Political

The Housing White Paper

The Housing White Paper was presented to Parliament yesterday (7th February 2017) by the Secretary of State for communities and local government, Sajid Javid.

We know that you are probably aware that it has been released, but we thought that we would provide you with a 4 part summary of the White Paper.

 

Today, we bring you part: 1 of 4.

The document, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ published yesterday, presented a clear vision as to how the government can tackle the housing crisis.

Let’s be totally honest, we have a housing market that is broken in so many ways.

However, the UK has been presented with a plan, a direction, a solution and given us hope whilst we also negotiate our exit from, and a new partnership with, the European Union. Our government want to give the future generation affordable measures so they can rent homes, own homes and the UK can flourish as a country. This can only be welcomed!

 

In the much-anticipated White Paper, the Prime Minister Theresa May began her foreword by acknowledging the challenges that the government face…

 

  • The broken housing market is one of the greatest barriers to progress in Britain today

  • Whether renting or buying, housing is increasingly unaffordable

  • The average house costs almost eight times the average earnings

  • In total, more than 2.2 million working households with below-average incomes spend a third or more of their disposable income on housing

  • We need to build many more houses, of the type people want to live in, in the places they want to live

  • More land is required for homes where people want to live

  • Up-to-date plans need to be in place

  • Ensure that homes are built quickly once planning permissions are granted

  • We’re giving councils and developers the tools they need to build more swiftly

  • We will encourage housing associations and local authorities to build more

  • Improving safeguards in the private rented sector, and doing more to prevent homelessness and to help households currently priced out of the market

  • By building the homes Britain needs and giving those renting a fairer deal

 

The foreword from the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP was straight to the point…

 

“This country doesn’t have enough homes. That’s not a personal opinion or a political calculation. It’s a simple statement of fact. For decades, the pace of house building has been sluggish at best. As a result, the number of new homes has not kept pace with our growing population.”

 

According to the Secretary of State, the White Paper explains how the government will fix the broken housing marketing. It covers the whole house building process, from finding sites to securing local support and permission as well as getting homes built quickly and sold on fair terms. But it also goes further, seeking to build consensus for a new, positive, mind-set to house building. A can-do approach that simply does not tolerate failure. The housing market has taken decades to reach the state it’s now in. Turning it around won’t be quick or easy. But it can be done. It must be done. And, as this White Paper shows, this government is determined to do it.

 

When the Housing White Paper was released yesterday, we studied it, listened about it and wanted to share our findings.

 

Here is our synopsis of the Housing White Paper 2017…

 

Part 1:

The government identifies three key challenges:

Firstly, over 40% of local planning authorities do not have a plan that meets the projected growth in households in their area… but some duck difficult decisions and don’t plan for the homes their area needs.

 

The uncertainty this creates about when and where new homes will be built is both unpopular and affects the entire house building process – slowing it right down. Without an adequate plan, homes can end up being built on a speculative basis, with no co-ordination and limited buy-in from local people. Secondly, the pace of development is too slow – This government’s reforms have led to a large increase in the number of homes being given planning permission. But there is a large gap between permissions granted and new homes built. Finally, the very structure of the housing market makes it harder to increase supply. Housing associations have been doing well – they’re behind around a third of all new housing completed over the past five years 17 but the commercial developers still dominate the market. And within that sector, a handful of very big companies are responsible for most new building.

The cause of our housing shortage is simple enough – not enough homes are being built. Fixing it is more complex.

 

The government indicates that it will do the following:

 

Firstly, we need to plan for the right homes in the right places. This is critical to the success of our modern industrial strategy. Growing businesses need a skilled workforce living nearby, and employees should be able to move easily to where jobs are without being forced into long commutes. But at the moment, some local authorities can duck potentially difficult decisions, because they are free to come up with their own methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’. So, we are going to consult on a new standard methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’, and encourage councils to plan on this basis. We will insist that every area has an up-to-date plan. And we will increase transparency around land ownership, so it is clear where land is available for housing and where individuals or organisations are buying land suitable for housing but not building on it. Secondly, build homes faster. We will invest in making the planning system more open and accessible, and tackle unnecessary delays. Development is about far more than just building homes. Communities need roads, rail links, schools, shops, GP surgeries, parks, playgrounds and a sustainable natural environment. Without the right infrastructure, no new community will thrive – and no existing community will welcome new housing if it places further strain on already stretched local resources. We’re giving councils and developers the tools they need to build more swiftly, and we expect them to use them. Local authorities should not put up with applicants who secure planning permission but don’t use it. Finally, diversify the housing market, opening it up to smaller builders and those who embrace innovative and efficient methods. We set out how we will support housing associations to build more, explore options to encourage local authorities to build again, encourage institutional investment in the private rented sector and promote more modular and factory built homes. We will also make it easier for people who want to build their own homes.

The government acknowledges that the shortage in supply will not solve itself. They note that the housing shortage isn’t a looming crisis, a distant threat that will become a problem if we fail to act. We’re already living in it. Our population could stop growing and net migration could fall to zero, but people would still be living in overcrowded, unaffordable accommodation. Infrastructure would still be overstretched. This problem is not going to go away by itself. If we fail to build more homes, it will get ever harder for ordinary working people to afford a roof over their head, and the damage to the wider economy will get worse. They acknowledge that tackling the housing shortage won’t be easy. It will inevitably require some tough decisions.

The proposals in this White Paper set out how the government intends to boost housing supply and, over the long term, create a more efficient housing market whose outcomes more closely match the needs and aspirations of all households and which supports wider economic prosperity.

