Colors: Blue Color

Kande Summers pens her first book entitled ‘Going Home: Diary of a Teenage Alien’. The book is written through the adolescent lens of the main character called Liz, who adopts a dystopian and explorative perspective of how an intergalactic war would impact life on earth.

Kande, 12, is the first in a generation of her family to have written and published a book, which she has achieved at a very young age. As a reserved and curious child, she began reading at a very early age, while attending Oldfield Primary School in Maidenhead, England.

At the age of 7, she immigrated with her parents to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where she attended English-speaking schools in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, where she began to develop a love of English literature and various writing styles, especially poetry. Influenced by her growing interest in writing, Kande’s first venture into writing began at the age of 10, by virtue of her effervescent younger brother, which inspired her to write a poem entitled ‘My Spirited Little Brother’.

She has had the good fortune of attending numerous book fairs, with her parents. Her path to writing success began in 2020 after she entered a writing competition, which she chose to write about her mum. She then became motivated by her unexpected win in the writing competition and began the writing process with the support of her parents. 

Having tasted success, she embarked on a strategy of independent research, in the world of book publishing, eventually finding a suitable publishing company and inexpensive publishing platform. This is what enabled her to publish her very first book, of which she produced the entire content, including all the illustrations. 

‘Going Home: Diary of a Teenage Alien’ is now available to purchase on Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback format for those who still love the feel of a book in their hand as well as smell the paper. The book was launched at the 39th staging of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) 2020 and featured at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2021.

This is where Kande signed copies for readers who were able to get their hands on the book, which sold like hotcakes, due to her popularity at the book fair. SIBF is the largest book fair in the Middle East and Africa, as well as the 4th largest book fair in the world.

She has managed to secure and sign an undisclosed deal with Kotopia Publishing House of Egypt, to have the Arabic translation of the book published in the summer of 2021. Apart from writing, Kande is also an accomplished artist and performer.

Buoyed by the success of ‘Going Home: Diary of a Teenage Alien,’ the UAE resident is currently writing her second book and said that she hopes to inspire young people like herself to achieve the impossible that many people have not achieved but only dream of achieving in their lifetime.

To learn more about Kande’s work, you can follow her on Instagram @royalkween.art and Twitter @ks_summers12.

The RSPCA and its sister charity - RSPCA Australia - have joined forces to warn Brits about the country’s low animal welfare standards.

As many expect a deal to be signed ahead of the G7 summit this week, chief executive of the Australian charity, Richard Mussell said that standards in Australia ‘fall below’ those in England and were ‘basic at best’. Shockingly, he said the country still uses methods long outlawed in England and that the standards set in the country are rarely audited and are not mandatory.

New Defra figures reveal that over 26 million livestock animals are based in the West Midlands region - including 677,000 cattle (including 80,000 beef herd cattle) and almost 2.4 million sheep, with the RSPCA particularly concerned about the import of beef and lamb products. A zero-tariff deal with Australia could mean the higher welfare standards of animals farmed in the region and farmers’ livelihoods could be undermined - as it risks sending a signal we are willing to accept cheaper, lower welfare imports from across the globe.

RSPCA Australia CEO Richard said: “Unfortunately, animal welfare standards in Australia are basic at best. In 2021, we still do not have Australia-wide laws that ban the use of sow stalls in pig production, barren battery cages in egg production or require pain relief for very painful procedures like dehorning of calves and mulesing of lambs.

“Standards are rarely audited and, unless implemented into law, which few are, they are only voluntary. The lack of national leadership on animal welfare in Australia needs to be addressed urgently if the lives of farm animals are going to be significantly improved.”

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: "The West Midlands has a proud farm animal welfare record - with thousands of farms rearing millions of livestock to higher legal English standards, and many going above and beyond that. 

"But we fear this is all set to be undermined by the signing of a quick trade deal with Australia, which could open the doors in the West Midlands to low welfare imports that undermine our high domestic standards - with beef and lamb a particular concern to us, given Australia's far lower standards. People across the West Midlands will be alarmed to know that local supermarket shelves could soon be stocked with agricultural produce reared to lower standards - including mutilations to sheep and growth hormone treatment for beef.

"This could lead to a lopsided and unlevel playing field for the agricultural community in the West Midlands, and clearly puts farms and hard-won welfare standards at risk." UK Ministers are being urged to ensure tariff or non-tariff safeguards are included in any FTA with Australia - so only products produced to higher animal welfare standards enter the UK.

Australian farming involves a number of practices which are outlawed in the UK.

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo has planted a tree in the capital, Accra, as part of a plan to put five million trees in the ground across the country in a single day.

The Green Ghana Project is supposed to become an annual event and aims to reverse the process of deforestation.

It has been going on across the country's 16 regions and everyone from school children to judges have been taking part, it was reports.

