that with the counter-offensive, which started a few days before the rebellion, and Russian weakness and confusion, they will be able to push back them even more and foster those kinds of rebellions inside Russia even more. As President Zelensky stated, victory for Ukraine means conquering back the entire land that was occupied, but to do so, the strategy is to push back the Russian military and politically, creating discontent. Therefore, the Wagner rebellion might be the first sign that the implemented strategy will be successful in the long term.
Every time I read about Open Dialogue, I see the ethos of restorative justice in its principles. Open Dialogue is a ‘social network approach’ in which clinicians work as a team (minimally as a pair) with patients (clients) along with members of their family, friends, colleagues, support workers, neighbours or any other persons they wish to involve. The focus of treatment represents a shift from individual psychopathology to empowering social networks for a relational approach to recovery, involvement of the same team in the care pathways of people wherever they go and adapting the care processes according to the clients’ needs (Mosse, 2019). This approach, pioneered in Finland, is different to much of mental health care in the UK, but it has been discussed for many years with interest by several NHS Trusts around the country and is now being implemented in the UK. It is unique and innovative and has recorded striking results in Finland, Germany and parts of the USA. For example, in international non-randomised trials, 72 percent of those with first episode psychosis treated via an Open Dialogue approach returned to work or study within two years, despite significantly lower rates of medication and hospitalisation compared to treatment as usual (Stockman, 2016).
Open dialogue and restorative justice share foundational principles of healing, rehabilitative goals and dialogic relationships to allow for diverse individuals to find meaning and the space to recover. While there are many definitions of restorative justice, the overarching understanding of restorative justice is that it is an ethos. As an ethos, it is not only a methodological tool for the restoration of harm and rebuilding relationships, but also encompasses a sensitivity to and an orientation towards the values, principles and ethics of respect, equality and community collaboration. There are 4 foundational principles that Open Dialogue shares with restorative justice:
The “individual” as more than labels
One of the key foundations of the ethos is the acknowledgement that individuals are complex beings who are shaped by socio-political, cultural and economic factors. To slot people into arbitrary categories of “good” and “evil” limits the possibility of justice and a journey towards healing because it forecloses the possibility of conceiving of a solution and the capacity to build a relationship with the “other.” While this does not mean that there is no harmed party and a harming party in a crime, practising restorative justice enables both parties to interact and converse and see each other beyond the boundedness of the crime. It allows the offended person
to ask unanswered questions and explain the impact that the crime had on their life. It also gives a chance for the offender to reflect on their actions, make amends and work towards refraining from causing future harm.
Open Dialogue involves a radical shift from the traditional psychiatric treatment model of labelling and giving meaning to people’s experiences such as diagnosing them with schizophrenia or psychosis. These diagnoses are based on narrow definitions that lead to a predetermined pattern of treatments or interventions to ease the symptoms (Waddingham, 2017). What the Open Dialogue approach offers is the time and space to engage with someone’s own meanings and the many different meanings that already exist in a family/social network. It would be easy for practitioners to talk ‘about’ the person, to take an expert position and puzzle over what would be best for them. ‘Witness thinking’ in Open Dialogue orients practitioners to a more ethical way of being with people. It demands that they do their best to be alongside someone, to figure things out together. It’s about nurturing a relationship and calls for a recognition of the autonomy, wisdom and personhood of those they are trying to support (ibid.). Dialogic and relational space
In restorative justice, there is a shift from a punitive stance to a dialogic intervention. The traditional approaches in criminal justice are like monologues framed within bureaucratic systems which are often experienced negatively by people who feel that they are misunderstood, not heard or treated with dignity. Restorative justice instead focuses on a relational approach, where the conversations, interventions and nature of relationships between different parties is co-designed and co-produced by everyone (Gavrielides, 2022). Restorative justice assumes the existence of “social liaison” that bonds individuals in a relationship of respect for others’ rights and freedoms and recognises people as agential beings who can take responsibility for their own actions.
