Politics, Teenagers, Young people

Political Promises ~ A Guide to the 2017 Manifestos

Although the official Conservative manifesto isn’t due to be released until the 8th May, and the Labour manifesto on the 15th May, the main parties have all made announcements concerning their election promises. These might help you decide who to vote for, so here they are:

Labour

Labour seems to be focusing most of their manifesto promises on the NHS – reportedly the most important election issue for 63% of voters.

Conservatives

Out of all the main parties, the Conservatives have been the most secretive about the contents of their manifesto. However, they have made a few announcements on the subject. They have promised:

Others have speculated that the following will also be included in the manifesto:

  • Scrapping the HS2 high speed rail link project
  • Some kind of “long term solution” to the social care crisis (though Theresa May hasn’t specified what exactly this solution is)
  • Protecting the current police budget
  • Aims to increase the number of grammar schools

The Conservatives seem pretty confident that they will achieve a majority in this election, which 1/3 of the country agree with (hence why Theresa May called it in the first place); so I believe they are relying mostly on what they have done over their last few years in power to land them a victory. We will know more once their manifesto is released. (Also, I am going to write a blog post tracking the parties’ popularity in the opinion poles, so follow my blog if you want to be notified when that’s up.)

Liberal Democrats 

  • A second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal

Other possible inclusions in the manifesto:

  • A hypothecated tax (dedication of the revenue from a specific tax for a particular expenditure purpose) to pay for the NHS and social care
  • An increase in the threshold at which students pay back tuition fee loans (good news for those of you at uni)
  • Tim Farron (leader of the Lib Dems) has also ruled out a coalition deal with both the Conservatives and Labour

The Green Party 

  • A ‘ratification referendum’ on the terms of the Brexit deal – with an option to remain in the EU
  • Scrapping tuition fees and bringing back maintenance grants
  • Continuing the Erasmus student exchange programme after Brexit
  • Pledging to maintain equivalent funding for Universities losing cash from the EU

It is clear from this that the Green Party is focusing a lot on education, but not so much on the issues of the NHS, immigration etc.

UKIP

  • A ban on full face coverings
  • An explicit ban on the practice of Sharia Law
  • Abolition of postal voting for most electors
  • Making a difference in race an aggravating factor in grooming offences
  • A moratorium (temporary ban) on new Islamic faith schools
  • Mandatory reporting of Female Genital Mutilation
  • Mandatory annual medical checks for girls “at risk” of Female Genital Mutilation
  • ‘Presumption of prosecution’ of any parent whose daughter has suffered FGM, which is already the law
  • A £10 billion a year cut in the foreign aid budget

Of course, do your own research before the election in June. I recommend the website http://uk.isidewith.com/political-quiz to help you decide who to vote for.  I hope this helped or just was interesting!

Register to vote here by the 22nd May: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Remember, young people’s votes count so much! The political parties implement policies that will draw in the most voters, so if young people don’t vote… Parties won’t create laws which are in our best interests. The general election is on the 8th June 2017.

Teenagers, Young people, Education, Advice, Apprenticeships, University

Uni Vs. Apprenticeships

Most schools and colleges act as though the only option post-school is university. And who can blame them? Apprenticeships are only for things like carpentry and hairdressing, right? Wrong.

Although degrees are extremely useful and respected by employers, something that is equally – if not more – important, is experience. With university + social life taking up most hours out of the week, a lot of university students don’t have time or energy for a job, therefore they leave uni at minimum age 21 with a degree but little/no experience. This often leads to them starting off at the bottom of the pile all over again. On top of this, they are left in thousands of pounds of debt from their student loans.

Now, this is not at all to put anyone off going to uni; it is a fantastic experience and extremely valuable, and necessary for certain careers. However, it is not for everyone, and it is certainly not the only way to get a qualification.

Apprenticeships have advanced a lot in recent years, with a lot of money now being put into them, and you can now get a degree from them – on top of the experience you get! And there are apprenticeships in almost every career out there: accounting, journalism, business, marketing, law, education etc.

In addition, as most apprenticeships are only a year long – unless you get offered a job at the end – you could still go to university afterwards. Apprenticeships are a good way of seeing if that career is right for you and getting experience which would look good on your personal statement, especially if you have never studied a subject close to the career you want to go in to (e.g. marketing, which you can’t study in school or college). Universities like to see that you have done something which shows you are passionate about the subject you will be studying. Moreover, for someone who is uncertain of the career they want to go into, the average £40,000 cost of 3 years of university (for tuition and maintenance fees combined) is an exorbitant amount of money; there is no point in spending that much money “just because”. Apprenticeships also suit people who prefer to learn by doing, rather than by theoretical learning.

