A gorilla baby boom in Uganda, a taskforce to tackle food poverty and a proposal to overhaul archaic wedding laws in England and Wales, plus more positive news stories
Having successfully challenged the UK government to extend free school meals to 1.3m children this summer, footballer Marcus Rashford has now launched a taskforce to tackle child food poverty.
Backed by charities, businesses and most supermarkets, the taskforce is calling on the government to fund policy recommendations put forward by the independent National Food Strategy.
The recommendations include expanding free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit and increasing the value of Healthy Start vouchers, which help pregnant women and parents with children under the age of four buy food.
Image: Hannah Tasker
Archaic wedding laws in England and Wales are routinely blamed for pushing up the cost of getting married, with couples only permitted to tie the knot in registered buildings. Critics of the laws also claim they are too restrictive for some religious and non-religious groups.
However, that could all change if the Law Commission gets its way. It is currently consulting on proposals to change the law to give couples more freedom to choose where they can marry, including on beaches, in parks or on private property.
“Our proposals would give couples the freedom to choose the wedding venue they want and a ceremony that is meaningful for them,” said Professor Nick Hopkins, family law commissioner at the Law Commission. “By doing so, we hope to make the laws that govern weddings reflect the wishes and needs of today’s society.”
Image: Samantha Gades
People pay thousands of pounds to trek through the jungle to see them, but while nobody was looking due to coronavirus lockdowns, mountain gorillas in Uganda have been breeding in “unprecedented” numbers.
That’s according to conservationists at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, who say seven infants have been born there so far this year – more than double the number for all of 2019. “This flourish of deliveries is unprecedented,” Simplicious Gessa, from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, told The Times.
Mountain gorillas are found in only three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – and have been the subject of prolonged conservation efforts, which saw the great apes moved off the critically endangered species list in 2018.
Image: Gavin Haines
The hen harrier has had its best breeding season in England for nearly two decades, according to Natural England. The birds of prey are routinely and illegally persecuted by gamekeepers, but are also subject to a controversial conservation programme.
Natural England said the good weather, a large number of voles and ongoing conservation efforts were responsible for the rise in numbers, but warned against complacency.
“2020 has seen the best breeding season for England’s hen harriers in years and I thank all those who’ve helped achieve this wonderful result,” said Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England. “Despite the great progress there is though no cause for complacency. Hen harriers remain critically endangered in England and there is a long way to go before the population returns to what it should be.”
Image: Rob Zweers/Creative Commons
The Bafta award-winning actor, Michaela Coel, has pledged to only buy second hand clothes this month – and she wants everyone else to do the same, as part of an Oxfam campaign to encourage consumers to stop fuelling fast fashion.
“When presented with the data from Oxfam on the impact of fast fashion I felt compelled to add my voice to this cause,” said Coel. “I hope it raises awareness and encourages us to reflect on our buying habits and to consider how small changes can have a huge impact on the environment – and in turn the fight against poverty.”
Oxfam’s #SecondHandSeptember campaign comes at a crucial time for the UK’s 11,000 charity shops, which face a struggle to survive as they reopen in a challenging post-lockdown climate. Read more here.
Having a ruthless streak has long been seen as an advantage in the corporate world, while conversely the idea that nice people finish last has been popularised to the point of cliche.
But according to a US study lasting more than a decade, “deceitful and aggressive” individuals are no more likely to get their hands on the levers of corporate power than people who are “generous, trustworthy and nice”.
Researchers found that any advantage gained by exhibiting hawkish behaviour in the workplace is cancelled out by a failure to work effectively with others. Read the full story here.
Image: Austin Distel
The ‘eat out to help out’ scheme may have expired, but a new dining incentive is launching in London for gourmands who have an appetite for tackling homelessness.
The ‘dine in, to get them in’ scheme was created by Fat Macy’s, a social enterprise that helps young people break the cycle of homelessness by training them to become chefs and supporting them as they move out of hostels and into permanent homes.
The scheme offers epicureans in London a virtuous three-course dinner delivered to their door from £18pp. Fat Macy’s launched the initiative after the events it was due to cater for were cancelled due to coronavirus. “We’re hoping that with the autumn coming and everyone bedding down it will give us a lot more hours for our trainees,” Meg Doherty, founder of Fat Macy’s, told Positive News.
Image: Fat Macy’s
Main image: Eric Ward
This article was amended on 21 September 2020. The original article implied that wedding laws in England and Wales applied to the whole of the UK. However, couples in Scotland and Northern Ireland are allowed to marry anywhere, providing they have the agreement of the officiant.