Checks and Balances: UK Child Poverty

Organisation, institution and countries all need measure to prevent the abuse of power, its fundamental.

Today is a perfect example of this very maxim. Enter the House of Lords, which today, by a clear majority of 290 to 192, voted to pass an amendment that will force the United Kingdom’s government to publish figures and statistic on income-related child poverty.

The very fact that the Tories are trying to avoid releasing such figures is disturbing enough in itself. They had planned to redefine the measures that determine child poverty, by looking instead at, the number of children in jobless homes, for example; a convenient indicator considering the UK unemployment rate is close to a 10 year low. The proposed changes look worse in light of the fact 3.7 million children are currently living in poverty in the UK, and 63% of those suffering are in household in which someone works, statistically sweeping child poverty under the rug.

Thankfully the scheme was denounced by child poverty charities as well as the Social Mobility Commission, chaired by former Labour MP Alan Milburn.

Although the reformed and renamed 2010 Child Poverty Act, now the Life Chances Act, had already passed through the House of Commons, it will now need to return to be debated again. Here’s hoping the current government receives the hint.

The Labour Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith said this move was “shameful”, a much more polite manner in which to put it. He went on to state that “It should be a national mission to ensure every child has a decent start in life and measuring relative wealth and narrowing the gap in incomes must be central to that task.”

But why should we deal with a problem head on when a slight change in legislation means it can be hidden from the eye of the general public right?

[Image via the Independent]







Exporting Words

Words by their definition are a tool, a means to an end. Without them communicating would be much more difficult, confusing and time confusion, with sign language being an obvious exemption to the rule.

The entire reason people write is just that, to express themselves, to be heard and to share their opinions. If not that then it’s likely they want to inform, produce a narrative or change your perceptions or opinions.

Luckily I’ve been presented with this kind of opportunity. I was invited to write a guest post for an excellent blog Engaged Explorers. As the title suggests its a blog produced by a truly loved-up couple travelling the world together, but don’t just take my word for it, here’s what they have to say:

We’re Tyler & Lauren, a Texas couple with a case of wanderlust! Here on Engaged Explorers, we share tips for living a budget-lifestyle abroad with hundreds of photos we’ve taken along the way. We share our honest insights about traveling and hope to inspire other couples to think outside of the standard 9-5

So to read my first ever guest post click here!

Of course, what’s the fun in writing if you can’t share the work of others? Kindly the courageous couple whipped out an outstanding read of there own, one which you can find here!

Enjoy and get reading!

Is It Worth It to Move Abroad

Guest post written by Lauren Ferguson from Engaged Explorers.

Last January, my fiancé and I decided to host a massive garage sale and move to China for a year.  We were both tired or our “9 to 5” jobs and wanted to see what the world had to offer.  So what better way to do that than spend a year in Asia working as English teachers?  A few weeks ago, my fiancé went back to the United States for a week and came back to China more homesick than ever.  The question “is this worth it?” was raised and it got us both to think in depth about the pros and cons of our decision.

On one hand, we had first decided to work for a year in China to save money.  This would enable us to travel the world for 8 months after our contract finish.  Already being in China as a jumping off point is a big reason for sticking out our contracts.  However, the distance and time difference from our families back home is a heavy burden to bear for so long.  We missed all of the holidays this past season and the 14-hour time difference makes it a pain to try and communicate with loved ones.  When we are waking up in China, our families are going to sleep in the States.



In Asia, we are presented with the wonderful opportunity to experience other cultures firsthand and this is a probably the number one reason for most travelers to set out on an adventure.  But in contrast, we have given up key components of our way of life from back home in order to move abroad. This part of the world comes with many new challenges such as language barriers, pollution, and varying levels of food quality. Our comforts of home have been put on hold and we have had to adjust to many differences big and small.

We understand that there is always going to be an opportunity cost to each life decision we make.  In taking one path you will always have to forego the other paths and the experiences those paths hold.  So in our situation right now we have to ask ourselves “Is this worth it”?

Have any advice for us? We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.



I Guess that Makes me a Writer?

Today has been a great day, so great a day in fact I can hardly contain myself! On this day, I took my first intrepid steps on a three month quest that I believe will prove to be the making of me. What am I wittering on about? Today was the first day of my internship at the prestigious publication: That’s Mags.