And you get paid, instead of ending up in more debt! Granted, the minimum wage for apprenticeships is only £3.50 an hour for the first year, but they are also paying for your qualification, and some companies pay a fair bit more than the minimum. It’s also a good way to save up a bit before going to uni. You could earn up to £10,000 per year instead of spending £9000 a year on tuition.

How apprenticeships work:

Technically, in an apprenticeship you will have a job. You will have an interview and work for the company as any other employee. However, it is slightly different as on either 2 days a week, or in a block of a few weeks, you will go to a college or education centre to learn your qualification, which will link in with what you are doing at work. Your employer won’t expect you to know everything at first, but they are there to support you. According to QA Apprenticeships’ research, 94% of those who do apprenticeships though QA go on to have a full time job once the apprenticeship is finished, and 100% are satisfied with their job.

Whatever you choose to do post-college, it is important to know all of your options and not be rushed or pressured into a decision by family/friends/societal expectations.

Here is a link to the government website with a list of all possible apprenticeships at all different skill levels: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch

Here are some apprenticeship providers:

QA Apprenticeships: http://apprenticeships.qa.com/

AIM Apprenticeships: http://www.aimapprenticeships.co.uk

3AAA: https://3aaa.co.uk/

Here is another good post on the topic:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/66040468/posts/1851

Don’t forgot to follow my blog if you enjoyed this post!

Mental illness, Relationships, Teenagers, Uncategorized, Young people

Dating with mental illnesses

Having a mental illness is one of the hardest things a person can go through. But imagine watching the person you love most in the world having panic attacks, being depressed and/or anxious. How does someone deal with that?

Trust & Communication

Your partner may be closed off at times and find it difficult to trust you, and this can really hurt. You might be thinking, “why won’t they confide in me? I haven’t done anything for them not to trust me”, and this is understandable. Unfortunately, though, many people with mental illnesses feel like a burden on the people around them and/or are afraid of seeming attention seeking. It helps to regularly tell your partner that you love and care for them, that they can trust you and rely on you. Always make them feel like the relationship is a safe space for them to share any worries.

It is Not Your fault

You may feel like asking your partner, “why am I not enough to make you happy?” or be hurt that they feel anxious around you, but you have to remember that it’s not necessarily your fault – just find out if your partner has any particular triggers that you might set off unknowingly. Feelings of anxiety and depression happen regardless of how many people love the sufferer. Even if they are happy with you, they may not *be* happy in themselves.

Also keep in mind any outside triggers that they might have; for example, feeling particularly anxious in crowds – this could include cinemas, shopping centres and supermarkets. If they start to panic, do your best to get them out of the situation as quickly but as calmly as possible  (a bit like how they handle fire drills at school ; you want to get out quickly without panicking them more). You might have to explain to other people sometimes, too, and many people won’t understand. If your partner has anxiety they may want to avoid certain events, and though you should support them and be there for them, make sure you don’t isolate yourself in the process. Encourage, but don’t force them to go into social situations.

Take Care of You

Let them know, gently, if you are struggling, and what you need. Your needs are important too. You are allowed to be down sometimes as well, and allowed to lean on them for support. Remember you are not their therapist; you are not a professional and it is not your job to ‘cure’ them. You can merely make their illnesses easier to cope with and help them on their way to recovery.

Self Harm

It is heartbreaking if someone you love is harming themselves. Unfortunately, asking them to stop rarely ever works as it is addictive and your partner’s reasons for doing so may be deep-rooted. Try to remember that self harm is a coping mechanism; even if it is also harmful. Just try to support your partner, make sure they clean any wounds and encourage them to seek help from professionals. It may help you yourself to ask them why they self harm, to help you understand better. Is it a way of punishing theirself? Is it a way to show mental pain on the outside? Everyone self harms for different reasons, so don’t make assumptions. Additionally, there are many leaflets and helplines which offer support to the loved ones of those who self harm.

Learn Their Love Language

Different things make different people feel loved. Some people love being held when they feel down, while others don’t want to be touched at all when they feel that way. Ask your partner which they prefer, and try to respect that even if it hurts that they want to be left alone for a while. As for what to say when your partner is panicking, speak in a calm voice to try to relax them. Remind them that everything is going to be okay and they are not alone. If they are depressed, it is important that you make them feel wanted and needed as their self esteem could get extremely low; they could think you would be better off without them, for example. If you have a partner who has blacked out, just explain to them what happened and tell them they are safe now and nothing is wrong with them. Don’t feel bad if you sometimes get frustrated or don’t know what to do; the most important thing is just being there for them, even if you say nothing.