The focus has been on people planting trees in places where they can easily maintain them, Hugh Brown from the Ghana Forestry Commission said.

In other words, people have been encouraged to put the saplings in the earth in their homes or in places like school, college and church compounds.

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the cancellation of key school-leaving examinations.

The examinations - popularly called boards - are crucial for students hoping to secure admission in some of India's most prestigious public universities. The exams, originally planned for May, were postponed to July, with the authorities saying they would do a review on June 1.

The cancellation came as a huge relief to many who were anxious about writing exams at a time when Indian towns and cities were gripped by a deadly second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. But, students said, this relief soon gave way to anxiety.

Shubransu Dash, a student from Cuttack city in the eastern state of Odisha (formerly Orissa), described it as a "somewhat bittersweet moment" when he found out that he wouldn't have to write the tests under such pressure but it also opened up a whole world of uncertainty. "I was studying very hard, logged on to Zoom calls from early morning to late noon. But with exams cancelled, how do we prove ourselves?" he asked.

For the most part, the education system in India is geared towards this one big board exam that Class 12 students have to take. It marks the culmination of their school life and forms the basis for all their future studies. The cancellation of these tests, students say, complicates matters.

In their cancellation order of 1 June, authorities said that students would be marked according to a "well-defined, objective criteria" which would be announced later. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the government-controlled board that conducts these examinations, said experts would look at all angles and decide how students would be evaluated.

Some educationists feel that students could be marked on the basis of their performance in previously-held examinations such as pre-boards - internal school tests conducted before the final boards. But students say that this is rife with issues.

"It's unfair as we write the pre-boards to assess ourselves. These are essentially to prepare for the boards. They're not the real thing," Mr Dubey said.

Also, he said, writing the pre-boards during the pandemic meant that many were sick or dealing with losses, while some just lost momentum after the tests were postponed the first time and, as a result, many didn't perform well. Teachers also say that asking the schools to mark their own students could lead to all sorts of issues.

An external exam removes bias as everyone writes the same exam and is graded by a neutral party, whereas schools might be emotionally invested in their own students" and instead of giving a student three on five, I might give them four on five, he explained. Some schools might also take this opportunity to push up the average grades of students to improve the school's ranking, he said.

Students appear unhappy with the arrangement. The CBSE announced that students would be allowed to write an examination if they were not satisfied with their evaluations. "But that could delay my admissions process and I don't want to waste a whole year," Mr Dash contended.

It's not just the exams, many 12th grade students are also unhappy that they have missed out on the last year of school and time with their friends. Schools were shut in March last year when Covid-19 cases first started emerging in India.

With classes moving online, students spent the year at home, logging into Zoom to study and keeping in touch with classmates. "It’s been a lost year for us. We have stayed home for most of this academic year," Sanshray Ghorawat, a student from Kolkata said.

"We couldn't meet our friends or even have a graduation ceremony. It was very disheartening," he continued.

The Society of Authors has revealed the names of the winning writers, poets and illustrators from around the world who will share in the UK’s biggest literary prize fund, worth over £100,000, in an online ceremony.

"Graeme Armstrong: 'I hope this prize speaks volumes to the young men and women in my community about the distinct possibility of their impossible."

The acclaimed author of Chocolat Joanne Harris invited an international audience to celebrate the 2021 Society of Authors’ Awards run digitally for the second year because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Speaking from her home in Yorkshire, Harris previous award recipients to announce the 2021 winners of ten prizes for debut novels, poetry, historical biography, illustrated children’s books, and lifetime bodies of work. The trade union - which counts such household literary names as Philip Pullman, Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro, Neil Gaiman and JK Rowling among its members, as well as 11,500 jobbing writers, translators, illustrators and journalists - shared £105,775 between 35 writers, poets and illustrators in a celebration of the ‘phenomenal depth and breadth of books and words’

The winners included Thomas McMullan, who won the £10,000 Betty Trask Prize for his dark dystopian debut The Last Good Man; poet Paula Claire who this week celebrates 60 years of creating poetry as well as her Cholmondeley Award; Graeme Armstrong, who won both a Betty Trask Award and a Somerset Maugham Award for The Young Team; lawyer turned children’s writer Rashmi Sirdeshpande and illustrator Diane Ewen who won the Queen’s Knickers Award, now in its second year, for Never Show a T-Rex a Book; Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and British Book Awards winner Kiran Millwood Hargrave who won a Betty Trask Award for her debut adult novel The Mercies; and Pulitzer Prize winner Fredrik Logevall who won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography for JFK Volume 1.

Gboyega Odubanjo, Milena Williamson and Cynthia Miller were among the young poets celebrated in the Eric Gregory Awards, while other award recipients included Forward Prize winner Kei Miller, award-winning columnist Lola Okolosie, playwright and education worker Lamorna Ash, and short fiction author and literary reviewer DM O'Connor.