 

The list of proposals are summarised as:

 

Right Homes in the Right Places. Building Homes Faster. Diversifying the market. Helping People now.

We address each of these proposals in detail.

 

Summary of proposals from Part: 1

 

NPPF Amendments:

 

  • Plans and policies should not duplicate one another

  • Tighten the definition of what evidence is required to support a ‘sound’ plan

  • Amend the tests of what is expected of a ‘sound’ plan, to make clear that it should set out ‘an’ appropriate strategy for the area

  • From April 2018 the new methodology for calculating housing requirements would apply as the baseline for assessing 5 year housing land supply and housing delivery in the absence of an up-to-date plan

  • Local planning authorities are expected to have clear policies for addressing the housing requirements of groups with particular needs

  • Identified housing requirement should be accommodated unless there are policies elsewhere in the National Planning Policy Framework that provide strong reasons for restricting development

  • Provide a strong reason to restrict development when preparing plans

  • The presumption in favour of sustainable development could be clarified further through some additional adjustments

  • Indicate that great weight should be attached to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes

  • Encourage local planning authorities to consider the social and economic benefits of estate regeneration

  • Encourage a more proactive approach by authorities to bringing forward new settlements

  • Make clear that authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements

  • Make efficient use of land and avoid building homes at low densities

  • Address the particular scope for higher-density housing in urban locations

  • Ensure that the density and form of development reflect the character, accessibility and infrastructure capacity of an area

  • Make a flexible approach in adopting and applying policy and guidance that could inhibit these objectives

  • Amend national planning guidance to highlight planning approaches that can be used to help support higher densities

  • Review the Nationally Described Space Standard and how it is used in planning

Regulations

  • They will set out in Regulations a requirement for these documents to be reviewed at least once every five years

  • Authorities are expected to prepare a Statement of Common Ground

  • Strategies require unanimous agreement of the members of the combined authority, regulations will allow them to allocate strategic sites

  • Local planning authorities are able to dispose of land with the benefit of planning consent which they have granted to themselves

  • Consultations

  • Make decisions on intervention on the basis of criteria, as set out in the consultation – making use of its existing powers and those proposed in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill

  • Consult on options for introducing a more standardised approach to assessing housing requirements

  • Consult on using powers in the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 to issue a new General Disposal Consent, which would enable authorities to dispose of land held for planning purposes at less than best consideration without the need for specific consent from the Secretary of State

 

General Proposals

 

  • Allow spatial development strategies to allocate strategic sites

  • Increase the amount of planning data that is easily available to individuals, groups, entrepreneurs and businesses

  • Pilot programme for data presentation

  • Local planning authorities should be able to demonstrate that they have a clear strategy to maximise the use of suitable land in their area

  • Local planning authorities are expected to provide neighbourhood planning groups with a housing requirement figure

  • Expect local planning authorities to have policies that support the development of small ‘windfall’ sites

  • Indicate that great weight should be given to using small undeveloped sites within settlements for homes

  • Highlight the opportunities that neighbourhood plans present for identifying and allocating small sites that are suitable for housing

  • Encourage local planning authorities to identify opportunities for villages to thrive

  • Give much stronger support for ‘rural exception’ sites that provide affordable homes for local people

  • At least 10% of the sites allocated for residential development in local plans should be sites of half a hectare or less

  • Work with developers to encourage the sub-division of large sites

 

Funding & Infrastructure

 

  • Use the new £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund to encourage and support collaboration

  • Decisions on infrastructure investment take better account of the opportunities to support new and existing communities

 

Power of Direction

 

  • Allow the Secretary of State to direct a group of authorities to work together

  • Remove the policy expectation that each local planning authority should produce a single local plan

  • Set out in policy the key strategic priorities that every area is expected to plan for

  • HM Land Registry & Land Control

  • Government will collate and make openly available a complete list of all unregistered publicly held land by April 2018

  • Government will ensure completion of the Land Register

  • Government will ensure completion of the Land Register

  • Publicly-held land in the areas of greatest housing need will be registered by 2020

  • Improve the availability of data about wider interests in land

  • Will consult on improving the transparency of contractual arrangements used to control land

  • HM Land Registry will be modernised to become a digital and data-driven registration business

  • Examine how HM Land Registry and the Ordnance Survey can work more closely together

  • Government will ensure completion of the Land Register

  • HM Land Registry will make available, free of charge, its commercial and corporate ownership data set, and the overseas ownership data set

  • Consult on how the Land Register can better reflect wider interests in land

  • HM Land Registry will make available, free of charge, its commercial and corporate ownership data set, and the overseas ownership data set

  • Simplify the current restrictive covenant regime

 

Green Belt & New Towns

 

Legislate to enable the creation of locally accountable New Town Development Corporations

  • Amend policy to encourage a more proactive approach by authorities to bringing forward new settlements

  • Amend national policy to make clear that authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements

  • Where land is removed from the Green Belt, local policies should require the impact to be offset

  • National policy to make clear that when carrying out a Green Belt review, local planning authorities should look first at using any Green Belt land which has been previously developed and/or which surrounds transport hubs

  • Appropriate facilities for existing cemeteries are not to be regarded as ‘inappropriate development’

  • Development brought forward under a Neighbourhood

  • Development Order should also not be regarded as ‘inappropriate’

  • Where a local or strategic plan has demonstrated the need for Green Belt boundaries to be amended, the detailed boundary may be determined through a neighbourhood plan

  • Legislate to enable the creation of locally accountable New Town

 

Development Corporations

 

  • Where land is removed from the Green Belt, local policies should require the impact to be offset

