Thursday, 27 April 2017

Baffling Ballot Box Probe

In Rochdale, is there a lack of curiosity at the top? 
THERESA May’s ostensible reason for calling a General Election is that her slender majority of 12 was an obstacle to passing the legislation needed to cope with the fallout from the UK leaving the EU.  The cynical amongst you might wonder if it was not also an opportunity to distract attention from the fact that criminal charges are being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) against at least 30 individuals in the Conservative party.  Some have been MPs in the 2015 parliament and contributing to Theresa’s slim majority, some will be candidates in this election and could be re-elected.   Electoral fraud isn’t just something that happens in other countries it happens here too.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_fraud 

It’s not just the Tories who have played fast and loose with the rules on election expenditure.  In recent years Labour and the LibDems have both been fined by the Electoral Commission for breaking election expense rules.  What makes the Tory case different is that the CPS is investigating whether there is evidence that candidates and their agents may be guilty of filing false spending returns. If they are both could be charged with fraud.
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/alexandra-runswick/election-expenses_b_16146174.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-election-fraud-prosecutions-cps-election-campaign-result-overturn-battle-bus-a7689801.html

This type of fraud is easy to detect once you are alerted to what is happening.   There’s always a ‘paper trail’.  In fact a year ago as part of its ‘Check a Tory’ campaign the Daily Mirror put the election expenses of Tory MPs on line and invited readers to scrutinise them.  What’s much harder to detect is when a small group, with or without the tacit agreement of local party bosses, exploit weaknesses in the system to rig the ballot.  Having a system which ‘on paper’ is foolproof, is fallible if the people who are supposed to implement it fall down on the job.

In August 2015, the government put out a press release announcing that, ‘Sir Eric Pickles, the Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion’, was to review the question of electoral fraud.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sir-eric-pickles-to-examine-electoral-fraud

A year later it was published.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sir-eric-pickles-publishes-report-into-tackling-electoral-fraud

So far so good.  But as I noted above any system is only as good as the people who implement it. This is what the Electoral Commission have to say about those people:

‘Local Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) manage elections, and are uniquely placed to detect and prevent electoral fraud.  They should have robust plans in place to identify any suspicious behaviour and should work with the police to investigate any potential electoral fraud.’  (my emphasis)

But what actually happens when something ‘suspicious’ does occur.   Just how easy is it to get anyone to take notice?  Things seem to have changed in Rochdale since 2011 when ex-council leader Colin Lambert was outspoken about what needed to be done.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-13192008 

A few weeks ago Northern Voices was sent the extremely well documented correspondence between a candidate in the Spotland and Falinge ward at last years Rochdale Council elections, and the various bodies which are supposed to deal with questions of electoral fraud.  It runs to some 22 pages.

At that election a 'marked register' went missing.   It should have been handed to the Returning Officer at the point at which the ballot box and other official documents were delivered by the Presiding Officer at the close of poll. It was either accidentally lost or deliberately stolen.  There can be no reason why one of these alternative explanations should be favoured over the other.   If we are to take the fight against electoral fraud seriously the ‘precautionary principle’ suggests that in the absence of evidence to the contrary it should be assumed that it was stolen, the police should be informed to that effect and a full investigation launched.   It did not happen.

What is clear from this correspondence is that, in spite of Pickles bluster in The Telegraph:
'We should never be frightened to look under the rock when what is crawling underneath threatens us all. It is time to take action to take on the electoral crooks and defend Britain’s free and fair elections', when a complaint is made, no one wants to shoulder the responsibility for making sure that a proper investigation is launched.  It seems that Pickles was right about one thing, ‘the authorities are in a “state of denial” and are “turning a blind eye” to election fraud.’

Equally worrying is that the complainant, Carl Faulkner, who stood as an independent candidate, claims that he was not informed of the loss of the missing register as he should have been and that he was told ‘all candidates were informed about the missing register'Northern Voices made an effort to contact the other candidates to find out if and when they were told about the missing register.

