Kindness is key

Written by Scarlett Regan, Researcher

Edited by Adam Shaw, Associate Partner


Good morning,


There has been an overwhelming amount of kindness in the world these last couple of months. One million volunteers signed up to assist the most vulnerable; NHS doctors and nurses are connecting very ill patients with their loved ones on video calls; children draw rainbows on pavements to lift spirits; people buy shopping for their elderly neighbours.  


Kindness is the theme for this Mental Health Awareness Week. We’re living through times which are incredibly difficult for our mental health. We are naturally social animals, so it’s far from strange that we might be struggling through this period of isolation. People are under severe financial pressure, domestic abuse has soared, relationships are strained, there is a distinct lack of routine, hardly any sense of normality, and, devastatingly, millions are grieving. And that’s on top of the fear of contracting a deadly virus.  


A recent survey found that a third of those with mental illnesses hadn’t attended their usual appointments, due to worries about burdening the NHS. Worryingly, the lockdown is also causing serious mental illness in first-time patients, adults and children alike.  


The mental health crisis at the end of all this could be just as severe as the current health disaster. Last week, the UN warned that the pandemic will likely lead to an “upsurge” in the number and severity of mental illnesses. The Royal College of Psychiatrists, too, has warned that services could be overwhelmed by “a tsunami of mental illness”. Charities have already been inundated with huge numbers of calls from people struggling with their mental health.  


Fortunately, the stigma around mental health is slowly being eroded. Just yesterday, swimmer Michael Phelps spoke out, saying that the pandemic has taken a huge toll on his mental health: “my emotions are all over the place”.  


The more that mental health is discussed as a normal matter by the press, TV programmes and on social media, the less stigmatised it will be, and the more likely people will be to discuss their feelings.


Whether it be going for a run, doing some yoga, writing cards to friends and family, lighting a candle before bedtime, turning off your phone for the weekend, limiting your daily news intake, or rereading your favourite book, there are numerous ways to improve your mental health, even just in the short term. 


And if we maintain the current abundance of kindness past lockdown, we’ll be able to tackle the oncoming mental health crisis as we have this one – together. Because kindness really is key. 


News

The Commons science and technology committee has produced a 19-page document criticising many aspects of the government’s performance so far in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The committee argues that the UK must strengthen its testing and tracing capacity urgently, including providing isolation and quarantine facilities. It also urges the government to learn from other countries that handled the outbreak better during the early stages. (£) 


The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced plans for “air bridges” between countries with low infection rates, giving Britons fresh hope of a summer holiday abroad. Shapps also revealed that the quarantine on all arrivals could be relaxed for a more targeted focus on those from high-risk countries. This comes as many European countries, such as Germany, Spain and Italy, are beginning to ease their lockdown restrictions. (£) 


President Xi of China gave his blessing yesterday to a World Health Organisation inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus. He also promised $2 billion towards pandemic aid for the developing world. President Macron and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, followed suit. However, President Trump refused to participate. 


Business and economy

New research by the Resolution Foundation has found that more than one in three 18-24 year-olds are earning less than before the coronavirus outbreak. The report revealed that around a quarter of this age group have been furloughed and a further nine per cent have lost their jobs altogether. Younger workers have been seen a disproportionate economic impact from the coronavirus as they are more likely to work in industries shut down by the virus, and they risk their pay being affected for years. 


Big sales are expected when clothes stores reopen next month, an analyst has said. Richard Lin of Retail Economics admitted that stores will have to “discount heavily” to sell excess stock that may now be out of reason. Fashion retailers have been badly hit by the crisis and stores are planning how to reopen while adhering to social distancing guidelines. 


Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell has warned that a full US economic recovery may take until the end of the next year and require the development of a coronavirus vaccine. He said that there would likely be a “couple more months” of net job losses, but that it was good news that the majority of those claiming unemployment benefits have only been laid off temporarily. 