Introducing the Awards, Harris reflected on the current challenges facing the author community, saying, ‘for authors, whose careers are precarious at the best of times, the challenge to sustain themselves right now is more acute than ever.’

She continued, ‘that is why all of us are here to celebrate the phenomenal depth and breadth of books and words. Authors at the very beginning of their careers. Authors that are well established. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and everything that lies in between. Literature as a treasure at the centre of society. Writing as a force to be reckoned with.’

In his acceptance speech, Kei Miller described his Cholmondeley Award as ‘a wonderful reminder that we belong to so many societies and so many countries’. McKitterick Prize winner Elaine Feeney spoke of the ‘lovely boost’ the prize has given her, confirming ‘signs of life off the West coast of Ireland!’

Queen’s Knickers Award winner Rashmi Sirdeshpande thanked ‘everyone who has helped [Never Show a T-Rex a Book] find its way into the hands of a child’. And Graeme Johnson whose novel The Young Team mirrors his own experiences of addiction and Scottish gang culture said he hopes his two awards will ‘speak volumes to the young men and women in my community about the distinct possibility of their impossible.’

As she closed the ceremony, Joanne Harris said, ‘There’s no better way to support authors than to read them, so I urge you all to pick up tonight’s winners from your local bookshop and discover their worlds.’

The winners for each award are:

The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award

Sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award is awarded for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication. Judged by Claire Fuller, Sophie Haydock, Billy Kahora, Ardashir Vakil and Mary Watson. Past winners include Benjamin Myers, Lucy Wood, Grace Ingoldby and Claire Harman. Total prize fund: £1,575.

  • Winner: DM O'connor for I Told You Not to Fly So High Awarded £1,000
  • Runner-Up: Sean Lusk for The Hopelessness of Hope Awarded £575

Betty Trask Prize & Awards

The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are presented for a first novel by a writer under 35. Judged by Sara Collins, Elanor Dymott and Vaseem Khan. Past winners include Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Hari Kunzru and Sarah Waters. Total prize and award fund: £26,200.

Betty Trask Prize Winner

  • Thomas Mcmullan for The Last Good Man (Bloomsbury) Awarded £10,000.

Betty Trask Awards Winners

Five winners, each awarded £3,240.

  • Maame Blue for Bad Love (Jacaranda Books)
  • Eley Williams for The Liar's Dictionary (William Heinemann/Cornerstone Prh)
  • Kiran Millwood Hargrave for The Mercies (Pan Macmillan/Picador)
  • Nneoma Ike-Njoku for The Water House (Unpublished)
  • Graeme Armstrong for The Young Team (Pan Macmillan Picador)

Cholmondeley Award winners

5 winners each awarded £1,680

The Cholmondeley Awards are awarded for a body of work by a poet. Judged by Moniza Alvi, Grace Nichols and Deryn Rees-Jones. Past winners include Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard and Andrew Motion. Total prize fund: £8,400

  • Kei Miller
  • Paula Claire
  • Maurice Riordan
  • Susan Wicks
  • Katrina Porteous

Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography

The Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography is an annual award for historical biography which combines scholarship and narrative drive. Judged by Roy FosterFlora Fraser, Antonia Fraser, Richard Davenport-Hines and Rana Mitter. Past winners include D.W. Hayton, Anne Somerset and Philip Ziegler. Total prize fund: £5,000.

  • Winner: Fredrik Logevall for JFK Volume 1 (Viking)

Eric Gregory Award winners

7 winners each awarded £4,050

The Eric Gregory Award is presented for a collection of poems by a poet under 30. Judged by Vahni Capildeo, Andrew McMillan, Sarah Howe, Jamie McKendrick and Roger Robinson. Past winners include Carol Ann Duffy, Helen Mort and Alan Hollinghurst. Total prize fund: £28,350.

  • Phoebe Walker for Animal Noises
  • Michael Askew for The Association Game
  • Gboyega Odubanjo for Aunty Uncle Poems
  • Kandace Siobhan Walker for Cowboy
  • Cynthia Miller for Honorifics
  • Milena Williamson for The Red Trapeze
  • Dominic Hand for Symbiont

McKitterick Prize

The McKitterick Prize is awarded for a first novel by a writer over 40. Judged by Sabrina Mahfouz, Nick Rennison and Christopher Tayler. Past winners include Helen Dunmore, Mark Haddon and Petina Gappah. Total prize fund: £5,250.

  • Winner: Elaine Feeney for As You Were (Harvill Secker, Vintage) Awarded £4,000
  • Runner-Up: Deepa Anappara for Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus, Vintage) Awarded £1,250

​Paul Torday Memorial Prize

Now in its third year, the Paul Torday Memorial Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 60. The prize includes a set of the collected works of British writer Paul Torday, who published his first novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the age of 60. Judged by Paul Bailey, Roopa Farooki and Anne Youngson. Past winners are Anne Youngson and Donald S Murray.

