Category Archives: social issues

StreetSmart: Helping the Homeless Charity


ホームレスの方々を助ける事は素晴らしいことであるし、£1余分に払うのも嫌ではない。ただ、へそ曲がりの私が気になるのは、寄付が自動的に付け加えられること。カードには、寄付は「voluntary(任意)」なので、もし寄付をしたくなければ「just say so!(ただそう言えばいい)」と太字で書いてあるけれど、誰がそんなことできる?誰だってケチに見られたくないし、弱者救済の寄付にノーと言える勇気がある人なんて、ほとんどいない。そもそも£1お勘定に上乗せされていたとしても、その事に気付く人も少ない。その辺を考慮しての上手い戦略だ。また、この寄付はホームレスのチャリティ限定なので、ホリデーシーズンに寄付を必要としている他の慈善団体に対して不公平な気もする。私としては、誰に、どうやって、いくら寄付するかは自分で決めたいというのが本音。表立って言えないけれど、同じような考えの人はたくさんいる。


Every year during November and December, you may see a small card of StreetSmart, a charity for the homeless, on your table at many restaurants or it comes together with your bill. The card explains the idea of the charity and a £1 donation is added by the participating restaurants to your bill. In 2012, £805,000 was raised to help fight homelessness across the UK.

Great cause – I know it and I don’t mind to pay extra £1 to my bill. However, I don’t really fancy the idea that £1 is automatically added without asking you. In the card, it is said that it is voluntary and you just say so! in bold if you don’t want to contribute, but who has a courage to say no to a waiter? Nobody want to look cheap or dares to go against the great charity. Some wouldn’t even notice the extra charge if you don’t have a habit to scrutinize the bill. Also all the money goes to homeless charity, so you can’t choose where the donation goes to, and this system is unfair for other charities that also desperately need money for the holiday season. I prefer to choose to whom I donate, and how and how much I give on my own, instead of this little card tell me to do so… Please don’t blame on me about this, as many others think the same but just don’t say so publicly.

In addition I don’t like the fact that some restaurants join this scheme just to look good that they care about people in need, without contributing anything themselves rather than just sending off the money collected from their customers. I would feel more comfortable to donate if restaurants, who earn more money during this season, also add up like 50p or £1 on top of the donation from the customers, as my donation would contribute to raise more money to the charity.




The Times “Save Our Cyclists” Campaign

昨年11月、27歳の女性記者(下の写真中の女性→詳細)が自転車事故に遭い、以来未だ昏睡状態にあることをきっかけに、タイムズ紙は昨日2月2日より、「Save Our Cyclists(自転車を救え)」キャンペーンを開始、自転車の安全を守るため、政府への働きかけや啓蒙活動を行っている。




Yesterday, the Times launched “Save Our Cyclists” campaign, after its 27-year old young journalist (a woman in the photo below)’s tragic cycle accident putting her in coma since November last year (→detailed story). Now one-third of adults own a bicycle in UK, and 13 million people ride a bike regularly. Since 2001, 1,275 cyclists died on British streets, and since 2009, the number of serious injuries and deaths involved in bicycle has been rising, and 104 people in 2009 and 111 people in 2010 have died while riding a bike. The latest data shows there were 1,850 deaths or serious injuries in the first half of 2011, a 12% rise on the year before. In London on average, 16 people die on their bikes every year.

The government’s effort to improve road safety (see my blog on 2009/07/29 and 2010/03/10), however, hasn’t produced much results and there is no visible attempt such as better bicycle lanes (except bicycle super highway that is no use for me) – how possibly person in charge believe that promotion video online that many cyclists have never checked or cycle training course that only few people know would make a big difference?? In fact, London is a lawless and dangerous zone for many cyclists: full of large vehicles such as bus, trucks, and white vans; obnoxious taxi and mini-van drivers and motorcyclists in hurry; and reckless cyclists with racing bikes going everywhere without paying attention around. I often encounter a danger or near-miss when on bike, so I use my bike only when needed and choose a road with less traffic as possible. But I am not the only one who is scare of riding a bike in London – there are many bikes with dust on top, obviously not used for long time, in the premise of the building where I live. What a waste.

The times campaign puts up 8-point manifesto, calling for cities to be made fit for cyclists, such as mandatory safety equipments for trucks, identifying and redesigning of dangerous road junctions, more budget for cycling infrastructure etc. According to a Telegraph article, several studies show that the more cyclists there are, the fewer get hurt, as drivers become more aware of cyclists. 2012 London Olympic is coming in half a year and more people are expected to visit the city. As a result, more visitors will hit the road with Boris rental bike, so it is imminent for London to tackle with road safety for cyclists, for its reputation.

