“I’ve had really bad experiences in the past with employers, I’ve even been ‘let go’ because I took time off for my mental health,” says Steph.
The 29-year-old says she worked at a number of retail and agency jobs, with most managers being far from understanding.
“I was always really anxious and uncomfortable asking for time off because of my mental health, to the point where I just went into work instead,” Steph says.
Workers like Steph are not alone.
New research by Deloitte and the mental health charity Mind suggests that young people in the UK are more likely to use their holidays, instead of taking days off work, when experiencing poor mental health.
It was only when Steph started working at Greggs in 2017 that things started to change for the better, she says.
Steph says that when she opened up about suffering from anxiety and depression to her manager at the bakery chain, he was understanding.
“He went out of his way to make sure I was comfortable and felt safe.”
She added: “We talked at length about stuff that was bothering us. He really became like a father figure to me, and even pushed me to take time off when I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Top tips for employees on mental health
Make sure you take your full lunch break
Maintain clear boundaries between work and home – try not to check emails
Start a clear to-do list so you stay organised
Use time on your commute to wind down, by listening to music or reading
But Bill says there is a range of reasons behind the “major problem” in the industry.
Isolation, job uncertainty from one week to the next and poor working conditions are just some of them.
“You are away from your family, often for days at a time at what can be a dangerous place to work. When men are put up with two or three other mates in a caravan, you often see a drinking culture too,” Bill says.
“Online gambling is also an issue. You expect to go home to a hero’s welcome, but by the time you get there you might have blown your wages.”
Bill now delivers talks on-site to managers to help them recognise the symptoms of poor mental health, and would like to see mental health first aiders on each construction site.
“It’s something that urgently needs addressing, for the future of the industry too,” Bill says.
He says that traditionally “masculine” construction sites can be tough places to work.
Experts have said that easy-to-access credit and less secure ways of working can create problems for young people.
They are also the most likely to take on more flexible, insecure types of work like driving for Uber or delivering food for Deliveroo. The TUC trades union body previously found that the number of people doing “gig economy” work had doubled within three years.
Campaigners say men are increasingly using the “rough sex” defence to try to get away with murdering women. They want the law changed to prevent such a defence and have the support of two MPs. But what difference would it make?
The death of British backpacker Grace Millane provoked an outpouring of anger and disgust, not only because of the circumstances in which she lost her life, but because of how her killer tried to explain away her death.
He told police that Ms Millane had asked to be strangled during sex, and her death was an accident. Personal details about the 22-year-old’s sex life and apparent interest in BDSM were then discussed in court, and duly reported on by the world’s media. Commentators believed she was being “slut-shamed” and blamed for her own death.
Ms Millane, from Wickford in Essex, was murdered in New Zealand, but back home in England former solicitor general Harriet Harman wants the law changed to stop men from being able to use the defence of “rough sex gone wrong” – even if the death is a genuine accident. They should always be prosecuted for murder, the Labour MP believes, and it is “his bad luck” if a man accidentally kills his partner during sex.
“The new version of men being able to blame the woman they killed for her own death is by saying ‘she wanted the violence’,” Ms Harman told Woman’s Hour. “And the difficulty is that there were two people there and only one of them gets to speak because he has killed her, and therefore her version of events is not heard.”
This defence offered by Ms Millane’s killer was rejected, and he was convicted of her murder. But, still, the case has led to increased concerns about men using the so-called “Fifty Shades of Grey” defence in murder trials.
Commissioned by BBC Radio 5 live, it asked 2,002 UK women aged between 18 and 39 if they had experienced various acts during sex.
The majority (59%) had experienced slapping, 38% had experienced choking, 34% had experienced gagging, 20% had experienced spitting and 59% had experienced biting. Almost half of the women (44%), said these acts were always wanted.
However, 29% said they were unwanted some of the time, 14% said they were unwanted most of the time, and 10% said they were unwanted every time.
