Eritrean refugees: The singular story of Semere’s journey to freedom.

Eritrea’s totalitarian state and climate of repression, violence  – has prompted hundreds of people to flee every day.

Semere Netsereab  was a student living a middle-class life with his parents until he fled Eritrea for the UK in September 2003.

Semere explained, “the decision to leave your loved ones behind is not easy.” Semere left Eritrea due to the government’s regime – he wanted to be ‘free’.

” I WAS TIRED OF LOOKING OVER MY SHOULDER”
SEMERE NETSEREAB, REFUGEE

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When Semere left he crossed the border to Sudan from Eritrea and lived in the capital  for two years, working to make enough money to pay criminals for his travel to the UK. 

With a pale expression and tremble in his voice,  Semere recalls the start of his journey, “we walked for three weeks in the Sahara desert – I was  dehydrated, starving and tired.”  Before arriving in Libya Semere buried three lives who did not make it.

“THE SAND BLEW IN MY EYES AS WE DUG THEIR GRAVES.”
SEMERE NETSEREAB, REFUGEE

Refugee rescued a sea. Source: Photopin

Asylum seekers rescued at sea.
Source: Photopin.

In Libya, Semere faced the worst human violation’s, he was treated like ‘an animal’. After preparations were made,  Semere and others boarded a boat to sail across the Mediterranean Sea in hopes of arriving in Italy.

An hour into their journey, the engine went down. ” We were ambushed continuously by waves, rain and cold,” said Semere. “I found myself leaning on a dead body for hours, I witnessed a woman giving birth and I remember someone saying ‘there are thousands of untold stories deep down in the sea.’ ”

Audio: part of Semere’s Journey.
Asylum seekers in Calais jungle. Source: Flickr

Asylum seekers in Calais ‘jungle.’
Source: Flickr

After being rescued by the Italian navy he boarded a train to Calais where he joined hundreds of destitute’s. While at the port Semere stated, “the adversity of winter and the constant chase by police were unbearable.”  Semere left and arrived safely in the UK via a lorry.

Semere pleads that those in a similar situation say and not gamble with their lives. “Live with your dignity in your country and die with honour in your land.

Semere is now  living and studying in  Nottingham. Semere expressed his gratitude to the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum. “They supported me to integrate into the community, grow myself esteem and confidence and start a new life,” Semere explained.

Celia Clarke BID

Celia Clarke BID

Although Semere is safe many are still in danger. Charity director of Bail for Immigration Detainees(BID), Celia Clarke urges the government to do more to protect lives like Semere. BIDUK-logo

Audio: Celia plea for society to do more.

IN DEPTH

  • 59.5 million people are displaced worldwide.
  • There are an estimated 126,000 refugees and 38,878 people applying for asylum applications.
  • Eritreans account for the largest group of people applying for asylum in the UK, with 3,726 Eritreans applying in the year ending September 2015.

 

YouTube videos “cause teens to smoke and drink.”

 

YouTube music videos ‘could pose health risks’ to teens, especially 13- to 15-year-old girls.

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health reveals that UK teens are heavily exposed to alcohol and tobacco in YouTube music videos.

Researchers at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at The University of Nottingham conducted a study involving 2,068 teens aged 11-18 and 2,232 adults from the age of 19 onwards.

The adults and teens analysed 32 top music videos to see how many references to alcohol and tobacco they noticed.

Results 

  • Levels of individual exposure were almost four times higher among teens than adults,  the figures indicated.
  • Teens aged 13 to 15 received an average of 11.48 tobacco impressions while those aged 16 to 18 received an average of 10.5. This compares with 2.85 for adults.
  • Exposure was around 65% higher among girls, with the highest numbers of tobacco impressions delivered to 13-15 year old.

 

School children in Nottingham have below average reading skills

Nottingham children are likely to start school with reading skills up to 14% behind the national average. They are also underperforming in both maths and written assessments.

According to The Department of Education,  Nottingham city has poor Level 2 SAT’s results.