Total prize fund: £1,000.

  • Winner: Kathy O'shaughnessy for In Love with George Eliot (Scribe Uk) Awarded £1,000
  • Runner-Up: Karen Raney for All the Water in the World (John Murray/Two Roads)

The Queen’s Knickers Award

Now in its second year, this annual prize, founded by Nicholas Allan, author of The Queen's Knickers, is awarded for an outstanding children’s original illustrated book for ages 0-7. It recognises books that strike a quirky, new note and grab the attention of a child, whether in the form of curiosity, amusement, horror or excitement. Judged by Alexis Deacon, Patrice Lawrence and Tony Ross. ​The inaugural winner of this award in 2020 was Elena Arevalo Melville for Umbrella. Total prize fund: £6,000.

  • Winners: Writer Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Illustrator Diane Ewen for Never Show a T-Rex a Book (Puffin) Awarded £5,000
  • Runner-Up: Alex T. Smith for Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise (Hachette) Awarded £1,000

Somerset Maugham Award winners

4 winners each awarded £4,000

The Somerset Maugham Awards are for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 30, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Judged by Fred D'Aguiar, Nadifa Mohamed and Roseanne Watt. Past winners include Helen Oyeyemi, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Jonathan Freedland. Total prize fund: £16,000.

  • Lamorna Ash for Dark, Salt, Clear (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • Isabelle Baafi for Ripe (Ignition Press)
  • Akeem Balogun for The Storm (Okapi Books)
  • Graeme Armstrong for The Young Team (Pan Macmillan Picador)

Travelling Scholarships

5 winners each awarded £1,600

The Travelling Scholarships are awarded to British writers to enable engagement with writers abroad. Judged by Tahmima Anam, Aida Edemariam, Anne McElvoy, Adam O'Riordan and Gary Younge. Previous recipients have included Dylan Thomas, Laurie Lee and Margaret Drabble. Total prize fund: £8,000.

  • Clare Pollard
  • Guy Gunaratne
  • Yara Rodrigues Fowler
  • Tom Stevenson
  • Lola Okolosie

UK born Psychologist and author and photojournalist Delroy Constantine-Simms, is the winner of two Black Excellence Awards (Middle East)   

The inaugural Black Excellence Awards organized by Marsha Fry,  the CEO and founder of online and print publication “ Out and About Magazine .  

The Awards ceremony took place on June 4th 2021 at the luxurious Sofitel, Palm Resort Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The awards consisted of 18 categories, ranging from lifestyle coaching and education to inventors and aviation professionals.

The ceremony was hosted by former Dubai TV presenter Layne Redman, featured performances by Afrobeat musician MKO, Singers Kande Sill, Khandice Taylor, Poet Samantha Rodgers, and guest speaker Omar Tom, Founder and Managing Partner, Dukkan Media.

Constantine-Simms’s awards were presented to him by wealthy Emirati Businessman Mr. Yaqoob Al Ali for the following categories.

  1. The Out and About Photographer Award, in acknowledgment for his work in photojournalism, on contemporary social political issues, street art, sports and entertainment in the Middle East, Cuba, Brazil and the USA.
  1. The Out and About Author Award, after writing and editing two consequential books, #Take A Knee Political Awakening of Colin Kaepernick, and The Brazilian Covid Catastrophe.

Constantine-Simms says,   “I am extremely happy to be the recipient of these awards. I was initially nominated for three awards, unfortunately, I lost out to my Canadian Colleague, Donavan Patterson, but just to be nominated is an honour, but to win two awards, I am ecstatic and extremely happy, not only for me, but for the people that have supported me over the years, especially Dale Williams, Ivor Patterson, Maureen Drackett-Fuller, and the Briscoe, Simms and Dixon family world-wide, and my peers from Wolverhampton, and all the staff at the Phoenix Newspaper and Blacknet.

He goes on to say,

“When I first arrived in the Middle East, I was very wary of the usual stereotypes of Islamic culture, but having lived in Dubai for a few years, you quickly realise that in the UAE anything is possible. The UAE has over 200 nationalities living here. It’s a place where black professionals thrive, and are succeeding, I am happy to be part of the community journey of professional success.  A success that's been pioneered by groups such as the UAE AFRICA Networking Group, Woment Talk and the online website AFRIKANEKT.

Leisa Grace Wilson Editorial Director, Teach Middle East Magazine, says,

"Black excellence is evident in nearly every facet of life in the United Arab Emirates. The Black Excellence Gala and Awards is a celebration of the indelible mark that Black people have been making on all sectors of society, across the Middle East”.