Mick Coates, the Green candidate, was quite clear that he had not been officially informed that the mark register was missing.

Enquires with the Lib-Dems suggested that this was also the case with their candidate Matthew Allen, and Ian Duckworth, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, was unable to confirm that their candidate, Steven Scholes, had been informed either.

Wendy Cox the Labour candidate did not answer the question directly but said:  
'Thank you for your email. I have passed this to the electoral officer.'  

Quite why she felt she had to ask the electoral officer whether she had been informed, is unclear at this point.  A week later she was asked if there had been any response and replied suggesting that NV should contact the electoral officer directly.  On the 10th April the joint editor of NV wrote to the RMBC Chief Executive, Steve Rumbelow for clarification.

(His reply is printed below together with the response of the original complainant, Carl Faulkner. Copies of the full correspondence between the complainant and the various bodies which are supposed to deal with questions of electoral fraud can be made available by e-mail from Northern Voices. It shows clearly that it was the complainant who initiated the contact with the Cabinet Office, Electoral Commission and Police not RMBC.)

The possibility that the register was in fact stolen has been excluded from consideration a priori, even though at the time an exhaustive and unsuccessful search was made at the polling station, and even of people’s cars.   The consequence of deciding that a register was ‘definitely lost’ not ‘possibly stolen’ is that there is a convenient ‘fall guy’ in the form of whoever was in charge of that polling station. They are deemed to have ‘lost’ it and their reputation must suffer as a consequence.

In all this the one thing that is very clear is that whoever told the complainant that ‘all candidates were informed about the missing register' was telling a porky pie. And these are the people we have to trust when it comes to combating electoral fraud.  Robust plans to identify potential electoral fraud?   I think not.

Dear Mr Bamford
Thank you for your recent enquiry.  Please accept my apologies for the delay in response.
To clarify, the marked register is the copy of the electoral register used in polling stations. It serves as the record of who has voted in the election, and it is kept for a year after the election. The marked register does not indicate who electors voted for, nor does it contain ballot paper numbers. 

Legislation provides that a variety of parties are eligible to access copies of the marked register after an election. Anyone can inspect the marked register, but only certain people can purchase a copy. 

This includes individual candidates and political party representatives.  Usually, copies are requested by and provided to party representatives who would then disseminate the information to their colleagues, including candidates. 

All those who requested copies of the marked registers were informed that a register had not been returned following the close of poll and the steps that had been taken in an attempt to locate it, both immediately after the close of poll and in the days following the election. 

In addition, the Council has been in contact with the Cabinet Office, Electoral Commission and Police on the matter who were satisfied with the steps that had been taken and the measures put in place to prevent any future issues of a similar nature. 

Yours Sincerely
Steve Rumbelow

And here are Mr Faulkner’s observations:
1) Without him actually stating it, it is clear that people were only going to be informed if and when a copy of the register was requested. That is not the same as informing all candidates as a matter of course. It reiterates my position that there was a concerted attempt to conceal the incident by keeping quiet about it.

2) I feel he is attempting to downplay the importance of the marked register, by portraying it as nothing more than a post-election tool for political parties /candidates / interested persons.  This is not the case - it’s primary purpose is as an anti-fraud document - but one which can be utilised by political parties etc.

3) All contact with the police, Cabinet Office and Electoral Commission was initiated by me. They contacted RMBC - not the other way round as his response could be taken to mean.

4) What are the ‘steps’ put in place that did not exist before? The issue is not about how, who, why or exactly when the register went missing but that no candidates nor the police were informed at the time or during the following 21 days.