  • When carrying out a Green Belt review, local planning authorities should look first at using any Green Belt land which has been previously developed and/or which surrounds transport hubs

  • Appropriate facilities for existing cemeteries are not to be regarded as ‘inappropriate development’

  • Development brought forward under a Neighbourhood Development Order should also not be regarded as inappropriate

  • Where a local or strategic plan has demonstrated the need for Green Belt boundaries to be amended, the detailed boundary may be determined through a neighbourhood plan

  • Local planning authorities are expected to provide neighbourhood planning groups with a housing requirement figure

 

Local & Neighbourhood

 

  • Local and neighbourhood plans (at the most appropriate level) and more detailed development plan documents (such as action area plans) are expected to set out clear design expectations

  • Strengthens the importance of early pre-application discussions

  • Design should not be used as a valid reason to object to development where it accords with clear design expectations set out in statutory plans

 

Recognizes the value of using a widely accepted design standard What are your thoughts? Have your say…

 

The consultation will begin on 7 February 2017. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will close on 2 May 2017. All responses should be received by no later than 23:45 on 2 May 2017.

 

This consultation is open to everyone. The government are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across the public and private sectors, as well as from the general public.

 

During the consultation, if you have any enquiries, please contact: planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk

You may respond by completing an online survey.

 

Alternatively you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to: planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk

If you are responding in writing, please make it clear which questions you are responding to. Written responses should be sent to:

 

Planning Policy Consultation Team Department for Communities and Local Government

Third Floor, South East Fry Building 2 Marsham Street

SW1P 4DF

 

When you reply it would be very useful if you confirm whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and include:

 

Your name Your position (if applicable) The name of organisation (if applicable) An address (including post-code) An email address A contact telephone number

Consultation questions for Part: 1

 

Question 1

Do you agree with the proposals to:

a) Make clear in the National Planning Policy Framework that the key strategic policies that each local planning authority should maintain are those set out currently at paragraph 156 of the Framework, with an additional requirement to plan for the allocations needed to deliver the area’s housing requirement?

b) Use regulations to allow Spatial Development Strategies to allocate strategic sites, where these strategies require unanimous agreement of the members of the combined authority? c) Revise the National Planning Policy Framework to tighten the definition of what evidence is required to support a ‘sound’ plan?

 

Question 2

What changes do you think would support more proportionate consultation and examination procedures for different types of plan and to ensure that different levels of plans work together?

 

Question 3

Do you agree with the proposals to:

a) Amend national policy so that local planning authorities are expected to have clear policies for addressing the housing requirements of groups with particular needs, such as older and disabled people? b) From early 2018, use a standardised approach to assessing housing requirements as the baseline for every year housing supply calculations and monitoring housing delivery, in the absence of an up-to-date plan?

 

Question 4

Do you agree with the proposals to amend the presumption in favour of sustainable development so that:

a) Authorities are expected to have a clear strategy for maximising the use of suitable land in their areas? b) It makes clear that identified development needs should be accommodated unless there are strong reasons for not doing so set out in the NPPF? c) The list of policies which the Government regards as providing reasons to restrict development is limited to those set out currently in footnote 9 of the National Planning Policy Framework (so these are no longer presented as examples), with the addition of Ancient Woodland and aged or veteran trees? d) Its considerations are re-ordered and numbered, the opening text is simplified and specific references to local plans are removed?

 

Question 5

Do you agree that regulations should be amended so that all local planning authorities are able to dispose of land with the benefit of planning consent which they have granted to them?

 

Question 6

How could land pooling make a more effective contribution to assembling land, and what additional powers or capacity would allow local authorities to play a more active role in land assembly (such as where ‘ransom strips’ delay or prevent development)?

 

Question 7

Do you agree that national policy should be amended to encourage local planning authorities to consider the social and economic benefits of estate regeneration when preparing their plans and in decisions on applications, and use their planning powers to help deliver estate regeneration to a high standard?

 

Question 8

Do you agree with the proposals to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to:

a) Highlight the opportunities that neighbourhood plans present for identifying and allocating small sites that are suitable for housing? b) Encourage local planning authorities to identify opportunities for villages to thrive, especially where this would support services and help meet the authority’s housing needs? c) Give stronger support for‘rural exception’ sites – to make clear that these should be considered positively where they can contribute to meeting identified local housing needs, even if this relies on an element of general market housing to ensure that homes are genuinely affordable for local people? d) Make clear that on top of the allowance made for windfall sites, at least 10% of sites allocated for residential development in local plans should be sites of half a hectare or less? e) Expect local planning authorities to work with developers to encourage the sub-division of large sites? and encourage greater use of Local Development Orders and area-wide design codes so that small sites may be brought forward for development more quickly?

 

Question 9

How could streamlined planning procedures support innovation and high-quality development in new garden towns and villages?

 

Question 10

Do you agree with the proposals to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to make clear that:

a) Authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements? b) Where land is removed from the Green Belt, local policies should require compensatory improvements to the environmental quality or accessibility of remaining Green Belt land? c) Appropriate facilities for existing cemeteries should not to be regarded as ‘inappropriate development’ in the Green Belt? d) Development brought forward under a Neighbourhood Development Order should not be regarded as inappropriate in the Green Belt, provided it preserves openness and does not conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt? e) Where a local or strategic plan has demonstrated the need for Green Belt boundaries to be amended, the detailed boundary may be determined through a neighbourhood plan (or plans) for the area in question? f) When carrying out a Green Belt review, local planning authorities should look first at using any Green Belt land which has been previously developed and/or which surrounds transport hubs?

