Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Amputation Claims

(I was tasked with writing extensive copy for the Irwin Mitchell website)

Combining Commitment with Sensitivity

At Irwin Mitchell, we understand how deeply an amputation can affect all aspects of your life. Our specialist team of solicitors draws on years of experience in helping people get through what is often a hugely traumatic time. We do not stop at claiming compensation but make certain you are able to adjust to new circumstances following the loss of a limb.

We strive to win the best outcome for all our clients and are sure to use all the resources at our disposal to fight for your corner. We are well known for our understanding of the problems and potential pit-falls that can face you and your family due to amputation. Furthermore, we know what positive actions to take to help you reach physical, psychological and financial wellbeing.

Our lawyers have won the reputation of offering top-level professionalism and expertise, combined with commitment and sensitivity.

We always aim to make you our number one.

We Aim to Offer Full Satisfaction

It can be difficult to know where to turn when a loved one suffers an amputation. It can be a confusing and frustrating time. It is a time when much will have to be rearranged, from transport to home to activities. There is a chance that the amputee will have to change their job.

There is also the potential need for:

Rehabilitation or retraining
Adaptations to your property
Specialist equipment
Care support and assistance
Private medical treatment and therapy
Extensive prosthesis

Our experienced team of specialist amputation claim lawyers offers advice that is second to none. It is important to note that we also fight to secure compensation claims to fund you while your main claim is being worked on.

We pride ourselves on finding the delicate balance between a careful handling of a traumatic situation with a proactive philosophy that helps sort the various practicalities that arise after amputation.

We focus on a multi-tiered approach, providing legal advice, support and guidance to get you through a difficult situation.

Our Reputation

Irwin Mitchell is one of the largest, experienced and most reputable personal injury firms in the UK.

Our membership of the Limb Loss Legal Panel means our solicitors have leading experience in working on behalf of people who have suffered amputations.

We can boast some of the country’s most experienced and best personal injury lawyers.

Our world-class service was rewarded in 2008, 2009 and 2010 with Rehabilitation First Awards.

Our Aim

Fundamentally, our commitment is to reaching the best outcome for your amputation injury claim.

We also have the further ambition of campaigning for improvements in health and safety, so accidents and injury are less likely. With leading organisations, we seek to improve the quality of life of those who have suffered amputation.

For regular updates and to find out more, follow our amputee Twitter account:


A Sit-In at Sofar Sounds

(for the Urban Outfitters blog)

We were lucky enough to get entry to last week’s awesomely intimate Sofar Sounds gig. Bottle of red in hand, we joined the 60 or so other guests sitting on the floor.

For anyone not familiar with Sofar, they are an international movement who create pop up gigs in people’s living rooms. The vibe is relaxed and the talent phenomenal. All the organisers ask is that guests don’t speak during performances and, if they like the music, they spread the word about the artists.

So, first on was the folksy sweetness of Maria Byrne & The Broken String. Think The Byrds, Woodstock and Joni Mitchell. Very catchy, very folksy, very sweet, it’ll make you want to jump in a VW campervan and head to the country.

Then to To Kill a King. These guys are the real deal: thoughtful lyrics, punchy choruses and simply stunning songs held together by multi-layered harmonies. Ones to watch!

Jay Brown was up next, just her guitar and a cellist to support her powerful voice. And she’s got a gorgeous voice, I tell you.. Check it out for yourself – the gal’s got soul!

The barmy brilliance of Peter and Kerry wrapped the evening up for us. They started working together ‘as an impulsive side project’ after becoming close friends. Now it seems they haven’t looked back. There was a real unpredictable edge to their set, after not having had the chance to practice the stripped down sound necessary for somebody’s living room!

So Sofar did it for us. It’s so refreshing to see a gig right up close to the band, where there’s no room for pretense or posers, where respect is mutual and talent rules. These artists are quality. And at a gig like Sofar, it really is all about the music.

Dirty Burger

(for the Urban Outfitters blog)

Down an unassuming backstreet in Kentish Town, you’ll find a car-park with what looks like a small, roofed corrugated iron structure in the corner. If you didn’t know any better, you might take it for being a place to store the bins for the restaurant round the front. But if you venture inside, you’ll find what could be a cafĂ© location for a film about 50’s biker gangs.

Tarmac floor and simple fittings, Dirty Burger is a quick-stop to chow down a gorgeous, gooey, greasy cheeseburger – the only main on the lunchtime menu.
As is often the case in establishments that focus on just the one dish, Dirty’s is flippin’ amazing! Teamed with crinkle cut or onion fries and a soda, shake, beer or bottomless coffee and you’ve got yourself a mean feed that sneers at airs and graces and leers at the niceties of a ‘pleasant sit-down meal’.

A Rebel with a Cause, Dirty’s unabashed menu is filling a hole for London’s burger lovers. If it were a human, it’d definitely have greasy hair and an unstoppable swagger. A bit like that Jax from Sons of Anarchy, only tastier and with less mental turmoil. Sloppy, filthy, smutty, slutty, this is the real deal.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

David Cameron bares teeth over Economy

David Cameron: more British Beagle than British Bulldog
David Cameron, our undeniably tough-faced, muscular and far from soggy leader has called on us Brits to shun “can’t do sogginess” and hone that famous Dunkirk spirit to pull together and sort the bloody economy out.