Garfield Kerr CEO, Mokha 1450 says

"The Black Excellence Gala and Awards represents an idea that is long overdue. The event proves what many of us in disparate fields in the UAE, and the Middle East, at large have always known that there are many people of colour in this region at the pinnacle of the industry and the creative arts that are worthy of recognition."

Constantine-Simms is currently a freelance journalist and psychologist pursuing part-time study at the University of Oxford, while running his book publishing company Think Doctor Publications and author agency  Black Book Collective with Christopher Sill and acclaimed author Kande Summers.

Photo Credits: Maureen Drackett-Fuller of Moza Designs

Known for its strong sense of self identity expressed through its music, food and rich cultural mix, Jamaica's influence extends far beyond its shores.

With luminaries such as the Black nationalist Marcus Garvey and musician Bob Marley, Jamaicans are proud of their cultural and religious heritage. Jamaicans have migrated in significant numbers to the United States, Canada and Britain and their music stars are known around the globe.

The island is the birthplace of Rastafarianism, a religious movement which has been adopted by groups around the world who venerate the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. Once regarded as a revolutionary threat, Rastafarianism became a cultural force, reflected in art and music.

Since independence from Britain in 1962, power in Jamaica has alternated between the social-democratic People's National Party and the conservative Jamaica Labour Party.

Political stability, however, has not turned into social and economic harmony.

Andrew Holness, a former education minister and leader of the Jamaican Labour Party, became prime minister in March 2016.

He governs with a slim one-seat majority after his then-opposition party beat the party of Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica's first female head of government, in elections.

Among the challenges the government faces is a high rate of youth unemployment and dealing with the country's heavy debt.

Jamaica has a free press. Broadcast media are mainly commercial and carry diverse comment. The country ranks highly in the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.

India has ordered 300 million doses of an unapproved coronavirus vaccine amid a devastating second wave. The unnamed vaccine from Indian firm Biological E is in Phase 3 trials, and had showed "promising results" in the first two phases, the federal government said in a statement.

The $206m order is the first India has signed for a jab that has not received emergency approval. This comes as the country struggles to speed up its lagging vaccine drive.

India has administered just over 220 million jabs so far, although much of its 1.4 billion population is now eligible for the vaccine. Less than 15% of the country has received at least one dose of the vaccination, largely because of a severe shortage of doses.

Although Covid case numbers have been dropping, India is still adding more than 100,000 news cases a day. It has recorded more than 340,000 deaths from the virus so far, but experts say the number is vastly underestimated.

India's federal government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been criticised for not placing huge orders ahead of time with either Indian or foreign vaccine makers. India is currently giving three vaccines - Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and Covaxin, developed by Indian firm Bharat Biotech and the government's Indian Council of Medical Research, and Sputnik V, which is developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute.

Compared to the single order from Biological E for 300 million doses, India brought about 350 million doses from both Covishield and Covaxin between January and May. India's drug regulator gave Covaxin emergency approval in January before trials were completed - data on its efficacy is yet to be released.

The new vaccine from Biological E is "likely to be available in the next few months," according to the government. Mr Modi's government is racing to shore up its vaccine stocks as Covid numbers dip, hoping to be well-prepared for what experts say is an inevitable third wave.

India's vaccine drive, which had a promising start in January, began to slow down because vaccine hesitancy crept in as cases dropped. But numbers soon rose again in a deadly second wave that saw hospitals falling short of beds and crematoriums running short of space.

Hoping to stem the tide, the government threw open the drive in May to everyone above the age of 18 but India's two vaccine makers - Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech - could not guarantee supply at that scale. But shortages persist and have also led to vast inequalities in access with rural areas, the poor and women falling behind in the line for jabs.

International supply chain and logistics consultancy SCALA has partnered with food redistribution charity FareShare to assist the organisation with its logistics strategy.  

Through the partnership, SCALA has supported FareShare on a wide range of complex issues, such as how the charity could manage the major increase in received food volumes over the past year as well as how the not-for-profit can manage the volumes that are anticipated to grow in the future. FareShare’s team of 2000 volunteers has distributed the equivalent of 132 million meals with a value to the charities it serves of £18 million in the last year.  

FareShare is the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, with more than 30 warehouses across the UK. The charity takes food from the food industry that cannot be sold in shops because of packaging errors, short shelf life, or overproduction and redistributes it through a network of over 11,000 frontline organisations, including homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks, and hospices.  

SCALA has assisted FareShare by analysing the efficiency of the organisation’s entire supply chain strategy.

The challenges that SCALA had to take into consideration for this strategy included, the difficulties for FareShare in forecasting volumes; the need to be extremely responsive and agile and dealing with the variety of products the charity distributes including frozen, ambient and chilled goods. Furthermore, the business also had to take into account the need to minimise any food waste within the FareShare network, by rapidly moving donations to charities right across the country.