 

Question 11

Are there particular options for accommodating development that national policy should expect authorities to have explored fully before Green Belt boundaries are amended, in addition to the ones set out above?

 

Question 12

Do you agree with the proposals to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to:

a) Indicate that local planning authorities should provide neighbourhood planning groups with a housing requirement figure, where this is sought? b) Make clear that local and neighbourhood plans (at the most appropriate level) and more detailed development plan documents (such as action area plans) are expected to set out clear design expectations; and that visual tools such as design codes can help provide a clear basis for making decisions on development proposals? c) Emphasise the importance of early pre- application discussions between applicants, authorities and the local community about design and the types of homes to be provided? d) Makes clear that design should not be used as a valid reason to object to development where it accords with clear design expectations set out in statutory plans? e) Recognise the value of using a widely accepted design standard, such as Building for Life, in shaping and assessing basic design principles – and make clear that this should be reflected in plans and given weight in the planning process?

 

Question 13

Do you agree with the proposals to amend national policy to make clear that plans and individual development proposals should:

a) Make efficient use of land and avoid building homes at low densities where there is a shortage of land for meeting identified housing needs? b) Address the particular scope for higher- density housing in urban locations that are well served by public transport, that provide opportunities to replace low-density uses in areas of high housing demand, or which offer scope to extend buildings upwards in urban areas? c) Ensure that in doing so the density and form of development reflect the character, accessibility and infrastructure capacity of an area, and the nature of local housing needs? d) Take a flexible approach in adopting and applying policy and guidance that could inhibit these objectives in particular circumstances, such as open space provision in areas with good access to facilities nearby?

 

Question 14

In what types of location would indicative minimum density standards be helpful, and what should those standards be?

 

Question 15

What are your views on the potential for delivering additional homes through more intensive use of existing public sector sites, or in urban locations more generally, and how this can best be supported through planning (using tools such as policy, local development orders, and permitted development rights)?

 

Further questions relating to parts 2, 3 and 4 will be issued for your consideration so hold your response until you have reviewed all the questions. Use this opportunity to have your say.

In the papers today…

 

There are some interesting comments in the news today with regards to the White Paper.

 

“Housing experts find more to criticise than praise in the government’s plan and is branded beyond feeble by Labour to solve the housing crisis.”

“Home ownership is a distant dream.”

 

Tomorrow we will return to Part: 2 of our review of the Housing White Paper 2017…

The second proposal – ‘Building Homes Faster’.

Body art and health risks

Think before you ink

 

There is a significant public health concern about toxic metals found in the human body through having a tattoo.

 

Nanoparticles from pigments and impurities found in tattoo ink travel around the body on a potential course of destruction. Research has revealed that tattoo ink can be responsible for a chronic enlargement of the lymph nodes and a breakdown in the immune system.

 

Human beings need healthy lymph nodes which are small glands to fight infection and filter out viruses and bacteria that can cause many different illnesses. Doctors are warning those with weak immune systems not to have tattoos. The caution comes after a woman with cystic fibrosis and lung transplants developed knee pain after having a tattoo on her leg which caused major complications. (1)

 

 

 

Infection from unsterilised tattoo needles and the transmission of diseases were always the focus of concern when it came to having a tattoo but now the potentially high levels of toxic elements found in the ink have hit the headlines.

 

Tattoos and heavy metal...

 

Most people have a story behind their tattoos, simple or intricate designs that can be decorative, symbolic or pictorial. With 24% of the population ‘inked’, it’s clear to see that this form of body modification is very popular. However, the process of having a tattoo involves breaking the skin barrier with a needle and injecting coloured ink into the dermis. Research has revealed that the preservatives and contaminants in the ink travel to the lymph nodes and they become tinted with the colours in the tattoo. (2) The ink pigment is a ‘foreign body’ and the immune system responds and attempts to clear it, the tattooed skin swells and tiny particles of the ink are carried away in the bloodstream via the white blood cells. Some of the particles can be too big to be removed and they stay in the body. (3)

 

The heavy metals found in tattoo ink such as mercury, lead, common rust, iron oxide, cobalt and nickel stay in your body when you have a tattoo. In addition to that, research by the ESFR (European Synchrotron Radiation Family) has revealed that nickel and chromium come away from the tattoo needle through wear and tear and those metals travel around the body too. When a tattoo ink contains titanium dioxide (a white pigment often mixed with bright colours such as green, blue and red), it abrades the needle. The researchers claim that the metals inside the pigment could explain why some people suffer from allergic reactions to tattoos. (4) After a tattoo is done, scar tissue may form which can develop in small lumps known as granulomas and if a person with a tattoo has an MRI scan the tattoo can swell or burn which can interfere with the quality of the scanned image.

 

In July 2018 Health24.com reported about a woman who had a tattoo of a heart put on her ankle, six weeks later the tattoo became bumpy and the red ink colour was fading. The use of antiseptic cream didn’t help so she went to see a dermatologist who had to surgical remove the tattoo due to the lady’s allergic reaction to the metallic content in the red ink. (5)

 

There is ongoing research into tattoo ink being done by the FDA (Food and Drink Administration) in the U.S. They said that there are still a lot of questions about the long-term effects of the pigments and other ingredients including contaminants in the ink. The FDA has received reports of bad reactions to tattoo ink right after and even years later the tattoo has bee done, suggesting a person may become allergic to other products such as hair dyes if a tattoo contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD). (6)

 

Having a tattoo can come with complications and health risks, some reactions can be severe:

 

  • Infiltration of the lymph nodes obstructing its ability to fight infection

  • Behavioural dysfunction

  • Damage to the central and peripheral nervous system

  • Kidney and liver function issues

  • Sepsis (blood poisoning)

  • Allergic reactions

  • Skin conditions such as eczema

  • Birth defects

  • Swelling

 

Treatments for such issues can sometimes be extensive with the use of antibiotics, hospitalization, surgery or worse case - fatality.