The Centre for Women’s Justice said the figures showed a “growing pressure on young women to consent to violent, dangerous and demeaning acts”, which was “likely to be due to the normalisation of extreme pornography”.
But one 28-year-old woman, who spoke to the BBC anonymously, said the feeling of domination that came with choking was “a pretty common sexual fantasy”.
“Sometimes, during sex, my partner will put his hands around my throat, or hold me down by my throat,” she said. “It is never so hard that I cannot breathe at all.
“Whether you know each other well or not, when a person asks a sexual partner to be rough or to choke them, they are asking them to take on responsibility for their safety.
“If you have any doubts about your ability to keep them safe, you say no. Once you’ve agreed, there’s a line between consensual rough sex and dangerous abuse and you need to be able to communicate where that is throughout, verbally or non-verbally.
“A person who asks for rough sex does not intend to die so when they do it is down to, at the very least, the negligence of the other person.
“If you are trying not to kill someone, you won’t kill them. It is only through failing to try not to, or actually trying to kill them that you will.”
So how dangerous is choking during sex?
It’s potentially deadly, according to pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton – although he points out the risks should be obvious.
Choking is “inherently dangerous” because compression of the blood vessels causes a lack of blood flow to the brain, he said. “With pressure on the neck, normally you become unconscious quite quickly.
“It’s not for me to pass a view on what people do in the privacy of their own homes – personally I wouldn’t fancy it – but be very well aware that it is a dangerous thing to do.
“So if you are in your right mind and your partner stops breathing, a jury could reasonably infer that the logical thing to do would be to stop strangling them and say, ‘Are you all right, pet?’ rather than maintaining pressure on an unresponsive human being for another few minutes,” he said.
In terms of establishing whether there was intent to cause serious harm, he said cases like this could be challenging.
Dr Hamilton, who examined the body of Charlotte Teeling after she was strangled by Richard Bailey during sex, said it was difficult to tell through forensic examination whether or not there was an intention to kill.
“As a pathologist, the physical findings are that somebody has been strangled to death,” he said. “If you strangle someone deliberately in order to kill them or if you’ve seen something on the internet and decide to give it a go and it goes horribly wrong, the physical findings aren’t going to be all that different.
“We don’t know what the deliberations are in the jury room, but I think the fact he [Richard Bailey] had left the body in his flat for a week and used her [Charlotte Teeling’s] bank card after she died probably swayed the jury’s mind.”
Why do campaigners think the law should be changed?
The group We Can’t Consent To This has collated 59 examples of women “killed by men who claim a sex game, gone wrong” and, along with Ms Harman, is demanding that the rough sex defence should be outlawed. The group’s numerous supporters include the Guardian newspaper and women’s magazine Grazia.
When Grazia asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the proposal, he said: “I agree with Harriet Harman that the ’50 Shades defence’ is unacceptable and we’ll make sure the law is clear on this.”
The campaign also has the support of Mark Garnier, the Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, who started looking at the issue because of the Natalie Connolly case.
She was left bleeding and suffered more than 40 injuries. Broadhurst was sentenced to less than four years in prison for her manslaughter.
How might the law be altered?
What campaigners want is to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill currently going through Parliament, to make it the expectation that murder charges are brought against those suspected of killing a person during sex.
As it stands, if someone kills another person during sexual activity they could be charged with manslaughter alone. To murder someone, there needs to have been an intention to kill that person or to cause them grievous bodily harm (GBH).
“If the prosecuting barrister wants to reduce the [murder] charge because they feel they are more convinced they will get a conviction [of manslaughter], that would have to be agreed by the director of public prosecutions,” said Mr Garnier. He believes this could have made a difference in the prosecution of John Broadhurst.
“We were worried that the prosecuting barrister didn’t show a significant amount of nerve or braveness in terms of prosecuting the full case of murder,” he said. “We want to make sure that administrative change within the law is done so that this can’t happen again, so that someone like Natalie’s killer is not let off with a lesser charge.”