Whilst I often muse about the fact my life has lacked all measure of direction, (well most of the time it does) this will be an incredible opportunity to determine whether I have what I takes to really write interesting and engaging stuff. I know in this day and age there are hundreds of ways to crave out a path in writing, captain and champion your own career and determine your own rules. But what a way to hone and practice your craft! For the next three months I’ll be in the company of seasoned and talented writers. They will be there to lend a hand, an ear and their advice, all of which will be greatly received and appreciated. Assuming of course they don’t get sick of me. Whilst there truly is no supplement for just shear practice, but it is not often you will have the chance to experience this level of feedback.

Aside from being allowed to enter this fountain of knowledge, I can also appreciate the smaller things. Take for instance the proximity of the office to my current abode, only four stops on the metro. Or the fact I’ll be able to engage more directly and get to know this city, Shanghai, much better. You’d be hard pressed to think of any real disadvantages, and as you can imagine, none are coming to mind.

Although it is still only early days, I have had the pleasure of publishing my first article for an actual publications, which you can find right here. (Be sure to let me know what you think!) Something I wasn’t expecting to do so soon. Normally it seems, interns are expected to photocopy their soul away before being allowed to do anything related to their field.

So I leave you now, a jolly and happy man, looking forward to an excellent start in this new year, here’s to 2016, year of the Monkey.

A New Year: Hopes & Dreams

The New Year, 2016, came rolling across the globe like an unbreakable wave, that was greeted equally by thunderous applause, immense firework displays and almost total revelry. Much like the year before it, humanity gratefully welcomed its illustrious new guardian into its bosom like a ship, long out at sea, returning to port, handkerchiefs waving gleefully in the air.

A New Year can signal many different things for many different people, some rejoice at the demise of 2015, cursing it under their breath, whilst others wished it had never come to an end at all. Some people, unfortunately, didn’t see last year come to pass, through all manner of tragedies, some big and some small. It’s important to take a moment out of our hectic lives and spare them a thought, do them some honour. Now stepping away from that rather morbid turn, let us look to the future, that bright, glistening bundle of warmth and joy staring, unblinkingly, straight back at you.

What are your hopes and dreams, your wishes and requirements in 2016? I know this runs in a very similar vain, you might say, to making resolutions, something I said I wouldn’t be doing. In my eyes these are different things, resolutions are just that, resolute, you carve them into stone, place them on your hearth and command yourself to complete them (with varying levels of success). No, here the discussion is focused on what you hope this year will bring you, your desires and perhaps even your fears. So without any further ado, lets jump right in:



Something practically inescapable, this perpetual spectre looms over us all. What do you wish to achieve this year? I know that my career path is far from set. For most of my life I’ve been meandering up a creek without a paddle, entirely unsure of what I want to be doing. Currently I’m working as an ESL teacher, something I hope to move on from this year. Ideally I would like to write in some capacity and earn a living from it. How? I’m not yet sure. Maybe it’s that big promotion you seek, or maybe you’d just be happy with a raise. It’s important to set yourself some goals in this encompassing part of your life. Work towards better job satisfaction.



If work is inescapable, your health certainly is as well. But which is more important, should you focus more on one then the other? This question is a more circumstantial one. If you are comfortable or at the apex of your career, it may be time to pay a little more attention to your health. Unless of course you are a master of both, in that case, congratulations. For me, my health needs a little tweaking. A better diet (this differs greatly from needing to go on a diet) and more regular exercise, as opposed to stints consisting of varying periods of time. Lets say more consistent exercise. Healthy and sustainable living, it’s not about securing those rock hard abs, its more about ensuring I live a healthier life with a stronger body. One that will last me, with as few visits to a mechanic as possible.


Love & Dating:

Please do your best to avoid reading too deeply into the order of the two words above. Will this be the year you find ‘the one’, that person that steals your very breathe from you? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. I don’t know what I hope for in this terribly personal aspect. But it seems it cannot be avoided when dealing in such large brush strokes. All I say is this: in this department I will remain open to possibility, as I hope you will too. If you’re in the position in which you already have that person, rekindle that fire, let them know just how special they are to you.


Aside from that, it may just be time to take up a new hobby or two, read a little more, or a lot more. Go see more of the world, take a holiday and have an adventure of your own. But most of all, enjoy yourself out there!