His speech, delivered at the Conservative annual conference, was peppered with WWII rhetoric and imagery, as should be hoped for at a time when, as Vince Cable alluded, our country is facing the economic equivalent of that opening scene from Saving Private Ryan.

With gutsy gusts, he winded that we must not be “paralysed by gloom and fear” but find that “spirit of Britain” that will help us run up those bleak shores of job cuts, face the hissing barrels of pension losses and chuck grenades of Big Society in the face of depressing market figures.

I can just see him now – a Lurpak man dressed in combat fatigues – hulking a fatally wounded Nick Clegg toward the promised land of financial stability as George Osborne provides covering fire from, heck, an ivory tower.

The metaphor he chose was more prosaic (and less fun to picture). Likening the economy to building a house, he said: “the most important part is the part you can’t see – the foundations that make it stable. Slowly, but surely, we’re laying the foundations for a better future.” He continued with another metaphor – damn, I love these visualisation aids: “Remember, it is not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Overcoming challenges, confounding the sceptics, this is what we do.

It was all delivered with boyish optimism and a sense that, if we’re prepared to suffer, we can make it all ok.

And the boy’s got teeth. Teeth, perhaps unlike the traditional bulldog, but of a flabby beagle raised on a sunny Home Counties estate with, most likely, peacocks and daisies to growl at. He briefly flashed these teeth at critics of his planning reforms: “To those who oppose everything we’re doing, my message is this: Take your arguments down to the Job Centre. We’ve got to get Britain back to work.”

Easy to say, Dave, but you try telling that to the face of a BAE Systems worker, or a Bombardier engineer who’s about to lose his job, or a group of nurses about to lose theirs. Yep, we need to get back to work but the public needs more answers as to how. Woof!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Blood Chocolates - Modern Slavery in the Cocoa Industry

Ten years ago yesterday, an agreement was signed that signified what was hoped to be the start of the international elimination of slavery in the chocolate making industry. The Harkin-Engel protocol laid out dates whereby steps should be taken to eradicate what has been described as one of the worst forms of child labour.

Many of the workers in the cocoa producing supply line in West Africa are children. Many of them are thought to have been trafficked against their will from Mali and other African nations and then forced to work in difficult conditions for no pay.

Leading chocolate makers in the West signed the protocol. And yet, a decade down the line, little, if anything has changed.

CNN have campaigned for awareness and forced pressure on the chocolate industry through their Freedom Project to end modern day slavery. Their reports yesterday were damning.

Chris Bayer from Tulane University spent five years in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, countries where the issue is at its most concentrated. He said: “Unfortunately, over the last ten years we have seen very little implementation of the actual commitments. Industry did not live up to the Harkin-Engel protocol. The issues are systemic.”

And Stop the Traffik, the global coalition that aims to bring an end to human trafficking, says that, although the chocolate industry has gained more than £600bn over the past decade, the combined investment from it into the improvement of working conditions in West Africa has been a paltry 0.075% of this.

The facts are difficult to establish, as there is no legal regulator that monitors the entire chocolate supply line and the western companies are not legally obliged to follow through on the promises they made in the Harkin-Engel protocol.

For instance, the International Cocoa Initiative, set up by the protocol to address the issue, appeared sanguine, stating that: “Governments of cocoa producing countries, members of the supply chain and the ICI itself are actively working to improve the livelihoods of cocoa growers.”

Whatever the facts, maybe it’s worth taking a bit of time while you’re chewing your Mars, your Nestle, your Cadbury, Hershey or Ferrero, to think about where it came from. As Chris Bayer said: “We have this disparity between incredible poverty and suffering and yet indulgence and decadence on the other hand.”

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Dale Farm Evictions- Tomorrow is the Travellers' D-Day

It’s a moral dilemma of life-changing consequences, a choice between respecting fringe lifestyles and the need for all to uphold the law. The depth of the decision has seized the media and gouged a gaping divide in opinion. Tomorrow, the travellers’ community of Dale Farm will face the bulldozers as eviction day finally hits.

The majority of the site has no planning permission and is situated on greenbelt land. This, on the surface, suggests the situation is a no brainer and, as the law exists for the greater good, the families should cut their losses and leave.

However, complications arise when more facts become clear. The travellers own the land and many have planted roots there. Some children, who go to school in the area, have never known another home. Furthermore, it is alleged that the land was formerly a scrap yard and Basildon Council itself was responsible for concreting over it.

The Guardian reports that Ray Bocking, who sold the acreage to the Gypsy community a decade ago, said it was the local council who laid rough tracks leading to the farm and dumped hardcore onto the site. Bocking told The Guardian that, “Dale Farm was a swamp and a breaker’s yard for years. It was a rubbish ground. I really don’t know why they are throwing away £18m.”