 

Whilst tattoos are supposed to be permanent, there is an option for laser treatment to remove the tattoo or as much of it as they can. It takes a gradual series of laser treatments where the energy of the laser breaks down the tattoo ink into tiny fragments that are absorbed into the bloodstream and passed out of the body. The process comes with discomfort and limitations and it can be pricey. Sometimes the tattoo can’t be entirely removed but some pigments can stay in the skin where there is a risk of scarring. The FDA said that there is no long-term research to show the damage that can be caused by laser treatment and the excretion of metals.

 

Having tattoos can become an addiction with some people choosing to cover their whole body with ink. In the USA tattoo inks are subject to regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as are cosmetics and colour additives, however, it’s not generally exercised. There is no process across Europe for assessing the safety of tattoo inks although some countries in the EU have their legislation. It is highly advised to seek out professional and trained tattoo artists who have bloodborne pathogen training.

 

Supposedly, tests aren’t carried out on animals to see what the effects of tattoo ink and the metallic content are long-term. It is early days for research into this topic but you have to ask yourself what is going on inside the body of a person covered in tattoos or their tattoos are fading and spreading. The human body is designed to fight off foreign bodies and toxic elements but there has to be a limit to what it can withstand. By taking certain supplements you can enable your body to excrete some toxic metals.

 

DMSA-Pro contains DMSA which is a known potent chelator of mercury and lead. Regular use can help to lower your body burdens of mercury by enabling you to excrete safely and naturally the toxic metals that enter our bodies by some of the most unexpected sources like tattoos. Alternatively, EDTA Pro is a potent chelating agent that supports the removal of heavy metals and harmful mineral deposits from the body’s tissues and organs. EDTA Pro also includes malic acid commonly found in fruit which plays a vital role in energy production through the metabolic cycle, as well as garlic, a natural antioxidant and immunity booster.

 

The history of tattoos goes back to Egyptian mummies where there is clear evidence of body art on mummified bodies. In 1902 an article in ‘Pearson’s Magazine’ featured a recommended beauty procedure, ‘painless pricking of the skin’ to give an all year round pink complexion for women. During the war, Ludwig Eisenburg was the ‘tattooist of Auschwitz’ tattooing identification numbers on prisoners.

 

People choose to have a tattoo for many reasons such as the remembrance of a loved one, a battle won against disease or an image of something poignant in their life. A tattoo can be a declaration of love, devotion or admiration for body art and design. There are so many quotes summarising the passion some people have for their tattoos, “My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story” and “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.”. If having body art on your body brings positive emotions then that’s a good thing, for some, it’s like a form of therapy - an expression of experience and a story.

 

A tattoo can be a beautiful picture, a picture is worth a thousand words but your health is worth a lot more.

 

References:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/jun/18/tattoo-health-warning-for-people-with-weakened-immune-systems

  2. https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-found-new-proof-that-your-tattoos-travel-around-your-body/page-2

  3. https://www.bio-rad-antibodies.com/blog/how-macrophages-make-tattoos-last.html

  4. https://www.esrf.eu/home/news/general/content-news/general/metal-particles-abraded-from-tattooing-needles-travel-inside-the-body.htm

  5. https://www.health24.com/Medical/Skin/About-skin/5-dangerous-health-risks-of-tattoos-20180504

  6. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/think-you-ink-are-tattoos-safe

 

Further reading:

 

https://www.livescience.com/50996-tattoos-have-long-term-risks.html

 

http://www.transbiomedicine.com/translational-biomedicine/efficacy-of-oral-dmsa-and-intravenous-edta-in-chelation-of-toxic-metals-and-improvement-of-the-number-of-stem-progenitor-cells-in-circulation.pdf

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/03/ancient-egyptian-mummy-tattoos-spd/

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35400010

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-42568390

 

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/08/20/what-to-know-before-getting-a-medical-alert-tattoo

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/07/eu-proposals-limit-chemicals-tattoo-inks-cancer-fears

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo_ink

Mental health

 

 

Let the music play!

To my readers,

 

I’m not male and I’m not claiming to be an expert in mental health or men!

 

I strive to understand men. (I’m smiling)

 

I’m a storyteller and a messenger – someone who has been inspired to write an article because of a noticeable change in men’s behaviour over the last couple of years and men’s mental health has been in the news headlines recently.

 

I feel now would be a good time to introduce the 3 wise men that I am travelling with through this article…

 

I have enrolled the help of Mark, Andrew and Winston. Who, by true definition of the word ‘wise’ show experience, knowledge and good judgement and they have kindly taken the time to tell me their stories.

They all bring a different story to the table and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contribution to a serious topic.

 

Men’s mental health hit the headlines recently when studies revealed that on average 84 men in the UK take their lives every week and in the USA, 7 out of 10 suicides are committed by men.

 

It is said that people who die by suicide most probably don’t want to end their lives they want to end their pain. With that in mind, if you are reading this and you feel that you’re not in a good place, I would like to encourage you to talk to someone - speak to a family member, a doctor or an expert. As always, your stories or coping mechanisms may be of use to others so by all means contact me and we can share them if that is what you would like.