Guido Fawkes & Jewish News gang-up on David Ward

 ON the 25th, April 2017, the Tory commentator Guido Fawkes wrote on his Blog:
'You’d have hoped David “The Jews” Ward’s career was over when he lost his seat at the last election. Alas not.  The LibDems, shamelessly even by their low standards, refused to boot him out of the party.  Knowing Ward’s views on ‘Zionists’ are popular among sections of the Bradford electorate, the LibDems – while criticising Labour over their anti-Semitism scandal – quietly appointed him as their parliamentary spokesman for the city.  Now they have selected him as their candidate there.  If Labour get completely creamed it is not impossible that Ward could make it back to parliament. Remember this the next time the LibDems ever take a stand on discrimination… '

On April 26th, 2017, the Jewish News publishesd the following story:
'Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has barred controversial former MP David Ward from running for his old seat in Bradford East, after he was selected as the local party’s candidate.'
It went on to trumpet:
'The dramatic move came just hours after a high-profile backlash from the prime minister, the Jewish community and senior figures within party, who were left appalled at the prospect of him once again becoming an MP.'

After his dismissal, David Ward said he believed he was being targeted because of his criticism of Israel.  'The antisemitic thing is a nonsense,' he said. 'It is just used, it’s a well-known tactic.  How do you avoid conversation or any criticism about Israel?  Just say people are antisemitic.  I am certainly not antisemitic.' 
  
Asked why he believed Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, had axed him, he said: 
'Just the pressure that they come under, all the party’s come under, and it works. The pressure works. It’s the fear of the electoral damage that can be done by being seen to oppose Israel.  It’s contaminating and infecting our own political system.'


Mr. Ward’s reselection appeared to take Lib Dem headquarters by surprise when news of it emerged on Tuesday night.  The party had selected the vast majority of its candidates over the past year in preparation for a snap election, but Bradford East was not among them.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Professor Paul Preston: 'Holocaust Denier'?

Is Paul Preston a soft core 'holocaust denier'?

THE academic, Professor Paul Preston , described in his book ‘THE SPANISH HOLOCAUST’ as ‘the world’s foremost historian of twentieth-century Spain’; in 2012 published an account of what he called ‘inquisition and extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain’.  By the standards of today, as spelled out by the holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt this week, this comparison of the holocaust now amounts to what she calls 'soft core holocaust denial'. 

In view of recent developments with regard to the Trump administration’s skirmishes with the Jewish community’s claim to ownership of the term ‘Holocaust’, ought we now to be revisiting Pro. Preston’s employment of the word in the context of the Spanish Civil War? 

Deborah Lipstadt is Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, who wrote 'Denying the Holocaust’ (1993), this week in responding to the recent blunders of the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, she stated in The Alantic journal:
The Holocaust was something entirely different. It was an organized program with the goal of wiping out a specific people. Jews did not have to do anything to be perceived as worthy of being murdered. Old people who had to be wheeled to the deportation trains and babies who had to be carried were all to be killed. The point was not, as in occupied countries, to get rid of people because they might mount a resistance to Nazism, but to get rid of Jews because they were Jews...’
What we have here from Deborah Lipstadt is a claim to Jewish exceptionalism, which specifically excludes claims like that of Prof. Preston about the Spanish tragedy in the 1930s. 

In the last century the linguistic philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, critising dictionary definitions, argued that the meaning of a word is in its use.  

Having seen the recent film 'Denial' portraying Deborah Lipstadt's defence in the defamation case brought against her by the historian David Irving, it would seem that Ms. Lipstad wants to control the meaning of certain words in a totalitarian manner, which would put the words like holocaust in a kind of sacred category which demands an iron law defence of the meaning 'holocaust' that would have offended Wittgenstein. 

Thus, Deborah Lipstadt told the New York Times this week:
The de-Judaization of the Holocaust, as exemplified by the White House statement, is what I term softcore Holocaust denial. Hardcore denial is the kind of thing I encountered in the courtroom. In an outright and forceful fashion, (David) Irving [another historian] denied the facts of the Holocaust.’

As a conversational analyst I would view this as an attempt by Ms. Lipstadt and others to seize control of certain words like 'holocaust' and to deny use of the use of words to other groups like the gypsies etc. and even to poor Professor Preston's depiction of 'The Spanish Holocaust', as a form of intellectual totalitarianism or bullying..