Only 77 % of pupils are gaining a level four or higher, below the 79% national average.

Furthermore, Six out of ten teenagers in Nottingham leave school without five A* to C GCSE grades, including English and Maths.

Marianne Jenkins, a Nottingham librarian, believes reading is a life skill that all children need.

Video: Marianne Jenkins, Nottingham City Librarian

Members of Nottingham City Council, the literacy community, the health sector and various influential business in the city have joined together aiming to tackle Nottingham’s poor literacy rates.

The Rotary Club of Nottingham, Castle Cavendish, and Nottingham City Council are the  biggest contributors to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,  a charity which gives a free book to a child every month from birth until the age of five.

 I AM DELIGHTED THAT PARTNERS IN NOTTINGHAM ARE WORKING TOGETHER TO HELP EVEN MORE KIDS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP A LOVE OF BOOKS FROM THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE AGE.
DOLLY PARTON

In a statement, Dolly Parton said: “I am proud of the fact that every child in the Imagination Library does not have to grow up without books in their home.

I’m delighted that partners in Nottingham are working together to help even more kids have the opportunity to develop a love of books from the earliest possible age.

This programme is one of the most important ways I know to improve the educational opportunities for children.”

Another charity aiming to increase literacy levels is Nottingham CityCare.

They help give Nottingham’s 0-3-year-olds a better start in life through their Small Steps Big Changes (SSBC) – a £45m programme of activities and initiatives.

Nottingham Central Library and storytelling company Creeping Toad is also providing sessions for under-five-year-olds,

They hope  to not only improve literacy skills but to also create a passion for reading at an early age.

 

Research shows that early reading helps children to:

  • develop a love of books and reading
  • have dedicated balanced time with parents
  • discover new ideas and words
  • perform better at school in reading and writing

 

Oyster-style travel card to be launched in Nottingham

The Robin Hood card will be up and running in December and will work on all buses and trams in Nottingham.

Nottingham city council has been working alongside local transport providers to launch The Robin hood card which will now come into effect on December the 14th.

Nottingham shall become the first city outside London to use a similar oyster card style system .

The card will be available for purchase from  bus top ticket machines  in the city.

Passengers will be able to charge the card with cash and use it on the following  public transport services: NET trams, NCT buses, Kinchbus, Trent Barton and the city council’s Link bus.

” THIS IS A BETTER PROSPECT FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING THE RIGHT CHANGE, RIGHT TICKET. YOU JUST GET ON AND TRAVEL. THE SYSTEM WILL WORK OUT THE BEST FARE FOR YOU. ”

JASON CLIFFORD, NOTTINGHAM CITY COUNCIL PRINCIPAL PUBLIC TRANSPORT OFFICER 

The card will only be available for use in and around the city. Existing travel cards such as the  Mango card, Kangaroo and CityCard will still be valid.

Although, Fares will be 10 per cent cheaper than usual rates if paid for on the Robin Hood card. Nottinghamshire Campaign for Better Transport, David Thornhill, believes those on ” lower income will be affected. ”

In the future  Robin Hood cards  could  be sold from retail outlets such as newsagents, travel centres  and be available online.

The service could be expanded across Nottinghamshire. with Existing travel cards, such as Kangaroo and CityCard  being phased out.

The council believes the Robin Hood  card will make travelling easier.

How does the Robin Hood card work?
  • Passengers must present their Robin Hood cards ONCE per journey, as they board (if it is presented twice they’re charged twice).
  • A single fare is £1.70 and daily travel for one operator is £3.15. Unlimited daily travel on multiple services is £4.
  • Smart cards can be bought and topped-up from any Robin Hood Network ticket machine in the city. The minimum top up  is £10.
  • As long as there is some credit you can get a ticket, but cards can have a negative balance.

 

 

Nottingham: Free sport for adults

 

Nottingham City Council is offering residents over 16. Eight weeks of free sporting sessions.