 

If you are a sufferer, know this:

  • Your feelings are valid

  • You have the right to feel whatever you want

  • You aren’t exaggerating

  • You aren’t being too sensitive

  • You are most probably hurting so it’s ok to feel sad or down

  • Sometimes it’s exhausting having to be strong all the time and it’s ok to cry

  • Mental illness is not a personal failure and to seek help or open up is a show of strength and it is to be respected

  • We are not superhuman – we all have feelings and emotions

 

State of mind and the ‘invisible illness’

 

Mental health problems are sometimes described as the ‘invisible illness.’

It’s true, we can’t see or tell how people really feel. We don’t and can’t really know what is actually going on in someone else’s head.

 

If you are dealing with someone who is struggling, the most powerful words you can use are, ‘I believe you.’

 

My comments and opinions come from research, observations and experience – I’m not saying that I am right. What I do know is words can be powerful and the right ones at the right time said in the right way can make a big positive difference to someone’s state of mind.

 

The same can be said the other way.

 

 

Let’s transition now…

 

Let’s bring this article up a beat!

 

Ah yes, the beat!

 

Music… it lifts the soul and floods the mind with memories.

 

The relationship between music and the state of mind is fascinating and this is the perfect link to my first contributor Mark Nesbitt. Mark is a keen dancer who can claim to cut shapes and take 70,000 musical steps on a single visit to a dance venue! (It’s true)

 

Mark Nesbitt - Mentor and Director of ‘Proactive People’

 

 

Mark has a history of helping people – charity work, fundraising, a business development advisor and a life motivator.

Mark speaks to people every day, people who face challenges and want to improve their life performance and wellbeing. I felt Mark was ideal to talk to about this topic because of his job role and his general outlook on life.

He glows! By that I mean he has a healthy, motivating presence that makes you feel like you want to get the best out of yourself.

 

Hence he is very good at what he does!

 

Mark kindly agreed to offer his insights and views on men’s mental health by answering the following questions:

 

How long have you been a mentor?

 

“I’ve been running my own business since 2002 and had a couple of great mentors myself before making the decision to become a mentor in 2015. In some ways, I’ve been mentoring my management team for many years before this but it was in 2015 that I started working with people outside my business.”

 

In the past men have been reluctant to express emotions and admit their struggles and challenges. Being a closed book may have limited their progression at work. Have you seen a change in this?

 

“I agree that being a closed book has the potential to limit your progress at work and life in general. I don’t think I’m old and wise enough to give a good historical account of the changes but I would say that all of the men I’ve mentored, and I’d include myself in this, find it difficult to share their deepest emotions and to admit their weaknesses. In my experience, the male ego really slows down men’s ability to reach their full potential. Humble men, in touch with their emotional side, with awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, are best placed to progress not just at work but in life.”

 

What advice would you give to a man who is facing mental challenges that are affecting his performance at work?

 

“What I have found is that men can change themselves, with guidance, desire and dedication. The options for seeking guidance include self-help books, speaking to your manager or someone you’re close to. Working with a coach or mentor can accelerate this learning.

The foundation for my mentoring programme is making good habits because I believe success and happiness come from what you choose to do or not do every day.

Exercise, healthy eating, supplements and good sleep will help men with mental health issues.”

 

Thank you Mark for sharing your valuable insights with us.

 

Music and exercise link me to my next contributor, Andrew Wilson.

 

To some, the value of music is priceless. For Andrew, it is like a sedative and you can actually see any physical or mental stress drain away from his body as he strums on his guitar.

 

Andrew Wilson – 50 yrs old, has a stressful corporate job and 2 children

 

Andrew suffers a lot with physical pain and with a history of relationship challenges it has tested his mental health. I asked Andrew to help me with this topic because sometimes it appears he is in pain 24/7 and I don’t know how he keeps going.

 

He has the ability to hide his suffering and be the kindest, most giving person who people naturally warm to. He is like a music playing guardian angel.

 

I asked Andrew…

 

What has caused your pain, what level is it at and how long have you suffered?

 

“I’ve led a very active life and was lucky with few injuries until at 35 years old.

I had a heavy head-on impact on the top of my head during a rugby game, caused by running into a big prop, which jarred all the way down my neck. I carried on, but that was the start of my problems and despite the physiotherapist assuring me it would be 6 weeks to recovery, he was wrong. I was 4 weeks in a collar and 6 months before I played again.

Since then, I have had 2 MRI scans which confirmed compressed C4, 5 & 6, which I was told – quote, “will give you hell” sometimes. This was an understatement!

This ailment affects me more as I get older, weekly at least. The pain level varies between 2 and 8 out of 10 where 10 is high, but I always have some discomfort with neck/back muscles at least.

Further shoulder dislocation and AC joint damaged due to mountain biking and snowboard injuries didn’t help, but the neck is worst, with recurring problems, often starting after sleeping, where my position and pillows are critical.

Immediately after waking I regularly get pain and headaches which last between 1 and 2 days and Ibuprofen doesn’t help.

Numb little and ring fingers and fuzzy vision are quite common issues.”

 

How do you think it has affected you mentally? Has it prevented you from doing things?

 

“This definitely affects me both physically and mentally. There is a tendency not to take as many risks for fear of further injury, but perhaps that is just age and self-preservation kicking in? The biggest problem is concentrating during extended periods in pain.

Work can be a real issue, perhaps once a week if headaches are rife and certainly socialising can be difficult.

Another unpleasant side effect is that soon after drinking, I tend to get a hangover, even after moderate amounts – like 4 glasses of wine, so typically when everyone is getting lively, I crash out with head and neck ache after say 4 hours.