What we are getting here from Professor Lipstadt and others in the 'holocaust industry', is a kind of tyranny of words, dictated and developed by an ideological group with political vested interests.

Tetrosyl Campaign in Rochdale



www.rochdaleonline.co.uk

Residents who strongly object to Tetrosyl’s application to store and distribute hazardous chemicals in the refurbished...

ON 8th March, 2017 some residents went to view Tetrosyl’s application for hazardous substance consent. These are available for viewing in the Lodge on the Tetrosyl warehouse site, Royle Barn Road, Castleton. OL11 3DT

Hazardous substances, for which Tetrosyl are applying for consent to store on the site include:

2,000 Kg Petroleum ( Hazardous and Explosive ) least of your worries.

300 Kg LPG ( Hazardous and Explosive ) Already stored on site in greater quantity than stated ---->     (DESPITE NO LICENCE HELD !!! ) <--------- div="">
If the above exploded it would produce equivalent blast and carnage to the IRA bombing of the Manchester Arndale Centre June 1996
add to that
2,000,000 Kg of aerosols ( Hazardous and Explosive ) stored on site
6,000,000 Kg of household, car cleaning and maintenance products; ( Hazardous and possibly flammable & explosive ) stored on site
1,500,000 Kg of oils, fragrances and maintenance sprays ( Hazardous & possibly Explosive ) stored on site
150,000 Kg Peroxide hardeners ( highly explosive oxidisers , unstable and produce poisonous gases. ) stored on site
4,000,000 Kg of Hazardous substances to be moved by 50 lorries in/out each day, i.e. 28,000,000 Kg Hazardous substance moved/week
If ALL the above exploded at once it would produce a greater blast and carnage than the atomic bomb droped on Hiroshima in August 1945
By comparisson, it is estimated the largest explosion in modern times that destroyed parts of Tianjin in China and killed 173 people and injured hundreds more was caused by the explosion of only 800,000Kg of combustible material, yet had the devastation power 25% greater than the atomic bomb droped on Hiroshima in August 1945
Highly flammable and hazardous products like these should not be stored near residential housing. ( IN ANY QUANTITY )
public buildings and facilities should be AT LEAST 1 kilometre away from a site storing dangerous and hazardous, flammable and explosive substances.
The Ex-Woolworths site ( now owned by Tetrosyl ) has already been involved in 2 major catastrophic fires the second being on May 1971 where the entire complex was destroyed by fire.
Woolworths had 2,500,000 Kg of water stored on site in case of Fire, it failed to stop both fires.
Tetrosyl are proposing a 9000Kg Water Deluge tank for their sprinkler system.
Don't tempt fate again, this time any accident would be far far worse, Woolworths was NOT a warehouse of primarily Hazardous, dangerous & Explosive goods.
and Tetrosyl have already demonstrated they are prepared to break the rules, by already storing Dangerous & Hazardous goods on site WITHOUT having obtained a licence for doing so. CAN YOU TRUST TETROSYL WITH YOUR LIVES, HOMES, LIVELIHOOD, CHILDREN and FAMILIES ?
If the Answer is NO then you need to say something NOW, before it is too late !
It is important that residents write to Rochdale Borough Council to make representation against this. The deadline for letters is the 21st March,2017.
If you are worried about a warehouse full of flammable, hazardous and oxidising agents in your town then It is important that residents write to Rochdale Borough Council to make representation against the application to store the dangerous goods. The deadline for letters is the 21st March,2017. If they don't get permission then the dangerous goods will not be stored in Castleton.



The address to write to is

Rochdale Borough Council,

Number One Riverside,

Smith Street,

Rochdale,

OL16 1XU

Deadline for objections is 9th April, 2017

European Court: Defeat for Worker's Rights

FOLLOWING a decision in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg released this week, campaigners are challenging politicians to provide legal protection to agency workers. The ruling in the case of Smith v. the United Kingdom (Application Number 54357/15) was handed down by ECHR President, Kristina Pardalos, relates to Dave Smith, an engineer from Maldon in Essex, who was one of thousands of construction workers who appeared on the notorious Consulting Association blacklist operated on behalf of the UK's major building contractors.  Smith was blacklisted after he being elected as a safety representative for the construction UCATT (now part of UNITE).