FareShare has more than doubled its work since the pandemic, providing the equivalent of more than two million meals a week to people who struggle to get enough to eat. 

Dave Howorth, executive director at SCALA said: “FareShare operates in a highly challenging logistics environment, particularly with the many unknowns around supply and the need for extreme responsiveness to minimise food waste and maximise the availability of food to those in need. 

“We have been able to work alongside FareShare over the past few months and have supported the organisation in navigating some of these challenges. It’s been great to support FareShare in helping further the organisations’ mission to get food to those that need it across the UK.” 

Head of food at FareShare Jo Dyson,  said: “We are delighted to be working with SCALA and really appreciate their support for FareShare. They have really taken the time to understand us, both as a charity with scarce resources and in terms of the additional challenges that come from managing surplus products where the supply chain is so much harder to predict. They have provided us with independent expertise and good insights as to how we should progress, and they are continuing to help us on our mission.” 

A cabinet reshuffle this week may signal a post-Brexit increase in Australian meat imports to the UK, as advocated for by Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Minister of State Lord Frost. However farming communities in Scotland and Wales stand to be affected most by such a decision, a leading academic has said.

Birmingham City University political economist Professor Alex de Ruyter commented on the UK’s ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) discussions with Australia, raising questions about the removal or lowering of tariffs around, and quality of, food imported from Australia.

  

“Politically it is clear that there is a huge cabinet split between different Brexiteer groups. On one side, Michael Gove and George Eustice both favour limiting imports of Australian meat whilst on the other Liz Truss and Lord Frost favour more complete trade liberalisation. Now that Mr Johnson has come down on the side of an FTA with Australia it looks like Truss and Frost have won the arguments over their Cabinet opponents.

“Truss in particular wants an outline agreement ready in time for the G7 meeting next month. Many would argue that this aggressive timeline puts unnecessary pressure on the UK to compromise. However, there is no real need to move so quickly. Details (especially over standards) are important. The gains from liberalised trade with Australia are likely to be very small overall.

“Many would favour lower food prices for consumers. However, there are a few complicating factors. Australian food standards are different to British ones. Practices that are unacceptable here are quite widespread e.g. the use of growth hormones in cattle. There are environmental questions over the sustainability of present levels of meat consumption (especially red meat) in general and of Australian agriculture in particular.

“The farming communities that would be affected are overwhelmingly concentrated in Scotland and Wales. Liberalisation (even if both countries would gain in aggregate) would provide another stick with which Mr Johnson’s Nationalist opponents could beat an “out of touch Westminster”.

“If (and it remains a large if) any trade deal allowed food with different sanitary and phytosanitary standards from our current ones to enter the UK then that could dramatically complicate longer-term efforts to reduce frictions in the border in the Irish Sea.

“The impending cabinet reshuffle will give a further indication as to Johnson’s medium-term plans in this regard amid rumours that Eustice might be moved.”

Thousands of people fled their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the night after a large volcano erupted.

As the sky turned red and rivers of lava streamed from Mount Nyiragongo, there were concerns that its past deadly tragedies would be repeated. A mass evacuation was launched in the city of Goma, which has a population of about two million people.

However, the city was largely spared and some residents are now returning. The volcano, located 10km (six miles) from Goma, last erupted in 2002, killing 250 people and making 120,000 homeless.

There has been no official report of casualties during the latest eruption and it is unclear how many homes have been damaged. On Sunday morning, Communications Minister Patrick Muyay tweeted to say the intensity of the lava flow had slowed and an assessment of the humanitarian situation was ongoing.

One resident, Zacharie Paluku, told the Associated Press news agency that the eruption had sparked fear and people began running. "We really don't know what to do," he said.

Some locals complained about the lack of information from the authorities amid conflicting accounts circulating on social media. Crowds were seen with mattresses and other belongings, fleeing even before the government's announcement, which came several hours after the eruption started.

Many residents headed across the nearby Rwandan border, while others went to higher ground to the west of the city. Rwandan authorities said about 3,000 people had officially crossed from Goma. The country's state media said they would be accommodated in schools and places of worship.

Electricity was out across large areas in the aftermath of the eruption. "There is a smell of sulphur. In the distance you can see giant flames coming out of the mountain," resident Carine Mbala told AFP news agency.

Mount Nyiragongo is one of the world's more active volcanoes but there were concerns that its activity had not been properly observed by the Goma Volcano Observatory, since the World Bank cut funding amid allegations of corruption. In a report on 10 May, the observatory warned that seismic activity at Nyiragongo had increased.

Last year, the observatory's director, Katcho Karume, told the BBC World Service's Science in Action that the volcano's lava lake had been filling up quickly, increasing the chances of an eruption in the next few years. But he also warned that an earthquake could trigger a disaster earlier.