The on-going and recurring pain is debilitating some days and wears you down physically and mentally. You do get used to it, but when you find some relief, such as a massage, you realise just how much pain you are living with day to day.

It’s exhausting sometimes and at those times, it’s hard to get out of the door and it can lead to depression at times and emotional fragility.

I have broken down and cried several times with the on-going pain. It may even be adding to my “anxiety” issues which make it hard to cope day to day. Work and big Airports generate a lot of stress for me.”

 

What methods have you tried to relieve your suffering, have you found anything that has helped?

 

“I’ve tried many ways of reducing suffering, but bizarrely, no matter how bad it is, exercise often helps!

For me, training and staying fit is paramount and always helps, though I have to be careful not to aggravate the injury.

Keeping my mind occupied often helps by distracting me from the pain. Music is a great relief plus I find relief in researching anything of interest online.

I tried Physiotherapy, repeated Chiropractors, masseurs and best relief so far is from Acupuncture, suction cups and local massage.

Anti-inflammatory drugs don’t work sadly. Currently, I’m trying Hypnotherapy as well but only just started so I’m not sure on the results as yet.

Note all of these are temporary reprieves rather than fixes – There is no magic cure, though an operation may help, but has a high risk of paralysis if it goes wrong I am told….Not worth the risk unless my life is ruined was the surgeon’s advice. However, at times I have felt I can’t carry on and struggled to exist, though perhaps that is my character, rather than a result of the injury. A bit manic I would add.

However, there is hope and if I can get 6 good days a week, I can manage the bad 1. I’m sure some people have it worse but at the bad times, it doesn’t seem so and getting through the day is hard. Looking around at so many unfit people is really odd as I can see they aren’t suffering as they move around as I am and that just seems to emphasize the pain.

After saying all this, I still love life and live it to the maximum. I snowboard, run, cycle on and off road, go to concerts and date! It’s just learning to manage it on the bad days and how not to aggravate it.”

 

Thank you so much Andrew for being honest about your pain and how it has affected you with your work and personal life. I’m sure there are many men out there that can relate to your anxieties.

 

My final contributor is Winston. He pushes his body physically and mentally trying to achieve what to most of us would find the unachievable. Winston’s lifestyle lacks regularity, routine or downtime. He is a male Duracell battery bunny, he just keeps going! And smiling!

 

When you spend time with Winston, you are in a state of internal and external laughter. He is what you would call, a tonic!

 

His efforts, resilience and determination are very impressive. Winston has installed a coping mechanism that has given him the ability to move on through the testing times that a lot of men would crumble at. His taste in music is interesting. Winston’s playlists tell a story in itself and I struggle to take him seriously when he puts on Je t’aime!

 

Winston Simms - 55 yrs old, has a physically demanding job and a young daughter

 

 

I think we can all agree that in our very early years, we truly believe that our parents are always right - as much as that annoys us at the time.

We think that our parents are the last people in the world that would inflict hurt or pain on us.

 

As we grow up, a lot of people realise that’s not the case. Those two people who dabbed your knee when it bled and read bedtime stories aren’t the people you thought they were.

 

Forgive the sad negativity at this point. I’m setting the scene for Winston’s story.

 

Like a lot of men, juggling single parenting, work, relationships and reality is a challenge. When carrying the scars of disturbing emotional experiences it’s sometimes tough to cope and it’s exhausting.

 

Winston was happy to open up and answer the following questions:

 

Do you think the relationship someone has with either of their parents can affect that person in a big way later in life?

 

“I have faced some challenges in my life due to the relationship that I had with my mother and it has caused me some issues. It really screws your head up when your own mother lets you down. A mother, above anyone else, is supposed to protect you. When she lets you down, it makes it difficult to trust anyone else. It really plays with your head.”

 

Are you happy to talk about it, do you think men, in general, are happy to open up about their feelings these days?

 

“It seems to be more acceptable for men to express themselves now. I can’t say I make a habit of it talking about emotions and worries at the pub with my male mates, it’s mainly to my female friends that I talk to.

I'm ok to talk about my mother now but I wasn’t comfortable talking about it so much when I was younger. My mum was battling her own demons when I was a child. Unfortunately, she was emotionally selfish and it affected me, my brothers and sisters. When my parents split up I was 10 and my dad got custody of us. I dread to think what would have happened if he hadn’t fought for us. I felt guilty for leaving mum so I did go to visit or stay with her at times but it normally ended up messy. Quite often I would find her at the bottom of a bottle and she would prance around half dressed like a bloody belly dancer. It was embarrassing and intimidating, it wasn’t right. She didn’t seem to care much about what she did around us and her life was about her and her needs. I felt really let down and very sad and sometimes angry. ”

 

Has it stopped you from having loving and caring relationships with women?

 

“It hasn't stopped me but I think it has prevented me from totally committing to a woman because if I do, she may do the same as my mother did. I wouldn't want to put myself through that loss again. I wouldn't say it's caused me mental health problems. It was an issue when I was younger and I had some counselling.

I would encourage any men to talk things through with people. It's not healthy to bottle things up. Believe me, I don’t bottle anything up anymore and boy does it get rid of the anxieties and eggshell feelings that I used to have. I have met some great women in my life but always been afraid to tell them I loved them for fear of rejection. Maybe I haven’t met the right one yet. I hope I do, I don’t want to end up sad and lonely like my mum who is full of bitterness.”

 

Has it affected your work and prevented you from progressing?