His Employment Tribunal against various companies in the Carillon Group became a test-case for blacklisted workers but the Strasbourg decision has implications far beyond just the construction industry.  At the original Employment Tribunal, the company admitted that their senior managers had provided information to the blacklist because Smith was a union member who had raised concerns about safety issues on their projects.  But the ET found against Smith because as an agency worker he was not covered by UK employment law.  Millions of agency workers are currently excluded from basic employment rights such as unfair dismissal, redundancy and protection from victimization for raising safety issues.    

Smith's legal team appealed the case all the way to the Court of Appeal before it was finally rejected at the Supreme Court.  A submission was made to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the Consulting Association blacklist conspiracy was a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which are supposed to apply to everyone not just direct employees.  

Paragraph 36 of the ECHR judgement reads: 
"At the outset, the Court considers that in light of the criminal proceedings pursued against the Chief Officer of the Consulting Association by the Information Commissioner for failing to register as a data controller under the Data Protection Act and the admissions made by the defendant companies in the High Court proceedings, it is clear that the retention of personal data by the CA interfered with the applicant’s Article 8 rights". 
However, because of the campaign led by the Blacklist Support Group alongside the UNITE and GMB trade unions, which resulted in a Select Committee investigation and a multi-million pound settlement in High Court litigation, the ECHR ruled that Smith's case had been 'duly considered' by the British legal system and was therefore declared 'inadmissible'. 

While Smith was paid compensation during the High Court settlement, the ECHR ruling leaves the issue of the second class treatment of agency workers by UK employment law completely unresolved.  If even a blacklisted worker whose human rights have been infringed cannot win legal redress in either the UK Employment Tribunal system or the highest court in Europe, what chance do care workers, teachers or nurses engaged via employment agencies stand?  The current differential treatment of agency workers amounts to a EU sized loophole by which unscrupulous bosses can exploit agency workers with absolute impunity.  

John Hendy QC represented Smith in his test-case and commented on the ECHR decision:
"The use of agency workers and false self employment now deprive several million workers from full employment rights. The use of employment tribunal fees defeats the rights of those workers who do have them. As Dave Smith's case shows these problems cannot be left to the courts: they require urgent and fundamental legislation. The election provides the opportunity to vote on this issue".

After receiving the decision, Dave Smith commented:
"This ECHR decision is a green light to bad employers.  If UK and EU judges either can't or won't protect agency workers. I challenge all political parties in the General Election to commit themselves to extending full employment rights to the millions of workers engaged via employment agencies. In an era of zero hours contracts and casualisation, this is a defining issue for any politician claiming to stand up for workers rights". 

Gail Cartmail, UNITE Assistant General Secretary stated: 
“As this disappointing decision is being digested we know the paucity of legal protection from blacklisting means that third parties are instructing “do not engage” or if an activist slips through the net, dismiss.  Tomorrow is International Worker’s Memorial Day when we will mark 43 construction workers death from April 2015 to April 2016. In the past and today major players in construction have singled out trade union activists for raising legitimate safety concerns.  We need a full Public Inquiry and it is good to know this is a Labour pledge.  Remember the dead and fight for the living.”

UNITE member, Terry Brough, was the only other blacklisted worker to have a case submitted to the ECHR.  His case was ruled 'inadmissible' in September 2016. Brough commented:
"I extend my solidarity, respect and best wishes to Dave and his team in this, his latest involvement in the fight for justice. Blacklisted workers have not achieved justice through the courts: Corbyn should pledge a full public inquiry on the blacklisting scandal".  