UK Net Immigration Rises 21%

Long-Term International Migration (LTIM) to/from the UK 1991-2009

統計続きになるけれど、今日の国家統計局(Office for National Statistics)の発表によると、昨年のNet Immigration(入移民超過:イギリスに来た移民数から海外へ移民した人の数を差し引いたもの)の数が23万9千人と、19万8千人だった2009年に比べ、21%増加した。イギリスへの移民数は過去5年間、50万人強と安定しているのだが、世界的経済不況で国外の雇用状況が悪化しているなか、海外に仕事を求めて出て行く人の数が減ったことが原因だそうだ。

イギリス人の海外移住が減る中、EU各国、特に「A8」と呼ばれる、2004年に新規加入した中東欧諸国8カ国(チェコ共和国、ポーランド、ハンガリー、スロバキア、スロベニア、エストニア、ラトビア、リトアニア)からの労働者が増加。その数は2009年の5千人から3万9千人に急増、その3人に2人はポーランド人だという。また、移民の3分の2はEU圏外からで、そのうち15万1千人は「new Commonwealth(新イギリス連邦)」と呼ばれる国々、特にインド、パキスタン、バングラデシュの出身。留学はイギリスに来る目的の最多を占め、昨年の外国人留学生数22万8千人のうち4分の3がEU圏外からだそう。

政府はこの入移民超過数を減らすため、Work Permit(労働ビザ)発行数の上限を設定したり、学生ビザを隠れ蓑にイギリスに働きに来る自称「学生」を根絶し留学生数を減らすために怪しげな学校への規制を強化したりと、策を講じてはいるが、海外への移民数とEUからの移民数はコントロールできないため、あまり効果はなさそうだ。



The Office for National Statistics has revealed today that net migration in the UK rose by 21% last year with 239,000 more people arriving than those leaving, from the total at 198,000 in 2009. Immigration has been stable in past five years at a little more than half a million a year, but the reason of increase in net immigration is fewer number of people are emigrating due to worldwide recession resulting in less job opportunities abroad.

While fewer British are going abroad, more EU workers have been arriving, particularly from the Eastern and Central European “A8” countries, which are 8 of 10 countries that joined the European Union in 2004 (Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Its number jumped to 39,000 from 5,000 in 2009, and around 2 out of 3 of them are Polish. But Eastern Europeans are not the only ones to be blamed. Two third of the foreign migrants were from outside Europe, and 151,000 were from “new Commonwealth” countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Study was the most common reason for coming to the UK, and three-quarters came from outside the EU of 228,000 immigrant students last year.

The government has promised to reduce net migration, and the number of workers from outside the European Economic Area has been capped and bogus educational institutions have been regulated in order to crack down widespread abuse of the system to reduce foreign students. But there seems to be a little effect, as the government cannot control emigration and European workers.

In these years, I have heard many times that it is getting harder and harder for non Europeans to obtain UK visas and even you get it you will be regulated tighter than before. Some foreign workers are denied to get a work permit because total application has reached to the cap, and new visa scheme allows students to work only 10 hours a week, instead of 20 hours previously.

Often British blame on Polish and other Eastern Europeans for mass immigration, but they seem to forget the fact that their government was the one who decided not to put the cap on immigrants from A8 nations, in order to obtain cheaper labours and fullfil the request from the industries which desperately needed workforce during economic boom, whereas most of the western European countries set the limit. It’s not fair to blame the East Europeans who do nothing illegal, but they should criticise your own government! Poor Polish, and non-Europeans who have to pay the price.

1 in 6 Youths are “NEET” in England

日本でも問題となっている「ニート」の若者たちだけれど、その言葉の発祥の地・イギリスでも、NEETNot in Employment, Education or Training)が増加しているそうだ。

Department for Education(教育省)が発表した報告によると、イングランドにおける16〜24歳のNEETの数は、今年4〜6月期で約100万人(正確には97万9千人)、若者の16.2%、実に6人に1人がNEETとなる計算となり、昨年より1.8%増加した。先週の国家統計局(Office for National Statistics)の統計でも、同時期の16〜24歳の若者の失業率も20.2%に上っている。


The problem of NEET (Not in Employment,Education or Training) is often talked in Japan (Wiki), but the situation in England, a birth place of the term “NEET”,  has been worsen as well.

According to the figure from the Department for Education, 979,000 or nearly a million 16 to 24-year-olds were NEET between April and June this year – which means 16.2% or 1 in 6 young people are NEET, 1.8% rise from the past year. Also Office for National Statistics reported last week that youth unemployment in the quarter to June had risen from 20% to 20.2%.

Financial Times doesn’t see a clear link between this month’ series of riots with high NEET rates, as London’s youth NEET rate is at 14.2% below the national average, though I don’t think there would be no relationship at all. An estimated 220,000 are expected to fail to get university places, due to upcoming tuition hike, and this may result in further increase of NEET. UK (and the world) had enjoyed good economy just few years ago, but the good time wouldn’t last forever, I guess… Let’s hope Olympic next year can boost UK’s economy a bit.

London Riots: Day 3

Vodpod videos no longer available.



