Once again, UK politics is dominating our news cycle. For the first time ever, Britain has a prime minister of Asian descent. Some have heralded this historic moment as a positive symbol for diversity in Britain, despite the fact that Rishi lost the only leadership election he took part in, and has become PM by default due to lack of competition. It seems that a lot of people are ignoring the fact that Rishi was privately educated, read politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford, is a multi-millionaire, and married into a family of billionaires. I’ll concede, his presence at Number 10 goes a long way to normalise the idea that you can run this country irrespective of your skin colour.*
*Just as long as you’re also immensely privileged.
Wagamamas cooks for HMP Hatfield
Opinions on the effectiveness of prison as a way of preventing crime vary hugely depending on political leaning, the area you live & your personal experiences with crime. I myself have been convinced by the rehabilitation approaches seen in Nordic countries, which themselves come with lower crime rates than the United States, which houses 25% of the world’s prisoners. In a move towards a more rehabilitative culture, a team of Wagamama chefs joined up with inmates at HMP Hatfield to cook for the prison population, and give these inmates a taste of what a career in hospitality could look like upon release. A Wagamama spokesperson said “We believe that everyone deserves a chance but we also strongly believe in second chances. We all need to remove the blindfolds of judgement and give everyone an equal opportunity to meaningful work, and always remember, your past should never define your future.”
New code of conduct for music industry
A step forward in the music industry this week as a new code of conduct to eliminate racism has been finalised for adoption in 2023. Created by Black Lives In Music (BLIM), the code seeks to address issues around pay, inclusion, and safety for ethnically diverse members of the industry. The code follows a 2021 report by BLIM which found that 63% of Black Music makers had faced racism in the UK industry. The arts have always been a place to celebrate difference, and it is a welcome change to see the standards of conduct in music begin to be formally regulated. Belong has previously reported on the important work in challenging mental health stigma being done by Black artists in the UK and globally.
New medicine for mental health
While some choose to label Gen Z “the least resilient generation”, or deploy the overused “snowflake” insult, many of us can see that growing up with constant bombardment of negative news cycles and navigating the damaging world of social media is likely to create a generation with poorer mental health than the ones that came before it. In a new effort to tackle the issue of NHS waiting lists for mental health services, doctors in 10 regions have been given the option to prescribe surfing, rollerskating, and dancing to teens suffering from depression and anxiety. Following the cuts in funding for youth services in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, this “social prescribing” could bring about a permanent shift in dealing with poor mental health.