Portraits : January 2021 – June 2021
“C.S.” 29 June 2021. The CEO of a Social Enterprise Community Interest Company. She works tirelessly to offer support in all aspects of social care. She talks about the immense difficulties of offering care to those who need it during a pandemic, and tells a fine tale about how she managed to source a supply of PPE for all her carers when PPE was only offered to NHS workers.
She has been awarded an OBE recently, which she will use to open doors and get things done. Such inspiring energy!
29/6/21 Much anger over continuing policy to send whole school class home if one child tests positive.
28/6/21 N.W. US and Canada bake under “Heat Dome”.
27/6/21 Matt Hancock resigns after publication of ‘compromising’ photo. Sajid Javid new Health and Social Care Minister.
23/6/21 5 years since Brexit vote. New poll shows Britain is still split down the middle.
“R.M.” 22 June 2021 He moved to Northern Ireland in the 70’s from the U.S. He lived through “The Troubles”, and has seen the changes since the Good Friday Agreement.
He shares his thoughts on the recent disruption and uncertainties since the imposition of the new Brexit rules, and on how that may play out.
In all this chaos, with Covid fears and restrictions as well, he remains calm and deals with it all in a very creative way.
22/6/21 Jeffrey Donaldson replaces Edwin Poots as leader of DUP. Willing to collapse Stormont over Irish Sea Border dispute.
18/6/21 Food & drink exports down 47% (£2bn) post Brexit, Jan-March
15/6/21 UK and Australia strike first post-Brexit trade deal.
“M.” 14 June 2021 A Samaritan for over 20 years and now the Director of her local branch. She talks about the “special privilege” of being a Samaritan, and of the courage of those who turn to them for support.
The Covid pandemic and its associated pressures has exposed many individuals to places of sadness, loneliness and isolation, and having someone to talk to becomes a critical lifeline.
This was recorded on the day it was announced that the relaxation of social distancing measures was to be postponed . Further distress for many.
14/6/21 NATO meeting in Brussels to try and repair damage done to Alliance by Trump.
BJ announces delay to restrictions easing until 19/7/21 due to Indian variant.
11/6/21 > 98% of over 50s in England have Covid antibodies.
9/6/21 Problems with N.I. Protocol. Grace period expires on 30/6. Chilled meats could be barred from crossing from mainland to N.I. Good Friday agreement at risk.
5/6/21 Groundbreaking decision by G7 to charge minimum 15% Corporation Tax everywhere, on IT multinationals, including in tax havens.
3/6/21 Sir Kevan Collins, Education Recovery Commissioner for England resigns over lack of ‘credible’ Covid catch-up funding.
2/6/21 £1.4bn education recovery plan unveiled (original plan was 10x more)
1/6/21 1st day with zero deaths due to Covid in the UK. Ban on property rental evictions ends.
27/5/21 Matt Hancock replies to Dominic Cummings allegations to say that he “threw a protective ring around Care Homes last year!
25/5/21 Roman Protesevich & girlfriend Sofia Sapega both appear in video ‘confessions’.
24/5/21 Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania forced down in Minsk by Belarussian fighter jet, so as to arrest Roman Protesevich, a young opposition journalist.
21/5/21 Ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians brokered by Egypt.
“M.D.” 19 May 2021 A committed local city and county councillor, he gives a fascinating insight into his work in regeneration and infrastructure planning, & how these things will need to be rethought post-Covid. He also has very strong views on the value of vocational education and the need to build up a young skills base for UK industry.
17/5/21 Next step of “Lockdown Easing”. Meet up to 30 outdoors; 6 people/2 households indoors; pubs, hotels, theatres, concert halls can all re-open.
14/5/21 New Indian variant identified in UK. Edwin Poots (creationist) elected as leader of DUP.
12/5/21 Terrible escalation in violence in Israel/Gaza as Israelis try to annexe more arab homes.
10/5/21 David Attenborough “Climate change is a greater threat to humanity that Coronavirus.”
9/5/21 Terrible bomb in Kabul, 70 dead, 160+ injured. Mainly from nearby girls school. Thought to be IS, not Taliban.
4/5/21 G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in London. Call to free up manufacturing rights on Covid Vaccine processes so that developing countries can manufacture them themselves.
29/4/21 Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, resigns after vote of no confidence.
“K.O.” 26 April 2021 She runs a food business, and her great passion is the power of food to bring people together. Pre-Covid, she was cooking for weddings, private dining etc., but then had to adapt very quickly. Every child on “free school meals” at her daughter’s school was supplied with a weekly delicious pizza kit. She has supported the local church food bank, and has worked very closely with ﹫theumbrellacafe in their superb support for families in need.
Her order books are now very full, ready for a busy summer, but she is determined to retain her social meals provision arm as the future unfolds. A really inspiring force for good.
26/4/21 India in terrible trouble with Covid. Global response to supply oxygen, vaccines etc. 330,000 deaths in 1 day. Not enough space to cremate the dead.
24/4/21 Pandemic declared as “over” in the UK!
21/4/21 Derek Chauvin found guilty on all 3 charges for the murder of George Floyd.
