Three-day international celebration took place this week to mark 75 th VE-day. The day marks the end of Second World War and to honour those whose sacrifice helped in the creation of peace. The May bank holiday was moved to Friday to help with the
three days VE-day celebrations. Citizens across Nottingham decorated their front doorsteps and streets to show their respect for the armed forces who served decades ago to fight fascism and to bring peace.

“Surely, we had an important event to celebrate but we are prouder of the people living in Nottingham who despite the nice weather stayed inside and kept social distancing as advised. We know how hard have these last couple of weeks been and this is why with our good news we aim to keep you up-to-date and to bring you some more joy”.

Domestic abuse has spiked under COVID-19. Cash transfers are no panacea, but they’ve been shown to reduce violence and can be adapted.

Social workers were used to receiving distressing calls before the COVID-19 pandemic. But since South Africa imposed a lockdown on 24 March, the sheer volume of calls and messages to the gender-based violence command centre in Tshwane has skyrocketed.

In the first four days of the national lockdown, calls doubled and data free messages increased more than tenfold. The centre now receives up to 1,000 calls a day from women and children reporting trauma and abuse. The government said last week that gender-based violence has continued to rise as the lockdown goes on.

South Africa had been grappling with violence against women long before the pandemic. The country’s murder rate for women is the fourth highest in the world and nearly five times the global average. However, the pandemic here and many other places has made matters worse.

As the Centre for Global Development explains, a variety of factors may have contributed to a spike in domestic violence. Women and children are more exposed to perpetrators under lockdown. Abusers may exhibit more controlling behaviour due to their loss of feelings of power. And increased food insecurity and other sources of stress may be exacerbating difficult living situations.

Pandemics can also contribute to dangerous coping strategies such as substance abuse, taking on debt and transactional sex, which can make violence against women and children more likely. Meanwhile, the breaking down of normal social relations can lead to increased family separation and an uptick in intra-familial abuse.

Tried and tested

On 1 May, South Africa began to ease some lockdown measures, but many restrictions will continue for some time both there and in many other countries across Africa and the world. Under these circumstances, there are various actions governments can take to better protect women and children. These include expanding shelters and temporary housing; increasing the staffing of response hotlines and outreach centres; and fostering social support networks.

In all this, however, one particularly promising intervention could come in the form of expanding economic safety nets through cash transfers. These programmes have already been shown to be correlated to a decrease in domestic violence. This has been the finding of studies from Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, while a World Bank review of 22 different studies in 2018 similarly found that most cash transfer programmes lowered the rate of intimate partner violence.

This could be for a variety of reasons. Cash transfers are widely used as a policy tool for alleviating poverty and food insecurity. However, when given directly to women, they can have the added effect of changing power dynamics within a household. A study in Ecuador found the key factors that led to a decrease in gender-based violence included: decreases in poverty-related stress, leading to fewer arguments and less need for women to ask men for money to buy food; and increases in women’s empowerment, which improved their bargaining power, self-confidence, and freedom of movement.

Cash during COVID-19

Cash transfers could be a crucial tool in reducing gender-based violence during COVID-19 too, though under these specific circumstances, it might necessary to introduce new systems of distribution and criteria for qualification. These will have to be designed carefully for each context and be as responsive to women’s needs as possible.

The mechanisms for delivery will also need to be thoughtfully considered. In South Africa, for example, most women have access to mobile phones, while ATMs are readily available in towns and cities. This could allow for smaller but more frequent and easily accessible transfers. These delivery mechanisms would also allow recipients to receive cash closer to their homes, reducing the need to travel and the risks that come with that. For those without access to these technologies, special assistance will be required.

One particular advantage of gender-sensitive cash transfers during COVID-19 is that it can help circumvent some of the problems observed with food distribution schemes. In South Africa, there have been reports of corruption in the allocation of food parcels at the local level, with some councillors selling items or favouring family and friends. Cash transfers reduce the opportunity for those in positions of power to use controlling behaviour or take advantage of women and children in need.

Cash transfers are by no means a panacea. Like all actions to protect women and children during the pandemic, they would merely be part of a much larger and more comprehensive strategy needed to mitigate the increased risk of violence. Nonetheless, sending money could make the crucial difference to many vulnerable women.

