The UK was promised an inquiry into structural racism and business leaders joined calls for a green revolution, plus other stories of progress from the week just gone
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has announced that it will launch an inquiry into “long-standing, structural race inequality in Britain”. The pandemic has brought race inequality into sharp focus with people from BAME backgrounds found to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, welcomed news of the inquiry. “I’m pleased that EHRC has acted on my call to launch an investigation into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME people,” he said. “The pandemic has exposed major health inequalities in our society. Lessons must be learned and swift action must be taken.”
News of the inquiry came as protests continued in the US over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who died in Minneapolis last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Image: Arthur Edelman
They might not normally have much common ground, but Greenpeace and Heathrow Airport are among the organisations calling on the UK government to put the environment at the heart of a post-coronavirus economic stimulus. Greenpeace launched a manifesto outlining measures to boost clean transport and green energy this week.
It followed calls from more than 200 UK firms, including Lloyds Bank and Siemens, to make the UK’s recovery green. “Measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy have the potential to be more effective in supporting jobs and economic growth,” read a letter signed by the firms and sent to the government.
Image: Karsten Würth
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has led to a 200 per cent surge in cycling in the UK, according to transport secretary Grant Shapps. He said, the government will make half a million bike maintenance vouchers, worth £50 each, available by the end of June to encourage more people to get on their bikes.
“Despite fewer people travelling over the last few weeks during this crisis, we’ve actually seen around 100 per cent increase in weekday cycling and at weekends that increase has been up to 200 per cent,” said Shapps. “We want to use this recovery to permanently change the way we travel.”
The announcement comes as towns and cities across the UK widen pavements and expand cycle lanes to encourage walking and cycling, which are safer alternatives to public transport in the time of coronavirus.
Image: Paul Green
Acts of kindness have flourished during the lockdown, as evidenced by the number of volunteers signing up to mutual aid groups and the like. Positive News reported this week how psychologists believe acts of altruism – whether that’s baking bread for neighbours or delivering food to vulnerable people – can help givers as well as receivers become more resilient in a crisis.
“At the moment, so much has been taken away from us but [kindness] is one thing we do have control over and is a positive distraction,” explained psychotherapist Claire Goodwin-Fee. Read more here.
Image: Randalyn Hill
People suffering from Covid-19 in Australia could be given a drug that has been found to hasten the recovery of patients with coronavirus. Remdesivir was originally developed as a treatment for Ebola, but clinical trials suggest it could improve recovery times for people suffering from Covid-19.
Australia’s National Covid-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce recommended doctors in the country consider using the drug to aid the recovery of Covid-19 patients. Remdesivir is the first medication to be recommended as a potential treatment for hospitalised patients who have contracted coronavirus.
Writing in the journal Science Translational Medicine, chemist Dr Derek Lowe commented that Remdesivir “is not a cure” but “appears to be better than nothing”.
Image: Dimitri Karastelev
People in the UK with lung conditions including asthma have experienced reduced symptoms during the lockdown. That’s according to the British Lung Foundation, which surveyed 14,000 people with respiratory conditions and found that one in six had noticed improvements in their health. Among children, the figure was higher, with one in five parents reporting their child’s condition had improved.
The lockdown has led to a sharp fall in air pollution, which is linked to around 30,000 premature deaths in the UK annually. Unless there is a green recovery the reprieve is likely to be brief – air pollution in China is reportedly worse now than it was before coronavirus.
Image: Maria Bobrova
Positive News has raised more than £15,000 from public contributions to its crowdfunding campaign, with further backing from corporate partners, to deliver a total of 9,000 copies of the magazine to healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients.
The team at Positive News were inspired to launch the campaign after receiving requests from hospitals concerned about the wellbeing of their staff. Alongside reader contributions, the campaign was also supported by several of Positive News’ Brands of Inspiration partners including Viridian Nutrition, School of Natural Skincare, Triodos Bank, Vintage Roots and Treedom. Read more here.
Image: Red Dot
A culinary revolution is taking root on vacant rooftops in Paris, which are being transformed into the world’s largest urban farm. Delayed by coronavirus, the closed-loop farm is now set to open at the end of June and will, it is estimated, produce around 1,000kg of fresh food daily, to be used by restaurants and residents.
“Our farms are great for biodiversity and efficiency, and they have a very low carbon footprint,” said rooftop agronomist Pascal Hardy, who is helping lead the revolution. Read more here.
Image: Chris Karidis
Main image: Liam Edwards