Biden – “systematic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul”.
19/4/21 Outrage at plans for a new European football super-league announced.
17/4/21 The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
Monkey-human embryos have been made in vitro. Human stem cells into monkey embryos. California.
12/4/21 Big REOPENING day. Non-essential retail; hairdressers; gyms; hospitality outdoors etc.
9/4/21 Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh dies.
“O.E.” 8 April 2021 As a Police Officer, he talks about the challenges of lockdown faced by the community he serves. He also shares thoughts on the modern reality of policing in a world of mobile phone recording and social media posting. Speaking just before hospitality & non-residential retail venues reopened on April 12th, he anticipates some overzealousness!
8/4/21 Belfast – violence overnight. Petrol bombs, a bus burnt out. All at a nationalist/loyalist interface.
31/3/21 Angela Merkel says A/Z vaccine not to be used in under 30s, due to handful of fatal blood clots.
29/3/21 First phase of unlocking – rule of 6 or 2 households can meet outdoors. Outdoor sports can resume.
28/3/21 Calls for UK government to share surplus vaccine supplies.
Myanmar – dozens of unarmed protesters killed, incl. children.
26/3/21 Massive container ship runs aground in the Suez Canal, and blocks it for days.
23/3/21 1 year since first lockdown. 3rd wave sweeping through Europe.
21/3/21 Legal challenge to UK Government cutting foreign aid from 7% to 5% of national income.
17/3/21 Uber drivers given full employment rights – big implications for gig economy.
16/3/21 EU launches legal action against UK over NI Protocol.
11 countries, incl. EU, have stopped using A/Z vaccine, even though the WHO and EMA say there is no problem.
Mozambique – terrible armed Islamist insurgency. Beheading children. 700,000people displaced.
13/3/21 Vigil held on Clapham Common for Sarah Everard. Very difficult and heavy-handed police response.
“D.W.” 12 March 2021 A senior social statistician doing fascinating research into the concept of TRUST in these strange times. Trust in our government; trust in our neighbours; trust in the vaccines; and how this trust varies across different age and social groups. Some surprising conclusions!
11/3/21 1 year since the WHO declared a pandemic!
9/3/21 Condemnation of brutal military crackdown in Myanmar. Thousands detained.
5/3/21 EU threatening to take legal action over UK extension to grace period on Irish Sea border checks.
“D.P.” 4 March 2021. A man of courage and ambition. He has “come home” to the east coast of Scotland to restore the historic sea salt industry. And, at the same time, he has been hospitalised with Covid-19. He is now almost at the point where he can start salt production, which is very exciting. His passion is for the local community and for building something sustainable for the future.
3/3/21 BUDGET DAY Furlough scheme to extend to September at 80%, and self-employed support, and also the £20/week top-up for Universal Credit. 95% mortgages for 1st time buyers. Corporation tax to increase. Eight “free ports” announced. £700m to support the Arts, Culture and Sports.
Nicola Sturgeon questioned for 8 hours in Alex Salmond sexual harassment enquiry.
“E.B.” 1 March 2021. E.B. lives in Pittenweem, on the east coast of Scotland. She has been trawling for langoustines on a commercial boat for several years. She has a fierce passion for the fishing life, and for the potential for women in that industry. And now…. the export rug has been pulled from under their feet, and the boats are tied up. She talks about her hopes and fears for herself, and for the whole industry. Her drive and energy is totally infectious!
28/2/21 Germany still saying AstraZeneca jab not to be used for over 60s. Large volumes of vaccine lying unused.
27/2/21 Unionist leaders send joint letter to B.J., pledging “unified and unalterable” opposition to the Irish sea border.
“A.C.-E.” 26 February 2021. She works at an export depot in Kent. It has been set up specifically to process trucks leaving the UK to cross the channel to Europe. Since Brexit, there is so much more to be done before a truck can load on to a ferry at Dover, or cross through the tunnel. To avoid congestion at the ports , everything is checked and processed a bit further back. Any problems can then be sorted out, and the hauliers know they are clear to board once they get to the coast. She talks about it all with a sense of calm efficiency.
“M.P.” 26 February 2021. A passionate advocate for leaving the EU. He talks about his vigorous campaigning in the lead-up to Brexit, and the 2019 election. He shares his hopes and hesitations for the future.
25/2/21 A-level and GCSEs to be marked by teachers this year, to avoid last year’s chaos.
23/2/21 Facebook being asked to pay for newsfeed in Australia. Honest news vs. fake news?
22/2/21 B.J. releases his “road map” to opening society up again. Last date is NOT BEFORE June 21st for everything to function again. “data, not dates” to be the decider.
19/2/21 B.J. says he will share the “majority” of our surplus vaccines with poorer nations at virtual G7 meeting.
18/2/21 Covid infections down by 2/3rds in 1 month due to lockdown.
“Perseverance” NASA’s Mars rover landed after “seven minutes of terror”.
14/2/21 Trump acquitted at his 2nd impeachment trial. Troops and tanks in Myanmar, live rounds being fired.
12/2/21 UK GDP down by 9.9%, but Bank of England says it will bounce back.