The volcano's deadliest eruption happened in 1977, when more than 600 people died.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has launched an online database to help member countries be aware of and access more than US$170 million of international funding available for ocean-related projects.

Accompanying this new web tool is a handbook containing valuable guidance on how to navigate the database, as well as match and pitch projects to the most suitable funders. Both the website and handbook were designed specifically to support the work of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, a historic commitment made in 2018 by all 54 Commonwealth member nations to work actively together to solve ocean challenges.

Welcoming the initiative, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “Despite the central role of the ocean in our natural ecosystems, climate systems, economies and cultures, funding for ocean conservation is equivalent to less than one percent of global philanthropy, and an even smaller fraction of foreign aid.

“The Commonwealth Blue Charter Ocean Funders Database represents a major step forward for ocean action in the Commonwealth, which aims to support member countries to navigate the funding that is currently available internationally, understand the goals, criteria, and application processes for different prospective funders, and develop successful multilateral partnerships for greater ocean action.”

Under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, countries collaborate through voluntary ‘action groups’ on 10 key ocean issues: marine plastic pollution, coral reef protection, mangrove restoration, climate change, ocean acidification, ocean observation, marine protected areas, sustainable aquaculture, sustainable coastal fisheries and the sustainable blue economy.

Over the past year, the 10 action groups have been setting out priorities and shared action plans, taking into account regional and resource needs. The new funding database will support them in finding resources and partners to implement joint projects across these action areas, such as developing legal frameworks for progressive ocean policies, conducting sought-after capacity building programmes and training courses, and supporting innovation.

Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the action groups have ramped up efforts to network and share solutions, through research, virtual dialogues and training, with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Commonwealth health ministers have issued a joint statement after their annual meeting in which they called for swift and equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone around the world.

In the statement on behalf of the 54 Commonwealth member countries, they expressed deep concern over the stark gaps in access and delivery of doses, especially in poor countries, and called for “fair and transparent” pricing for the vaccine. Only 0.3 per cent of the life-saving vaccine doses have been administered in 29 poor countries. About 84 per cent of shots have been given in high and upper-middle-income countries.

Speaking at the meeting, the Commonwealth Secretary-General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC said: “The science is clear: vaccination works and is the clear and only sustainable route out of this pandemic for the whole world.

“The rise of new variants shows that until everyone is safe no one is safe. No plan to tackle this virus will work until everyone agrees to work together. We must talk with each other to move away from some stockpiling vaccines, while many low-middle income countries still do not have access to the much-needed vaccines supplies for the vulnerable populations in their countries.

“So, co-operation to develop a global immunisation plan to deliver equal access to vaccines must be a top priority.” Health ministers appreciated the global vaccine equity initiative ‘COVAX’ and encouraged all partners to support government efforts on boosting vaccine confidence and immunisation drives.

Recognising the acute gaps in research and development of new tests, vaccines and therapies in the Commonwealth, they stressed enhanced collaboration with scientists, academics and business leaders.

In his guest address, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Vaccines are reducing severe disease and death in countries that are fortunate enough to have them in sufficient quantities, and early results suggest that vaccines might also drive down transmission.

“The shocking global disparity in access to vaccines remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic. We seek the support of the Commonwealth in solving the global vaccine crisis by funding the ACT Accelerator, advocating for greater sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property, and sharing doses with COVAX.”

Ministers further backed a potential treaty on the fight against pandemics and a Commonwealth mechanism to share and distribute extra medical supplies such as ventilators and medicines. They called on Heads of Government to allocate resources for strengthening health systems, especially through primary health care, towards attaining universal health coverage.

Chairing the meeting, India’s Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said: “Accelerating coordinated action for ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and building resilient global healthcare systems is the need of the hour.

“In our closely interlinked world, we need greater transparency to quickly identify and contain emerging health threats. Sharing best practices, strategies and solutions shall ensure preparedness against all future challenges.”

Health ministers welcomed the creation of a technical group to share practical solutions and policy advice on helping countries with the pandemic response and recovery. New data shows 60 immunisation campaigns for other health threats are currently suspended in 50 countries due to COVID-19. Such delays could cause significant avoidable mortality.

Disruptions to HIV/AIDS services, for instance, could lead to five thousand excess deaths globally.
Ministers, therefore, committed to keeping essential health services running and sustaining the gains made towards tackling threats such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, avoidable blindness and non-communicable diseases while dealing with an influx of COVID-19 cases. In their statement, they further voiced their support for a common framework for sovereign debt treatments, co-operation with the WHO and improved compliance with the International Health Regulation - international laws for preventing the spread of disease.

This is the second time that Commonwealth health ministers met virtually for their annual gathering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting, hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat, took place on 20 and 21 May.

Wolverhampton has retained its Fairtrade City status for a 17th successive year.