Open Dialogue is based on these values of reframing the therapeutic space and the involvement of the client. It aims to shift from an expert-led diagnostic language to discovering ways out of crisis, new openings and agency through a dialogue involving social networks and the therapeutic team. Clients are seen as agents who have the capacity to generate new emotions and construct narratives with others in their lives that can help in healing. The underlying principle is that rather than focusing on expert-led treatment and intervention, clients are given the space to speak, reflect and co-create interventions with a group involving family members, friends, caregivers and medical experts.
Crucial to the idea of creating a dialogic space is the ability to relinquish power and the desire to have one’s social will and authority prevail in a relationship. Applying restorative justice principles requires the practitioners to reflect on their own impulses, thoughts and actions and change the way they use power to dominate or influence other individuals (Gavrielides, 2022). This requires a continuous conversation with oneself and a more active integration and learning of how to respect and respond to diverse people’s opinions and thoughts in a way that is rehabilitative and healing for everyone.
Similarly in Open Dialogue, the idea is to re-shape patient and professional hierarchies, where the therapist’s job is not to offer authoritative expertise, but to respond and say what it feels like to hear the things being said. In this therapeutic space, the therapist is a ‘conversational artist’ having ‘an expertise in asking questions from a position of “not knowing”’ to allow ‘locally’ constructed understandings and vocabularies (Anderson, 1992 as cited by Moss, 2019, p. 12). This not knowing involves a shedding of unequal power dynamics in healthcare and embracing new modes of relating, knowing and being-with clients that gives everyone an equal space to co-construct the healing process.
There are core principles underlying restorative justice, but the beauty in this approach is that it is flexible and always open to new values and interpretations. While this aspect may be criticised for being un-scientific and lacking clarity, the notion of justice and collaborative approaches in the interest of all parties cannot be bound by rigid rules and meanings (Gavrielides, 2022). The idea of an intersubjective and dialogic space requires a constant shift, fluidity and reconfiguration of actions, interventions and communicative strategies to allow for an impactful and meaningful process of healing and recovery that suits the needs of the parties involved. Since it is based on lived experiences and is a way of being and doing in everyday life, defining restorative justice to a narrow understanding will itself be an injustice to the dynamic and diverse realities and experiences of people.
Open Dialogue is an approach that is also acknowledged as constantly evolving. It has no fixed frames of reference or meta-language and does not claim to hold answers to the complexity of emotions and experiences involved in the process of recovery or treatment. Rather, it derives its strength from the idea of recovery as arising between the productive, emotional and reflective interactions among diverse groups of people (Mosse, 2019, p. 6). Every immersive period with different stakeholders in the therapy has its own trajectory and conceptualisation of what counts as healing. It involves a practice of “being with” others and an “aliveness” that exceeds our existing categories and styles of thinking (Stevenson, 2012, as cited by Mosse, 2019).
In adopting its foundational principles and values, I believe the Open Dialogue approach embraces the ethos of restorative justice. Embracing this ethos allows for a kind of psychiatry and mental health treatment that fosters interactive meaning-making, a responsiveness to each other’s experience, the ability to reflect on an awareness of our emotional selves and co-creating healing and restorative interventions. While an understanding of restorative justice and its application in models like Open Dialogue is an ongoing process, these approaches are remarkable and heartening developments that have the potential to contribute towards gentler, more respectful and impactful models of care and restorative change.
Anderson H., Goolishian H. (1992) The Client is the expert: A not knowing approach to therapy. In Therapy as Social construction, McNamee S., Gergen K. New York:Sage Publications.
Gavrielides. T. (2022). Introduction to Restorative Justice Art: Four steps to restoring mental health, London: RJ4All Publications.
Mosse, D. (2019). Reflections on Open Dialogue in mental health clinical and ethnographic practice. In Emma Gilberthorpe, (ed.) Anthropological Perspectives on Global Challenges. (ASA Monograph Series). New York & London: Routledge.
Razzaque, R., Stockmann T. (2016)An Introduction to peer-supported Open Dialogue in mental healthcare. BJPsych Advances, 22. 348–356.