11/2/21 Amsterdam overtakes London as the main finacial trading hub for Europe.
7/2/21 reports of trade with the EU down by 2/3rds. Trucks going back empty. M&S stores in Paris running out of stock.
“I.A.” 3 February 2021. I.A. had to face the most sudden and desperate loss the day before lockdown last spring. Her world then stopped in every way. But, through her love of sea swimming, and the friendships around her, she navigated a path through the loss and inspired others along the way.
2/2/21 South African variant causing concerns. Major worries about Brexit and its effects on the Irish borders, land and sea.
1/2/21 Military coup in Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi detained.
30/1/21 Vaccine nationalism in a serious way. The EU says it has “no choice” but to restrict vaccine traffic across the Irish border into the UK, suspending Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Even Ireland didn’t know. EU reversed the decision later, after many national protests.
“C.C.” 28 January 2021. She has set up an incredibly successful initiative to supply refurbished donated laptops and tablets to families in need of IT for homeschooling, all supplied for free and forever. This is on top of homeschooling her own children, being a successful writer and being involved in local politics. A generous & passionate conversation about a very serious problem that many families face. So inspiring.
28/1/21 EU getting more aggressive about lack of supply of Oxford/AZ vaccine
“S.W.-M.” 27 January 2021. Living in the San Francisco Bay area, and originally from Ireland. She talks about her life with her husband and son during a turbulent time in US history. The Presidential Election, the riots, devastating forest fires, BLM protests, wealth & poverty, and guns – these all come in to the conversation.
27/1/21 Deaths in the UK go over 100,000!
“C.P.” 26 January 2021. She has achieved amazing international successes in her chosen athletics discipline, all SINCE retiring from a distinguished career. Her main drive however, has been to “give back”, especially during these COVID times. She tells if the special support network she has built up, and of how she galvanised her team of volunteers to man the local Covid vaccination drive-thru facility. Inspiring!
26/1/21 Vaccine supply becomes territorial. EU says that Oxford/AZ not delivering enough vaccines to Europe.
25/1/21 The top 10 people in the world have seen their wealth increase so much during the pandemic, that they could vaccinate the world!
24/1/21 Over 5m people given their first vaccination in UK.
Over 3,000 people arrested in Pushkin Square, chanting “down with Putin”.
23/1/21 Thousands of Russians protesting about the detention of Alexei Navalny.
“T.C.” 20 January 2021. As a GP in a busy practice near Bristol, she talks about the trials and pleasures of running a practice in a time of isolation and lockdown, while also caring for her family. Now that vaccination is proceeding apace, she still needs to give time to patients needing care from their GPs. Her faith in the goodness of human nature is clear, as is her determination to give everyone the care they deserve.
20/1/21 Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump flies to Florida. Biden signed 15 Executive Orders straight away, many undoing previous Trump orders.
UK top of global league table for deaths per 100,000!
19/1/21 WHO announces “Catastrophic Moral Failure” as wealthy countries scoop up all the vaccines.
1,628 Covid deaths in UK today – a record.
Scottish & W. Country fishermen protesting in Whitehall over export problems with their fish – 40 pages of documents to be completed per variety exported.
Last day of Donald Trump.
“L.E.” 18 January 2021. A second year student at Manchester University, the centre of the initial student COVID infections and restrictions. She talks about the difficulties, and the emptiness of the city she loves, but remains immensely positive about her studies and the future.
17/1/21 Now over 70s and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable will be offered a vaccine (over 80s up to now). What about Police? Teachers?
Alexei Navalny, who had been poisoned with Novichok, returned to Russia and was arrested upon landing. UK, US and EU all protesting.
16/1/21 Travel Air corridors into UK are closed. Passengers can only travel with a negative Covid test, and then have to isolate for 10 days. New virus variants in Brazil and South Africa.
“R.B.” 13 January 2021. One of the unsung heroes. Working as a volunteer with a local Community Solutions charity supporting diverse community needs. Currently helping to set up “Virtual COVID Wards”. He has nothing but praise for the local Medical Practice and its staff, and for how they are handling the Coronavirus battle.
11/1/21 Supply chain problems related to Brexit. Supermarkets not getting stock in Northern Ireland because of check on trucks crossing Irish Sea. Fishermen in Scotland having to fill out 40 sheets of paper per load. Delays mean fresh food rotting in trucks.
9/1/21 COVID deaths in UK hit record high of 1,325 in one day. Ambulances queue outside hospitals. Temporary morgue built in Surrey woodland.
7/1/21 Trump condemned worldwide. Twitter & Facebook block his accounts. Impeachment papers to be drawn up.
6/1/21 Session of Congress at Capitol Building in Washington stormed by mobs of Trump supporters, who even entered the building. Trump speech incited this action.
4/1/21 First doses of Oxford/AstraZeneka vaccines given. 8pm. Boris Johnson announces new nationwide lockdown. All schools closed. GCSEs and A-levels cancelled .
1/1/21 New Year’s Day, and the UK will now have to abide by new trade rules when dealing with Europe. Debate about schools going back. Chief Inspector of schools says “chi;dren can’t be furloughed”.