Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing. Our editor won't let me use the intro I was going to use so inspired by half the stories in this week's edition, I'm going on strike.
News This Week
Have your say on council violence against women and girls strategy
The council is asking for comments on its draft Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, which outlines its four 'priority areas'.
The four priority areas in the draft strategy on tackling violence against women and girls in the city are:
- Developing a stronger co-ordinated response to all forms of VAWG irrespective of whether the incident occurs in private or public space, through improving the connections between services in the city.
- Prioritising prevention to end violence against women and girls, by providing better education for everyone about what violence against women and girls looks like in everyday life.
- Supporting survivors to ensure anyone affected by VAWG receives high quality trauma-informed support.
- Building an accountable community and changing perpetrator behaviour by holding them to account to reduce the harm they cause.
Feedback can be given until New Year's Day 2024, and the council is also planning to hold a workshop looking at how it can make Brighton & Hove a safer city.
The focus on violence against women and girls follows data showing that they are disproportionately affected by the crimes termed violence against women and girls.
However, men, boys and others who do not identify as women or girls, are victims and survivors of violence and abuse too; the council says its focus is on making all individuals and communities safe.
Councillor Leslie Pumm, chair of the Equalities, Community Safety & Human Rights committee said:
This strategy is a vital step in how agencies in the city work together to tackle the terrible impact of violence against women and girls.
For anyone experiencing domestic or sexual violence, stalking or abuse in any form, please remember that you are not alone. Help and support is available. Abuse is a crime and it is not your fault.
Please do share your views to help us make sure we’re doing all we can to put an end to all violence against women and girls in Brighton & Hove.
Adult social workers strike for 24 hours over pay
More than 100 adult social workers went on strike for twenty four hours last week.
They held a picket outside Hove Town Hall on Tuesday 7th November, in what was the first strike action for adult social workers in the city, having balloted in September to strike over pay.
According to Unison, adult social workers in the city have been paid, on average, £27,000 less than children's and families social workers over the last six years, with a newly qualified social worker in adults' services taking home as little as £11 an hour.
The union described the turnout as 'fantastic', saying:
Adults' social workers carry out essential and life saving work, running services for older people, people with disabilities, mental health issues and homelessness - but pay levels are leaving many in financial hardship.
Social workers are helping to hold the crumbling fabric of our public services together and they deserve better.
Unison spoke about how adults' social workers are seeing serious and growing issues around recruitment and retention in their teams, which puts essential services at risk.
Councillor Tristram Burden chair of the council’s Adult Social Care & Public Health Sub-Committee, said:
Our social workers carry out challenging work day in, day out, and we value each and every one of them.
We know the cost-of-living crisis is biting, and we help wherever we can.
But as we have made clear in our negotiations, this unfortunately cannot include awarding social workers in our adult social care service a 12.5% market supplement.
I will always support the right the strike, but I’m also saddened employees feel the need to take this action.
We are keeping negotiations open with our Unison colleagues to try to find a solution to the current dispute.
Strike action at University of Brighton ends, dispute continues
Striking UCU members at University of Brighton returned to work on Friday 10th November after 129 days on strike.
Staff voted overwhelmingly to stage an indefinite strike in response to a plan to cut over 100 jobs, which is approximately 10% of the academic staff base. In May, 400 staff were declared at risk of redundancy, and after 80 took voluntary redundancy, the strike began on 3rd July to stop an additional 22 lecturers and researchers being made compulsorily redundant.
At this time, the University was already withholding 100% of the pay of staff participating in UCU’s national marking and assessment boycott (MAB) and continued to do so until the MAB ended on 6th September.
Despite the strike causing serious disruption to the beginning of the academic year, the University pressed ahead with the redundancies, with employment ending for the last of the targeted staff on 27th October. Some of the dismissed staff are still waiting for their appeals against redundancy and employment tribunals may follow.
Brighton UCU remained on strike to press for the dropping of disciplinary action against four branch reps targeted for picketing, to seek protection against victimisation on a return to work, and for a rebate on the punitive MAB deductions.