A second amendment backed by campaigners is to do with people consenting to being injured.
In the late 1980s, in a case known as R v Brown, the UK’s highest court ruled that consent was not a defence to actual bodily harm (ABH). The judgement concluded a case in which a group of men had willingly submitted to whippings and beatings, for sexual satisfaction. Evidence had only come to light because the men had videotaped the acts.
What Ms Harman wants is for this to be written into the bill going through Parliament.
“R v Brown is in case law but bearing in mind we’ve got a new Domestic Abuse Bill, it would be right to put it in statute law,” she said. “Statute law is much more under the noses of the judiciary and the prosecutors and the defence.”
But barristers are cautious.
“Kneejerk” legislation that is a response to prominent campaigning, risks “creating bad, unworkable” laws that fail to protect the public, said Caroline Goodwin QC, chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association.
So does the law really need to change?
Dr Samantha Pegg, who lectures at Nottingham Law School on criminal law regarding sadomasochism (S&M), thinks not.
She believes what is being proposed would change nothing in practice, but merely “clarify” the existing law.
“At the moment it’s no defence at all to say that person is consenting, because of Brown. People certainly can’t consent to being killed, they can’t consent to injury which amounts to actual bodily harm if it’s in the course of S&M.”
Dr Pegg said the changes would not prevent defendants from claiming they killed someone accidentally through rough sex.
“It won’t stop people making these claims,” she said. “It does seem over the last year or so that there has been absolutely a significant shift and people do seem to be using that excuse of sadomasochism. It might just be that shift in culture and they think a jury might believe them, or in fact it might be true. But we can’t stop them doing that.”
Rosina Cottage QC, a barrister at Red Lion Chambers, agrees. “The changes will not affect the ability of a defendant to run a defence of lack of intent to murder and nor will they assist those campaigning for the protection of people from sexual violence,” she said.
And in any case, Dr Pegg said defendants were not necessarily getting away with murder by using this defence. “It’s not an excuse that a jury is necessarily going to buy into,” she said.
“They [jurors] are going to have to look at the facts and decide whether there is some truth in this matter or whether they [the accused] are just trying to buy into social constructions of people engaging in these kinds of activities.”
What if someone does die in a genuine accident?
Ms Harman believes a man should always be prosecuted for murder even if his sexual partner consented to the violence, and even if the man did not intend to kill her or cause her GBH.
“I mean if he’s squeezing her neck and saying ‘but actually she was saying more, more’ well it’s murder, because he’s intending to squeeze her neck and that’s the actions which caused her death,” the MP said.
But what if the man did not intend to harm the woman by strangling her? “Well that’s his bad luck,” she said. “He is intending to put his hands on her windpipe.”
However, barristers who spoke to the BBC have concerns about this.
Abimbola Johnson, of 25 Bedford Row, said: “The law makes the distinction [between murder and manslaughter] because murder charges are, rightly, reserved for instances when someone deliberately and intentionally causes someone at least serious harm which results in their death.”
Rosina Cottage QC said: “To deprive an individual of the defence to murder is an extreme measure and should only be undertaken after a wide-ranging and considered discussion about the ramifications.”
Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman believes removing the right to such a defence would be “a horrendous intrusion into human rights and freedoms”.
“I’m really concerned that there is a risk that people may die through consensual rough sex, and the person responsible did not intend for that person to die – it was just a dreadful accident that ruined people’s lives – and they should not be punished in the same way as someone who deliberately preys on victims that they find on Tinder,” he said.
Author and journalist Rebecca Reid, who has written about her experiences with BDSM, believes that while the “sex game gone wrong” claim can be a “hastily pieced-together excuse when a woman has been murdered”, rough sex between consenting couples can be a real risk.
In an age when BDSM practices are more mainstream, she argues that some people need better education about how to stay safe.
But rough sex did not kill Ms Millane, she stressed.