Waddingham, R. (2017). Some of the things that excite me about Open Dialogue. Behind the label. https://www.behindthelabel.co.uk/open-dialogue-excites-me/
The Frightening Statistics
For the academic year 2020/2021, the UK government website has reported 352,454 cases of suspensions and 3,928 permanent exclusions in England. The most frequent cause of exclusion reported is continual disruptive behaviour, accounting for 42% of suspensions and 39% of permanent exclusions.  The Challenging School Exclusions report by JUSTICE (2019) highlights that since 2012 the number of permanent and fixed school exclusions in England has increased year on year. These statistics far outpace those in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and significantly affect students from ethnic minority backgrounds and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  For example, research involving the University of York indicates that there were 7,900 permanent exclusions in England compared with only 3 cases in Scotland between 2017/2018. On an international level, we fared even worse as a country with the school exclusion rate in the UK being 10 times higher than any other European country. 
These alarming statistics do not end here. An article by The Guardian refers to the data as only “the tip of the iceberg”, with research suggesting that 5 times more young children are being schooled in alternative provisions for excluded students than the actual statistics dare to admit. 
The Timpson Review of School Exclusion in 2019, commissioned by the government, has acknowledged and established that not all school exclusions may have been legal, justified and completely rational.  In addition, the aforementioned JUSTICE report has raised some critical concerns in regard to school leaders’ poor decision-making, their inconsistent understanding of legal duties, high occurrence of informal exclusions and potentially unlawful “off-rolling”, and calls for a systematic reform for school exclusions that demands an approach that is robust, consistent, fair and also considerate to a child’s individual needs. 
What is “Off-rolling”?
“Off-rolling” is described by Ofsted as “the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without using a permanent exclusion, when the removal is primarily in the best interests of the school, rather than in the best interests of the pupil. This includes pressuring a parent to remove their child from the school roll”.  “Off-rolling” has also often been perceived as a tactical move by school leaders to remove poor-performing pupils that are likely to lower the school’s national test performances (such as GCSEs) to manipulate their academic standing, or the so-called “gaming” the league tables.  SEND and disadvantaged students are strikingly the most affected.  In a 2017 briefing to MPs, the Children’s Commissioner claimed that 89% of mainstream schools in England would have lower GCSE pass rates if the results of those students who had been off-rolled or moved to alternative provisions between Year 7-11 were included in their yearly results.  Furthermore, an interesting study conducted by Done and Knowler (2021) involving 21 senior school leaders suggests that schools potentially are aware of loopholes of how allegations of “off-rolling” can be evaded. More importantly, the study demonstrates school leaders’ reluctance and defiance to openly discuss the topic as evident by their low number of participants, with only one head teacher willing to be interviewed face-to-face despite widespread advertising. 
But is it entirely the fault of the school? Findings by Machin and Sandi (2020) contested the idea that “off-rolling” is mere “gaming” , and their research suggests a greater systematic failure that is due to conflicting interests between a political obsession to maintain academic standards and a goal to allow for inclusive education.  Underfunding, limited resources, overworked staff, low pay, burn-out teachers forever leaving the profession– schools are at their wit’s end, forced to find ways to work around harsh restrictions. School exclusion becomes a tool used by those in power to mask an inability to effectively carry out inclusive education, and to exert dominance over those who are marginalised.
An Infinite Loop of Social Reproduction
School exclusions can have serious, long-term impacts on young people, but they can also incur serious economic costs with an estimate that each unit of permanently excluded children will go on to cost an astonishing £2.1 billion in education, criminal justice, health and benefits over their life.  Many global studies including The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, performed by the University of Edinburgh, pointed to a “school-to-prison” pipeline.  This includes Natalia’s uncle who was excluded in Year 7 and since never returned to school and was in the end imprisoned. 