Members’ determination to continue the fight means that they return to work with an improved offer on MAB deductions without UCU having to end its campaign against the University’s disastrous management or sign up to their punitive conditions.
The dispute remains live with the focus now on defending the branch reps threatened with victimisation.
🖋 News in Brief 🖋
- Work starts today to remove loose rocks and debris from a section of the Undercliff Walk between Roedean and Rottingdean ramps. It's expected to take around six weeks, and will be closed in sections. Diversions will be in place at times, but access will remain to chalets and the Ovingdean Beach Café.
- A heads-up ahead of time: Warren Road in Woodingdean is being resurfaced and so will be closed at certain times between the 4th of December and the 16th of December, with road closures from 8pm to 6am. Find out more here!
- The Prince Regent, King Alfred and St Luke's swimming pools have been awarded £397,000 funding to help keep them afloat as operating costs increase, as part of a joint bid with Operator Freedom Leisure for a grant from the central government funded Swimming Pool Support Fund.
- More than 100 people took part in a sit-in at Brighton Station on Wednesday evening, calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine. Organised by Brighton & Hove Action for Palestine, there have been similar events in the city in recent weeks, namely protests outside of MP and Shadow Secretary of State Peter Kyle's office.
- Leave No Trace, with support from Sea Lanes and the council, have introduced new fishing line and net recycling tubes along the seafront. They can be found at: Hove Esplanade/near Rockwater, King Alfred Beach, D5 Beach/opposite Hove Lawns Cafe, Norfolk Groyne/near the bandstand, and Albion Groyne/West of Palace Pier.
The Big One
What's happening? In a report to the Health and Wellbeing Board, the council has laid out its suicide prevention action plan for the next three years.
What's the context behind that? Brighton & Hove has the highest numbers of death by suicide in the South East, with suicide rates a third higher than nationally (14.1 per 100,000 compared to 10.4 nationally).
What does that look like per year? On average, the report states that 38 local people died by suicide each year over the three years from 2019 to 2021. this is 36% higher than the national rate, a trend which has been the case across the last 20 years (barring 2017-19).
Does it differ by sex? Men make up 69% of suicides in Brighton & Hove, compared with 75% nationally and 74% across the South East. Worth mentioning that data on deaths by suicide from the Office of National Statistics is based on what is recorded on the death certificate or information provided by a coroner. Sex does not reflect gender identity.
What about by age? The age distribution of deaths by suicide is close to the national average. The highest rates are in males aged 45-54, and females aged 55-64. Middle aged men are the highest group in terms of both rates and numbers—the rates among men aged 44-54 are 2.75 times higher than in those under 25. For females, the rates in 55-64 year olds is 2.25 times higher than in those aged under 25. One in 20 people dying by suicide in the city are over 75, and 11% are under the age of 25.
Who is most at risk? Those identified as being at increased risk in Brighton & Hove are people with mental health problems, those in care and care leavers, young people, =utistic people, people with alcohol and/or drug dependence, the homeless, the LGBT+ community, those in 'mixed or multiple ethnic groups', and people living in deprived neighbourhoods.
What is the council planning to do? There is a suicide prevention group, with representatives from the council, NHS Sussex, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, voluntary and community sector, police and wider partners. This group, which reports to various council boards, has developed the suicide prevention action plan over the last six months. There are 30 actions in the plan, with the highest-priority ones being:
- Response to incidents: develop a city-wide response to suspected suicide notifications, reducing contagion and providing support to those bereaved by suicide.
- Lived experience: explore options so that the voices of people with lived experience are embedded in suicide prevention.
- Workforce suicide awareness and prevention training: develop workforce programme of tailored suicide awareness and prevention training.
- Self-harm collaboration: strengthen the city-wide strategic approach to supporting people who self-harm, with particular focus on children and young people.
- Suicide audit: undertake an audit of suicides through review of the coroner’s records in Brighton & Hove for all ages.
Reducing the risk of suicide within Brighton and Hove is highlighted as a priority in several strategies and action plans including the local Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the Brighton & Hove Health and Care Partnership Shared Delivery Plan and the 2023-2027 Council Plan.
What can I do to help? Read what the council are planning to do, hold them to account, be there for your friends.