“The difficulty is that it feels like people who have nothing to do with BDSM are appropriating it to try and get away with some vicious and evil behaviour, which is really sad for a community that has spent a long, long time fighting for some recognition and a right to exist in an authentic way,” she said.
“The important thing with the Grace Millane case is that it was not that he was a well-intentioned young man trying to please his new fling who accidentally got it wrong. This isn’t a case of people emulating what they’ve seen in porn and making honest mistakes.”
“This was calculated murder.”
If you have been affected by sexual abuse or violence, help and support is available at BBC Action Line.
Social media sites, online games and streaming services used by children will have to abide by a new privacy code set by the UK’s data watchdog.
Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, said future generations will be “astonished to think that we ever didn’t protect kids online”.
She said the new Age Appropriate Design Code will be “transformational”.
The father of Molly Russell, 14, who killed herself after viewing graphic content online, welcomed the standards.
The Information Commissioner’s Office – the UK’s data privacy regulator – published the new code of conduct on Wednesday, after a draft which was first revealed last April.
It hopes the changes will come into force by autumn 2021, once Parliament approves it, with large fines for breaches.
The code includes a list of 15 standards that companies behind online services are expected to comply with to protect children’s privacy.
Examples of online services which are included are toys which are connected to the internet, apps, social media platforms, online games, educational websites and streaming service.
Firms who design, develop or run such products must provide a “baseline” of data protection for children, the code says.
The standards also include:
Location settings that would allow a child’s location to be shared should be switched off by default
Privacy settings to be set to high by default and nudge techniques to encourage children to weaken their settings should not be used
“I believe that it will be transformational,” Ms Denham told the Press Association.
“I think in a generation from now when my grandchildren have children they will be astonished to think that we ever didn’t protect kids online. I think it will be as ordinary as keeping children safe by putting on a seat belt.”
Ms Denham said the move was widely supported by firms, although added that the gaming industry and some other tech companies expressed concern about their business model.
She added: “We have an existing law, GDPR, that requires special treatment of children and I think these 15 standards will bring about greater consistency and a base level of protection in the design and implementation of games and apps and websites and social media.”
The new standards follow concerns over young people suffering from grooming by predators, data misuse, problem gambling and access to damaging content which could affect their mental health.
Ian Russell believes his daughter Molly’s use of Instagram was a factor in her suicide aged 14 in 2017.
After she died, her family found graphic posts about suicide and self-harm on her account.
The response following her death led to Instagram pledging to remove images, drawings and even cartoons showing methods of self-harm or suicide.
Welcoming the code, Mr Russell said: “Although small steps have been taken by some social media platforms, there seems little significant investment and a lack of commitment to a meaningful change, both essential steps required to create a safer world wide web.
“The Age Appropriate Design Code demonstrates how the technology companies might have responded effectively and immediately.”
Andy Burrows, the NSPCC’s head of child safety online policy, said the code would force social networks to “finally take online harm seriously and they will suffer tough consequences if they fail to do so”.
He said: “For the first time, tech firms will be legally required to assess their sites for sexual abuse risks, and can no longer serve up harmful self-harm and pro-suicide content.
“It is now key that these measures are enforced in a proportionate and targeted way.”
Facebook said it welcomed “the considerations raised”, adding: “The safety of young people is central to our decision-making, and we’ve spent over a decade introducing new features and tools to help everyone have a positive and safe experience on our platforms, including recent updates such as increased Direct Message privacy settings on Instagram.
“We are actively working on developing more features in this space and are committed to working with governments and the tech industry on appropriate solutions around topics such as preventing underage use of our platforms.”
From an African girl who was “gifted” to Queen Victoria to a slave who took on his master in the British courts, several little-known but remarkable chapters of black British history are being put in the spotlight on stage this year.
A string of writers are reaching back to the 18th and 19th Centuries to fill in gaps in the story of Britain. In the year that British actress Cynthia Erivo is up for an Oscar for playing US slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, many of the new plays are examining the slave era from a British perspective.