The Edinburgh Study found that pupils that are excluded from school at the age of 12 are 5 times more likely to be imprisoned by the age of 24. In addition, boys and children from single-parent and low-income families are found significantly more likely to be excluded. Conversely, it is discovered that students with equally poor behaviour from two-parent families and more affluent backgrounds are more tolerated by schools and less likely to be excluded as a result. Professor Lesley McAra, Head of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law, argues that their study ultimately shows that the criminal justice system is being used as a way to admonish socially marginalised groups and members of society who are living in deprived communities and are vulnerable.  This creates a cycle of social reproduction where marginalised groups continue to be oppressed in favour of those in power and exacerbates the hierarchical culture in society.
With Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director, going as far as to admit in 2019 that schools in areas with greater poverty continue to be less likely to be rated as ‘good’ , it seems that a great educational reform is in need to have any hope of removing such a deeply rooted and troubling characteristic in British education.
 DfE (2022) https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/permanent-and-fixed-period-exclusions-in-england (Accessed: 16 September 2022).
 JUSTICE (2019) Challenging School Exclusions. London: Sidley Austin LLP. Available online at https://files.justice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/06165917/Challenging-Report.pdf (Accessed: 16 September 2022).
 The University of York (2020) https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/exclusions-english-schools-last-resort/ (Accessed: 30 September 2022).
 Weale, S, (2017) ‘School exclusions data in England only “the tip of the iceberg”’, The Guardian, 10 Oct. Available online at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/10/school-exclusion-figures-date-england-only-tip-iceberg (Accessed: 30 September 2022).
 DfE (2019) Timpson Review of School Exclusion. Available online at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/799979/Timpson_review_of_school_exclusion.pdf (Accessed: 16 September 2022).
 Owen, D. (2019) ‘What is off-rolling, and how does Ofsted look at it on inspection?’. Ofsted: schools and further education & skills (FES), 10 May 2019 [Blog]. Available online at: https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2019/05/10/what-is-off-rolling-and-how-does-ofsted-look-at-it-on-inspection/ (Accessed: 17 September 2022).
 Ofsted (2019) The annual report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/2018. Available online at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/ofsted-annual-report-201718-education-childrens-services-and-skills
 Graham, B., White, C., Edwards, A., Potter, S. and Street, C. (2019) School exclusion: A literature review on the continued disproportionate exclusion of certain children. London: DfE.
 Children’s Commissioner (2017) Briefing: Falling through the gaps in education. London: Children’s Commissioner for England. Available online at: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2017/11/BRIEFING-Falling-through-the-gaps-in-education-CCO.pdf (Accessed: 6 October 2022).
 Done, E. J. and Knowler, H. (2021) ‘Off‐rolling’ and Foucault’s art of visibility/invisibility: An exploratory study of senior leaders’ views of ‘strategic’ school exclusion in southwest England. British Educational Research Journal, 47(4), pp. 1039-1055.
 Machin, S. and Sandi, M. (2020) Autonomous schools and strategic pupil exclusion. The Economic Journal, 130(625), pp. 125–159.
 Done, E. J. (2019) ‘Education governance and the responsibility to include: Teachers as a site of dis-cursive tension’, in: J. Allan, V. Harwood and C. Jørgensen (eds) World yearbook of education 2020. London: Routledge.
 Slee, R. (2014) Discourses of Inclusion and Exclusion: Drawing Wider Margins. Power and Education, 6(1), pp. 7–17.
 The University of Edinburgh (2016) https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2013/exclusionprison-280213 (Accessed: 16 September 2022).
 BBC Bitesize (2019) https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zd9wkmn (Accessed: 30 September 2022).
 Harford, S. (2019) ‘Our latest statistics: a first look at the EIF’. Ofsted: schools and further education & skills (FES), 16 December 2019 [Blog]. Available online at: https://educationinspection.blog.gov.uk/2019/12/16/our-latest-statistics-a-first-look-at-the-eif/ (Accessed: 17 September 2022).
