Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Increasing numbers of people are growing old in prison

There are some fascinating new bits of data in the latest annual report of the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.
The report reveals that increasing numbers of people are growing old and dying of natural causes in prison. In June 2011, there were 9,000 prisoners aged over 50 across England and Wales, 10.5% of the population. Prisoners aged 60 and over are now the fastest growing age group in the prison estate with their numbers rising 128% between 2000 and 2010.

The report highlights how the sector is beginning to adapt to an ageing society. It claims for example that “palliative care provision has improved and some prisons now have specific palliative care suites to manage the needs of prisoners who are dying”.

The annual report also flags the increasing use of other prisoners to support the care needs of older prisoners with complicated needs. But the Ombudsman flags the need for proper training and support, highlighting the case study below.

Mr X volunteered to act as a carer for an elderly prisoner with complex medical needs. He had cared for his parents in ill health, but had no formal experience or healthcare qualifications. However, he was expected to shower Mr J, and often had to clear up his incontinence, among other difficult duties. He told the investigator that he felt isolated and unsupported by staff. Officers and healthcare staff did not take responsibility for Mr J’s complex and demanding needs. The carer was an excellent source of support for the elderly man, but was left vulnerable himself.

The report also notes that their calls last year for a “formal revision of restraints policy relating to seriously ill prisoners…and enable more prisoners to die with dignity” had not been complied with. They reported that they continue to investigate deaths where “elderly people with limited mobility have been restrained with handcuffs and chains, even when they had been assessed as a low escape risk and a low risk to the public. In some cases, restraints had restricted their access to appropriate healthcare intervention”.

The fact that part of the report is specifically dedicated to older prisoners, highlights increased recognition of our demographic challenges. The prison sector seems to have made good progress as the older population has grown. But the growth we have seen in the number of older prisoners is a trend which will continue. Will the sector continue to cope, let alone improve?

David Sinclair

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Press Release:

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Travelodge City Airport

I stayed here the night before my birthday as I was presenting the Mallowstreet Awards in London and couldn't get the last train.

Whilst the hotel is literally at the end of the runway, it is a good 10 minutes walk from the DLR station along a quiet road. The DLR to the hotel has some quite nice views over East London.

It is a pretty unspectacular travelodge. But I got a good deal (£44) for London. The shower had some missing buttons but the room was clean. There was no bath. I had a distant view of the Thames Barrier from the room. Despite being next to the airport I wasn't disturbed by aeroplanes (although I was the other side of the hotel).

I didn't use the bar/lounge but it looked pretty nice. Staff were nice, as you would expect from a chain like travelodge.

A list: Hotels I've stayed in.

I doubt I will remember to keep this up to date. But I will try. I appreciate this is not very interesting.

15th September 2012: West Park Hotel, Newcastle. Room 4
19th September 2012: Travelodge City Airport. Room 208
30th September/1st October 2012: Jury's Inn, Manchester. Room 121
15th October: Holiday Inn Stratford Upon Avon. Room 1070
28th October: De Vere Horsley Park, East Horsley
7th/8th November: Burlington Hotel Dublin
11th November: Travelodge Kings Cross. Room 318
15th November: Hotel Chatillon, Paris Room 14
18th/19th November. Hotel Euroflat, Brussels Rm 5.03
2nd December. Rochester Grange, London
28th/30th December. Premier Inn Manchester Piccadilli
22nd January 2013. Hotel Avis, Brussels
31st January 2013. Travelodge Gatwick Central
11th February 2013. Hotel Thon Brussels
12th February 2013. Premier Inn Gatwick North 7th floor
19th February 2013. Premier Inn Gatwick North. 5th floor
20th February 2013: Premier Inn Edinburgh Princess Street. Room 508
5th March 2013: Novotel Liverpool.
5th and 6th April 2013: Premier Inn Blackpool Central
7th April 2013: Premier Inn Solihul
10th, 11th, 12th April 2013: Prizeotel Bremen
18th April 2013: Hilton Hotel Belfast
17th May 2013: Husa President Park, Brussels
17th June 2013: Aris Hotel Brussels
18th June 2013: Atlas Hotel Brussels
19th and 20th June 2013: Aris Hotel Brussels
31st July: Wessex Royale Hotel, Dorchester
1st -5th August (4 nights) Manor House Hotel Okehampton
5th August Premier Inn Newquay (Quintrill Downs)
6th and 7th August: Premier Inn Hayle (St Ives)
8th August 2013: Premier Inn St Austell
9th and 10th August 2013: Tourak Hotel Torquay
11th and 12th September 2013: Keeble College Oxford
15th to 20th September (5 nights): Crewe Hall, Crewe. 4006
22nd to 25th September (3 nights): Legends Hotel Brighton
26th September: Radisson Blu Europa, Brussels
29th September to 1st October (2 nights): Abode Manchester
1st October. Premier Inn. Manchester (1 night)
3rd October: Hotel Albergo La Meridiana, Venice
23rd October: Atlas Hotel Brussels
4th November: Premier Inn Princess Street Edinburgh
6th November: Village South Leeds
12th November: Marivaux Hotel Brussels