Anyone over 16 can take part in Nottingham City Council’s Freesport programme – and people can do as many sessions as they want during the eight-week period.

The annual initiative includes beginners’ sessions in activities like tennis, netball, running, archery, badminton, table tennis, squash, cycling, swimming and basketball – as well as more advanced coaching sessions and multi-sport sessions specifically designed for those with disabilities.

The sessions will take place at Clifton Leisure Centre, Harvey Hadden Sports Village, John Carroll Leisure Centre, Ken Martin Leisure Centre, Nottingham Tennis Centre, Southglade Leisure Centre and the Victoria Leisure Centre.

All sessions are free of charge for those with who have signed up for the FREEsport subscription.  Those living outside the city are not eligible for the initiative but can still attend sessions for £2 and  attend coached sessions at £3.

 

What’s on offer 

  • Learner/ returner – For those wanting to take up a new sport or needing a new challenge. This is a relaxed introduction to sport, whether returning from long break away from the sport or just wanting to try something new
  • Sport club led – Sessions in clubs for a range of abilities from beginner to experienced, providing smooth entry into regular club activity
  • Drop in and play – This is the most flexible where players can new drop in for sessions across city leisure centres, just turn up and play your way.

 

Recent statics by The City Council have shown that Obesity in England has more than doubled in the last 27 years.

It is estimated that 27% of residents over 16 are obese in Nottingham compared with 24.5% in England. Without intervention obesity will rise for both men and women by 2050.

The city council is aiming to lower these statics with the eight weeks free sports activities for over 16s. Councillor  Dave Trimble believes it will help.

FREESPORTS IS EXCITING. PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO GET BACK INTO SPORTS OR START SPORTS THIS WILL BRING GREAT BENEFITS

COUNCILLOR  DAVE TRIMBLE

Dry January: Take a break and call time on the alcohol

 

Nottingham City Council is supporting the Dry January 2016 campaign and is encouraging people to ditch alcohol for the month.

‘ Keep January Dry‘ is an annual initiative organised by Alcohol Concern; in which people all over the world  pledge to give up alcohol for 31 days.

Last year more than two million Dry January participants from all over the world supported the campaign, in a bid to raise awareness.

This year Alcohol Concern and Nottingham City Council hope that even more people will get involved and are asking “Can you take the 31-day challenge?”

Alcohol Concern has organised 31 days of fun and important activities to keep you fit and refreshed but most importantly to keep your mind and hands off the booze.

Timetable of events for Keep January Dry.

Timetable of events for Keep January Dry.

In support, Nottingham t city council and  Last orders have a series of talks, activities and workshops at Nottingham libraries, designed to help you improve your personal well-being and alcohol consumption.

[callout]

Dry January

Health and Well Being Events – by Nottingham City Council

Last Orders will be running drop-in workshops in libraries on the following dates between 10 am and 1 pm:

Date Venue
Friday 8 January Clifton Library
Monday 11 January Meadows Library
Monday 18 January St Ann’s Valley Library
Thursday 21 January Bulwell Riverside Library
Wednesday 27 January Hyson Green Library

On displays in libraries will also be information about drinking responsibly and knowing your limits.

Nottingham has particular challenges with regards to alcohol-related harm compared with England as a whole with greater numbers drinking at higher risk levels.

Nottingham has a significantly higher rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions than England and it is increasing by approximately 11% each year.

Many Dry January participants reported losing weight, sleeping better, having more energy and clearer skin plus huge savings.

Most importantly those who are part of Dry January felt accomplished and raised money for the campaign.

Money that is donated will be invested into awareness programmes, helping to tackle the harm caused by alcohol to individuals, families and society.

Although Double Impact Service Manager, Julie Crosby says it will spread awareness in Nottingham but, unfortunately not help those with real substance abuse.

Julie Crosby from Double Impact.

For more information on Alcohol Concerns Keep January Dry campaign, visit http://www.dryjanuary.org.uk/