Blacklist Support Group



Jane Austin's 'Persuasion' at Royal Exchange

JEFF JAMES DIRECTS A LOVE STORY FOR GROWN-UPS


The Royal Exchange Theatre presents the World Premiere of

PERSUASION

By Jane Austen
Adapted by Jeff James with James Yeatman
Directed by Jeff James
25 May- 24 June
Press Night: Thursday 1 June, 7.30pm - The Theatre
Jeff James, one of the UK’s most original young theatre makers, adapts and directs a bold retelling of Jane Austen’s final masterpiece PERSUASION at the Royal Exchange Theatre. James creates an emotionally powerful love story for grown-ups for the Exchange’s intimate in-the-round stage, revealing how startlingly relevant Austen’s story remains today. Designed by Alex Lowde this contemporary production of Austen’s beautifully crafted novel discards the bonnets and trappings of formal life for a startlingly modern vision of Austen. Developed in collaboration with dramaturg James Yeatman and with sound design from the award-winning Ben and Max Ringham, PERSUASION runs from 25 May to the 24 June.
When Captain Wentworth proposed to Anne eight years ago, he had only love and ambition to offer. Talked out of accepting his proposal by her family, Anne’s never quite got over her first love. But now Wentworth is back. Rich, successful and single, the handsome Captain has been transformed into a serious catch. When circumstances bring the two face to face again, Anne Elliot is forced to confront the past. As old wounds reopen, will Wentworth’s resentment keep him away, and will Anne finally decide what she really wants?
Director Jeff James has worked regularly with the Young Vic, most recently on his production of LA MUSICA, and extensively as Associate Director with international and multi award-winning director Ivo van Hove. His directing credits also include STINK FOOT (The Yard), and ONE FOR THE ROAD & VICTORIA STATION (Young Vic and the Print Room). He is Associate Director on Ivo van Hove's English language productions, including A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (London, Paris, Broadway & Los Angeles), OBSESSION (Barbican, Amsterdam and international tour), HEDDA GABLER (National Theatre), LAZARUS by David Bowie and Enda Walsh (New York & London), and THE CRUCIBLE (Broadway).
Designer Alex Lowde has worked extensively in Scotland for Scottish Opera, Dundee Rep, The Lyceum, The Citizens and The Traverse. Receiving the Critics Award for Theatre Design in Scotland in 2009 and 2010 with a nomination in the Best Design Category at the 2010 TMA Awards. Other design credits include the National Theatre, Young Vic, Lyric Hammersmith, Opera North, The Royal Court, Almeida, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres.
Lara Rossi takes on the role of Austen’s heroine Anne alongside Samuel Edward-Cook as Captain Wentworth. The cast is completed by Geraldine Alexander, Antony Bunsee, Helen Cripps, Cassie Layton, Caroline Moroney, Dorian Simpson and Arthur Wilson.
Music and sound designers Ben and Max Ringham have produced scores and sound designs for more than 40 major productions and have worked extensively in the West End, at the National Theatre and the RSC. The creative team also includes Lighting Designer Lucy Carter and movement from Morgann Runacre-Temple.
For further information, images or interviews please contact Paula Rabbitt, Communications Manager 0161 615 6783 / paula.rabbitt@royalexchange.co.uk

Monday, 24 April 2017

Sohm School Support Project

PROBABLY our most successful project to date. We hope it gives you as much pleasure in reading this as it did us in helping make the story happen.

We are proud to have championed and facilitated a transformation in the First Aid provision in Sohm Lower Basic school over the last two years.

This article sets out how it has been undertaken and the spectacular results achieved.

Each year we sit down with the heads of the two schools in Sohm to determine their priorities for our funding them for the next twelve months. Last January a key project for the Lower Basic school was to reconstruct the dilapidated and non-functioning sick bay (see photos).

The way the sick bay was
... and from the outside
We got the head to provide costings for a complete refit that would: re-plaster and paint the walls, re-floor, provide a new door, two beds, a medicines cupboard and some limited other furniture - and curtains. The overall cost was out of our budget, but we found a funding formula that worked - see footnote for details.