Friday, 21 September 2012

Intergenerational Giving Crisis

First published at

It has long been the case that older people donate more to charity than younger generations. But it is worrying to learn about the growing giving gap between young and old?

Research published today by the Charities Aid Foundation highlights a “long-term crisis of giving – with new generations failing to match the generosity of people born in the inter-war years”.

The research reveals that in 1980, 29% of over-60s gave to charity, compared with 23% of under-30s. Looking today, the number of over-60s who claimed to have donated to charity in the previous fortnight had risen to 32%. The figure for under-30s was just 16%.

More than half of all donations to charity (52 per cent) now come from the over-60s, compared to just over one-third (35 per cent) thirty years ago.

So why might this be and what can be done about?

One argument might be that younger people today are more squeezed than previous generations. However, younger people in the 1980s faced their own economic pressures, and the report reveals that older people give more as a share of their total spending.

Worryingly, the report suggests that the ‘generosity gap’ has widened over the past three decades. The over-60s are now more than six times more generous than the under-30s compared to less than three times more generous, thirty years ago.

Over recent years, the fundraising sector has placed significant focus on targeting younger donors. Face to Face fundraising, which attracts widespread criticism, is one example of a technique partly motivated by attracting younger donors. Talking face to face about a cause can be a good way to engage younger people.

Similarly, the move towards new and innovative ways of giving using new technology is also often targeted at younger people.

There are some very sensible suggestions in the CAF report, including the need to get younger people engaged as charity trustees and the promotion of “living legacies”. Yet perhaps charities should also think about how they can use older people to motivate, engage and support family and other younger community members into charitable giving.

More fundamentally, the real worry painted by the research is of a long-term decline in the proportion of households giving to charity.

David Sinclair

My colleagues, Lyndsey Mitchell and Jessica Watson (aged 30 and 24), are currently training for a charity assault-course run to raise funds for The Peace Hospice. You can sponsor them here.
‘Mind The Gap – The growing generational divide in charitable giving: a research paper’.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Increasing the State Pension Age won’t increase the average retirement age

First published at

Recent years have seen the Government announce plans to increase the State Pension Age in the UK to 66 by 2020, 67 between 2024 and 2026, and 68 (at least?) by 2046.

Yet new analysis by the TUC has highlighted the flaw in the assumption that increasing the State Pension Age will increase the effective retirement age and therefore save the state money.

The TUC research shows that people aged just below the State Pension Age have very low rates of employment. Of those approaching State Pension Age, just 54 per cent of men aged 60-64, and 62 per cent of women aged 56-60, are in work. Among this group, long-term sickness and disability is cited as the main reason for individuals not working. (

If this trend continues, the Government’s plans to increase State Pension Age may simply result in higher poverty, with individuals (particularly from some manual professions) not able to work but too young to receive a state pension.