Find out more about four of the plays and the stories behind them.
The African girl adopted by Queen Victoria
The experience of a young black woman in royal circles could hardly be more timely.
But 170 years before Harry met Meghan, there was Sarah Bonetta, a girl who was taken from slavery in Africa by a Royal Navy captain and presented as a gift to Queen Victoria.
“As a child I’d heard of Queen Victoria having a black godchild,” says Janice Okoh, whose new play The Gift includes Bonetta’s story, alongside a fictional modern-day black woman, also called Sarah.
“The story goes that she was about to be sacrificed by an African king,” Okoh says of Bonetta. “We don’t know whether that story is 100% true.
“Queen Victoria did not bring her up in her palace, but she fostered her out to people she knew. But Sarah Bonetta had a strong relationship with Queen Victoria’s children and mixed in their circles.”
Okoh’s play comes from Eclipse Theatre’s Revolution Mix project, which aims to tell overlooked stories from black British history – especially those from before the HMS Windrush docked from the Caribbean in 1948, which is widely perceived as the start of mass immigration.
Okoh says: “I find it interesting to learn more about my history that is not covered in school. You go away thinking you don’t belong anywhere, that black people didn’t do anything or contribute to British society, and they did. It’s about that.”
Linking the past and present in The Gift are the themes of cross-cultural adoption, and how racism rears its head.
“The big question is, how can white people understand what racism is without ever having experienced it?” the writer asks. “That really feeds into the debate at the moment with Meghan, and people saying she hasn’t experienced racism, she’s just disliked.
“She’s experiencing that on that level. Can you imagine what black women experience on an everyday level?”
That being said, Okoh stresses that she has channelled the sensitivities and frustrations around race into humour in her play. “Please say it’s a comedy,” she adds. “Because it’s fun!”
The Gift is at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Saturday 25 January, then at Theatre Royal Stratford East, London, and on tour.
The national slave debt only repaid in 2015
In 1833, the UK parliament passed a law to finally outlaw slavery in the British Empire. The catch? In order to persuade slave owners, the government had to pay £20m in compensation for the loss of their “property”.
That bailout to slave owners amounted to 40% of the country’s national budget at the time, or £2.4bn in today’s money. The debt wasn’t fully paid off until 2015.
“So your salary has gone to paying for this, as has mine as a descendant of the slave trade,” says playwright Juliet Gilkes Romero, a former BBC journalist.
The political manoeuvring behind the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act forms the backbone of Gilkes Romero’s new play The Whip, written for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The title has a double meaning – referring to the chief whip who tries to push through abolition, as well as the instrument of torture.
The play also features a runaway slave who is the chief whip’s parliamentary assistant; another former slave based on Mary Prince, the first woman to petition parliament; and a mill worker who provides a comparison between conditions in the Caribbean and those faced by workers at home.
Hours spent researching in the House of Commons library, and a trip with the cast to the Palace of Westminster, gave Gilkes Romero an admiration for the mother of parliaments, she says.
“They knew that slavery was untenable,” she says. “It was a moral decision and a pragmatic one. How long could the Empire continue to drive its economic industry and wealth on the back of the enslavement of peoples? It was the right call.
“In America they couldn’t agree. They had a civil war. There was carnage. The [British] bill was flawed. It wasn’t perfect. But isn’t it incredible what was achieved?”
On top of the huge financial outlay, there was great uncertainty about how the British economy would cope. Gilkes Romero sees parallels with the Brexit debate. “When this country decided to have abolition, they didn’t really know what was on the other side of that wall. You’re giving up a massive income stream.”
The 1830s parliament was debating the fates of freed slaves. While today’s decisions about EU citizens and other migrants come at a very different time, she notes similarities in the “moral choices” being made.
“What becomes of those people? Will they come here, and what will happen? Will there be bloodshed and violence? Will people forgive and forget? I think there are definitely resonances.”
The Whip is at the RSC’s Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 1-21 February.
