Information Now

26 February 2021


Newcastle Carers
Newcastle student climate change summit
Rent arrears during the pandemic
Education and assessment


Coronavirus scams continue during the pandemic
Understanding experiences of the social security system during the pandemic
Opportunities for Action
World Glaucoma week


Good practice toolkit for volunteering
Training related to people with a learning disability
Safeguarding adults best practice week report

This week’s events & activities at a glance

Time to challenge you
WEA courses
Quick links
Festival of Ideas
A letter of hope



Our Having issues with using InformationNOW  helps you solve problems that may arise – from page not displaying properly, checking your wi fi connection, to checking how much data you have on your mobile phone.This month saw a number of awareness days and that included World Cancer Day on 4 February.  There has been significant press coverage about changes to current cervical screening because the uptake of vital screening has been low.  The first stage will now be a self-smear which will be sent back to the NHS.

InformationNOW has a section on health which covers topics such as long term conditions, self care, NHS services as well as an article on cancer risk and cancer screening.

Newcastle Carers

Newcastle Carers has rebranded and updated their website.  We have updated our article on Looking after Someone and Dementia to reflect these changes.

Newcastle student climate change summit

The Newcastle student climate change summit takes place on Monday 1st March

This free virtual event, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, is open to all students and there will be an opportunity to ask questions and contribute to the debate.  Key speakers will discuss Newcastle’s Net Zero Action Plan and citywide commitments for action; how every action helps; and future careers in the green economy.

Running alongside the summit the Net Zero Student Innovation Challenge also invites attendees who are students of Newcastle and Northumbria Universities to take part in a five day project, to develop – with input from business and industry experts – bold ideas that have the potential for meaningful impact and that can be successfully implemented in Newcastle.

Rent arrears during pandemic

On 29 January 2021 HouseMark published its latest Covid-19 impact data which revealed that sector arrears have reached a record high, with more than £1 billion now outstanding in arrears. Forecasts estimate that arrears levels may not return to pre-pandemic levels until March 2022.

Education and assessment

The Department of Education has stated that this year’s students will be graded by their teachers, with assessments focusing on what education they have had during the pandemic.  Teachers will be able to choose from different forms of evidence to support their assessment, including course work and in class tests set by the school. Optional questions provided by exams boards will also be available.

To ensure consistency with grades from previous years, Exam boards will issue grade descriptions and a new full and fair appeals system will be set out for any young person unhappy with their results.

These new arrangements cover all GCSE, AS and A Levels and similar qualifications designed to help young people progress into further and higher education. Students studying vocational courses will be assessed on the job in line with public health guidance.


Coronavirus scams continue during the pandemic

Action Fraud has found that pension scams had become one of the most common types of fraud to occur last year. In fact, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) opened 24% more pension scam cases last year than in 2019.

In addition to this in the Work and Pensions Committee’s virtual hearing on pension scams, The Pensions Regulator revealed that it is investigating over £54m worth of lost pension savings in cases that have affected 18,000 savers. However the FCA warned that this number is in fact likely to be much higher.

With the rise of scams and rising concerns people have about their investments, the best advice is that you check that a company is registered with the FCA before making investments.

Clone investment scams are sophisticated and extremely difficult to spot. Last year Action Fraud received over 3767 reports of clone scams to their consumer helpline. Fraudsters use literature and websites that mirror those of legitimate firms, as well as encouraging investors to check the Firm Reference Number (FRN) on the FCA Register to sound as convincing as possible.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight said:

“If you’re considering an investment, visit the FCA Register to make sure the firm you’re dealing with is authorised. Use the contact details on our FCA Register, not the details the firm gives you, and check for subtle differences to avoid ‘clone firm’ scams. And if you’re still unsure, call their consumer helpline for further information. When it comes to clones, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to double check every detail.”

More on

Understanding experiences of the social security system during pandemic

The Welfare at a Social Distance project has published a report on claimants’ experiences of the social security system during the first lockdown. The report is based on surveys and interviews, looks at the claim process, the five-week waiting period, interactions with DWP staff and the effect of deductions.