From this perspective, it is easy to see how many are calling for compassion, especially when we learn that some of the residents are elderly or infirmed and have no housing sorted. Add to this the fact that Basildon Council have recently passed permission for 70 houses to be built on greenbelt land and the situation, it could be argued, starts to look like prejudice.

Under the Caravan Sites Act 1968, councils were obliged to provide allowances for up to 15 caravans at a time but this law became obsolete with the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The Commission for Racial Equality believes this has led to there being a deficit of sites to accommodate all travellers and, therefore, their way of life will inevitably become compromised.

But my two pence is this: nobody should be allowed to think that laws don’t apply to them and, frankly, the travelling community should have showed more respect for the local authority all those years ago by only living and building on areas they were given permission to occupy. Before they sent their children to local schools and before some became too weak to move on, they should have established what exactly they would be certain to get away with, rather than settling down and hoping for the best. Their claims of discrimination and racism seem self pitying and hypocritical. The country needs its greenbelt and, to me, it’s reverse discrimination if the majority are not allowed to build on it but a certain small community who keep themselves to themselves are given an allowance.

Nobody, except fascists and Daily Mail readers, revels in hatred and intolerance and, as such, it can be difficult for modern people to criticise minority groups. But the travellers’ claims of racism from Basildon Council should fall of deaf ears. It is one law for all, not one law for some and different laws for others, no matter how different those others may be.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tanzania Business Times Correspondence-08

What is invisible to the naked eye and has prevented millions around the world from eating? It has lead to widespread famine and death on an almost biblical scale. Now, it is has had its day and, thanks to human unity, vision and hard work, it is no more. What could it be?

Still guessing? Last week, UN scientists told the world that the “cattle plague”, or rinderpest as it is more formally known, has been eradicated. In Africa, where the disease has been all too visible in the memories of many living today, there must surely be a huge sigh of relief.

After all, we are talking about the virus that ravaged chunks of continents, decimating cattle populations to such a severe extent that one could walk through the bush for miles, stumbling across nothing but the fetid remains of once strong herds.

The then British colonial administrator to northern Nigeria, F.J.D. Lugard, wrote in 1893 that: “never before in the memory of man, or by the voice of tradition, have the cattle died in such numbers.” A Masai is recorded with speaking a poetic observation: the corpses of cattle and people were “so many and so close that the vultures had forgotten to fly.”

In the African rinderpest pandemic of the nineteenth century, it is estimated that as much as one third of the human population in Ethiopia died due to starvation caused by dying cattle. And in the early 1980s, rinderpest was back. The losses to livestock herds in Nigeria alone totalled an incredible US$2billion.

Michael Baron of the Instutute for Animal Health (IAH) said: “there has never been such an important and devastating disease as rinderpest in livestock.”

Yep, rinderpest has been a miniature monster in its more than one and a half millennia of recorded history; a microscopic scourge that has scythed its way through cloven hoofed animals like an insatiable sidekick to the Grim Reaper himself.

According to the IAE, the rinderpest virus belongs to a group that contains the measles virus. It not only affects (or should that be affected?) cattle and buffalo but also grows in animals such as giraffe, eland, wildebeest, kudu and various antelopes. It is “one of the oldest and most devastating diseases of cattle, buffalo and other bovines.” The mortality rate is cited as being 80 to 90%.

In 1950, the Inter-Africa Bureau of Epizootic Diseases was formed with the intention of eradicating rinderpest from the continent and in the 1960s a programme called JP15 attempted to vaccinate all cattle in participating countries.

It nearly worked: by 1979, only one of the countries involved – Sudan – reported any cases of the disease.

But the 1980s saw an infamous pandemic that killed millions of cattle.

The Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) was initiated that decade. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN: “in close association with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), GREP was conceived as an international co-ordination mechanism to promote the global eradication of rinderpest and verification of freedom from rinderpest, while providing technical guidance to achieve these goals.

Scientists at the IAH at Pirbright, UK, with support from the UK’s Department for International Development, helped to develop a simple test, similar to a pregnancy test, to discover if cattle were infected. The idea was the kit could be used by local people with very little formal training, giving results in minutes. Any infected cattle would then be destroyed, helping curb the virus’ spread.

Dr John Anderson from the IAH said: “For too long people have been involved in controlling diseases and not actually dreaming that it’s possible to eradicate a disease from the world. And with rinderpest we did.”

The OIE is expected to issue a formal announcement on the eradication next year. They have to first check that the disease is not still lying in some outback pocket. If it clarifies success, rinderpest will become the first animal disease ever to be eliminated by humans and only the second disease in history, after smallpox in 1979.

Jacques Diouf, of the FAO, said: “The extraordinary success of this programme would not have been possible without the united efforts and determined commitments of the governments of all affected and exposed countries, without the African Union’s Inter-African Bureau on Animal Resources and the responsible regional organisations, without the donor agencies committed to this endeavour.” He added, with empowering optimism: “Together we have defeated rinderpest. Together we are stronger. Together we will defeat hunger.”