The artist and the slave massacre
In 1781, more than 130 slaves died when they were thrown overboard from a British slave ship called the Zong, which had been hit by sickness. Its owners then filed an insurance claim on the value of the loss of their property – the slaves.
The artist JMW Turner later depicted the Zong massacre in his 1840 painting The Slave Ship.
“I find it an incredible artistic response,” writer Winsome Pinnock says. “In that painting, he says, ‘This isn’t finished, history doesn’t end. And you have to look at it, you have to examine it, before you can move on.'”
Turner, his painting, a black sailor called Thomas and a modern-day actress all somehow feed into Pinnock’s new play Rockets and Blue Lights, which switches between Victorian times and the present day.
“The play is about memory. It’s about a shared British history,” she says. “Contrary to the things people seem to think, there aren’t very many plays written on the themes of enslavement by black British writers. There really aren’t.”
Rockets and Blue Lights is being staged at Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre, a building that itself echoes with history, having once been the largest cotton trading hall in the country.
“The fact that I, a black woman writer, descended from enslaved people – who were denied their voice and their culture – is speaking in that space and have written a play in which I explore that history… That has a lot of resonance,” she says.
Pinnock was the first black woman to have a play staged by the National Theatre in 1995 and has long been regarded as a trailblazer.
Her mother arrived in the UK from Jamaica as part of the Windrush generation. When she died several years ago, the writer started thinking about her own connection with slavery, and Britain’s role.
But she says her show “plays around with history” and “is not looking at enslavement in quite the way that one might expect”. So it’s not a straightforward historical re-enactment.
“I often wonder if my ancestors would want me to keep reliving their trauma. And I don’t think they would,” she says.
“I think they would want me to do something else with it. And there are lots of things I can do theatrically to make this relevant.”
Rockets and Blue Lights is at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, from 12 March-4 April.
The slave who took his master to court, and won
In 1778, Joseph Knight successfully challenged his status as a slave in court in Edinburgh – not only defeating his master and winning his freedom, but ensuring that slavery was ruled illegal in Scotland.
Knight had been taken from Jamaica to Scotland as the personal servant of sugar plantation owner Sir John Wedderburn. It was, for the period, a more “nurturing” relationship than that experienced by most slaves, according to May Sumbwanyambe, who tells the story in the National Theatre of Scotland’s play Enough of Him.
“This was a young black man who wanted his freedom but at the same time felt such a degree of loyalty towards his ‘master and father’ – somebody who had actually been very loving and caring towards him,” the writer says.
“This was a master and slave owner who genuinely felt anguish and felt betrayed that this young man wanted to be free of him.”
Sumbwanyambe was born in Edinburgh but grew up in Grimsby, working night shifts on the docks to earn money during the university holidays while studying for a law degree.
He wrote the play against the backdrop of debate about Brexit. “You kept hearing this thing – ‘We want our country back.’
“And it was constantly linked to immigration. The thing that I struggled with is that it was based on this idea that, if only you could just go back 70 years, back to the glory days when Britain still just had an empire but was all completely white. I knew that was a myth.”
The point that immigration was happening long before Windrush underpins his play.
Sumbwanyambe was surprised to learn that there were thought to have been between 10,000 and 20,000 black people in mid-18th Century London, out of a population of around 700,000.
“Black people have been here and we’ve been living side-by-side in this country with white people for a very long time,” the playwright says. “For all those glory days that people want to go back to – we were there too.”
Joseph Knight was among those who left a legacy. “The journey towards this noble idea of justice and dignity and respect that we think of [as British] was contributed to by that young black man’s actions.”
Enough of Him is at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre from 17 October, then at Perth Theatre and the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.
Also using data from the Office for National Statistics, the charity found the greatest excess of aspiration related to jobs in in art and culture, entertainment and sport, where five times as many 17- and 18-year-olds want to work (15.6%) compared with the projected demand in the economy (3.3%).