Nevertheless,  people with mental illnesses are often the most empathetic, kind people you will ever meet. They will stand by you through your hard times as you have with theirs. They may have mental illnesses, but there is also so much more to them and it is possible to have an incredible relationship even if one or both of you have mental health issues.

Samaritans UK: 08457 90 90 90 (24hrs a day)

Anxiety UK: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)

Relate (relationship advice): 0300 100 1234 (for information on their services)

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Website: www.thecalmzone.net

Depression Alliance

Website: www.depressionalliance.org

Men’s Health Forum 24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.

Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk

Nightlife (emotional support to students -open all night)

Website: http://www.nightline.ac.uk

Men Heal – for all men who suffer from depression/anxiety worldwide, and for women who know a man with a mental health issue

Website: www.menheal.org.uk

Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
Website: http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisis-services

Politics, Teenagers, Uncategorized, Young people

5 ways you can get involved in politics right now

Too many times, people assume that teenagers are only interested in sex, social media and drinking. But what can you do if you are a teenager or in your twenties and actually want to make a difference?

1. Read a newspaper.

Whether you go to your nearest WHSmiths or Newsagents to pick up a paper or just read articles online, you can find out so much about politics. I would recommend reading from a variety of sources as all papers are biased in some way, and you want to form your own opinion on politics rather than believe whatever a certain paper tells you. Try The Guardian, The Economist, The Daily Mail, The Independent, and The Times, and see how the same stories are portrayed in different ways.

2. Join a political party.

It can cost less than you may think. Some political parties you can join for as little as £1 per year, and you don’t even need to be a British citizen. There are concessions for younger members and all of the main parties offer concessions to low earners and/or the unemployed; many additionally offer large discounts to members of the armed forces.

14-19 year olds and members of the Armed Forces can join the Labour party where in their first year they only pay £1. From ages 20-26 you pay £12 per year. A standard membership to the Labour party will cost you £46.56 per annum, unless you are retired, unemployed, a member of an affiliated trade union or you work under 16 hours per week, where you pay only £23.52. If you don’t want to do that, you can become a ‘registered supporter’ for a one-off minimum fee of £3 if, say, you wanted to be able to vote on their new leader.

Students and people under 26 can join the Liberal Democrats for £1 in their first year, and £6 in the years following that. Those on state benefits (with the exception of child benefit and state pensions) are also charged £6/annum. The standard fee is £12 a year.

If you are under 23, you can become a member of the Conservative party for only £5, or anyone can become a “supporter” for £1. Their standard membership fee is £25.

If you are under 22, you can get a one year membership to UKIP for £2. If you are a member of the Armed Forces you can join for £5 a year. However, the standard fee if you are over 22 is £30 per year.

Students can join the Green Party for £5 a year and for low income earners, the fee is £10.50 per year. The standard fee is £31 per year.

But what do you get for this money?

You can…

  • Stand for office in that party
  • Vote to select the candidates for your local MP
  • Vote in the party’s leadership elections
  • Receive newsletters from your political party constituency
  • Receive invites to local events and campaign communications from the national party

You may also receive special access to a members website or be offered exclusive discounts. Some parties also allow members to have a say on party policies.

3. Sign/start petitions.

Websites like change.org make it easy for you to start your own petition, or sign ones you agree with. You can also share the links on social media to increase their popularity. All petitions with over 10,000 signatures receive a response from the government, and those with over 100,000 signatures will be considered for debate in Parliament. If you pay a specific amount of money, your petition will be shown to a number of potential supporters, but actually signing and starting petitions is free.

4. Email your local MP.

If there is a particular issue you feel strongly about, email your local MP or even the Prime Minister.

5. Join a pressure group.

Pressure groups are organisations which campaign for changes in the law or new legislation in specific areas. As such, they can have a strong influence on public opinion and voting behaviour.

There are hundreds of pressure groups in the UK, tackling issues from animal welfare to LGBTQ+ rights. Cause or “promotional” pressure groups are open to all and therefore the easiest for you to join.

To join Greenpeace, for example, all you need to do is go on their website, click on “join the movement” and then tell them your name and email address.

Thanks for reading my first blog post, guys! I hope it helped some of you and I plan on writing many different blog posts in the future; not just on politics 🙂