Such programmes are needed urgently. As the Centre for Global Development says, if governments and the international community do not act soon, “women and children will pay the price, both now and in the future”.

Source: African Arguments

Somali refugees, supported a partnership of universities and researchers, have launched podcasts as a unique approach to address partner and domestic violence especially among refugees.

Podcast as a medium of communication has been adopted because it could potentially reach more individuals with up-to-date, evidence-based information in a humanitarian setting than traditional, in-person programming. This is mainly because in refugee camps, such as those in Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado area, internet and mobile networks are poor and often disrupted. The podcasts in MP3 formats are easily shared and require no or limited data.

The project is led and supported by researchers from Addis Ababa University, Fondation Hirondelle and Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) Ethiopia, Foundation Hirondelle and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, are development of these creating podcasts around how to prevent and reduce intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic violence (DV).

This series of 16-episode podcasts has been added to the Unite for a Better Life series, which started in 2014 as an in-person intervention program in rural Ethiopian communities. They explore issues on how to handle conflict and underlying factors that contribute to intimate partner violence in this setting.

The series identifies behaviours in relationships, introduces strategies to intervene and advice of how to prevent. As a result of the series nearly 90% of men and women reported that their attitude and behaviour changed due to what they learnt at the podcasts.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency there is nearly 26 million refugees around the world who are have fled political persecution, violence, wars or other social and economic hardships. Being a refugee means having less access to food, separated from family, and an increased sense of insecurity and anxiety as they have no clear notion of what the future hold. Being in a vulnerable position makes refugees to experience to greater levels of violence including intimate partner violence due to the lack of support system and disrupted social structures. Such a podcast scheme will help communities to address domestic violence problems early and within the refugee camps settings.

In such settings, displaced people are always on the move leading to suffering from displacement and trauma due to many negative experiences, which are aggravated by poverty. These people experience a shortage of basic needs lead to increased conflicts with women and children experiencing the greatest levels of abuse and violence.

This project empowers individuals to create solutions and to improve the lives of those in the communities. Young Somali refugees at the Dollo Ado refugee camp have been trained and mentored in digital storytelling, audio creation including recording, editing and content production to produce these podcasts.

The main challenge with the production is the difficulty to access the refugees due to the security issues and because of the limited resources. This is being addressed by giving every podcaster a recording kit, with which they can work remotely from everywhere.

Everyone who is part of the group receives financial compensation for their work, and after their training they were provided with certificates to demonstrate their skills and abilities.

As nearly a 70% of the world’s population is in lockdown due to Covid-19, the man at the help of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is a former University of Nottingham student.  

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is an alumnus of Nottingham University where he took PhD in Public Health Medicine in 2000. He became the Director-General of the WHO in July 2017. Dr Tedros is the first person from the Africa Region to serve as WHO’s chief officer.

Born in 1965 in Asmara, which was in Ethiopia at the time (now capital or Eritrea), Dr Tedros received a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Asmara in 1986. He received a MSc degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of London.

According to Nottingham University’s profile on Dr Tedros is,

Globally recognised as a health scholar, researcher and diplomat. Tedros held a number of important national and global public health positions prior to his role at WHO including Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

At the helm of WHO, Dr Tedros is playing an immense role on how political leaders and societies respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. He has been urging world leaders to come together to confront the defining health crisis of our time as “we are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart – if we let it”.

Recently he issued a joint statement with Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the World Trade Organisation in which the top priority is “protecting lives” while supporting the borderless movement of medical supplies.

During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, NHS workers are doing a great job under immense stress. To better help them, EE is offering unlimited data until 9 October.

Whilst there is a lot of uncertainty about how long Covid-19 will last, EE wants to ensure that they have an offer that is above and beyond the expected time frames of this pandemic as they didn’t want to create an offer that was short term only.

All that NHS workers have to do is register online with a valid NHS email address to receive the new offer – this includes those staff already receiving discounts on their monthly mobile plans from EE. They’ll then receive a text message confirming that the unlimited data is on their account, until 9th October 2020.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said:

“We hope this gives NHS staff one less thing to worry about. They can keep in touch with friends and family and use the internet without worrying about using up their data. Along with the discount we already provide, this is a thank you from all of us at EE to those in the NHS that are working so hard for us all.”