OVO Energy, which acquired the household supply business of SSE for £500m just months ago, has announced plans to cut 2,600 jobs. The company also revealed that as part of a move towards flexible working, the Selkirk, Reading and Glasgow Waterloo Street offices will be closed down. This comes as ONS figures showed that UK unemployment rose 50,000 in the three months to March and the Universal Credit claimant count went up by 856,500 to 2.097 million in April. 


Columns of note

In The Guardian, Polly Toynbee criticises the UK government, asking how Britain can trust “this floundering crew of fibbers” to tackle the coronavirus. Taking the public for fools has destroyed all trust, she argues. Ministers learn nothing from their errors and they are evidently trying to save their own skins rather than serving the public’s best interest, Toynbee says.  


In The Financial Times, Brooke Masters argues that Covid-19 will blight the prospects of a generation and that this “grim start” will haunt new graduates for years to come. Graduating into the worst economy since the Great Depression, when hiring intentions are at their lowest level in at least 15 years, this will be an incredibly tough time for many graduates. (£)

Source: The Telegraph


Markets


What happened yesterday?


Global stocks surged yesterday as there was hope that the easing of lockdowns in Europe would stimulate global economic growth. This also pushed the price of US crude oil to its highest level in two months. 


Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up three per cent. Investor positivity was also stimulated after biotech company Moderna said its vaccine had delivered positive results in early trials.  


The picture was optimistic in Europe too, with the FTSE 100 rising 3.1% and the Stoxx 600 up 3.6%. 


Uber announced a further 3,000 job cuts, as it scaled down several “non-core” operations. 


Bella Italia and Café Rouge owner said it is considering administration as the crisis pushes the business to near collapse, with 6,000 jobs at risk.


What's happening today?


Finals  Blackstone Gso  Dcc  Trading Announcements  Georgia Capital  Glenveagh  AMGs  Accesso Tech  Allianz Tech  Aquis Exchange  Bank Irel.pf.a  Bank of Ireland  Bankmuscat Regs  Diaceutics  Fidelity Japan  Glenveagh  Kazatomprom S  Portmeirion  Pphe Hotel  Quixant 

Restaurant Gp  Rds ‘A’  Rds ‘B’  Schroder Asian  Science Grp  Team17 Grp  Annual Report  Blackstone Gso  UK Economic Announcements  (07:00) Unemployment Rate  (07:00) Claimant Count Rate  Int. Economic Announcements  (10:00) ZEW Survey (EU) – Economic Sentiment  (10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Economic Sentiment  (10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Current Situation  (13:30) Housing Starts (US)  (13:30) Building Permits (US) 


Source: FTSE 100, Financial Times


Did you know?

UK hospital admissions for children fell significantly every time a new Harry Potter book was published.  


Parliamentary highlights


House of Commons  Oral questions  Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Oral questions  Church Commissioners and House of Commons Commission and Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body and Public Accounts Commission and Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission  Motion  To approve a Statutory Instrument relating to the draft Human Tissue (Permitted  Material: Exceptions) (England) Regulations 2020 - Helen Whately Motion  To approve a Statutory Instrument relating to the draft Victims and Witnesses  (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Modification) Order 2020 - Mr Alister Jack Motion  To approve a Ways and Means Resolution relating to the Finance Bill  House of Lords  Oral questions  Coordinating the response to the COVID-19 pandemic with NATO to prevent any security risks - virtual proceeding - Lord Touhig Oral questions  Improvement in air quality emissions and other environmental indicators since the Covid-19 restrictions were introduced - virtual proceeding - Lord Dubs Oral questions  Impact of COVID-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic frontline staff working in NHS hospitals - virtual proceeding - Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Oral questions  The Premier League and Project Restart - Lord Faulkner of Worcester Private Notice Question  To ask the government what steps they are taking to protect and support mental health services during and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic - virtual proceeding - Baroness Tyler of Enfield Orders and regulations  Draft Automatic Enrolment (Offshore Employment) (Amendment) Order 2020; Draft Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 - virtual proceeding - Baroness Stedman-Scott Legislation  Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill - Committee stage - virtual proceedings - Baroness Barran Scottish Parliament  Topical questions  Stage 1 Debate  Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill  Financial Resolution  Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill  Committee Announcements  Business Motions