Yet we know it is vital to increase the average retirement age. Our economy needs the contribution of older workers and the state will struggle to continue to pay adequate pensions to meet the growing number of years we are spending in retirement. Increasing the State Pension Age needs to happen as planned and we need to increase the effective retirement age.

But what can and should Government do if State Pension Age does not significantly increase average retirement age?

In 2010, ILC-UK published a report, The Future of Retirement, which highlighted that there were many different reasons why people left the workforce early (caring responsibilities, poor health, financial incentives etc). If we are to support people to work longer, we must look at all of these different factors.

Just this week Age UK launched a new report, A means to many ends, arguing that flexible working has to play a role in supporting people to work longer. They called for the right to request flexibility to be available to all, and urged “flexible by default” whereby the onus is on the employer to justify why a role can’t be done flexibly.

Age UK seem to be pushing at open doors. Speaking at the event, the new Government Minister, Jo Swinson committed to pursue flexible working and shared parental leave, arguing that flexible working should be for all, not just carers.

Alongside the need for greater flexibility generally, we need to see greater progress towards policies which support gradual retirement. More opportunities for older people to gradually reduce hours worked, or to work part time, would help facilitate increases in average retirement age. We also need to ensure the end of ageism in the workplace.

Perhaps we also need stronger financial incentives to support the individual to work longer. Better promotion of the right to defer the state pension would be helpful. Perhaps we should even look to models of graduated pensions, where pension levels are set lower when we first retire and then become more generous as we age. See Gradual Retirement and Pensions Policy.

But as the TUC point out, Government cannot just continue to play lip service to health inequalities. Initiatives to prevent ill health later in life need serious investment.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Why I won't run the #gnr again (probably)

I'm on my way home from the GNR. I very much enjoyed the run. I achieved a comfortable PB. The people of Newcastle are generally very friendly. And the run is very well organised - the scale is impressive. I got to high five Mo Farah and Ellie Simmonds at the start. And the Red Arrows were great.

But. I probably won't run it again.

1) It's too expensive. Entry, hotel, train, and breakfast alone came to over £200. And this was with staying in a hostel.

2) It's too far away from home. In the 7 hours it took me to get there I could have flown to New York.

3) Travelling on East Coast trains at the weekend means overcrowded and cancelled trains.

4) Newcastle hasnt enough accomodation to meet demand. I've twice found myself in terrible accomodation (yet expensive).

5) They have a really rubbish pasta party which needs to be in Newcastle, not Gateshead. Its not really a party and the portions tiny.

6) The restaurants in Newcastle are not brilliant. And there is very little open for breakfast.

7) The route essentially follows a motorway/dual carriageway. Not particularly attractive.

8) Newcastle on a Saturday night isnt much fun by yourself. It's a bit like Croydon or Blackpool. Full of stag and Hen parties. The main cultural attraction I came across was the Ladyboys of Bangkok (which I am sure may be good, but probably not for me - especially alone).

very well organised /scale huge

West Park Hotel

The first thing to say is that it isnt really a hotel. Closer to a hostel really. And a bad one at that.

I booked a 'suite' at £55. The room featured a tiny TV which couldnt receive BBC channels.

A bedside lamp, with nowhere to plug it in.

A shower in the room itself.

Paper thin walls which allowed me to hear the detail of the conversation of the neighbours when they came in at 4am and chatted for an hour.

The staff seemed friendly although I dont know really as they just pretty much threw the key at me when I arrived. And they knocked on my door late at night to ask if I was Ben and had booked a taxi.

I found the reception lounge not very welcoming and the staff hadnt explained whether or not i could use the facilities/make coffee.

I dont think I'll go back.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Orange hair

I promised I'd post some snaps of my holiday hair. And here they are.

Little Saigon, Newcastle

Tonight I ate at Little Saigon in Newcastle.

The prawn starter was overpriced and pretty ordinary. But the seafood noodles was quite good (although could have had some heat).

Staff were quite nice and the Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk was great (and v strong).