 

“I wouldn’t say it’s stopped me from doing well in my job but I do find I am less tolerant than what perhaps I should be. I can’t be dealing with selfish people who are disrespectful and I will say something. Sometimes it might be easier to turn the other cheek but I don’t like bullies. I’m very conscious of mental bullying, it isn’t healthy or nice. What my mother did teach me was how not to treat others. I’ve chosen not to let her failings affect me and it makes me even more determined to be a great dad! ”

 

I wrapped up the interview with one final question…

 

Winston, what do you recommend men do to achieve good mental wellbeing?

 

“Be strong like me, like bull.”

 

(I’m laughing)

 

Thank you for sharing your story Winston. It sounds like your childhood was challenging and I’m sure there are men that have had to cope with similar situations.

Having spent time with Mark, Andrew and Winston it has made me think more about men’s feelings and emotions. I was impressed with how willing they were to open up to me and hopefully that is ‘the sign of the times’ - men learning to express their emotions and feelings.

 

We will be returning to this topic…

 

One thing is for certain, men find music therapeutic so I say let the music play!

 

If you are having a bad day, turn the music up grab your air guitar – sing, dance and express yourself.

 

Don’t suffer in silence.

Drugs

Enhance your productivity - don't limit yourself

 

How productive are you, do you wish you could achieve more in your day or your life?

Is life a struggle, are you achieving your goals or do you feel limited?

 

The box office hit film ‘Limitless’ was based on a character ‘Eddie Mora’ and what became his addiction to the pill NZT 48. Eddie was a stagnant writer with no confidence, but the NZT 48 pill changed his life. He became a man without limits. Eddie was a high achiever, accomplishing his goals and fulfilling his desires.

The pill was a clear tablet, a fiction drug that activated the brain and abolished natural limitations of the ability to think. When taken, his cognitive thinking exploded.

 

“What I could do in my day was limitless, suddenly, I knew everything about everything. It was as if I was blind but now I can see. ” His confidence and achievements rocketed!

In the film the pill was addictive and it triggered hallucinations, hyper behaviour, OCD, loss of appetite and sometimes, “a sparkling cocktail of useless information”.

 

Moving away from fiction and back to reality…

 

Can you enhance your productivity? Yes.

 

Through the same limitless means as Eddie Mora? No

 

There isn’t any drug available which would give you that significant edge. The NZT 48 pill doesn’t exist. There is nothing legally available that can give you super-human cognitive abilities with a four digit IQ.

However, you can achieve a safe and healthy compromise. The sky won’t be the limit but you can have the potential to be a high achiever, have controlled sleep behaviour and feel more confident to make decisions.

 

There are nootropic smart drugs out there that enhance the brain’s functions and gives it a boost! Those smart drugs can help with the following:

  • Improve mental ability

  • Assist productivity and focus

  • Increase wakefulness

  • Help with sleep disorders

  • Improve memory and learning

  • Have a quicker reaction time

  • Be more vigilant

  • Improve motivation

  • Help with depression

  • Reduce fatigue

Some people with high pressured jobs, students, shift workers or people with sleep disorders turn to drugs to help stay alert and enhance their performance.

 

One student started taking the supplement Modafinil while getting his MBA at Wharton. At the same time, he was also working at a start-up that later sold for $600 million in value, so you can imagine how busy he was. He needed to find a way to keep his brain running.

The student started taking Modafinil and felt more like himself. More than he had in years. He took it just about every day in varying doses for 8 years. It gave him energy which changed his life.

 

One reason he liked Modafinil was because it enhanced the dopamine release, but it bound together with his dopamine receptors differently than addictive substances like cocaine and amphetamines do, which may be part of the reason Modafinil shares many of the benefits of other stimulants, but doesn’t cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms. It did increase his focus, problem-solving abilities, and wakefulness.

 

You can enhance your productivity with a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep and for an extra boost – a safe and effective supplement, such as Modafinil.

 

Modafinil can help with the following:

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Depression

  • Attention-deficit disorder

  • Myotonic dystrophy

  • Multiple sclerosis-induced fatigue

  • Post-anaesthesia grogginess

  • Cognitive impairment in schizophrenia

  • Spasticity associated with cerebral palsy

  • Age-related memory decline

  • Idiopathic hypersomnia

  • Jet-lag

  • Everyday cat-napping

The basis of its uniqueness lies in its ability to stimulate only when stimulation is required. As a result the ‘highs and lows’ associated with other stimulants- such as amphetamine- are absent. Modafinil does not bring about the anxiety, agitation and insomnia associated with these more familiar stimulants. Normal sleep patterns are not affected, nor is Modafinil addictive or accompanied by the number of side-effects present with currently prescribed stimulants.

 

Here are some other forms of stimulants that can keep your brain alert:

  • Nicotine

  • Caffeine

  • Sugary drinks

  • Amphetamine

  • L-theanine

  • Bacopa Monnieri

 

Going back to the beginning of this article, the washed up writer Eddie Mora thought he was a man without limits. One tablet a day and he was limitless.

 

Deluded, claiming he wasn’t high, he wasn’t wired, just clear. He knew what he needed to do and how to do it. He found a pill that could make him rich and powerful.

However, he ended up hurting the ones that loved him, getting into debt, having blackouts, being a womaniser and becoming heavily involved in politics. Was it worth it? No.

 

If someone offers you a NZT 48, we highly recommend you say no!

 

We suggest that you become more productive by living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy food, exercise, getting enough sleep and taking supplements.

 

Choosing that option to become more productive means no violence and you will get a good night sleep!

#health

Eaton Bray

Nr Leighton Buzzard

Bedfordshire

UK

Tel: 07800887857

Email: rachel.roussell@gmail.com

Copyright Rachel Roussell 2021

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