Issues of poverty are intersectional; they impact communities in different ways and for different reasons. Research shows that over one third of LGBTIQ+ people living in London face significant financial hardship and lack sufficient financial resources to maintain a suitable standard of living. A report published in 2017 by the London Assembly Health Committee suggests that financial hardship is exacerbated by experiences of discrimination which make it harder for LGBTIQ+ people living in London to earn money, stay financially secure and pursue their goals.
Those who identify as LGBTIQ+ are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Being LGBTIQ+ doesn’t cause this, but the experiences that many LGBTIQ+ persons face such as homophobia and transphobia make the issues of mental health and poverty more prevalent.
Research also suggests that discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community increases the chances of homelessness and extreme poverty. Young LGBTIQ+ people currently comprise up to one quarter of the youth homeless population in Britain. The Albert Kennedy Trust organisation that supports young LGBTIQ+ people, estimated that 150,000 were homeless or at risk of homelessness as a result of intolerance . Stonewall Housing, a London-based organisation which offers specialist advice and support to LGBTIQ+ people, says that two thirds of young people who access their services state their housing problems are directly linked to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
For this reason, solutions to poverty and mental illness need to intersectional; they need to take into account the sexual orientations and gender identities of those who are in need of help. The government seems to be taking this position more seriously, with the Equalities Office conducting research to help better understand LGBTIQ+ people’s experiences of homelessness, the challenges they face, and to enable tailored support to be provided. But who knows how long this may take.
Right now, LGBTIQ+ people are facing a mental health crisis with limited resources and with minimal financial support. Organisations are calling on the government to enact immediate change; with better referral pathways between housing services to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable LGBTIQ+ persons, homelessness data to include gender diverse, trans and non-binary identities and for protections against LGBTIQ+ discrimination to be strengthened and more accessible. These are only small steps necessary for tackling a pandemic of economic and social violence experienced by the LGBTIQ+ community.
Words by Didier Muller
Many people who have not experienced menstruation find it uncomfortable. From the imagination of pools of gory blood to the reality of using and used menstrual pads, tampons, and other sanitary items. I argue that the only truly disgusting thing about menstruation is the fact that women across the world who are homeless are unable to access basic essential items during their cycle.
Women experiencing homelessness face a unique set of issues because of their gender. The homeless period website reports that though shelters are given an allowance every year to buy necessities like condoms, there is still not an allowance given for sanitary products. If shelters are unable to provide sanitary products, then women experiencing homelessness are simply not able to afford spending £13 to per month on period products which is the UK average amount spent on sanitary items.
So how do women experiencing homelessness cope with their periods? Many women are forced to go to public bathrooms and use tissues to create make-shift protection. Other women use old cloth, rags, towels, and even plastic bags. Clearly many of these methods are unsanitary and can lead to yeast and urinary tract infections. On top of the methods themselves being unsanitary, the circumstance of homelessness itself exasperates this issue. By not having access to a consistent and secure bathroom’s, many homeless women are forced to keep their pads and tampons on for longer time periods. Allegra Parillo and Edward Fellar (2017) reported that even when women do have access to showers at shelters, their access is very limited, once again elongating the time in which one should clean themselves which then maximises the risk of infection.
Though the physical effects of experiencing periods whilst homeless are largely not though about, the mental effects of experiencing periods whilst homeless are even more greatly hidden. When many women are on their periods they experience low moods, mood swings and in the worse-case depression. Women experiencing homelessness experience these feelings at a higher level because of their inability to choose to be clean and because they lack the privilege to rest in a warm bed, not worry about their next meal, and relieve themselves from pain because they cannot afford painkillers or hot water bottles.
Despite the harsh and painful facts of this often-invisible issue, there is a silver lining in that fighters for justice across the UK have strived to change this issue and you can help too. The Homeless Period is a movement started by three colleagues Oli, Josie, and Sara. The group collects sanitary product donations and sends them to women who need them most. Period Poverty is another organisation that does not only help homeless women but women of all circumstances who for some reason are unable to access sanitary products. Other than these niche organisations you can always donate products at food banks and local charities, or simply make a conversation in-person with someone in need and make a small purchase that is a humongous help.
Words by Dasia Ngundam