今回の暴動の特徴は、BlackBerry端末同士で行うインスタントメッセンジャーBlackBerry Messenger(BBM)を使って広まったこと。BBMはショートメッセージサービスより迅速でしかも無料、またFacebookやTwitterと違い、内輪でコミュニケーションが取れるため、ギャングメンバーの間で人気なのだそうだ。BlackBerryというとビジネスマン御用達というイメージがあるので、ギャングたちが好んで使っていたとは意外だ(テレグラフ紙記事)。



On the third day of the London riots, which began in Tottenham, north London, on last Saturday following the fatal shooting of a black suspect by the police on August 4th, is spreading across London and has become totally out of control. The video above is a riot in Hackney, a borough we live. Thank god we live far away! Originally a peaceful protest turned to riots, involving violence, vandalism, looting, arsons as well as clashes with police – everything goes now.

Riot mapphotovideoWiki

This series of riots has spread via BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), an instant messaging application allowing users to communicate in a similar way to text messaging but it’s free and quicker, and more private than Facebook and Twitter. I thought BlackBery is for business people, and was surprised to know that it is also a favorite device for gang members (Telegraph article).

This riot with such a large scale is thought to be the worst disturbances of their kind since the 1995 Brixton riots, which began also after the death of black young man in police custody. Also similar to Los Angeles riots in 1992, it seems that there are still huge mistrust against police among black community. Also those cases happened in poor neighbourhood with high unemployed rate, so rioting may be a good opportunity for frustrated youth to show their anger to the society. The victim this case is thought to be a well known member of notorious gang group and a cocaine dealer, who always carry a gun for protection (Daily Mail article), and now investigation is taking place, mainly about who shot first, as also a policeman was injured at the scene. It is not clear yet, but I assume that there was a enough reason for police to shoot him, though that doesn’t mean that they could kill him, but I don’t think it was because of stereotypical idea of “police = racist → let’s shoot the suspect”, popular among certain people.

Put serious people on protest aside, I can’t stand some idiots who take an advantage of the situation, vandalising and setting a fire to whatever they feel like for fun, and looting stores while police is too busy taking care of rioters. I’ve seen so many footages and photos on newspapers, TV and internet news, showing young looters happily running away from stores with stolen goods. There are some people taking a ‘trophy’ snap and showing it off to friends. What’s to do with “police brutality” and those disgusting illegal acts?? The victims are locals in their neighbourhood, not the police!

The End of “Squatters’ Rights”, Finally

数あるイギリスの不可思議の一つに、「Squattersスコッターズ)」問題がある。スコッターズとは、空き家や廃屋・廃ビル、または他人の敷地や家屋を占拠する人たちのことを言う。正式な統計はないが、イングランド&ウエールズには常時2万件、年に約10万件のsquatting(スクワッティング/無断入居)があるそうだ。驚くことに、イングランド&ウエールズでは「Squatters’ Rights(スコッターズの権利)」なるものがあって、「forced-entry(無理矢理押し入った)」のでなければ違法でないのだ。スコッターズたちが自主的に退去したり、彼らが外出しているうちに家に入って「平和的な」立ち入りを確保しない限り、大家は裁判所の許可なしにスコッターズたち追い出すことができず、時に大家の悲劇としてメディアを賑わしている。しかも追い出されたスコッターズには、税金で法律扶助を得て、立ち退きを不満として裁判に持ち込むことまで出来るのだ。

ホームレスがやむなくスクワッティングしたり、同意はしないが社会活動家やアナキストがスクワッティングを社会批判の手段として使うならまだしも、アーティストやミュージシャン、パーティ三昧の若者たちが家賃節約の為にするのは、権利の濫用だ。イギリスに来て以来、スコッターズに関する記事を読む度に、スクワッティングが許されていることを不思議に思っていた。そんな中、政府は本日、悪質なスクワッティング行為には懲罰刑を与えられるよう、「Squatters’ Rights」を改正する計画を表明した。このことにより、ホームレスの増加が危惧されるが(ガーディアン紙記事)、スクワッティング問題とは切り離し、政府が貧困対策として取り組むべきことじゃないかと思う。

One of the strange things I’ve encountered since I came to UK is a problem of ‘Squatters.’  Squatting consists of “occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use”, according to Wikipedia. Though there is no official statistics about squatting, unofficial estimates put the number at as many as 20,000 squatters at any one time and 100,000 incidents of squatting every year in England and Wales. Surprisingly, there is “Squatters’ Rights“, and squatting is not illegal in England and Wales, if it is done without ‘forced-entry’. Poor owners can’t kick them out while squatters are inside, until they obtain a court order, unless they leave voluntarily or the owner secures ‘peacable’ re-entry while squatters are absent. Squatters even have a right to get legal aid if they try to fight eviction, on tax-payers expenses.

I can sympathised with homeless people squatting in need of place to sleep, or anarchists or protesters occupy public properties for their voices to be heard, though I don’t agree 100%, but I can’t tolerate partying youngsters, artists and musicians squatting just for “free accommodation”, abusing rights of legal owners, even though the properties are empty or the owners are “fat pigs”. I have been always perplexed why this kind of act is allowed without being punished, every time I read articles about squatting. But today finally the government proposed a plan to criminalize squatting. There is a fear that this could make more people homeless (the Guardian article), but the homeless issue must be tackled, separately from protecting property owners from squatters.

Squatters protesting about expenses claims / Photo by Robin Bell / Rex Features ( 954417a )