EE is doing this to give all NHS staff the comfort that they can keep connected with loved ones during these difficult times. Running out of data is the last thing anyone needs right now, especially those on the front line.

Ever wondered how you could explain explain Coronavirus to children?

Here is a great book that helps you do so.

This book was made by Nosy Crow to meet the needs of children and their families. was edited by by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

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On Saturday 25th, to mark and honour the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan, we provided over 100 hot meals to over 100 families across Nottingham.

The project is led by our partner GAIN Diaspora and the food is distributed to both Muslim and non-Muslim families and needy individuals. It will go on for the next four weeks.

Working with as many different and diverse communities as we can, we delivered food to groups in need across Nottingham, including refugees, asylum seekers, the destitute and those unable or untitled to access government support, provisions or funding.

For the next the four Saturdays, we will continue to provide hot meals to make sure communities are supported in these indeterminate and uncertain times. We see it as essential that all communities across Nottingham come together to help each other, spreading positivity and maintaining cultural solidarity.

Abdoulie Jah, from GAIN Diaspora has said, “There are families with children and loved ones who not only are suffering financially everyday but are often going without and lacking the everyday essentials they need. If we can feed one person then that is one less hungry person to worry about. We all need to do our bit together and we will all come out of this together.”

Across the globe local expressions of solidarity appear to be spreading as society takes it upon themselves to act on behalf of others in need.  This epoch calls on us to share our resources and step into mutual aid.

It is also important that everyone gets food that is suitable and ideal for them. Asking people to eat what they are not used to is often a difficult choice and many of people find themselves bound to make these choices.

One of the over 100 recipients was Aisha, a mother who lives with her husband, 2 kids and 2 relatives in the same household. Aisha said that:

“We are very grateful of these meals. Though they say beggars should not be choosers, the food we have been receiving is sometimes not cultural appropriate as we never know if it is Halal or not. It is also high in sugar, salts and sometimes one is uncertain of the ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, we are not ungrateful but it is vital that we all get healthy and appropriate meals especially at this time when we cannot go out and do our own search and networking to seek help for these quality meals”


Food is a sensitive issue, especially for most ethnic minorities who perceive food in a holistic manner – personal, spiritual, political and social. Eating, tasting and smelling those foods one is used to makes people feel whole and links them to their roots and history.

“Many of us are miles away from our communities, friends and roots. A taste and smell of those traditional dishes and the foods we love is a great source of nostalgia. It is a way for us to embrace our immigrant side of identity.” said Aladdin, a Sudanese asylum seeker who received the first batch of meals.

To request hot meals in the coming Saturdays during the Ramadan period, please complete this form.

GAIN Diaspora are raising funds to meet this commitment and you can help by contributing towards their fund.

To light our paths through this difficult time, the Biodiscovery Institute invites everyone at the University of Nottingham, and their family and friends, to grow a sunflower.  

By growing sunflowers on our windowsills, in our homes and in our gardens (and sharing the results), it’s hoped the local and global University community will have fun, feel closer together and share a sense of achievement. 

Now’s the time to plant sunflower seeds, which can be easily grown on windowsills or outdoors (video here).  

#WeAreUoN and #RayOfSunflower

We’d love to see photos, from seedlings to final giants – please share them on social media, tagging @UniOfNottingham on Twitter or Instagram with #WeAreUoN, #RayOfSunflower and #MillionSunflowers, sharing them on the BioDiscovery Institute’s Social Hub Facebook page.

Awards will be given for tallest sunflower (indoor and outdoor plants judged separately), and for best photo and time-lapse video.   

To take partplease enter your details 

The Biodiscovery Institute’s engagement team are distributing sunflower seeds and will make sure you can collect your seeds safely from an area near you. If you have bird feed, most contain sunflower seeds or we can give details of online suppliers still trading. 

We look forward to being creative togetherWhen we return to our workplaces, the Estates team will be ready to welcome colleagues and visitors with displays of sunflowers, while the BioDiscovery Institute will show off your photographs and also plant sunflowers around its newly extended building on University Park. 

We hope students and staff from across our UK, China and Malaysia campuses will enjoy growing sunflowers and sharing photos of their handiwork. 

Let’s bring a splash of colour and rays of sunshine into our lives.  

See the latest details on Covid-19 globally