So, we were able to give the project the go-ahead and ensure that the money was available for the refurb. Political uncertainties in the country held the project up for a while, but the work was complete by the time we revisited in February this year.

The school was able to proudly show us the results then.

We then worked with a local pharmacist and the first aider at the school to stock a secure medicine cupboard with necessary items (see photos).

.. and is now
A First Aid room/Sick Bay is vital at the school, where children can experience bouts of malaria, debilitating hunger pangs and the older girls experience menstruation for the first time. The medical facilities in the village are almost non-existent, apart from a couple of visiting clinics held every month or so.

Lamin - deputy head (far left), first aider,
 Malamin, head (blue shirt) with teacher and
 three pupils displaying early first aid kit,
 in refurbed sick bay/first aid room
For some time we have been following a UK charity First Aid 4 Gambia on Twitter (@FirstAid4Gambia - www.firstaid4gambia.org), and have been impressed with their work in the local education sector. So we contacted them to see if they could help take the Sohm project on to the next level.

They could - and responded remarkably quickly. For a small annual charge (well within our budget)they have undertaken to completely restock the medicine cabinet each year with appropriate provisions and to provide first aid training every two years for a dozen or so people nominated by the school's head.

The first training session took place within a month of us making the connection, and the results were spectacular - as the photos and comments show.

Head, Malamin Gibba opening the training session

Staff and community members at
 FirstAid4Gambia training session
The head and deputy head, together with the nominated first aider took part, as well as the head boy and head girls (a great move in our opinion), two parents/members of the community and seven teachers.

Community members dressing wounds
First Aid 4 Gambia declared the day a great success and the school was more than delighted with the outcome.

Head boy learning 
respiratory techniques
This small initiative has not only up-skilled members of the school staff, but provided a huge boost to health provision within the whole community - all for £150!!

New first aid kit - courtesy of FirstAid4Gambia
The school head wrote to us:
So pleased with your effort in bringing this wonderful initiative to our school. We have all benefited from the training. Every teacher in the school is now a first aider.

Deputy head practices wound dressing,
 with head as the patient
The First Aid 4 Gambia trainer reported back to his charity that the training went well:
Monday 10 April 2017, New training course with supplies to the Sohm Lower Basic School at the Sohm Village West Coast Region.

Staff practising respiratory techniques
 14 participants received the training including the School Head Boy and The Head Girl respectively attended the training .The school is running a first aid centre which is well organised and clean, two beds in for temporal admission in case of any emergency.
The School First aider was also part of the workshop, along with 2 community members also joined the training. All the topics were briefly discussed which to my understanding was well received and their practicals were perfect too.

Head girl hard at work, using
 some of the training equipment
 FirstAid4Gambia brought to the day
All the participants were certified and the school was fully supplied. Though it was a long day, everything went successful.
On behalf of the School Mr Malamin Gibba the school Head  thanked the Charity for the gesture, as First Aid 4 Gambia have boosted them to a higher level in terms of first aid.

Some of the other equipment used on the day
 He said the community will also benefit from the supplies.
 
We would like to thank all of our supporters for helping us achieve this. It is quite an extraordinary achievement, made possible by goodwill, and partnership working across charities, with the fullest enthusiasm from the host community.

Deputy head, Lamin, practisng revival techniques

Footnote: The funding formula

The cost of the building work and refurbing the old sick room was in the region of £2,000. This is considerably out of our price range, but our Jersey partners in Sohm were able to persuade the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission to "match fund" our contribution to the cost. So, suddenly tour commitment was halved to £1,000.

The happy, first aid-certified training 
attendees show their certificates
Bearing in mind that we are able to get 25% Gift Aid funding from the UK government for most of the money we raise from UK taxpayers in donations, it meant that we only needed to raise £800 from our donor/sponsors to fund our contribution and kick start this remarkable achievement.
 
John Walker 07954 153 305 Gambia stuff: www.SohmSchoolsSupport.org.uk @GambiaSchools Forest Gate stuff: www.E7-NowAndThen.org, @E7_NowAndThen