Achieving Fairtrade City status is recognition of Wolverhampton's ongoing commitment to supporting Fairtrade and using licensed products with the Fairtrade Mark. The city received notification of the accolade from the Fairtrade Foundation in recognition of the achievements and hard work of Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership over the last few years.

The Fairtrade Foundation cited the efforts made by the Partnership to engage with people through workplaces, schools, places of worship and local community organisations, the continued promotion of Fairtrade products and the support of local businesses and the city’s Mayor, Councillor Claire Darke. They were particularly impressed with the number of people who have been reached through the work of the Partnership, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mayor Councillor Darke said: “Achieving Fairtrade City status is an amazing success, with Wolverhampton now having held this recognition for 17 years running. The accolade is testament to the dedication of the Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership, local residents and Fairtrade supporters. I congratulate everyone involved.”

Barbara Gwinnett, Chair of Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership, added: “We’re delighted to mark the 17th year of the city’s Fairtrade status with its renewal this year. 

“In 2019 we demonstrated that we were firmly established in the city, promoting Fairtrade across a range of organisations and agencies and holding talks and events each month. In March 2020 we had to cease outward facing activities due to the coronavirus pandemic, but carried on with our meetings online and held an online presentation during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021.

“During this period, Partnership members have worked with and support the work of the Wolverhampton Fairtraid shop as they have found innovative ways to continue to sell Fairtrade items to their customers. We look forward to picking up links and moving forward once the current pandemic restrictions are lifted.”

The Second Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Forum concluded today with strong recommendations for member countries to work together to fast-track an inclusive, just and equitable transition to low-carbon energy systems across the Commonwealth.

The biennial gathering, held virtually, explored practical solutions to help meet global commitments on energy made under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Participants discussed new low-carbon technologies, addressing the high cost of technology and need for better access to finance, as well as policy recommendations that promote sustainability in the electricity, transport, cooling and cooking sectors.

Opening at the event, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We must urgently step up our action to implement the Paris Agreement and achieve our commitments on sustainable energy. While the transition pathways may differ across Commonwealth countries, the move to clean energy systems is a common goal.

“The pace of the energy transition needs urgent acceleration for which strong political will and ambition by Commonwealth member countries is required. Governments need to establish the enabling frameworks to attract finance, scale up technology and lower costs for energy transitions.” She encouraged a “people-centred” approach that is inclusive and leaves no one behind.


Countries were invited to lead ‘action groups’ focused on three key pillars, which make up the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition agenda: Inclusive Energy Transitions; Technology and Innovation; and Enabling Frameworks. Countries also called for more collaboration on sharing knowledge, technologies and innovative solutions, including best practices on research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies in critical sectors, such as clean cooking and cooling.

The event featured presentations by experts in the field as well as in-depth country presentations from Australia, Barbados, Botswana, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom. While discussions showed various countries are at different stages of the transitioning to using sustainable forms of energy, there was a consensus about its critical importance and learning from the experiences of other members.

Delegates further acknowledged the challenges linked to energy transition, especially for economies that depend heavily on fossil fuels as a key source of income. Outcomes of the forum meeting will feed into Commonwealth contributions to the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Energy scheduled for September 2021, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 26 in November 2021 and the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The Excelencias Group will be handing out the 2020 Excelencias Awards at the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2021, next week (May 19).

Faithful to its tradition, the Excelencias Group will be handing out the 2020 Excelencias Awards at the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2021, on May 19, at 4:45 p.m. Madrid time, Spain, on the very same day of the opening of Spain's premier tourism event. The awards ceremony will be held in the Auditorio Sur of the IFEMA fairgrounds.
The EXCELENCIAS AWARDS were created 16 years ago by the Excelencias Group to promote excellence in different fields related to tourism, gastronomy and culture in Ibero-America.

These awards have become a benchmark in the fields of tourism and gastronomy in Ibero-America. Once again, the event will take place at FITUR, Madrid, Spain.

EXCELENCIAS TURÍSTICAS AWARDS: Awards will be presented to projects from 12 countries (Spain, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua and Mexico). Ministers, Governors, Secretaries of Tourism, General Directors and international tourism personalities will be present.
EXCELENCIAS GOURMET AWARDS: Awards will be presented to projects/individuals from 5 countries. (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Costa Rica and Colombia) We will have the presence of personalities from the international gastronomic field.
SPECIAL EXCELENCIAS AWARDS: SPIRIT OF EXCELENCIA: Global excellence of a project category. CARIBBEAN NEWS DIGITAL: Tourism Personality of 2020. RAMÓN ÁLVAREZ AWARD: MICE category. NICOLÁS MUELA AWARD: Ibero-American Gastronomy Category. SILVIA ZORZANELLO AWARD: Brazil Category.