Overall, there were changes that helped new claimants to navigate the system: not only did people receive their benefit payments, but many claimants were positive about both the online application process and the DWP staff they spoke to. However, problems in applying were still widespread (reported by 46% of new claimants) and the benefits system was often described as confusing, with many new claimants highlighting issues:

  • eligibility
  • which benefit was appropriate
  • how much they would receive

Many claimants were experiencing significant financial difficulties: around half had a severe financial strain (eg unable to afford bills or eat fresh fruit/veg daily), and a majority were unable to afford an unexpected expense, such as replacing a fridge. One in six new claimants and one in five existing claimants had skipped a meal in the previous two weeks because they could not afford food. It is also noteworthy that new claimants were more likely to be falling behind on housing costs.  Another issue was that some people did not take their advance payment because they were worried about benefit debt.  This put them into other debt.

The conclusion recommends better promotion of how to choose which benefit to apply for, along with a portal that signposts clearly. .

Useful InformationNOW articles:

World Glaucoma week c 8 March

Glaucoma UK are holding digital glaucoma support groups and other activities that will take place during World Glaucoma Week (WGW) this March.  Options include: my experience of glaucoma surgery; research; who can help and self-care.  These are all listed on our events section.  Book direct using the booking details for each event.

Into the spring, they will continue with talks on Looking after your eyes during Ramadan and pseudoexfolication glaucoma.

See our article on sight loss and visual impairments.

Look at Your Equipment Newcastle for information and aids related to low vision.


Good Practice Toolkit for volunteering

Volunteering Matters has produced a Good Practice toolkit which offers support and advice around volunteering for and with older people and people with dementia. This toolkit was created by Volunteering Matters project, Network Point Newcastle and commissioned by Newcastle City Council.

InformationNOW has an article on volunteering, how it works and the range of opportunities in the City.

Training related to people with a learning disability

The NHS England and NHS Improvement Learning Disability and Autism Programme is inviting family carers to take part in a workshop. Attending the workshop will help you to identify when the person you care for is becoming more unwell and how to tell a health professional about that. The workshop is free and only for parents with children over the age of 16. It takes 90 minutes and will help you know when to seek help.  You will learn:

  • how to identify soft signs of declining health
  • how to use a simple communication tool (SBARD) to communicate effectively with a health professional

Training is available from Tuesday 23rd February to Friday 31st March 2021 at different times in the day.

Safeguarding adults best practice week report

A week of webinars was set up between the 8 – 12 February 2021. The aim of the webinar series was to improve Safeguarding Adults’ practice. The week involved 14 webinar hosts across 8 webinars. Over 200+ multi-agency participated in the webinar series.  The 8 webinar topics included: advocacy, coercive control; cultural competency; adversity awareness; poverty and financial inclusion; prevent; safeguarding carers and social prescribing and InformationNOW.

The webinars have been recorded and will be available for people to watch on the Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board website.

If you have any concerns please report to Adult Social Care at Newcastle City Council: 0191 278 8377 or 0191 278 7878 (out of hours).
InformationNOW has articles on:
Domestic abuse
Adult abuse
Hate crime
Ways to report community crime
Frauds and scams
Scams, fraud and cyber crime during the pandemic
Sexual health and consent

Events & Activities

Doorbells webinar – start the conversation about where and how to live in later life.
Wednesday 31st March 10.30 am to 12.30 pm.
Time to challenge you – celebrating International Women’s day, 8 March 2021
WEA has a number of courses from basic computer courses to the changing world of media

We have updated Quick Links to virtual activity online with the Jess Gillam Virtual Scratch Orchestra
Festival of Ideas includes the change world of broadcasting and creative opportunities

A letter of hope
Northern Stage with the Actors Touring Company, has commissioned six writers to write a letter of hope that will then be performed to camera by actors from across the UK and available for you to stream for free from today 22nd February.

Last updated: April 9, 2021

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