And for most of those (51%), this was the only sector in which they expressed an interest.
The analysis suggests the greatest shortfall of interest is in accommodation and catering, which needs “almost seven times as many students (9.7% of the economy) as are expressing an interest (1.5%)”.
It also says: “Wholesale and retail trade similarly sees a very large shortfall – 2.6% expressing interest against 15.1% required.”
The report says young people’s aspirations are set early – as young as age seven – and do not change enough over time to meet demand.
And this consistency of young peoples’ career choices throughout their teenage years (and the frustrations and wasted energy it produces) will need significant effort to resolve.
The research says young people’s career aspirations need to “be engaged with and, if necessary, constructively challenged”.
It says a “concerted effort” is needed to address what it calls an aspiration-reality disconnect and calls for:
significant expansion of career-related learning in primary schools
more support for careers guidance in secondary schools
better labour-market information for young people.
The report says: “From age seven, we need to ensure that children get to meet a range of people from different backgrounds and doing different jobs.
“People who can help bring learning to life, show them how the subjects they are studying are relevant to their futures.
“We need to stop children ruling out options because they believe, implicitly or explicitly, that their future career choices are limited by their gender, ethnicity or socio-economic background.
“This is not about providing ‘careers advice’ in primary schools but breaking down barriers, broadening horizons and raising aspirations, giving children a wide range of experiences of the world including the world of work.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Young people are rarely short of ambition and we want them to have the skills and direction to match.
“As the report suggests, early careers advice can help young people set out on the right path to the job that channels their interests and unlocks their potential.
“That’s why we’re committed to having career leaders and have announced new funding for jobcentres to provide advice to more schools across the country.”
The Education and Employers report is launched alongside new analysis of Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) data by international economics think tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which is being presented during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director of education and skills, said: “There are many interesting future-oriented jobs that British students are not seeing, particularly disadvantaged kids, and you can’t be what you can’t see.
“My concern is we are closing too many doors too early in the lives of pupils.”
Dementia patients are being dumped in hospitals in England because of a lack of community care, a charity says.
The Alzheimer’s Society called for action, highlighting data showing one in 10 dementia patients spends over a month in hospital after being admitted.
The figures also suggested the overall number of emergency admissions among people with dementia is rising – with some patients yo-yoing back and forth.
Ministers said they were “determined” to tackle the problems.
Central to this, the government said, would be plans for reforming the social care system, which encompasses care home places and support in people’s homes.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said a long-term solution would be found to ensure dementia patients were treated with “dignity”.
“We know that hospital visits can be distressing for people with dementia which is why there should be high-quality care in the community,” she added.
‘My mum spent most of her last year in hospital’
Dorothy Boschi had to be admitted to hospital three times during her last year of life after having falls and contracting infections.
Each time led to lengthy stays – she spent seven months in hospital in total.
Her daughter, Daphne, 63, from South Gloucestershire, said this continued even when doctors decided she was ready to be discharged because support could not be found to look after her in the community.
She died in January last year, aged 97.
Daphne said the situation led to her mother becoming “angrier, depressed and more frustrated” in her final months.
“Everything was a battle to get proper care. The whole system has lost sight of the person they are meant to be providing care for.”
What has the charity found?
The Alzheimer’s Society analysed hospital records covering emergency admissions in the six years to 2017-18.
It found 379,000 cases where dementia had been recorded on admission – a rise of 100,000 since 2012-13.
This represents just a small fraction of the six million emergency admissions that year – although that is likely to be an underestimate as the condition is not always recorded on hospital systems.
The charity believes around a quarter of patients in hospital at any one point will have dementia.
Around 40,000 of the dementia admissions – one in 10 – spent longer than 28 days in hospital.
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said people were falling through the “cracks of our broken social care system”.
“People with dementia are all too often being dumped in hospital and left there. Many are only admitted because there’s no social care support to keep them safe at home.
“They are commonly spending more than twice as long in hospital as needed, confused and scared.”